COVID 19 and Vaccination
Information provided by Dr. Lacy Halsrud
The Novel SARS-CoV-2 virus, aka “Coronavirus or COVID 19” has been around just over a year now. It’s a virus that is spread through respiratory secretions that can attack multiple organ systems once the person becomes infected. It’s very unpredictable; some people can have no symptoms while others become quite ill. The healthcare community thanks you for your willingness to help stop the spread of this virus by avoiding large gatherings, washing your hands and covering your cough, staying home when ill, and wearing your face coverings. Together, we can stop the spread of this illness.
The exciting news is that we now have two vaccines available for COVID 19 that are being used to prevent infection. You may have heard on the news about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which were granted emergency use authorization by the FDA to help protect us from becoming ill with this virus. Both vaccines have a greater than 94% efficacy rate, meaning there is less than a 6% chance, once vaccinated, that you will get this disease if you encounter the COVID 19 virus. They are a series of two shots spaced about a month apart. The vaccine itself is different from previous ones as well, rather than being injected with a live or replicated piece of the virus, your body is given a “recipe” on how to fight this virus, should you encounter it, so that it recognizes it and can prevent it from making you ill. This technology has been in the works for greater than 10 years, so it’s not exactly new, but this is the first virus for which we have used this new technology. It is uncertain at this point whether booster shots will be needed in the future; studies continue to occur regarding this.
In our area, you will see the Moderna vaccine be available. It is a series of two shots spaced about a month apart, and it is 94.5% effective against the COVID 19 virus. The federal government has developed a rollout plan on who can get the vaccine, and when, and state governments further define who is eligible for vaccination. The vaccines themselves are shipped by the federal government; locally, we have no control over who gets the vaccination or how many vaccines will be available in our area. The first rollout has already taken place for healthcare workers, nursing home residents and staff, and the next rollout is planned for late January or early February. This is likely to include educators and support staff, childcare workers, those in a congregate living arrangement, and those over age 65, however the government (federal or state) may change this based upon emerging data on which groups are at most risk for severe disease. For those meeting criteria, you can call the public health department now to be placed on a list for an appointment once the vaccine is available.
My advice for those requesting to be vaccinated is this: continue to follow public health measures, even after becoming vaccinated. Follow Hancock County and Kossuth County Public Health pages on your social media; they are the ones that will be receiving the vaccines and setting up vaccination clinics in our area. Follow Kossuth and Hancock Emergency preparedness pages. They play an integral role in support and communication about the rollout of this vaccine. Follow your local news outlets as they will also help communicate when the vaccines will be available and how you can receive yours.