The COVID-19 vaccine is on the way. Seniors will want to get their doses as soon as they become available to them if they want to safely travel, visit their families, or hug their children and grandchildren.
More than 25 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were distributed in December. The rollout has been going slower than anticipated but the pace is expected to pick up soon. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that millions of doses have been administered, and many states have wrapped up phase 1A, in which health care providers and long term care residents received their shots.
On Jan. 12, new guidelines were issued that made anyone 65 or older immediately eligible for the vaccine, as well as those who have certain medical conditions like diabetes. This rule covers the nearly 53 million Americans who are 65 and older and an additional 110 million people between 16 and 64 with underlying conditions. Still, not enough of the coronavirus vaccine has been produced to immunize everyone, so getting immunized won’t be as simple as getting a flu shot at the pharmacy.
“Now that we have reached this important milestone of having the vaccine open to all seniors, we need to ensure that people know when and where they can get their shot,” said Dr. Sydney Ross-Davis, Chief Medical Officer of Zing Health. “We are here with resources for our members to help them navigate this maze and know where to go.”
Where to Get Yours: Start with Your Doctor
Start by calling your primary care provider to make sure a vaccination is right for you. Ask if there is any reason you should not get immunized and discuss any concerns you may have. If a vaccine is right for you, and your doctor can provide it, make an appointment or put yourself on the waiting list if they have one. Remember, if you have tested positive for Covid-19 before, that does not mean you cannot benefit from the vaccine.
Depending on where you live, the vaccine will also be available through your local Department of Health, at nearby pharmacies or stores, through clinics or hospitals, and even colleges, employers, and other public places. Many municipalities, including the City of Chicago and suburban Cook County, Illinois, have immunization registries where you can sign up to get notified when you are eligible to receive a vaccine in your area.
Keep in mind that the vaccination rollout is ever-changing and while one day a certain location might not have any vaccinations, the next day they could have hundreds. Local news websites and even posts on social media feeds in your community may serve as a great resource to reveal where the vaccinations are available.
The currently approved vaccines require each person to get two doses for it to be most effective, so be sure to return on time for your second shot. But be aware that the COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you from the flu, and you should still be getting your annual flu shot as well.
“I recommend you call your primary physician first, and then the local department of health. Sign up for any alerts they offer,” Dr. Ross-Davis emphasized. “Zing Health can also tell you where you’re covered and recommend places to get immunized”.
Knowledge is Power
Given the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of the virus, combined with rapidly increasing community spread throughout the country, the vaccine is essential, and everyone should be making plans to get theirs as soon as possible—especially minorities who have been hard-hit by the pandemic in both infection rates and mortality.
While many people of color may be fearful of receiving the vaccination, it’s been proven to be safe and it’s important to stop the spread in our communities. If you have concerns about taking the vaccines, there are many sources available to give you more information about their safety and efficacy. Please remember that reassurance comes with knowledge.
Some people have expressed fears about how quickly the vaccines were developed, but it’s important to understand the speed was possible because there have been years of hard-won scientific groundwork laid down to be able to completely map the viral genome. Faster and more powerful computers allow us to do things in 2021 which were only dreamed of in the last pandemic. The benefit of scientific research is that it is there to respond in a crisis with a solution that works.
Remember, each year the country produces a new flu vaccine that is based on the flu virus we have found that year. So, the public has been receiving the advantages of this type of technology for quite a few years.
Minorities in America have many historical reasons to be wary. This is why Historically Black Colleges and Universities; the National Medical Association; the American Medical Association; and many other concerned people made a concerted effort to participate in the vaccine trials and be seen publicly taking the vaccines. Knowledge is power. Take advantage of the resources we have listed and seek out reliable sources for your information.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel for this epidemic, but we all need to do our part to get vaccinated and keep our families, our neighbors and ourselves safe. So don’t delay in getting your shot. In the meantime, mask up, social distance, and continue to wash your hands to protect yourself and your community.