Local Community Health Center Submits Application for Vaccinator Site Status

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that according to a recent report, nearly half of individuals served by community health centers could potentially be eligible for Phase 1A COVID-19 immunizations, per state and federal priority guidelines, due to advanced age or underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk. Community Health Centers are deemed as the CDC’s priority partners because these organizations serve the lion’s share of the nation’s underserved population in both urban and rural areas. In a recent press conference, Missouri Governor Mike Parson said vaccines will be delivered to the state later this month, with enough to complete Phase 1A.

As for the bad news, many rural and/or Republican-leaning individuals remain reticent about getting vaccinated – even as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. Key findings from KFF’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor indicate that 25% of Republicans say they will “definitely not” get the vaccine, another 33% say they want to “wait and see”, and 10% say that will get vaccinated “only if it is required.”

Although vaccine hesitancy is loosening across nearly all demographic groups, misinformation and bogus content on social media platforms, and other news sources, continue to make it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. accessHealth News will continue to provide unbiased information about the COVID-19 vaccine to support credible public information to help its readers make informed decisions about the vaccine.

Just the Facts Q & A

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

The COVID-19 vaccine has been years in the making. Although new to the public, some records indicate this science-based messenger RNA (mRNA) technology is more than a decade old. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been authorized to use this mRNA technology which allows a person who receives this genetic code of the coronavirus to use their own body and own cells to manufacture a protein to protect itself against the virus.

This is how it works:

a. The vaccine provides the body with a piece of COVID’S genetic code. This is unlike some more recognized and accepted vaccines that provide the full weakened or dead virus (often referred to as a viral vector).

b. From that code, the body produces proteins that train the immune system to generate antibodies.

C. These antibodies recognize and attack the COVID-19 virus if exposed.

Are there side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine?

There are some side effects that are common in most vaccines. These side effects usually dissipate in the next day or so. Some people may experience:

  • Soreness and sometimes swelling at the injection area
  • Low-grade fever
  • Tiredness
  • Headache

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

According to the medical and scientific communities, no. Healthy immune systems successfully fight off thousands of germs daily. Antigens are parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to go to work to build antibodies, which fight off diseases. The antigens in vaccines come from the germs themselves, but the germs are weakened or killed so they cannot cause serious illness. Vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to fight off serious vaccine-preventable diseases.

How can I be sure the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

To date, the vaccines in trial have been tested on tens of thousands of people and have passed safety requirements in Phase I, Phase II and Phase III trials. As an additional layer of checks and balances, an external advisory board made up of medical and research professionals using additional public health data have reviewed final COVID-19 vaccine data and recommended the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine be made available for emergency use. America’s best medical and research professionals have been working for years on coronavirus vaccines for SARS and MERS. SARS and MERS are different than COVID-19 but belong to the coronavirus family. The lessons learned through those developments are being applied today. Specifically, the effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine began months ago. Clinical trials are an important part of determining vaccine safety and efficacy. Currently, Pfizer and Moderna have completed Phase III clinical trials involving many thousands of participants. The trials determined the safety and efficacy of the vaccines in thousands of participants. The purpose of clinical trials is to generate scientific data and other information for the Food and Drug Administration to review and make recommendations.

Vaccine safety monitoring systems are in place to collect side effect data. If an unexpected adverse event is seen, experts quickly study it further to assess whether it is a true safety concern. Experts then decide whether changes are needed in U.S. vaccine recommendations. This monitoring is critical to help ensure that the benefits continue to outweigh the risks for people who receive vaccines.

If this vaccine is safe, how did it become available so quickly?

By some estimates, mRNA technology has been in the works for more than 30 years, with some pharmaceutical companies spending the last decade creating this vaccine. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines were in Phase III clinical trials at the same time they were being manufactured. When it was proven safe and effective, the manufactured vaccines were deployed. If the vaccines hadn’t passed the approval process, which is verified by an independent committee of health experts, the unproven vaccines would not have been used.

