NOTE: What I write today is true today. New information is rapidly emerging and updates are forthcoming when relevant.
QUESTION: I don’t want to get vaccinated; why should I?
ANSWER: No one has to get immunized. It’s totally voluntary. For some people the decision is based on the risks of getting COVID-19 against the risks of the vaccines.
The numbers are pretty straight forward. The vaccines reduce to almost zero death and ICU hospitalization.
This is what the clinical trials have shown and is supported now in large community based review of cases both in this country and Israel. Vaccine side effects are mild and short lived. The science behind all the approved vaccines has been around for more than ten years.
QUESTION: I hear the governor opened the vaccine eligibility. Who is now eligible and where can I get my shot?
ANSWER: Depending on the vaccine, if you are 16 and older you are eligible for a vaccine as of today.
The supply of vaccines has increased and more vaccine clinics are opening, so getting an appointment should not be a problem.
Keep in mind you need to be available either 21 or 28 days later for shot number two if you get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. See the links at the end of this Q&A for sites to register.
QUESTION: If we are all getting vaccinated, why did President Joe Biden just suggest we continue to mask and social distance?
ANSWER: The country still has a way to go before we get to herd immunity. And with the variants on the rise, and the unknown about how effective the vaccines are against the variants, the president was advised by his medical COVID-19 team to encourage continued masking and social distancing.
Of note, in states where mitigation measures have been relaxed, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased.
QUESTION: I have been reading about herd immunity, what does it mean?
ANSWER: The CDC defines herd, aka community, immunity “when a sufficient portion of a population is immune to an infectious disease due to vaccine or prior illness.”
Infectious disease experts and the CDC feel somewhere between 70 percent to 90 percent of the population would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd, ie. community, immunity.
At the speed of the vaccine rollout, predictions of reaching this level is sometime this summer. More vaccines are becoming available so more people will be eligible.
There will be some people who will not vaccinate regardless of safety or efficacy.
QUESTION: Why should I get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when its efficacy is lower?
ANSWER: The Johnson & Johnson was in clinical trial when the variants were already in the populations where it was being tested.
At 28 days after the shot, it is showing an efficacy of 88 percent. This actually compares favorably to the two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna at 95 percent efficacy which were tested before the variants were in the trial populations.
INFORMATION: For more information about COVID-19 and the vaccines, eligibility and appointments, see the links below.
Pharmacies are getting small shipments of vaccines. Information will be posted in this newspaper and on the county public health web pages.
Other vaccine clinics are being held at local pharmacies:
Buena Vista Drug and Valley-Wide Health
QUESTIONS: If you have a covid related question, please send it to email@example.com and I will attempt to answer it in the next few weeks.
Dr. Lydia Segal is trying to be a retired board-certified family practice doctor who also has a Masters in Public Health.(In a former life she was a general assignment reporter for a newspaper in Arizona. ) Currently she also co-teaches at the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center with the pelvic physical therapists classes on men’s and women’s health.