COVID-19 Vaccine Information
It has been almost a year since COVID-19 hit our shores, and with it, changes have impacted us all. Since the beginning, Oklahoma has seen over 340,000 cases of the virus. To put that in perspective, that is the same number as almost the entire population of Tulsa or half the population of Oklahoma City. Nationally, there have been over 23 million positive cases, which is more than the entire population of Florida combined. While these numbers are stark, vaccines now offer us a new hope.
So how do vaccines work?
Per Johns Hopkins Medicine, vaccines work by introducing a less harmful part of a virus or something created to look or behave like it so that your body’s natural immune response will kick in and develop antibodies to fight that particular virus. Once you have these antibodies, your immune system can recognize and remember how to fight it off if you are exposed to the real virus. This decreases your likelihood of getting the virus at all, and if you do get the virus, it decreases the severity and duration of the illness. Vaccination also has an added benefit if it is utilized widely, called herd immunity. Herd immunity occurs when enough people have become protected from a virus, that it is unlikely that it can spread and cause disease. This results in protection for the whole community, even those that were not able to receive a vaccine due to factors like medical conditions that prevent their immunization.
What about the new COVID-19 vaccines?
In December of 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorizations for two vaccines, one from Pfizer/BioNTech and one from Moderna. Both vaccines have been through rigorous clinical trials and proven to be safe and 94-95% effective after the required two doses. The approved vaccines utilize mRNA to introduce our bodies to the “spike protein” which give Coronavirus (Corona is Spanish for crown) its name. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), these vaccines do not affect our DNA, nor do they use the live virus. With their authorization, the federal government has started a mass campaign called Operation Warp Speed, to get as many doses as possible of the vaccines manufactured and administered to people across the United States so that we can finally bring an end to the pandemic and get back to a more normal way of life.
How do I get my vaccine?
As the United States receives new shipments of vaccines, they distribute them to the states. Each state (with guidance from the government and CDC) has created a phased approach to dispersing vaccines. This allows those with the greatest need or at the greatest risk of getting the virus to receive their vaccines first. The picture below illustrates Oklahoma’s four phases and who qualifies for a vaccine at each stage. As of January 14th, we are currently in Phase 2 with priority groups being healthcare workers, first responders, and adults 65 and older. If you fit in any of these categories or would like to be notified when you are eligible to receive a vaccine, you must go online to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Vaccine Scheduler Portal. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire and after you have completed it, you will be sent an email with your eligibility. If you are eligible now, your email will have a link for you to click on so that you can schedule an appointment. If you are not eligible yet, you will receive a second email whenever you become eligible. Please keep in mind that the vaccine is still limited, so it may take some time to be able to find an available appointment or to move through each phase.
These are trying times and it is hard to keep up with all the information that is constantly coming out so if you would like more information about the vaccines, Operation Warp Speed, or what you will need to bring with you to your immunization appointment, please check out the resources below. Stay safe and be well!
COVID-19 Vaccine Resources:
Information Provided by Federal and International Organizations
- CDC's 8 Things to Know about the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program
- FDA Statement on Following the Authorized Dosing Schedules for COVID-19 Vaccines
- CDC's What to Expect after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine
- CDC's Ensuring the Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines in the United States
- WHO's COVID-19 vaccines
- CDC's Different COVID-19 Vaccines
- COVID-19 Vaccines
- COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet - Pfizer-Biontech
- COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet - Moderna
- CDC's Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination
- COVID-19 vaccines: Get the facts - Mayo Clinic
- Fauci Says U.S. Needs More Time To 'Catch Up' On Vaccine Rollout - NPR
- The Best Evidence for How to Overcome COVID Vaccine Fears - Scientific American
- COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need to Know - John Hopkins Medicine
- The COVID-19 Vaccine and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know - John Hopkins Medicine
- Moderna CEO says COVID-19 vaccine likely to protect for 'couple years' - Fox News
- More Than 54.4 Million Shots Given: Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker - Bloomberg