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Granville Vance Public Health addresses the COVID-19 vaccine in the following statement:
Granville Vance Public Health (GVPH) continues to work on the response to COVID-19 each day, each night, and each weekend. We are also eagerly planning for the vaccine to come our way. The first doses have arrived in NC.
We will likely receive our first shipments in the health department the week of December 14 and will give instructions for those who can sign up in the online registration system as soon as we are able to – we are already collecting information about first responders and health care workers and will notify those individuals about how to register in the online system – all health care entities should seek information about ways to have staff sign up who are interested.
We are receiving lots of questions about the vaccine – below are a few of the top questions and answers as well as additional resources from the CDC about the vaccine for COVID-19.
When will it be my turn?
Healthcare workers who are in the highest risk categories for exposure to the virus will be first, including all of those working in hospital ICUs, COVID-19 units, and leading emergency response. Then, other health care workers and first responders will have opportunities too in the coming weeks.
At the same time, hospitals and health departments receive and give vaccines, private pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens will also receive shipments of the vaccine specifically for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The federal government has contracted with CVS and Walgreens directly to help the high-risk workers and residents living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, so they will get theirs first too.
The next prioritized group will be adults with two or more chronic conditions who are more likely to have severe illness from the virus, and others who are at risk, such as frontline workers. Those workers include police, teachers and child care workers.
As more vaccine shipments arrive in the state, they will then be made available to anyone who wants one, at clinics, pharmacies and community vaccination events. Widespread availability is expected around the spring.
Does the vaccine cost anything?
The vaccine will be free to all individuals – any fees covering health care workers’ time and talents during this mass vaccination will be paid for by insurance companies, Congress, and grants.
These vaccines were produced so quickly. How do we know they are safe?
The CDC reports: “It is the U.S. vaccine safety system’s job to make sure that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety has been a top priority while federal partners have worked to make COVID-19 vaccines available for use in the United States. The new COVID-19 vaccines have been evaluated in tens of thousands of individuals, who volunteered to be vaccinated and to participate in clinical trials. The information from these clinical trials allowed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. These clinical trials were conducted according to rigorous standards set forth by the FDA. The FDA has determined that the newly authorized COVID-19 vaccines meet its safety and effectiveness standards. Therefore, the FDA has made these vaccines available for use in the United States under what is known as an Emergency Use Authorization. More here: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/
A few other facts to know:
- The vaccine does not contain any live virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine, but it does have a replica of the virus so your body learns how to fight it off.
- Most people will experience a few mild reactions such as soreness in the arm where the virus was injected, slight fever, chills, and general tiredness for about a day or two. This is the body’s natural reaction to indicate a person is building up their immune system. This is expected and should be mild. Pain relievers are fine to take as recommended to help prevent these mild side effects that are common.
- The vaccine was not tested widely in children yet, so the first vaccines available will be for the adult population. As more vaccine testing is conducted, we will know more about how it will affect children, but for now, the vaccine is primarily for those 18 and older.
- The vaccine was not tested widely yet in pregnant women. Like for children, we do plan to know more about vaccine safety in pregnant women in the coming months, but this will not be a priority group for vaccinations for this month.
- Building our collective defense against COVID-19 is a team effort and everyone is part of the defense – getting the COVID-19 Vaccine adds one more layer of protection for you, your family, your friends, your co-workers and others in your community. Please ask questions of us and check your sources about vaccine information as you learn more.
Dr. Guthrie and I will be hosting a Facebook live conversation Friday, December 18 at 4:30 p.m. to answer your own questions about the vaccine. Please submit questions at this link and encourage others to do the same! We will also be adding vaccine information to our web site this week. NC DHHS has an informative vaccine webpage as well.
Please remember that even though the first vaccine from Pfizer is approved and on its way, that does not mean we get to let up on wearing the mask, washing our hands, and staying apart from one another – that’s more important now than ever! We are still seeing large numbers of active cases in both our counties, and statewide; we are worried about the staffing levels at hospitals. Now is the time to work as hard as we can together to make it to the other side of this pandemic and we have to do ALL the things we know work well in combination to keep the virus from spreading.