Early spring targeted for general public
s the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine begins in Missouri, residents are encouraged to take time to learn about the vaccine, get their questions answered, and consider vaccination to help protect themselves and their loved ones.
“The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have proven safe and effective for adults ages 18 and above,” according to Mary Jo Vernon, director of the Platte County Health Department. “We hope to vaccinate everyone who wishes to receive the vaccine by the middle of 2021.”
In Missouri, the first people to receive the vaccine include residents and staff at long-term care facilities, patient-facing health care workers with co-morbidities, followed by remaining patient-facing health care workers.
CVS, Walgreens, and hospital systems are administering the vaccine in the first phase, referred to as Phase 1A. Local health departments will join the effort in Phase 1B, when the vaccine will become available to first responders, those with underlying health problems, the elderly, and essential workers. School employees and child care providers are likely to be included in this group.
Federal authorities placed the responsibility of establishing vaccine prioritization and distribution with state governments. In Missouri, the authority for setting these priority groups exists with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).Vaccine prioritization is necessary to effectively provide protection first to those with the greatest risk factors.
Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS, is happy with the initial rollout.
“The first week of vaccinations among health care workers in Missouri went extremely well,” said Williams. “We are appreciative of the health care systems for quickly executing their plans in order to administer the Pfizer vaccines as efficiently as possible. This is just the beginning, and there are thousands of health care workers still to be vaccinated.”
When Phase 1B of the rollout will begin is not yet clear. “Our supply from our federal partners will dictate the speed at which these vaccinations can continue to occur, and we will continue to be flexible and adapt to any changes that may be presented to us,” said Williams.
In the final phase, the general public will receive the vaccine. When there is enough vaccine for widespread distribution, there will be many places, in addition to local health departments, where people can get vaccinated: pharmacies, Walmart, some grocery stores, and possibly Costco.
Walgreens and CVS expect to have doses available to the general public in early spring. Vaccinations at CVS will be appointment-only, with people signing up for both their first and second shots when they register on CVS.com or the company’s app.
Dustin Guest, immunization coordinator at the Platte County Health Department, appreciates the private-public partnership in administering the vaccine quickly and efficiently.
“Offering the vaccine at a variety of places, in addition to local health departments, increases access for everyone,” Guest said.
Vernon added that the Platte County Health Department has been approved as a vaccination site by DHSS.
“We are finalizing COVID vaccination plans to include offering the vaccine at various sites throughout the county to the population approved by DHSS within the various phases. We will continue to provide updates through our local newspapers, TV stations, and social media as more detailed information becomes available to us.”
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 18, is a series of two doses administered four weeks apart. It is now advised that each person should be monitored by their provider for 15 minutes following vaccination for both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Those who have experience severe allergic reactions in the past will need to be monitored for 30 minutes.
In clinical studies, the adverse reactions in participants 18 years of age and older were pain at the injection site (92.0%), fatigue (70.0%), headache (64.7%), muscle pain (61.5%), joint pain (46.4%), chills (45.4%), nausea/vomiting (23.0%), axillary swelling/tenderness (19.8%), fever (15.5%), swelling at the injection site (14.7%), and redness at the injection site (10.0%).
“Most individuals view the fatigue, headaches, aches, and chills as though they’re having a side effect of the vaccine. These symptoms they’re experiencing are actually the result of their immune system doing its job and forming an immune response to the vaccine so that they’ll be protected in the future,” said the Health Department’s Guest. “Most participants in the study experienced minimal symptoms after the first dose, which helps the body recognize the virus. The second dose is where most experience symptoms since that is when the body builds immunity to the virus.”
Below are common questions that are answered by the latest guidance issued for use of the Moderna vaccine:
.What do I do if I miss the second dose of the Moderna vaccine 28 days after the first dose?
Patients who do not receive the second vaccination dose at 28 days should still receive that second dose as soon as possible thereafter.
.Should you get the vaccine if you have already contracted COVID-19?
Yes, but for both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, you should defer vaccination until you have met criteria to discontinue isolation.
.Can you receive the vaccine if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or immunocompromised?
Yes, these individuals are recommended for the vaccine depending on the individual’s risk of acquisition due to the level of community transmission, personal risk of contracting COVID-19 due to occupation or other activities, risks of COVID-19 to the individual, efficacy of the vaccine, known side effects of the vaccine and the lack of data about the vaccine for these populations. Special counseling and a 15-minute observation period after vaccination, if chosen, is recommended. Platte County Health Department will be requiring a physician’s note to administer vaccines to these populations
.Should you have a pregnancy test or antibody test prior to receiving the vaccine?
Routine testing for pregnancy or antibody tests is not recommended in relation to vaccine use.
.Can you get this vaccine if you are in quarantine due to an exposure with a positive COVID-19 case?
You should delay your vaccination if you have had a known SARS-CoV-2 (virus that causes COVID-19) exposure until your quarantine period has ended, unless residing in a congregate setting (health care/long-term care facility, correctional facility, homeless shelter, etc.).
.Can you get the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?
There is no information on co-administration of this COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines. The Moderna vaccine should be spaced at least 14 days from any other vaccine.
.Who is not recommended for the Moderna vaccine?
Those under age 18.
An individual who has experienced a serious reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to a prior dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components. For more information on vaccine components, refer to the manufacturer’s package insert.
.If you have been vaccinated, can you stop from using other precautions?
No. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least six feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.
While residents wait for their chance to receive the vaccine, Vernon had this reminder: “We urge everyone to stay vigilant with all measures to protect yourselves and your families from this virus so that together, we can bring this pandemic to an end.”
Residents and providers are encouraged to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines in Missouri https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/ or by visiting Platte County Health Department’s website at www.plattecountyhealthdept.com and clicking on the Alert banner at the top of the page.