It's Our Shot: A COVID-19 Vaccine Update
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A lot can change in a small window of time. Since it arrived in Converse County in December, the COVID-19 vaccine Moderna has made a sizable impact on our community. Initially limited to Tier 1, the vaccine’s administration was only given to a select number of our most vulnerable population. As the Johnson & Johnson vaccine found its way through the FDA Emergency Use Authorization process and logistics have allowed for greater production of Pfizer and Moderna; Wyoming entered Tier 2, thus allowing anyone over 18 to receive the vaccines.
Recent weeks have afforded Converse County residents a buffet of opportunities to begin their vaccination process via Memorial Hospital of Converse County or Converse County Public Health. Both providers have sponsored vaccine clinics throughout the county, either at their primary business location or the select events throughout the region. So far, an estimated 14.79% of our residents have received full doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and that number is climbing.
“Starting out we had just a handful of vaccines and were dosing sporadically, but now we are at a place where we are flush with vaccines and there is no problem with getting more,” stated Cristy Dicklich-Cobb, CNO of Memorial Hospital of Converse County.“Heading forward, we want to saturate the county with vaccines and be sure to vaccinate any person who meets the criteria and desires the COVID-19 vaccine.” If you are concerned about a possible reaction to the vaccine, one of the things to consider when getting your vaccine at MHCC is the immediacy of the on-site care team. “We have the emergency room providers and staff in the hospital any time we conduct a clinic, so can immediately call for assistance for patients and provide emergency response if needed.” To date this level of response has not been necessary as all patients have proceeded through vaccination without need for emergency care.
“There have been some changes to quarantine recommendations for those that are fully vaccinated and exposed to COVID-19,” shared Darcey Cowardin, RN with Converse County Public Health. “Now if it’s been two weeks since you got either your second Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or your one dose of Johnson and Johnson, and you are exposed to COVID you would not need to quarantine unless you develop symptoms. There was initially an end date of 90 days after your vaccine (after that you would have to quarantine) but that has been removed and for now there is no end date! That most likely will change in the future as more data is collected.”
Cowardin also emphasizes the need for vaccines in light of several variants and new strains becoming prevalent in the United States. “This vaccine is so important because herd immunity is what keeps variants from occurring,” she continued. “Every time Covid spreads from one person to another, that is an opportunity for a mutation to occur that leads to a variant. The slower we are to get everyone vaccinated, the more opportunity for variants to pop up in our community.”
Memorial Hospital of Converse County Vaccine Clinics
MHCC staff have administered vaccines since day one of their availability in Converse County. Now that there is a steady supply of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in our state and region, the hospital staff are coordinating several upcoming dates where patients from our county can receive their doses in the main building. Here are the next dates and times for Vaccine Clinics at MHCC:
4/12/21 12:00pm - 3:30 pm
4/15/21 8:00 am – 11:30 am
4/17/21 8:00am – 11:30 am
4/22/21 8:00am – 11:30 am
4/23/21 8:00am – 11:30 am
4/29/21 8:00am – 11:30 am
4/30/21 8:00am – 11:30 am
5/3/21 8:00am – 11:30 am
5/6/21 8:00am – 11:30 am
5/7/21 8:00am – 11:30 am
5/13/21 8:00am – 11:30 am
5/14/21 8:00am – 11:30 am
To schedule your time or find out more information, call 307-358-2122.
Converse County Public Health Vaccine Clinics
Converse County Public Health also is hosting several clinics throughout the county. Most recently in Rolling Hills, the Public Health nurses accompanied by a team of dedicated volunteers, have rolled patients through with speed and tireless dedication. Your next chance for receiving the COVID-19 vaccines with CCPH are:
April 22 at the Pepsi Equine Center of the Wyoming State Fairgrounds from 3pm-7pm
To schedule your time or find out more information, call 307-358-2536.
