Since the beginning of January, Green County Public Health has been hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics to vaccinate eligible community members. If you talk to any of our nurses or volunteers about these clinics they will likely bring up stories of overjoyed individuals, some teary eyed, as they receive their shot. A COVID-19 vaccine clinic is truly an exciting and hopeful event to be a part of.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not only protect you, but also those around you. However, we know you might have some questions about this process. Keep reading for answers to your most pressing COVID-19 vaccine concerns, so that when it’s your time to receive the vaccine you’re ready.
COVID-19 vaccines are a safer way to build immunity against COVID-19 because they do not pose a risk for severe illness or death like contracting the COVID-19 virus dose. Becoming sick with COVID-19 could lead to serious complications for the sick individual, and those that they come in contact with. The COVID-19 vaccines help you by creating an immune system response without having to get sick.
At this time there are three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States: The Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, and the Johnson & Johnson (Jansen) vaccine. Other COVID-19 vaccines are also currently in development. Each of these vaccines is slightly different, but they are all safe an effective. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two shots, separated by 21 days for Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is just one dose.
In clinical trials, researchers measure how well a vaccine prevents illness in a controlled setting. Large-scale clinical studies found that all three COVID-19 vaccines available in U.S. prevented most people from getting COVID-19. Each of these vaccines are also highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
If you have felt hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine you can take some time to gather more information. Talk to someone you trust, a friend, family member, and ask them about their experience getting vaccinated. You can also go to your doctor with specific questions about the vaccine.
Green County Public Health receives frequently asked questions about getting vaccinated, so here are a few “quick facts” about the vaccines. People who have had COVID-19 can (and should) get vaccinated. People should get whichever vaccine is available to them, one is not better than the other. The COVID-19 vaccine itself is free, but vaccine providers can seek appropriate reimbursement from the recipient’s private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid for a vaccine administration fee (because there are costs associated with operating a vaccine clinic).
Currently, many groups of people are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. To find a complete list of eligible groups please visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website. Individuals who live or work in nursing homes are eligible, as well as healthcare personnel. Fire, police and correctional workers are also eligible. In February people 65 of age and older became eligible, and at the beginning of March educators, childcare personnel, some public facing essential workers, people living and working in congregate living facilities, and people enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs became eligible. Most recently, people with certain medical condition can now receive the vaccine.
There are several options for eligible individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. People can call their healthcare provider and inquire about vaccine appointments. Local pharmacies are also an option to get the COVID-19 vaccine. For Green County Public Health, we ask that community members visit our website at gcpublichealth.org and complete the Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Registry to be placed on our waitlist. When we have vaccine available and appointments open, you will be emailed to make an appointment. People without internet access or an email address can call (844) 684-1064 (toll-free) between 7 a.m. and 7 pm to register for the vaccine or ask questions about the vaccine.
People are considered “fully vaccinated” when they are two weeks out from their complete vaccine series (Two weeks from the second dose for people who received Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks out from the one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). The CDC has updated guidance that allows for fully vaccinated people to: visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, and refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic. This is an exciting step towards reuniting with friends and loved ones who you may have missed throughout the pandemic.
The CDC also emphasizes that fully vaccinated people, and the general public, should continue to: take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing, avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings, get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or considered a close contact, follow guidance issued by individual employers, follow CDC and local travel requirements and recommendations.
The COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool in our tool box to help fight COVID-19. As the pandemic continues we encourage everyone to continue to take actions that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to get vaccinated when you are able to do so. Thank you for your continued efforts to prevent the spread!
— Bridget Craker is the Public Health Educator for the Green County Public Health Department and can be reached at email@example.com or 608-328-9509.