With Coconino County COVID-19 cases now exceeding 8,000, local health officials are gearing up for the distribution of vaccines, the first of which is expected to arrive before the end of the month.
Coconino County will sponsor one vaccine distribution site, at a still to be announced location, but healthcare organization in the region can sign up to become a vaccine provider. The vaccine will be free of charge due to federal funding, though insurance will be billed for the administration fee.
There is no COVID-19 in vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines help your body make antibodies to a protein on the virus surface. This allows your immune system to attack the virus and fight off infection if you are exposed.
Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people don’t have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.
The vaccine is recommended for people previously infected. According to data reviewed by the CDC, people appear to become susceptible to reinfection after >90 days after the initial infection. To date, reinfection appears to be rare during the initial 90 days after symptom onset of the preceding infection. DHEC recommends that people eligible for vaccine in Phase 1a who had COVID-19 within the previous 90 days consider delaying vaccination to allow more vulnerable access to a scarce resource.
The vaccines don’t contain live, attenuated, or inactivated vaccines. The vaccines contain the gene for a virus protein only. This means you can’t get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
The FDA is committed to science and the critical evaluation of all new vaccines for their safety and efficacy in an unbiased way before their authorization for use. No vaccine will be released until it has undergone rigorous scientific and clinical testing that all vaccines in development are held to. Learn more about vaccine development in this presentation from the CDC.
Vaccine development typically takes many years, however, scientists had already begun research for coronavirus vaccines during previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses, such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). That earlier research provided a head start for the rapid development of vaccines to protect against infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Any vaccine or medication can cause side effects. These are typically minor, such as a sore arm or low-grade fever, and go away within a few days. As with all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines are not approved until clinical trials have taken place that shows they are both safe and effective. Safety is the top priority of any vaccine. Results from the first COVID-19 vaccines show no serious side effects.
The federal government will cover the cost of the vaccine. There will be no out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers will cover the cost of vaccine administration. It is possible that health care providers may charge an office visit fee, or a fee to administer the vaccine. Administrative costs for vaccines for the uninsured will be covered by the Health Resources and Services Administration.