All About That Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
The most recent player in COVID-19 vaccines, Johnson & Johnson, received their Emergency Use Authorization at the close of February of 2021. As the latest vaccine to enter the COVID-19 market, this vaccine presents both pros and cons. According to Duke Health, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine works more like a traditional vaccine by using “an inactivated cold virus to carry genetic material, which prompts your cells to create a harmless piece of the spike protein found on the surface of COVID-19 (Geiger, 2021).” This process helps your body develop an immune response to COVID-19 for when and if you should encounter the virus in your community.
The Good News
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only has one dose compared to the required two does for both Moderna and Pfizer. This requirement can make it easier to schedule dosing, and also encourages those who have an understandable fear of needles. “Even though it’s only one shot, we do need patients to remain with us for fifteen minutes just to make sure they do not have a reaction,” shared MHCC Infectious Disease Specialist, Giselle Grimes, RN.Also, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has similar side effects to both of its predecessors, so there should be no surprises. The side effects most commonly associated with this vaccine include redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site, fever, fatigue, headache, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, and joint pain.
And finally and most importantly, the vaccine is safe. The clinical data presented by Johnson & Johnson to the FDA indicates that - again, like Moderna and Pfizer - this vaccine is safe for adults. While Pfizer received a widened EUA for teenagers as young as 16 in recent weeks, the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines remain at the 18 and over mark due to the need for further clinical studies in younger populations. But as a bonus, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested in a more diverse population, including Hispanic/Latino, Black, or African American. Researchers also tested in more people over the age of 60 and those who have certain risk factors for complications, including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity - which are considered a vulnerable population to more severe COVID-19 infections.
The Less Than Optimal News
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have two doses and a comparative efficacy rate of around 95%, but the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is slightly less effective in preventing COVID-19. The efficacy rate for Johnson & Johnson is about 67%. These numbers could be attributable to any number of factors, including where and when the studies were conducted, what populations were included, and those not included in the other two vaccines’ clinical trials.
But, with every cloud, there’s a silver lining. And with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we see that it boasts 100% protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19, which is one of the ultimate goals of any of the vaccines available today.
Ages Sixteen And Up - Pfizer Available Soon
While both Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are solely approved for adults, read ages 18 and up, the Pfizer vaccine is approved for teenagers ages 16 and up. Pfizer initially included in their clinical trials a segment of participants ranging from 16-to 25-year-old, and their EUA from the FDA includes this age group. If your older teen would like to receive the Pfizer vaccine, MHCC can help!
Giselle is creating a waiting list for older teenage patients who would like to receive the Pfizer vaccine in Converse County. “Once we get to ten patients, we can proceed to order a vial of the Pfizer vaccine to immunize,” stated Grimes. “But we need to make sure not to waste any of the vaccines, so the parents and teens need to be committed to getting the vaccine and also following up for their second dose in four weeks.”
As Pfizer conducts studies involving younger participants, don’t expect the topic of vaccines and young people to go away any time soon. Pfizer has reported considerable advancements in the 12-15 adolescent group and is eyeing even younger participants in further trials. “I read about these advancements daily, via CDC and Beckers because you have to keep up with it,” said Grimes. “I also get updates from the State of Wyoming daily, and even though the CDC shares information we still have to follow the Wyoming Department of Health rules for administering these vaccines. We will be sure to communicate with our patients and community as these guidelines progress in the coming months.”
To find out more information or register your 16 or 17 year old for the Pfizer Vaccine, please call 307-358-2122.
No matter which vaccine you choose, or qualify to receive, it is important that if you can safely get a vaccine you do. As of this writing, the CDC is indicating an uptick in diagnosis of COVID-19 cases in the recent weeks post-Spring Break travel and in lieu of more and more states easing restrictions. Further the predominant strain of COVID-19 in America is now the B.1.1.7. which is considered more contagious and affects young people in higher numbers. This news is not shared to alarm, but to provide context for why maintaining preventative behaviors such as mask wearing, social distancing (where appropriate), and hand washing in addition to getting vaccinated should still be used to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Remember: Be Safe. Be Smart. Be Well.