If I already had COVID-19 should I get vaccinated?

Individuals who have contracted the coronavirus should get vaccinated as there is evidence of reinfections. Ask your health care provider for recommendations on how long to wait to get vaccinated after you are no longer infected.

What are the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

It is uncertain how long a person is immune to the coronavirus after receiving the vaccine. Immunity depends on a variety of factors and can differ person to person. Because the vaccine is new, additional research is needed to gauge how long naturally immunity could last.

Should I wait to see how effective it is before getting vaccinated?

Missouri is following the CDC’s priority guidelines for vaccination. It is recommended that individuals opt for the vaccine when they are eligible.

What is the process for getting vaccinated?

Currently, Missouri is in Phase 1A of its COVID-19 rollout.

How is the vaccine administered?

Individuals receive the vaccine through a shot in the arm, much like other common vaccines. As of the release of this article, there are two different vaccines available in the U.S., Pfizer and Moderna. Both vaccines require two doses within 21-28 days of the first dose.

Do I have to have the same vaccine for the first and second doses?

Yes, it is required that an individual receive two doses of the same vaccine.

Should I get vaccinated if I am pregnant?

Pregnant women were not a part of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials. Speak with your health care provider for recommendations about the vaccine.

Is it safe to get my child vaccinated?

Initial clinical trials did not include children. Pfizer’s emergency use authorization (EUA) has been approved for children 16 years and older. Moderna’s EUA includes individuals 18 years and older.

Who is not recommended for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?

The vaccines are not recommended for individuals who have experienced a serious reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to a prior dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components. Follow these PDF links for Pfizer and Moderna for additional information.

If I have other medical conditions, should I get vaccinated?

Pfizer’s and Moderna’s clinical trials included individuals with chronic conditions, as well as individuals 65 years and older. Phase III results included high efficacy rates for high-risk groups and concluded the vaccine was safe and effective. Individuals with underlying health conditions are often at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus and have been included as a Phase 1A priority group to receive the vaccine. When in doubt, always speak with your health care provider.

Do I need the COVID-19 vaccine if I have the flu vaccine?

Yes. The flu vaccine alone cannot protect against contracting the coronavirus.

Can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing after being fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

No, continue appropriate masking practices. At this time, it is recommended that even vaccinated individuals practice an abundance of caution by continuing to wear a mask, social distance, wash hands, and avoid large gatherings (especially indoors). The jury is still out on how a vaccine will impact quarantine protocols for close contacts.

Does the vaccine prevent asymptomatic infection?

Initial data from Moderna shows the vaccine may provide some protection against asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) infection. This is not definitive which is why it is important to continue masking, social distancing, and hand washing after receiving the vaccine. More decisive data is expected later.

When will the vaccine be available?

Follow this link for details.

How much will the vaccine cost?

Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

Local health center seeks approval as vaccinator site to immunize area residents

HCC of Rural Missouri and its Live Well Community Health Centers have applied to serve as a vaccinator site. Expect timely updates on this process as more details are available.

“We are hopeful that the application we submitted to become an authorized vaccinator site will be approved,” said HCC’s Chief Clinical and Risk Officer Amanda Arnold, RN, BSN. “We’ve seen, firsthand, the worst of this COVID-19 pandemic. To be able to get these vaccines in the arms of our families, friends, and neighbors — when state and federal priority guidelines allow — will enable HCC and its Live Well Community Health Centers to play a crucial role in safeguarding our community from this virus. We look forward to seeing those we serve enjoy simple liberties that have been forfeited for far too long.

Missouri is in Phase 1A of the vaccine rollout, which prioritizes long-term care facility residents and staff, and patient-facing health care workers. accessHealth will continue to cover Missouri’s vaccine rollout and provide details online and through its monthly rural health magazine.

To learn more about COVID-19 immunization plans by county, find a nearby county health department. The vaccine is slated to be available to the general public around late spring.