What happens after you are vaccinated?

As more vaccines are administered, we’re getting a lot of questions about “what’s next.”  We thought it would be helpful to share some of the questions and answers with you as we all continue to work through the pandemic together.

Q.    If I get vaccinated for COVID, can I return to my normal life?
A.     Unfortunately, the answer is no. The coronavirus is pervasive. It’s been around for years, and it continues to mutate. So for right now, we need to continue to take precautions even after being vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control recently published these guidelines for people who have been vaccinated.

Q.    Well, then, why should I bother getting vaccinated at all?
A.    That’s a good question. There are a couple of reasons to get the COVID vaccine. The first is that the vaccines are very effective at preventing a severe case of COVID. They are somewhat less effective at preventing a mild case. So having the vaccine will help keep you out of the hospital if you do contract the virus. The second reason is that in order to keep the virus from mutating and spreading, we need herd immunity. At least 70% of the population has to be vaccinated in order for this to happen. So by not getting vaccinated, you delay the very normality that you want so much.

Q.    Will I need to get vaccinated more than once?
A.    That’s another great question, and we don’t have the answer right now. We can guess, based on the corona virus behavior, that there will continue to be mutations and different strains. That would seem to indicate an ongoing need for vaccinations, although it’s not definitive right now.

Q.    Is the vaccine worse than the illness?
A.    Definitely not. The most common side effects experienced by the 10% who actually have a reaction are similar to those of other vaccines: pain/redness at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle/joint aches and low-grade fever. All of these symptoms can be treated with Tylenol and ibuprofen, and most last less than 24 hours. The most extreme response to the COVID vaccine is an allergic reaction. We’ve administered more than 6,000 doses in NOCHS clinics and have not had a single patient with an allergic reaction. COVID, on the other hand, typically lasts for 10-15 days, and those who end up hospitalized can be there for weeks. In addition, there’s a growing number of people who have lost their sense of taste or smell due to the virus. Bottom line? One day of mild discomfort is far better than weeks, months or a lifetime of impact from the disease.

Q.    Why has it been so hard for people who want the vaccine to get it?
A.    The vaccines are being distributed based on the percentage of the population that has risk factors. Fortunately or unfortunately, Ottawa County is a bit healthier than most Michigan counties. Thus we are receiving fewer vaccines in the initial stages. The government has been working to ramp up production and continues to work through supply chain issues.

The State of Michigan recently expanded eligibility to those age 50 to 64 with preexisting conditions, disabilities and other medical vulnerabilitiesCaregivers of children with disabilities are also eligible for vaccination. On March 22, eligibility will expand to those aged 50 and up.

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