Just the Facts: Local Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution

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“Even those who don’t like getting shots will think nothing of it,” said Bethany Poe, Walgreens senior pharmacy technician and Elgin Community College alum.

Rebecca Marting, Staff Writer

It’s been one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic; a year later vaccine distribution is now underway in the United States while safety measures including wearing masks and social distancing still prevalent. 

The vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2020. On February 27, 2021, the FDA approved the COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. The most common side effects for all three vaccines include pain at the injection site, muscle ache, headaches, fatigue and nausea. These side effects occur within 24-48 hours after getting vaccinated. 

A second dose is required for the vaccine to be fully effective. However, when to receive the second dose depends on the brand of the vaccine. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine requires the first and second dose be 21 days apart and recommended for people aged 16 and up. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine requires the two shots to be 28 days apart and recommended for people aged 18 and up. The new COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson is a one dose vaccination. Updates will continue to be provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how well the vaccine works.

The Kane County Health Department states it is crucial to receive the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine exactly 21 or 28 days later. If not, the vaccine will be ineffective and a person’s immune system will not be able to recognize and fend off the virus. 

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (DPH), there are two phases for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Phase 1 includes a limited or scarce supply of vaccine doses available with focus on reaching critical populations divided into three sub-phases: 1A, 1B and 1C. 

At the end of December 2020, Illinois began Phase 1A for healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Since January 25, 2021, the state entered Phase 1B of vaccine administration which allowed senior citizens age 65 and older as well as non-healthcare frontline essential workers, such as food service, transportation and public safety. 

It is still undetermined when the State of Illinois will transition into Phase 1C which will include all other essential workers and people between the ages of 16-64 with high risk medical conditions. 

Phase 2 of the vaccine administration plan includes a larger number of vaccines available and focuses on ensuring vaccinations for Phase 1 eligible people not yet vaccinated and begin administration for the rest of the population. 

COVID-19 vaccination distribution sites are opening up across the state to administer vaccines quickly and efficiently. Local pharmacies, urgent care clinics, medical offices, colleges and community centers will all be used to serve as vaccination sites. Residents in the Elgin Community College area can sign-up or schedule an appointment online to receive a COVID-19 vaccine through Walgreens, Walmart, Jewel-Osco, Meijer, Sam’s Club and Mariano’s Pharmacy. 

Bethany Poe, Walgreens senior pharmacy technician and Elgin Community College alumna, has been working at her pharmacy and various clinics administering COVID-19 vaccinations.

“The needle is the same size needle used for other vaccinations. Even those who don’t like getting shots will think nothing of it. We do ask that you stay and sit for 10 – 15 minutes afterwards to make sure there are no initial reactions,” Poe said.

A few ways a person can prepare for their COVID-19 vaccination include getting a good night’s sleep, avoiding pain medication and drinking water. To make an appointment within Kane County, visit kanehealth.com/vaccine_appointments

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