The Moore County Health Department released a frequently asked questions document on the COVID-19 vaccine.
Q: Who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine first and what are the priority phases for vaccination beyond that?
A: Because the current supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is limited, initial supplies of COVID-19 vaccine will be offered to healthcare personnel providing direct COVID-19 care and long-term care facility residents and staff.
Currently, vaccination phases are as follows:
• Health care workers at high risk for exposure to COVID-19—doctors, nurses, and all who interact and care for patients with COVID-19, including those who clean areas used by patients, and those giving vaccines to these workers.
• Long-Term Care staff and residents— people in skilled nursing facilities and in adult, family and group homes.
• Adults with two or more chronic conditions that put them at risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC, including conditions like cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease and Type 2 diabetes, among others.
• Adults at high risk of exposure including essential frontline workers (police, food processing, teachers), health care workers, and those living in prisons, homeless shelters, migrant and fishery housing with 2+ chronic conditions.
• Those working in prisons, jails and homeless shelters (no chronic conditions requirement).
• Essential frontline workers, health care workers, and those living in prisons, homeless shelters or migrant and fishery housing.
• Adults 65+
• Adults under 65 with one chronic condition that puts them at risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC.
• College and university students.
• K-12 students when there is an approved vaccine for children.
• Those employed in jobs that are critical to society and at lower risk of exposure.
• Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.
Q: When and how will I be notified that I am eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: If you are an employee of or affiliated with one of the designated priority groups, you may be notified by your employer or facility administrator once the vaccine is available. As vaccine supply increases and North Carolina progresses through the priority phases for vaccination, groups/persons who are eligible will be notified by way of announcements through State and local media outlets. You can also find updates and announcements on the Moore County Health Department website at www.moorecountync.gov/health. Information will also be posted to the Health Department’s Facebook (Moore County Health Department) and Twitter (@mocohealth) feeds. Being that progression through the phases is dependent on vaccine supply, no solid dates have been set for when each phase will begin.
Currently, the best guess on that timeline is as follows:
Phase 1a: Begins December 2020
Phase 1b: December 2020/Early 2021
Phase 2: Early 2021
Phase 3: Early 2021/Spring 2021
Phase 4: Spring 2021
Q: Will there be enough vaccine for everyone?
A: Yes, even though there is currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, supply will increase in the weeks and months to come. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as large enough quantities are available. Once vaccine is widely available, the plan is to have several thousand vaccination providers offering COVID-19 vaccines in doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.
Q: When will Moore County receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine?
A: FirstHealth of the Carolinas should receive the first shipment of vaccine the week of December 14, 2020. Shipments should arrive weekly after that. Initial shipments will go toward vaccinating all healthcare personnel providing direct COVID-19 care.
Q: When will the vaccine be available for the general public?
A: As more vaccines become available, vaccinations will be offered to everyone who wants one, including in clinics and drug stores, as well as at vaccination events in various Moore County communities. This will happen when vaccine is in adequate supply and after priority groups have been vaccinated first, which will most likely be around Spring of 2021.
Q: Do I have to get vaccinated? Is it mandated?
A: No. Getting vaccinated is voluntary and North Carolina has no plan to require people to be vaccinated against COVID19. However, it is possible that some employers or schools may require vaccines for their employees or students.
Q: Can children receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Children will not receive vaccines until clinical trials are completed to ensure the vaccines are safe and work to prevent COVID illness in children. The Pfizer vaccine can be given to teenagers 16 years old and up now, and they are doing additional studies with children 12 and over.
Q: Should pregnant women get the vaccine?
A: Pregnant and breastfeeding women may choose to receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine. Pregnant women should talk with their doctors before making the choice. You do not need to take a pregnancy test before you get your vaccine. Women who are breastfeeding may also choose to get vaccinated. The vaccine is not thought to be a risk to a baby who is breastfeeding.
Q: How will staff and residents of long-term care facilities be vaccinated?
A: The federal government manages vaccinations for most staff and residents of long-term care facilities. Long-term care facilities include skilled nursing facilities and adult care homes. The federal government has created the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program with CVS and Walgreens to work with long-term care facilities to give vaccinations. They will likely begin vaccinating staff and residents once the Moderna vaccine is authorized.
Q: Is the vaccine safe?
A: The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. CDC has developed a new tool, v-safe, as an additional layer of safety monitoring to increase the ability to rapidly detect any safety issues with COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe is a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines.
Q: How many doses of the vaccine are necessary to provide protection against COVID-19?
A: You need 2 doses of the currently available COVID-19 vaccine. A second shot 3-4 weeks after your first shot is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer. You need two doses to build up strong immunity. Additionally, it is important to get two doses of the same vaccine.
Q: If 2 shots are necessary, how will people know when to get the second?
A: North Carolina will use a secure data system called the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS) to make sure you are safe and get your second shot at the right time. When a person gets the first shot, they get information on when to come back for the second and they are asked to make a second appointment. People will also be given a card with information about which vaccine they got for their first dose and the date of that shot. They will receive an email notification with reminders for the second shot. The provider who gave the vaccine may also help with reminders for the second one. State and federal privacy laws make sure none of your private information will be shared. The shot you take and when you need the second is confidential health information that is carefully managed to protect your privacy.
Q: Does the vaccine have any side effects?
A: No serious side effects have been reported. But people have reported temporary reactions like sore arms, tiredness, and feeling off for a day or two after receiving the vaccine. These temporary reactions were more common after the second vaccine dose. These side effects are a normal sign that your body is building protection against the virus.
Q: Is there a risk of allergic reaction to the vaccine?
A: People who have had severe allergic reactions, also called anaphylaxis, to any ingredient in the Pfizer vaccine should not receive that vaccine. People who have had this type of severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or treatment that is injected should not receive the Pfizer vaccine at this time. Vaccine providers will watch patients for 15-30 minutes after vaccination to ensure the patient’s safety.
Q: Will COVID-19 vaccinations be free?
A: Yes, they are free to everyone, even if you don’t have health insurance. The federal government is covering the cost.
Q: Once vaccine is available; will I need to register to get vaccinated or provide any identification?
A: No, you don’t need to register to get vaccinated. North Carolina also does not require an identification card, like a driver’s license, to be vaccinated. Some employers could request ID when limited vaccine has to be prioritized, but it is not required.
Q: If I’ve had COVID-19 previously, will I still need to get vaccinated?
A: Yes, and it is safe to get vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine if you have been infected in the past. The vaccine works to protect you against a future infection. You don’t need a COVID test before vaccination.
Q: Once I’ve been vaccinated, how long can I expect the vaccine’s protection to last?
A: Since the Pfizer trial just ended, we know that it can protect people from COVID illness for at least two months. We’ll know even more about how long the immunity from the vaccine lasts as people have been vaccinated for a longer period of time.
Q: Once I’ve been vaccinated, do I still need to adhere to COVID-19 control measures like wearing a mask and social distancing?
A: Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are just one of many important tools to help us stop this pandemic. It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Everyone should continue using the 3 Ws—wearing a mask, waiting 6 feet apart, washing your hands, and limiting gatherings—until most people are vaccinated. Receiving the COVID-19 shot and following the 3 Ws is everyone’s best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.
Q: Will COVID-19 vaccination data be shared with the public?
A: The State of North Carolina will begin sharing an online public dashboard with vaccination data on December 22, 2020.
The data in the Moore County COVID-19 dashboard is updated weekly. A link to the dashboard is posted on the Moore CountyHealth Department website https://www.moorecountync.gov/health