As we continue to navigate these unprecedented waters, we want to ensure you all, our family, can stay up to date on evolving information and events. The vaccination for COVID-19 is something we are closely monitoring. There are still some unknowns regarding distribution, but we feel it is significant to share the information we have received at this time.
First and foremost, it is important to review details about the vaccination itself. Every vaccine, no matter what it is for, goes through multiple steps and for the COVID-19 vaccine, no steps were skipped. The financial support, 4.5 billion dollars from the US government, and groundwork that was already laid during the search for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) vaccines gave vaccine manufacturers all the resources they needed to accelerate their process. The top two COVID vaccine candidates in the US (Pfizer and Moderna) have both successfully completed trials and report over 90% effectiveness and very few side effects. Over 40,000 adults of all ages, races, and genders, including those with underlying health conditions and children over the age of 12, received either vaccine during clinical trials. As of Fall 2020, fewer than 10% of participants experienced side effects, with the most common being soreness around the injection site, which is typical for most vaccinations. Other mild symptoms included short-term fever, fatigue, joint pain, and headaches.
Just as done with every other vaccination, after clinical trials, approvals, and distribution to the public (phases 1, 2, and 3), health experts will continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and effectiveness. The FDA and CDC are part of the monitoring process, known as phase 4. Individuals who receive the vaccination will be observed for side effects and any other risks associated. V-safe, a smartphone tool, can also be used to alert the CDC about any side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. It uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins post vaccination. This technology will also extend reminders if you need a second vaccine dose.
We do know there are many reasons to get the vaccination. These include the 90% effectiveness at preventing COVID-19, the lack of cost as this will be free to every person in the US with the exception of a possible administration fee, increased health and safety for yourself and those who surround you, and lastly because the end of this pandemic depends on the majority of us getting vaccinated. Without wide-spread vaccination, reaching the point of immunity needed will take years and risk countless additional lives. The pandemic has taken a toll on every aspect of life and this is the best way to fight back.
As far as distribution is concerned, we are closely monitoring the timeline and will keep all abreast as we receive new information. On December 1, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to allocate the initial doses (phase 1a) of the national COVID-19 vaccination program to both healthcare personnel (HCP) and long-term care facilities (LTCF). Virginia announced that it will adopt the recommendations and was notified on December 3 by the federal government to prepare to receive an estimated total of 480,000 doses of vaccine from two manufacturers (Pfizer and Moderna) by the end of December 2020. The Virginia Department of Health estimates that there are up to 500,000 HCP and LTCF residents in Virginia and they are partnering with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association to vaccinate healthcare personnel and with the CDC to vaccinate LTCF staff and residents through the Federal LTCF Pharmacy Partnership with CVS and Walgreens.
Information on vaccination opportunities will be provided to HCP by the health systems and local health districts in the upcoming weeks. We await further details on where we fall in the distribution phases and will of course keep all informed of developing information.
Safe and Healthy Thoughts,
Chelsey Ammons, RN
Vice President of Nursing, Care Advantage, Inc.