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Protecting Yourself and Others from COVID-19

All of us at Eagle, like you, are overjoyed that the vaccine for COVID-19 is now being administered in our community. 

 

As you most likely are aware, the state of North Carolina has opened the vaccine eligibility to all those who are 12 and older.  And vaccines are readily available in our community. 

 

Our providers recommend getting the vaccine.  There are no contraindications unless you have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the components of the vaccine.  Precautionary questions will be asked before you get the vaccine. NCDHHS has recently expanded its COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center to help with call inquiries.  The COVID-19 vaccine help center can be reached at 888-675-4567 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

 

You can also check out www.yourspotyourshot.nc.gov to Find Vaccine Locations.  You’ll also find helpful fact sheets there as well to learn more about the vaccine itself.

Stay Healthy                                                                                                              June 17, 2021

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                                           The COVID-19 Vaccine – Calming Fears and Correcting Myths 

                                                Caring for our patients is Eagle’s #1 job!  Because of that, we want to assure that you                                                        have accurate about the COVID-19.  Below are some of the most commonly asked                                                            questions.

1. 'I'm concerned about side effects, particularly long term'

Unlike some medications we take daily, which can build up in the body, vaccines are essentially a one-and-done treatment that gets eliminated quickly. They are designed to deliver a payload, provoke immunity, and degrade. Even with a booster shot, the messenger RNA (mRNA) in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines works incredibly fast – it signals cells to make copies of the spike protein and triggers an immune response, and then natural enzymes break down the mRNA within a few days.

Because of this, any side effects from the vaccines usually surface quickly – sore arm, headache, fatigue – and only last a day or two. If there is going to be a serious side effect, it will almost certainly come within two weeks to two months of the rollout of a vaccine, which has proven to be true throughout our long history with vaccinations. For the COVID-19 vaccines, Phase 3 clinical trials followed thousands of people for 60 days post-vaccination before safety data could be submitted.

Further, the V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker has created the most extensive long-term monitoring database of post-vaccine effects ever. The vaccines have been proven safe and effective in both the clinical trials and through this long-term monitoring effort.

2. 'The vaccines were rushed and remain authorized only for emergency use'

The COVID-19 vaccines were put through the same rigorous testing that faces any new drug seeking authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The only thing that was accelerated or eliminated were some of the administrative processes – the red tape that can sometimes slow down approvals. Also, rather than do the studies in succession, clinical trials were conducted in tandem (at the same time) allowing the same amount of research to be completed in a shorter time.

The vaccines were granted “emergency use authorization” because they were developed during a devastating and deadly public health crisis. Full FDA approval, which requires a review of six months’ worth of data, will confirm what we already know: The vaccines are safe and very effective. Pfizer submitted its request for full FDA approval in May and it is progressing (on July 16 it earned approval for its biologics license); Moderna’s was filed in June. You should not wait for this formality to get vaccinated.

 

3. 'I never get sick. My immune system will protect me from COVID-19'

SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus, which means your immune system – no matter how strong – has no existing antibodies to mount a defense against it unless you’ve already had COVID-19. Certainly, immune systems vary based on genetics, age, diet, exercise habits, and even exposure to past pathogens, but COVID-19 has proven itself to be very unpredictable, exacting a toll on people of all ages.

Some people may even be victims of their strong immune systems. COVID-19 has sparked what’s called a cytokine storm in some patients, which is essentially an overreaction of the immune system that causes severe inflammation in vital organs such as the heart and lungs.

The safest way to strengthen your immune system against a novel coronavirus is to get vaccinated.

4. 'I'm worried the mRNA vaccines will change my DNA'

The mRNA in the vaccines never enters the nucleus of your cells, where DNA lives, so it cannot affect your DNA.

Essentially, mRNA is a technology that the vaccines use to show your immune system the genetic code for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, so when your body encounters the virus in real life it recognizes the invader and mounts a defense.

The mRNA does not affect your DNA, and it remains in your body for only a few days.

5. 'The vaccine will affect my fertility'

There is no medical or scientific way for the COVID-19 vaccines to interact with the female reproductive organs. This bit of misinformation is rooted in a disproven theory that because the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein resembles the syncytin-1 protein crucial for formation of the placenta, the vaccines might target them. Virologists have said the proteins are nowhere near similar enough to confuse antibodies or cause infertility. Take the time to correct anyone who spreads that rumor.

Preliminary research has shown the vaccines are safe for pregnant women and may provide some protective antibodies for their newborns.

As for fertility in men, the vaccines won’t cause any adverse effects, but a recently published journal review suggests COVID-19 infection might have a negative impact on testicular function and sperm production.

6. 'The virus and delta variant don’t pose a real threat to young people'

The biggest increase in cases recently has been among unvaccinated people ages 29 to 40. Hospitalizations among that age group also have been on the rise.

Data indicate that vaccinated people are largely protected from serious illness from the delta variant, which is considered highly infectious and more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. It also appears to cause more severe disease, particularly in the unvaccinated. The risk of hospitalization increases two-fold if you’re infected with the delta variant.

While deaths from COVID-19 are rare among young people, they are susceptible to “long-haul COVID” complications such as respiratory problems, loss of smell, and brain fog. A study published in JAMA Network Open in February said that 30 percent of people who had COVID-19 continue to have symptoms up to nine months after infection. Although we are still studying these long-term symptoms, we know getting vaccinated will prevent these health effects.

7. 'I’ve had COVID-19, so I have natural immunity and don’t need a vaccine'

Recent studies have shown that protection provided by COVID-19 vaccines is robust and longer-lasting than natural immunity. There have also been reported cases of people who have had COVID-19 and been re-infected, so experts recommend vaccination, particularly for added protection against variants.

8. 'Getting the vaccine is a hassle. I can’t take time off work to wait in line'

COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available – from the Guilford County Health Department and  retail pharmacies (Walgreens, CVS) to grocery stores (Harris-Teeter) to big box outlets (Walmart, Target). The CDC has an easy-to-use vaccine finder online to get locations near you, or you can call 1-800-232-0233. You can even text your ZIP code to 438839.

9. 'I don’t want to be a guinea pig'

Vaccine hesitancy runs deeps, particularly in communities of color where historical abuses and limited access to health care continue to stoke distrust. But many doctors, nurses, scientists, and health care workers of color have publicly endorsed the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines by posting photos and videos of themselves getting vaccinated.  Just as you would with any other disease, talk to your doctor about your concerns and bring your questions to your appointment.

Frontline workers were among the first people to get vaccinated in December 2020, and since then more than 1 billion people worldwide have gotten their shots. This is not an experiment, it is an unprecedented scientific “win” that we learned how to prevent a terrible disease just months after its discovery. Vaccines, and these in particular, are the best medicine has to offer for disease prevention.

10. ‘I’ve heard people have died after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.’  

COVID-19 vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in US history and the results are reassuring.  There are several programs of vaccine safety monitoring: Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), V-safe, VSD (Vaccine Safety Datalink), CISA (Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment).  Everyone, not just HCPs, can report to VAERS so VAERS cases are always reviewed by the CDC.  Reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are extremely rare.  More than 357 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the US from December 14, 2020 through August 16, 2021.   During this time, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) received 6,789 reports of death (0.0019%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.  A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and TTS, a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused 3 attributed deaths pdf icon[1.4 MB, 40 pages]

 

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