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First wave distribution of COVID-19 vaccines underway in county

Vaccines are time-tested, life-saving resources that have been keeping disease and illness at bay for more than 200 years. Gloucestershire physician Dr. Edward Jenner is largely credited with having the first such research and findings documented and published by a credible scientific body (The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge—the oldest national scientific institution in the world). 

Consider these passages from The History of Vaccines—An Educational Resource By The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. 

“Evidence exists that the Chinese employed smallpox vaccination (or variolation, as such use of smallpox material was called) as early as 1000 CE. It was practiced in Africa and Turkey as well, before it spread to Europe and the Americas. 

“Edward Jenner’s innovations, begun with his successful 1796 use of cowpox material to create immunity to smallpox, quickly made the practice widespread. His method underwent medical and technological changes over the next 200 years, and eventually resulted in the eradication of smallpox. 

“Louis Pasteur’s 1885 rabies vaccine was the next to make an impact on human disease. And then, at the dawn of bacteriology, developments rapidly followed. Antitoxins and vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid, tuberculosis, and more were developed through the 1930’s.

“The middle of the 20th century was an active time for vaccine research and development. Methods for growing viruses in the laboratory led to rapid discoveries and innovations, including the creation of vaccines for polio. Researchers targeted other common childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella, and vaccines for these diseases reduced the disease burden greatly.

 So here we are, poised once again on the precipice of medical history, as two COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) are currently being distributed worldwide and several more are waiting in the wings for their anticipated authorization. Because there will, at first, be a limited supply of vaccine, initial immunizations will be focused on specific groups of people. At this time that means front-line healthcare workers, first responders, and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. However, the general public should be able to get vaccinated in a matter of months. When that time comes, will you be rolling up your sleeve? And if not, why not? Listed below are some common concerns related to the vaccine, and science-based responses.

I can’t afford to get the vaccine.

*At this time, there is no cost to you to receive the vaccine. While insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid will be billed, anything not reimbursed will be covered by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Can I just get one dose?

*You DO need to receive both doses of the currently available vaccines in order to have the full protective benefits from the virus. If you receive the Pfizer vaccine, there will be at least 21 days between doses, and for Moderna it’s at least 28 days. Testing has shown both vaccines to be approximately 95 percent effective when taken as recommended. Current research indicates that level of protection kicks in approximately one week after the second dose is administered. 

I’m afraid the vaccine will give me COVID.

*You will NOT get COVID-19 from the vaccine, because it does not contain a live virus.

I’m afraid the vaccine will mess with my DNA.

*The vaccine will NOT alter your DNA. While it gives instructions for your cells to make a spike protein that will attack the coronavirus should you become infected, it does not get into the cell’s nucleus, which is where your DNA is stored.

 What kind of side effects can I expect?

Most vaccine recipients experienced no side effects related to the vaccine. Of those who did, the most common—both in clinical trials and with the public vaccination campaign—have been arm soreness at injection site, headache, and fever, typically lasting 24 to 48 hours. The majority of those experiencing these report them to be mild and similar to what any vaccine might cause. 

There have been a handful of instances in which the Pfizer vaccine caused breathing difficulties in the recipient. Because of this, recommendations are for anyone with a history of severe allergies to consult their medical provider before being immunized. Having the vaccine administered in a clinical setting, in the unlikely event that an adverse reaction ensues, is also recommended for these patients.

Moderna vaccine on its way to Douglas County
Douglas County’s first allocation of vaccine is enroute, and as previously mentioned, will be going to specific populations. But so as not to have any possibility of vaccine waste, DCHD is creating a waiting list of people interested in being immunized. Should the initial supply be greater than the numbers of targeted populations, those on the waiting list will be notified of availability. To be included on the list you will need to fill out a brief survey, the link to which can be found on the Dec. 24, 2020 DCHD Facebook page post.    

And vaccinated or not, it remains crucial that you continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and regularly wash your hands. If you are experiencing any COVID-like symptoms, do not go out in public, other than to get tested. Testing is done at the DCHD Tuscola outlet mall site Mondays-Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (no testing on 12/31/20). Please have your insurance information and ID with you at that time.

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