(Posted June 25, 2020)
By Chris Cook, Madison County Health Commissioner
As we continue to move forward with our COVID-19 response, many are starting to discuss what happens when a vaccine becomes available. Often, vaccines are developed in response to global pandemics, like the 2009 H1N1 outbreak.
Madison County Public Health (MCPH) is your experienced and trusted leader in Madison County to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to residents once the vaccine is developed and available.
Vaccinations are designed to protect the entire community by achieving “herd immunity.” Herd immunity is generally achieved when at least 70 percent of the population is immune to an infectious disease.
In public health, we’ve learned from past experiences that new viruses can peak many, many times before a vaccine is available. It’s not too soon to start thinking about getting vaccinated against COVID-19. A vaccine will not stop all illnesses, but it will turn the tide against this microscopic enemy that has turned our world upside down.
When a vaccine is created for a novel or new virus, supplies are often limited in the beginning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will likely set priority groups vaccine delivery. The CDC typically recommends that healthcare workers, first responders, and people at highest risk for complications from the virus receive the vaccine first. Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are those 65 years and older, anyone with underlying medical conditions, particularly chronic lung disease or asthma, serious heart conditions, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and those who are immunocompromised. Once these priority groups receive the vaccine, the general public will be able to get vaccinated.
During public health emergencies or pandemics, MCPH coordinates community locations–points of dispensing (PODs)–to administer vaccines to a large number of people. We train for POD events every year. This pandemic continues to be about adding protective layers, like the use of facial coverings and social distancing. Adding an effective vaccine will be a huge protective layer.
Vaccines are carefully researched and developed to be safe and effective. Even a new vaccine for COVID-19 will undergo months of careful testing for safety and efficacy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) is responsible for monitoring all stages of vaccine development. Even after approving a vaccine, the FDA continues to oversee the production to ensure continuing safety.
MCPH urges everyone to follow public health precautions such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing facial coverings as we wait for a vaccine. These efforts have been proven to slow the spread of the virus.
Get local data at covid.madisonph.org and on social media (@madisoncountyPH). Connect with us at (740) 852-3065 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.