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LMAS District Health Department COVID-19 vaccine releases answers to frequently asked questions

The health department provided answers to questions about the vaccine and future availability for residents.
(LMAS District Health Department logo)
(LMAS District Health Department logo)(WLUC)
Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 5:11 PM EST
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EASTERN UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WLUC) - The LMAS District Health Department has released answered to some frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

As the first COVID-19 vaccines began being delivered late last week, LMAS has received many questions about the vaccines, masks, and social distancing. Below are the questions the department has heard most often, followed by the answers from the health department.

How long before the vaccine will be available for everybody?

Presently, the amount of available vaccine is going to the highest priority groups of health care workers, persons who work in long-term care facilities, and residents of those facilities. It will likely be many months before adequate quantities of the vaccine are available for all.

Can I put my name on a waiting list for the vaccine?

There are no waiting lists for the shot. Health departments and hospitals and long term care facilities are working hard right now to make sure that those who are in the highest priority levels get their two shot series. Much of the timing will depend on the pharmaceutical companies’ ability to produce enough vaccine to meet demand.

Once I get my two shots of vaccine, can I go out without my mask and hang out with my friends again?

The vaccine will protect you from getting sick or at least reduce the severity of your illness, but you still might pick up the virus and be able to spread it to others who haven’t been vaccinated yet.

Masks, social distancing, staying home when you don’t feel well, and not gathering with people who don’t live in your immediate household will remain necessary, and of course handwashing, must continue until the researchers have adequate data about whether persons vaccinated might still be able to spread the virus to others or not.

This would be similar to the flu vaccine, in which a person who gets the shot may still get the flu, but not as severe, but they still would be able to spread the flu to others.

Are we going to be wearing masks forever?

It might feel like it, but no, not forever. Epidemiologists and other medical researchers estimate that about 70% of Americans – that is about 230 million people - must be vaccinated before we get to herd immunity through vaccination. It is at that level when enough people have immunity to the virus that it should run out of sufficient modes of transportation to continue to survive and spread.

It is going to take time to produce that many vaccines, especially with Pfizer and Moderna (the 2nd vaccine approved by the FDA) both being a two-shot series, means that the United States alone will need about 460 million doses. The rest of the world is also needing vaccine – this will take time to produce adequate quantities. Add in the human capacity to actually administer the vaccines, and getting 70% of the population to roll up their sleeves, this will be a long process.

And we need everyone’s help! When it’s your turn, show up for a vaccination event, roll up your sleeve and get your COVID vaccine. Until then and after, please continue to do the small things needed to protect each other from the virus and to allow businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities to be able to function safely and provide needed services. Be patient. There is hope, but we need you to help us to keep the number of new cases down until there is enough vaccine for all.

For more information about COVID-19 and the Vaccine, please visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus, Michigan.gov/CovidVaccine and LMASDHD.org.

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