Vaccination of Malheur County Health Care Workers Continues

In coming weeks, most of Malheur County’s health care workers, as well as long-term care facility employees and residents, will have had an opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19. As more vaccine becomes available, health care workers will be followed by our community’s other essential workers and people age 75 and older. The general population is expected to have access to the vaccine sometime in spring 2021.

The Malheur County Health Department is working with community partners to ensure that everyone in our community who wants the vaccine will be able to get it. Distribution plans are under way, and we are confident that widespread vaccination will ultimately enable us to return to our normal way of life.

COVID-19 vaccines have been evaluated extensively in large-scale clinical trials that involved adults from a diverse and inclusive range of races, ethnicities and ages. The vaccines that are currently available have been found to be 95% effective after two doses, given about three to four weeks apart.

As we prepare to open vaccination PODS in Malheur County, we are relying on the research and results from COVID-19 vaccine trials to provide answers to some commonly asked questions, which are addressed below by the Centers for Disease Control. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

Should I get vaccinated for COVID-19? It is strongly recommended that you do. The vaccine will help protect you from getting COVID-19. If you still get infected after you get vaccinated, the vaccine may prevent serious illness. By getting vaccinated, you can also help protect people around you.

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19? No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use or in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick.

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated? Yes. CDC recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19, because you can catch it more than once. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection will last.

Can my child get vaccinated for COVID-19? No. More studies need to be conducted before COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for children aged 16 and younger.

Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying medical condition? Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

Is it better to get natural immunity to COVID-19 rather than immunity from a vaccine? No. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection lasts. Vaccination is the best protection, and it is safe. People who get COVID-19 can have serious illnesses, and some have debilitating symptoms that persist for months.

Why do I need two COVID-19 shots? Currently authorized vaccines, and most vaccines under development, require two doses of vaccine. The first shot helps the immune system recognize the virus, and the second shot strengthens the immune response. You need both to get the best protection.

Will the shot hurt or make me sick? There may be side effects, but they should go away within a few days. Possible side effects include a sore arm, headache, fever, or body aches. This does not mean you have COVID-19. Side effects are signs that the vaccine is working to build immunity. If they don’t go away in a week, or you have more serious symptoms, call your doctor.

Are there long-term side effects from COVID-19 vaccine? Because all COVID-19 vaccines are new, it will take more time and more people getting vaccinated to learn about very rare or possible long-term side effects. The good news is, at least 8 weeks’ worth of safety data were gathered in the clinical trials for all the authorized vaccines, and it’s unusual for vaccine side effects to appear more than 8 weeks after vaccination.

How do I know if COVID-19 vaccine is safe? All COVID-19 vaccines were tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and protect adults of different ages, races, and ethnicities. There were no serious safety concerns. CDC and the FDA will keep monitoring the vaccines to look for safety issues after they are authorized and in use.

How do I report problems or bad reactions after getting a COVID-19 vaccine? All recipients who receive the vaccine are encouraged to enroll in v-safe. This is a smartphone tool you can use to tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. If you report serious side effects, someone from CDC will call to follow up. During your vaccination visit, you will be given instructions on how to enroll.

3 thoughts on “Vaccination of Malheur County Health Care Workers Continues

  1. What is the county’s plan for prioritization of vaccination for those over age 65 with underlying preexisting conditions that make them more susceptible to serious outcomes if infected with COVID-19? Were those 65 and older not listed in the priority phase 1b listed in your 8 Dec 2020 communication? For that matter, what is the county’s plan for addressing anyone with such underlying preexisting conditions? Does the county have the breakdown of deaths in the county of those in these categories? How many vaccinations have been administered to the medical community (I had a dental procedure today and no one in that practice had been vaccinated yet)? From what I could glean from the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, these determinations were to be coordinated with local agencies/authorities. I’d be interested in having my questions answered and the plan either laid out in more detail than above or explained in relationship to the 8 Dec 2020 communication by your department. Likewise, I am interested exactly which facilities have the capacity to store the Pfizer vaccines (I asked my pharmacy a couple of weeks back when I got a shingles vaccine and they do not have that capacity and could not tell me what the plan was for administration of it). Lastly, I’d like to know if this county has unused vaccines on hand, and what, if any, plans there are to accelerate the administration of them (I believe that at the current state-wide rate, Oregon will be appropriately vaccinated in something like four (4) years. Stay safe.

    • Hi Greg,
      Thank you for getting in touch and expressing your concerns. Our plan is to vaccinate as many people as we can, as quickly as possible. We are currently following Oregon guidance on prioritization, and we anticipate that there could be changes as Oregon’s new COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee reviews data as it becomes available. The change to age 75 was made in late December by CDC and was reflected by Oregon Health Authority. We are working with our partners in the community to get people in the 1A group vaccinated, including dentists and staff. Currently, Saint Alphonsus is the only facility in the county equipped to store the Pfizer vaccine and has been administering that vaccine. The health department has received a shipment of Moderna vaccine and will administer it in a closed POD (point of distribution) to 1A people on Wednesday. As a public health organization, we are doing the very best we can with the vaccine we have on hand. We will not sit on vaccine if we have the capacity to administer it, and will do so as quickly as possible. It is our intention to hold weekly vaccine PODs, contingent on availability.

      • I found the CDC guidelines and various explanations as to how it was arrived at subsequent to my comments. Ours is one of the first five hospitals to receive a batch of the Pfizer vaccine, and to date only 185 vaccinations in over two weeks. Roughly assuming that there are 15,000 candidates in Malheur County, at this rate it looks like it will take roughly four years to get to all of them. I should order more masks. That is my way of saying that this is a pretty pathetic show of numbers considering the economic and personal pain that this pandemic has inflicted. This reinforces the view of some, aside from me, that this whole thing is a hoax. We are lucky that it is not more deadly or more easily spread than it is. I certainly hope that there is a plan to increase the rate. I wonder how New York City vaccinated 6 million against smallpox in two months in 1947? I have been just as scathing to state officials as to local officials. I think that I will just clam up now as my comments will not affect anything.

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