The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. As cases continue to rise exponentially across the U.S., lines for the vaccine are seen growing by the day. The Florida Department of Health in Collier County has outlined several guidelines to keep residents informed about the locations and requirements for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Requirements, locations and registration
“The Moderna vaccine is currently being offered through DOH-Collier,” PIO Specialist for the DOH-Collier Breanna Johnson said. “Requirements to receive the vaccine include being 65+ or healthcare personnel with direct patient contact, proof of Florida residency, and a scheduled appointment. If you are a healthcare personnel with direct patient contact, you must bring ID indicating so. Do not show up to a vaccine clinic without an appointment.”
Those who meet the eligibility requirements may register for the COVID-19 vaccine at CollierCountyCOVIDVaccines.Eventbrite.com. All appointments are currently booked and are not available for the week of Feb 1. When the DOH-Collier receives the next shipment of vaccines, dates will be updated and posted on the previous link, as well as at collier.floridahealth.gov.
The Moderna vaccine is also being offered at Publix stores. The same requirements apply to getting vaccinated as listed earlier. More information regarding COVID-19 vaccines at Publix may be viewed at Publix.com/covid-vaccine. The Publix website is not run by the Department of Health.
There is currently no set date as to when teenagers and young adults can get vaccinated.
“At this time, we do not have a timeline as to when others will be eligible to receive the vaccine,” Johnson said. “We continue to ask whether or not you have received the COVID-19 vaccine (2 shot series) to still practice your mitigation efforts. This includes frequently washing your hands, wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and staying home when sick.”
The DOH-Collier is working with various organizations across the county to ensure efficient and reliable vaccine distribution.
“The Florida Department of Health in Collier County is working with community partners such as Collier County Emergency Management, Collier County Sheriff’s Office, EMS and North Collier Regional Fire District to offer COVID-19 vaccination sites to individuals 65+ and healthcare personnel with direct patient contact,” Johnson said.
Local residents signing up to get vaccinated
The CDC has stated that those who are older are more likely to get ill from the virus, so seniors across the state are signing up to get vaccinated as a way to protect themselves and the people around them.
“I am 65 years old, which puts me at greater risk, so I was glad to be able to be vaccinated,” AP Environmental Science and Biology Honors teacher Amy Lawson said. “I live with a front line health care worker and she needed to have all family members immunized to protect her so she wouldn’t have to quarantine if we were exposed (she was immunized earlier).”
Many of those who have already gotten vaccinated have expressed the simplicity of the modernized registration process.
“We were extremely fortunate, as we were able to sign up very early in the process and it was quite easy, though nerve racking,” Marco Island resident Elaine Cole said. “I signed up both my husband and myself and printed out the ‘tickets’ which were barcodes like you see when an item is scanned in a store or on your cell phone. When it was time for us to sign up for the second shots, we got an email ahead of the shot date to sign up.”
Is it safe?
The trial data that were released by pharmaceutical companies show that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are approximately 95% effective. The vaccine trials, as well as FDA examination, have stated that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe. These statements are solely made based on science and concrete data guided by facts.
“When you get the vaccine, you must wait at the location to make sure there are no immediate effects and then are given a tracking website to report later effects,” Lawson said. “I understand how the technology works, so I feel safe in getting a vaccine that is new.”
Many have acknowledged that the development of the COVID-19 vaccine occurred at a much faster pace than earlier vaccines, but understand that the broad scientific field has ensured its safety.
“I feel very safe getting the vaccine this early,” Cole said. “Though we don’t have long range data like we did for previous vaccines, our scientists are much more knowledgeable than they were years ago, and some of the best scientific minds in the world worked on these vaccines.”
Stopping the spread
Even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, it is still extremely important to continue following safety guidelines, especially because two doses are required and immunized individuals can still spread the virus.
“It is really important to take precautions now,” Lawson said. “I only have one dose so I don’t have full immunity. PLUS, once immunized, it doesn’t mean I can’t get the virus, just that I won’t have symptoms. So it’s actually more important to keep up mask use and hand washing to minimize possible spread. Both a person who has been sick with the virus and a person who has been immunized are still capable of spreading the virus even if they don’t get sick themselves.”
The vaccine will provide valuable protection when going to public places, but it is still recommended to follow social distancing guidelines.
“I am absolutely certain I will be extremely cautious, even though I have been vaccinated,” Cole said. “I don’t plan to go to any indoor restaurants and will only go to the grocery store and pharmacy. I will feel safer going to church meetings where Covid protocol is followed.”
The COVID-19 vaccine will play a key role in minimizing the spread of coronavirus, and scientists are urging the public to get vaccinated as soon as they become eligible.
“Vaccines work, so the quicker we vaccinate people, the quicker the spread of the virus will be slowed,” Lawson said.
Vaccines have been shown to stop deadly pandemics throughout history, and this trend most certainly stays true for COVID-19.
“I am totally confident the vaccine will be extremely helpful in stopping the spread of COVID-19, and I hope all people are willing to get the vaccine when it is offered,” Cole said. “It will work just like the polio vaccine did years ago to eradicate polio all across the world.”