fbpx

COVID-19 Vaccine Update and FAQs

United Regional received an additional allotment of 1,775 COVID vaccinations last week, which are currently being distributed according to the guidelines from the State. We are working in coordination with Clinics of North Texas (CNT), Electra Memorial Hospital, and the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District (Health Department) – all of whom have also received vaccines from the State – to offer the vaccine to other Wichita County health care workers with direct patient contact. This includes health care entities who have not been directly allocated vaccines from the State (e.g., independent physician offices, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health, etc.).

At this time, we are also making the vaccine available to currently established patients of United Regional Physician Group Primary Care who are 75 years of age or older. These are patients who have seen their URPG Primary Care Provider (PCP) within the past twelve (12) months (excluding visits to the CarePlus walk-in clinic). We are targeting a similar segment within our Transition Clinic, to help ensure that those who are most susceptible within our community are provided an opportunity for the vaccine. Eligible patients are being contacted directly by phone, text, email and/or MyChart with an invitation (and related instructions) to schedule an appointment.

We expect to receive additional doses in the coming weeks, although we have not been provided any details (e.g., we don’t know when). As additional doses become available, we will continue to work through State prioritized groups (i.e., 1A, 1B), reaching out directly to eligible individuals in a systematic fashion; we are not utilizing a wait list at this time. We are trying to follow the State’s direction to get “shots in arms,” while also preventing patients from showing up only to find we’ve run out of available vaccines.

We are not currently planning a public “drive-thru” (or “line forms here”) COVID vaccination clinic. That may or may not come later, as vaccines become more widely available and the State broadens its direction to include the general public. The Health Department is taking the lead on distributing vaccines to the general public, and we will support their efforts as needed.

We strongly encourage our community to research the safety and efficacy of the vaccination in order to make an informed personal decision.

(Updated: January 7, 2021)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

(Sources: CDC.gov, and ACIP Presentation: Use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine: Clinic Considerations)

 

GETTING VACCINATED

Q. What is United Regional’s plan for distributing vaccinations? United Regional received an additional allotment of 1,775 COVID vaccinations last week, which are currently being distributed according to the guidelines from the State. We are working in coordination with Clinics of North Texas (CNT), Electra Memorial Hospital, and the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District (Health Department) – all of whom have also received vaccines from the State – to offer the vaccine to other Wichita County health care workers with direct patient contact. This includes health care entities who have not been directly allocated vaccines from the State (e.g., independent physician offices, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health, etc.).

At this time, we are also making the vaccine available to currently established patients of United Regional Physician Group Primary Care who are 75 years of age or older. These are patients who have seen their URPG Primary Care Provider (PCP) within the past twelve (12) months (excluding visits to the CarePlus walk-in clinic). We are targeting a similar segment within our Transition Clinic, to help ensure that those who are most susceptible within our community are provided an opportunity for the vaccine. Eligible patients are being contacted directly by phone, text, email and/or MyChart with an invitation (and related instructions) to schedule an appointment.

We expect to receive additional doses in the coming weeks, although we have not been provided any details (e.g., we don’t know when). As additional doses become available, we will continue to work through State prioritized groups (i.e., 1A, 1B), reaching out directly to eligible individuals in a systematic fashion; we are not utilizing a wait list at this time. We are trying to follow the State’s direction to get “shots in arms,” while also preventing patients from showing up only to find we’ve run out of available vaccines.

Q. When will the general public have the opportunity to be vaccinated? We are not currently planning a public “drive-thru” (or “line forms here”) COVID vaccination clinic. That may or may not come later, as vaccines become more widely available and the State broadens its direction to include the general public. The Health Department is taking the lead on distributing vaccines to the general public, and we will support their efforts as needed.

Q. Can I put my name on a waiting list to receive the vaccine? Because we are reaching out directly to eligible individuals in a systematic fashion, we are not utilizing a waiting list at this time.

 Q. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to me? United Regional strongly encourages our community to research the safety and efficacy of the vaccination in order to make an informed personal decision. Several members of United Regional’s Medical Staff recently shared their thoughts re: the vaccine in a 13-minute video. Please click here to view their message that addresses their research and their experience with the vaccine.

