(Posted Dec. 24, 2020)
Editor’s note: The following is a vaccine update provided by Madison County Health Commissioner Chris Cook.
Ohio has entered a new phase in the COVID-19 response after receiving the first round of COVID-19 vaccine. Throughout the pandemic, we have used a combination of tools and precautions to keep Ohioans safe, including masks and social distancing. With the introduction of a vaccine, we are using all tools available to offer the best protection from the virus.
Vaccines work with our immune systems so our body is ready to fight the virus if we are exposed. None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines use pieces of the actual virus to get our bodies ready; rather, the vaccines are designed to provide instructions on how to create antibodies without ever experiencing illness. On occasion an individual who receives the vaccine can experience mild effects such as fatigue or headache. These are common signs that the body is building immunity to the virus.
The COVID-19 vaccine development process involved several steps comparable with those used to develop other vaccines, such as the flu or measles vaccines. Clinic trials were conducted to study the effectiveness in thousands of study participants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used that data to determine the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. There have been no shortcuts in the vaccine development process and that is why the FDA approved emergency-use authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As supply increases, COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all Ohioans who choose to be vaccinated. The Ohio Department of Health has adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccination plan through a phased approach. The speed at which Ohio will move through the phases is largely dependent on the number of vaccine doses available. The phases include:
• Phase 1: Supply is limited. Vaccine will be used for specific critical populations, focusing on those most at risk, essential healthcare workers and personnel caring for COVID-19 patients.
• Phase 2: Supply is increasing. Vaccine will be available for other specific critical populations.
• Phases 3 and 4: Supply is widely available. Ohio will continue to strategically vaccinate residents if they choose. During these phases, vaccines will begin to be available to all Ohioans.
As of Dec. 24, Ohio was in Phase 1A. This means the early shipments of vaccine are only available to: 1) healthcare providers and personnel who are routinely involved with the care of COVID-19 patients; 2) residents and staff at nursing homes; 3) residents and staff at assisted living facilities; 4) patients and staff at psychiatric hospitals; 5) staff and residents living in intellectual disability group homes; 6) residents and staff at veterans group homes; and 7) EMTs and paramedics.
The week of Dec. 20, Madison County received 100 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. All of this vaccine was provided to Madison Health’s frontline healthcare workers and personnel. As vaccine supply increases, Madison County Public Health will continue to inform the public of the number of doses received and who is eligible to receive them. There is currently no waiting list or pre-registration for vaccine.