Open Forum: COVID Vaccines: What’s New, What’s True | Winchester Star
This past weekend my wife and I kissed our oldest daughter for the first time in over a year. Then we had lunch and enjoyed a delicious visit with her and her gentleman friend, holding hands while saying Grace, freely passing food and sharing smiley faces without a MASK. The reason it was safely possible: We are all four vaccinated against COVID-19.
Vaccination remains our best method to beat COVID-19, but it’s also our ticket to getting back to some of those basic human interactions we’ve missed for so long. It’s hard to describe how liberating this is after such a very long year, but many of you get it all too well. What we need most now is for as many people as possible to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. We have encountered roadblocks, but there is still a clear and safe path out of COVID. Here’s how:
First, Pfizer and Moderna are safe for all groups, so get your shot if you haven’t. While concerns have arisen around the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine (discussed below), these do not affect injections from Pfizer or Moderna, which use different technology, and after more than 200 million doses , showed absolutely none of the problems associated with J&J. So if you are not comfortable with J&J you can get one of the other two. Also, if you had your first photo with Pfizer or Moderna, please schedule the second. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if in doubt or if you have any questions.
Second, even with J&J, the risks are very low. At last count, 15 women in the United States under the age of 60 suffered from life-threatening bleeding disorders within two weeks of receiving a J&J vaccine. That’s out of about 4 million doses given to women, so the risk is about 1: 250,000. In comparison, the risk of being killed by lightning in your lifetime is about 1 / 150,000. , so the risk of J&J is very low, but it does exist. The association of this bleeding disorder with the vaccine does not appear at the same rate in men (there is one possible case), nor in people over 65 years of age. stop serious complications from COVID-19. Every patient needs to make an informed decision, and especially women should consider whether they are willing to accept the very small but real risk of the serious bleeding problem with J&J, or whether they should seek a vaccine without this risk. Again, talk to your healthcare professional.
Third, getting the COVID vaccine is easier than ever. As more and more people have been vaccinated, demand has dropped, while supply has increased. A multitude of pharmacies provide vaccines, as well as many local doctors’ offices, hospitals and health departments. Many now offer open appointments online, and some even accept walk-in appointments (no internet connection required!). Two useful sites are vaccinfinder.org, which shows most open appointment clinics, and vaccineappointments.virginia.gov, which shows the locations of health services. Also monitor your local school, government and health system sites; ask your doctor, call your local health department, or check TV, radio or print media in your area.
Fourth, if you know someone who is having difficulty getting the vaccine, who is at home, or in a remote or underserved area, offer to help. Help them make an appointment or call your local health department for further advice.
Fifth, continue to follow COVID guidelines. Masking and distancing is still necessary, especially indoors, unless you are in a closed group (no one comes and goes) where everyone is vaccinated. We are heading towards the end of the pandemic, but we still have a long way to go before we get there. Stay safe while you wait.
Most importantly, get vaccinated. About half of our population is still unvaccinated, including about 20% of the elderly, so this virus can still spread, and it can still kill. Each person who is vaccinated is less likely to suffer or die from COVID-19, and one more person who can safely embrace family and friends and enjoy the human companionship so dearly lacking in Northwest Virginia and everywhere else.
Dr Colin Greene is a family physician, retired army officer, Lord Fairfax Health District Director (LFHD) and Acting Health Director of Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District (RRHD).