Local Health Team Prepares for COVID-19 Vaccine Release

posted on Friday, December 4, 2020 in COVID-19

With the first two COVID-19 vaccines anticipated to be approved and released this month, the state of Iowa has announced plans for distribution. In phase one, the vaccine is to be offered to healthcare personnel and to residents of long-term care facilities. Some areas in the state may receive a limited supply of vaccine as early as the week of December 13, with increased allocations in later weeks. Local health officials are prepared to distribute, once a supply is received.

 “We’ve been participating in weekly webinars with the Iowa Department of Public Health regarding vaccine distribution since late August and a great deal of planning  has been  advanced,” commented Colette Rossiter, Clay County Public Health Coordinator. “As the anticipation of a vaccine release nears, we’re getting new information almost daily. We’ve secured supplies and cold storage to support the vaccination process.”

The CDC expects the vaccine supply to increase throughout 2021 and eventually will be available for anyone who wishes to be immunized. Rossiter said that as supply increases and priority groups are immunized, the vaccine will also be offered to the public. Plans are also in place for off-site community clinics.

“I’ve had people ask me about my confidence in the vaccine, and I have reassured them that even though this is a new vaccine, it gets all the attention, testing, and reporting that any new drugs gets.  This is so important, since it’s addressing a new disease and has been developed quickly,” commented Dr. David Keith, medical director for the Clay County Board of Health and family practitioner with Avera Medical Group Spencer. 

“I respect healthy skepticism yet also I’ve closely followed the development process, the technology and the expert opinions. Though the process was expedited, shortcuts weren’t taken,” Dr. Keith said. “I’m looking forward to being able to offer the vaccine to help prevent infections. I’ve cared for patients ill with COVID-19 and I’ve had patients die from COVID-19. Getting vaccination is the answer that will allow us to save our community and nation.  I urge all of my community to consider taking it.  I will be as soon as it is available.”

Iowa Department of Public Health – Frequently Asked Questions

Release Nov. 20, 2020

When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available? IDPH anticipates the vaccine will first be available in December 2020. Limited vaccines may be available this fall, but the COVID-19 vaccine supply is expected to increase substantially in 2021 and eventually be available for everyone who wants to receive it. 

Will I need more than one dose of COVID-19 vaccine? The first COVID-19 vaccines to come to market will  require two doses. It is anticipated the two doses will be separated by >21 or >28 days. The different vaccine products will NOT be interchangeable. The second dose must be completed with the same vaccine brand as the first dose. 

How do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective? Safety is the top priority for any vaccine. Early results from the first COVID-19 vaccines tested in people showed it worked as intended with no serious side effects. New vaccines undergo a rigorous review of laboratory and clinical data to ensure the safety and effectiveness of these products. These vaccines may also be required to undergo additional studies to further evaluate the vaccine and often to address specific questions about the vaccine's safety, effectiveness, or possible side effects (​FDA​). The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority while federal partners work to make COVID-19 vaccines available (​CDC).

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be prioritized to certain groups? Due to initial limited supplies of the vaccine, doses may be limited to certain priority groups such as health care workers, residents of long term care and assisted living, and those who work in industries where social distancing is difficult. As more vaccines become available, these groups will broaden so more people are eligible to receive the vaccine.

Will enough COVID-19 vaccine be available for everyone who wants it? Limited vaccines may be available this fall, but the COVID-19 vaccine supply is expected to increase substantially in 2021 and eventually be available for everyone who wants to receive it. 

If I already had COVID-19 do I still need to get the vaccine? There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again; this is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. Until we have a vaccine available and know more about natural immunity to COVID-19, CDC cannot comment on whether people who had COVID-19 should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Once a vaccine has been authorized or approved, ACIP will make recommendations to CDC on who should get a COVID-19 vaccine.

How long will immunity from the COVID-19 vaccine last? It is not yet known how long immunity from COVID-19 infection lasts. The duration of immunity from COVID-19 vaccines are currently being evaluated. Data from clinical trials will be used to determine how long immunity will last and if it will be necessary for people to receive a booster dose of vaccine each year. Additional information will be forthcoming as vaccine studies continue. 

Will the vaccine give me COVID-19 or make me sick? Vaccines contain the same germs that cause disease. They have been either killed or weakened to the point that they cannot make you sick. A vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to the disease, without having to get the disease first.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?  Any vaccine or medication can cause side effects. For the most part these are minor (for example, a sore arm or low-grade fever) and go away within a few days. Safety is the top priority of any vaccine. Early results from the first COVID-19 vaccines tested in people showed it worked as intended with no serious side effects. 

 Will the COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID-19?  No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not give you COVID-19. Vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as a sore arm or fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs the body is building immunity. Learn more about ​how ​COVID-19 vaccines work​.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

Will COVID-19 vaccine cause me to test positive on a COVID-19 viral test? Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States will not cause you to test positive on ​viral tests​, which are used to see if you have a current infection.  If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some ​antibody tests​. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently working to assess  how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

 Will there be a cost for the vaccine? Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. Providers that participate in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program contractually agree to administer a COVID-19 vaccine regardless of an individual’s ability to pay and regardless of their insurance coverage status. In addition, healthcare providers may not seek any reimbursement, including through balance billing, from a vaccine recipient. In some cases, a provider may charge a small fee to you or your health insurance for the administration of the vaccine. The vaccine administration will be determined by the federal government and shared as soon as it is determined.

 If I receive the COVID-19 vaccine will I still need to wear a mask? Yes. 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 help stop this pandemic, like wearing masks, washing hands often, and social distancing. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on mask use. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

 Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for ​how to protect yourself and others​ will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

 Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than protection from COVID-19 vaccines?  The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus is new, it is unknown how long natural immunity might last. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long. It is also currently unknown how long immunity from the vaccine will last. Additional information about the duration of immunity will be forthcoming. 

What percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to have herd immunity to COVID-19?  At this time, experts do not know what percentage of people need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection from either previous infection or vaccination to prevent the spread of the virus or bacteria in the community. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people don’t have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.