Q. How much will the COVID-19 vaccination cost? There will be no out-of-pocket expense to the patient for the vaccine. Like other vaccination providers, United Regional will charge a vaccine administration fee to be billed to the individual’s private or public (i.e., Medicare/Medicaid/Tricare) insurance. If uninsured, United Regional will receive reimbursement from the federal government.

Q. How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will I need? Most of the vaccines currently in clinical trials require two shots. The Pfizer Vaccine Dose 2 is administered 21 days after dose 1 (17-21 days is acceptable). The Moderna Vaccine Dose 2 is administered 28 days after dose 1.

Q. Do I need to wear a mask when I receive a COVID-19 vaccine? Yes, in accordance with CDC recommendations, please continue to take precautions such as social distancing, washing hands and wearing a mask.

Q. If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available? Yes, vaccination is recommended regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Current evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection and thus persons with documented acute infection in the preceding 90 days may defer vaccination until the end of this period, if desired.

Q. I currently have COVID-19; can I receive the vaccine? You should wait to receive the vaccine until you have recovered from COVID-19 and quarantine has been discontinued. Current evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection and thus persons with documented acute infection in the preceding 90 days may defer vaccination until the end of this period, if desired.

Q. I previously received antibody therapy for COVID-19; can I receive the vaccine? Currently there is no data on safety or efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination in persons who received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment. Vaccination should be deferred for at least 90 days to avoid interference of the treatment with vaccine-induced immune responses.

Q. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine along with other vaccines? COVID-19 vaccine should be administered alone with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccines.

Q. I have an underlying medical condition; can I receive the vaccine? The COVID vaccine may be administered to persons with underlying medical conditions who have no contraindications to vaccination. Phase 2/3 clinical trials demonstrate similar safety and efficacy profiles in persons with underlying medical conditions.

Q. Should I receive the vaccine if I have an immunocompromising condition or am taking immunosuppressive medications? Persons with immunocompromising conditions, or who take immunosuppressive medications or therapies might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19. Data is not currently available to establish safety and efficacy of vaccine in this group. It is recommended that these patients have a conversation with their provider to better understand the risk and benefits prior to receiving the vaccine.

Q. I’m pregnant/I recently had a baby. Can I still receive the vaccine? There are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women as this group was not included in the initial clinical trials. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP-recommended priority groups. ACOG also recommends that vaccines be offered to lactating individuals similar to non-lactating individuals when they meet criteria for receipt of the vaccine based on prioritization groups outlined by the ACIP. mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant.

 

POST VACCINATION

Q. I’ve been vaccinated; do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing? Yes. No vaccine is 100 percent effective. Given the currently limited information on how well the vaccine works in the general population; how much it may reduce disease, severity, or transmission; and how long protection lasts, vaccinated persons should continue to follow all current guidance to protect themselves and others.

Q. What are common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine? You may have some side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. Common side effects include:

The following symptoms are NOT side effects of the vaccine.

Q. How can I manage common side effects? If you have pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot, apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area and use/exercise your arm. To reduce the discomfort from fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.

 

VACCINE DEVELOPMENT/APPROVAL

Q. Has there been a coronavirus vaccine developed before? What’s known about it, and can it be helpful today in working toward a COVID-19 vaccine? Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)are two diseases caused by coronaviruses that are closely related to the virus that causes COVID-19. Researchers began working on developing vaccines for these diseases after they were discovered in 2003 and 2012, respectively. None of the SARS vaccines ever made it past the first stages of development and testing, in large part due to lack of interest because the virus disappeared. One MERS vaccine (MVA-MERS-S) successfully completed a phase 1 clinical trial in 2019. Lessons learned from this earlier vaccine research have been used to inform strategies for developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Q. What is an mRNA vaccine? The mRNA vaccines are not live virus vaccines, nor do they use an adjuvant to enhance vaccine efficacy. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them. Next, the cell displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19. These vaccines do not enter the nucleus and do not alter human DNA in vaccine recipients. As a result, mRNA vaccines cannot cause any genetic changes.

Q. How effective is the vaccine? Two doses are required to achieve high efficacy. The Pfizer Vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 after the second dose. The Moderna Vaccine is 94 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 after the second dose. It will take 1 to 2 weeks following the second dose of either vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.