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COVID-19 Vaccine Update December 16

December 17, 2020   |   By Jacqui Monahan

The facts about COVID-19 vaccines

As this difficult year comes to a close, people search for hope and new beginnings. They found it in some fantastic news this month. Vaccines to fight COVID-19 are coming online, and the first doses already have reached Oregon.

We want to answer some common questions we’re hearing from GreenField Health patients about the vaccine, when they might be able to get it and what to do in the meantime.

What is a vaccine?

Vaccines contain the same germs that cause disease. But they have been either killed or weakened to the point that they don’t make you sick. Some vaccines contain only a part of the disease germ.

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 that disease, without having to get the disease first.

Vaccines are therefore powerful medicine. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.

Who will get the vaccine first?

Oregon has received a limited supply of the vaccine. Those first doses will go to frontline medical providers and then vulnerable populations in long-term care facilities. These groups were selected per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The state has approximately 200,000 health-care workers and 48,000 nursing home residents and workers. The number of doses expected in December is enough to give them a single dose by the end of the year.

Nationwide, about 21 million health care workers and 3 million older Americans will be among the early recipients. After them, essential workers such as fire fighters and other medical professionals will get it, followed by at-risk adults.

When will the vaccine be available to everyone else?

The average healthy Oregonian likely will have to wait at least until late spring to be vaccinated. More likely, there won’t be enough doses to go around until summer or even fall. GreenField Health will notify patients when they can get the vaccine.

Can I stop wearing a mask now that there is a vaccine?

No. Until widespread deployment of the vaccine establishes herd immunity, everyone must continue to take the pandemic seriously, even people who have been vaccinated. That means continue to wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and follow other health directives.

Is the vaccine safe?

COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time. It’s reasonable to wonder about how thoroughly it was vetted.

Tens of thousands of people volunteered as test subjects for vaccines trials. No one has reported any serious health concerns. Some people did, however, experience side effects that resemble COVID-19 symptoms for a day or two after receiving the vaccine. This sort of reaction is very similar to the flu vaccine. It is normal.

If you do experience a severe allergic reaction after receiving the COVID-19 or any other vaccine, you should contact your primary care provider immediately.

How long does it take for the vaccine to work?

The Pfizer vaccine is generally administered in two doses three weeks apart. It becomes fully effective in most people a week after the second dose.

Are any other vaccines being created?

Yes, a few other vaccines are being tested and on their way to approval for widespread use. As this happens more vaccines will become available and the process of vaccination will become even faster.

How many vaccines will each state receive?

Oregon is expected to get about 35,000 doses in the first set of Pfizer vaccines. If the Moderna vaccine is approved, the state could get a total of 270,000 doses before the end of the year. That is enough to vaccinate 6.3 percent of the state population. Learn more.

GreenField will continue to monitor the vaccine news closely. We will continue to release updates as we learn more about the vaccine options, and availability to our patients and the general public. For all information regarding COVID-19, visit our resource page at https://www.greenfieldhealth.com/health-hub/category/covid-19/.