Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and the Howard County Health Department released frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and its distribution. The FAQs address the safety, efficacy, and potential side effects of the vaccine. Maryland received its first doses of the recently approved Pfizer vaccine last week and began vaccinating frontline healthcare workers. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for everyone 16 and older, while the Moderna vaccine has been approved for everyone 18 and older. Pregnant women and people with a history of severe allergic reactions are encouraged to discuss the benefits and risks of the vaccine with their medical provider.  

“Throughout this pandemic, there has been a lot of misinformation making it difficult for people to differentiate between fact and fiction,” said Ball. “We want to ensure that individuals and families have reliable and accurate information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, understand the different phases of distribution and can make informed decisions. This vaccine provides a lot of hope for our community as we mark nine months of combatting this virus, but there is still much work to do. Residents should continue the preventative measures we’ve all grown accustomed to – wearing a mask, physically distancing, and washing our hands.”  

The distribution plan for the vaccine includes three phases:  

·       Phase 1 will begin when there is limited vaccine availability and will focus on target priority groups to receive a vaccination. These groups will include those at highest risk of exposure to or developing complications from COVID-19, including:  

·       Hospital workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, first responders  

·       People at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness  

·       Phase 2 will include people in critical infrastructure roles, including essential non-healthcare and transportation workers, and people at moderately higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.  

·       Phase 3 will be a wide-scale distribution of the vaccine associated with broad availability to the general population of the state.   

“With a COVID-19 vaccine now approved and others on the way, a path to the resolution of the pandemic is beginning to emerge,” said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer. “The FAQs are a step towards understanding the safety, efficacy and the importance of getting the vaccine. However, it is critical that our residents not only pledge to get the vaccine but remain patient as we work our way through the tiers of eligibility to distribute the vaccine as it becomes available.”  

The Pfizer vaccine, reportedly 95% effective against COVID-19, was approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on December 11, 2020. The Moderna vaccine was also approved by the FDA last Friday. The Moderna vaccine is reporting a 94.1% effectiveness against COVID-19, and 100% effectiveness against severe COVID-19. Both vaccines will require two doses, approximately 21-28 days apart.  

The most common adverse reactions included injection site pain and redness, fatigue, muscle and/or joint pain, headache, possibly even feeling poorly for a day or so. The COVID-19 vaccine does not give you COVID-19. These side effects show that the immune system is reacting the way it is supposed to fight the virus, should you become exposed. Based on preliminary data, the first dose has fewer side effects than the second dose and older recipients experience fewer side effects.  

To view the complete vaccine FAQs please click here. To view the Health Department’s vaccination complete webpage, please click here.  

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Scott E