We’re making progress, but our fight with COVID-19 is far from over…

The past 10 months have been tough for everyone. Like the rest of the world, we’re experiencing a spike in cases and we cannot let our guard down. We need to be vigilant about proper glove use, mask-wearing, and handwashing not just at ILA homes but in our own homes too.

Fortunately, there’s light at the end of the tunnel:

Recently, several promising new vaccines have been introduced to the market

This is a cause for celebration, particularly for those of us in the healthcare field. There’s a lot of information out there. Unfortunately, it’s not all from credible sources.

Dr. Rick Rader is the Director of the Habilitation Center at Orange Grove Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he specializes in intellectual and developmental disabilities. In the video below, he does a great job breaking everything down for us:

Some Key Takeaways:

  • COVID-19 disproportionately harms those with intellectual disabilities
  • This increases risk for nurses, support workers, and other healthcare workers
  • The vaccine is a potential game-changer but there is lots of bad info out there

“Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me the COVID virus?”

No. None of the current COVID vaccines use the live virus. They use genetic material from the virus that helps our bodies use natural immune cells. These natural cells are responsible for killing outside invaders – the vaccine trains your body to protect itself.

Much of the disinformation out there comes from people who are opposed to the idea of vaccines and deliberately spread false information. You deserve facts.

Vaccines have been successfully fighting diseases for hundreds of years

It was a vaccine that led to the eradication of smallpox in 1796 and a vaccine that conquered the polio epidemic years later.

Here’s how the two currently used COVID vaccines work, in 4 steps:

  1. Scientists isolate part of the virus that doesn’t have the ability to cause the disease
  2. Inject this into the body so that it can warn the immune system about the disease-causing viruses
  3. The immune system reacts to this and prepares the body to identify invaders and fight off the disease
  4. The vaccine alerts the appropriate immune cells to defend and neutralize the viral attack.

The FDA has approved several COVID vaccines for effectiveness and safety, and have a 95% effectiveness rate after two doses (the first dose only provides 50-70% protection).

The only common side effect? Minor pain around the injection site – seems like a small price to pay for protection from COVID-19, don’t you think?

The benefits of vaccination are clear, but not all skepticism is the same…

With an abundance of bad information online, it’s easy to blame purposefully spread misinformation as the source of anti-vaccination sentiment, but this isn’t entirely true. There many other reasons why people question vaccines in general and the new COVID-19 vaccines in particular.

For starters, people have some valid questions about the speed at which these new vaccines were created. In the past, it has taken up to 10 years to research, test, and produce effective and safe vaccines. How did this one reach market in less than a year?

The answer to this is Operation Warp Speed – a government program that funded research and sped up the bureaucratic process that normally slowed development down.

Disadvantaged communities may also question the vaccine due to a distrust of the government stemming from the Tuskegee experiments on African Americans, hepatitis B vaccine tests on patients with developmental disabilities, and other historical wrongs from the past. There is no excuse for these incidents, and it’s of little surprise that these communities are skeptical of vaccination efforts. With that said, the 2021 approach to informed consent is considerably more refined than it was in the past. The best way to alleviate this type of concern is through transparency and honesty.

Some people object to the vaccine on religious grounds, as is their right, and others reject vaccinations for personal reasons unrelated to science. In both cases, we must honor and respect this, though unvaccinated people should be made aware that their decision impacts others around them.

Vaccination is a vital tool, not a magic bullet

Even after vaccination, you will still be encouraged, and in certain instances required, to adhere to the strict CDC health guidelines regarding masking, glove-wearing, hand washing, and so on.

With that said, the benefits of vaccination are tremendous. It is the best way to reduce COVID-19 transmission and keep your loved ones safe. It’s an option that we hope all ILA personnel and patients pursue.

To that end, here are a few of the most common questions we’ve received about COVID-19 vaccination.

Are there any side effects?

The only commonly reported side effect is mild numbness at the point of injection. Worldwide, there have been a handful of allergic reactions to the vaccine. The number of cases is statistically insignificant, and all were cured via EpiPen.  

What is the difference between the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine?

There are minor differences between the two, but we are talking about tenths of a percentage point in terms of effectiveness. The differences have more to do with the patents than the actual performance of the vaccine.

What happens if you miss the appointment for your second dose?

The second dose is scheduled for either 21 or 28 days after the first, depending on the vaccine taken. If you miss the appointment, there is a one-month window where you can still get your second dose.

Can people with COVID get vaccinated?

No. You cannot receive vaccination while te

To keep more people healthy, there is a $100 incentive for staff who get vaccinated outside of working hours. This breaks down to $50 for the first shot and $50 for the second. Proof of immunization must be provided.

What can I do to help fight the spread of COVID at the workplace?

Get vaccinated!

There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we aren’t in the clear yet

Vaccination is a great step forward, but it isn’t going to solve COVID-19 overnight. We must remain vigilant about following the CDC guidelines and keeping everyone safe.

Though it would be great to see everyone vaccinated, we understand that not everyone will make that choice. We strongly encourage those who do get vaccinated to share their experience with the process (and lack of any side effects) while remaining respectful of coworkers and patients and their wishes.

Looking for more information?

Check out Dr. Rick Rader’s full webinar video below.

If I have recovered from COVID and have antibodies, should I still take the vaccine?

Yes. The vaccine will boost your antibodies and provide further protection. Additionally, we are still unsure how long the antibodies last in recovered patients. The vaccine provides more certainty.

Can I take Moderna for the first dose and Pfizer for the second (or vice versa)?

No.

Should people with allergies get vaccinated?

This is a great question. In most cases, the answer is yes. If you previously had anaphylaxis from either an allergy itself or from a previous vaccination, you should talk with your physician. The same is true for those with auto-immune diseases.

Let’s say only 20% of us take the vaccine – will that still be effective?

The more people vaccinated the better. It’s the same as we’ve seen with the CDC guidelines – the more people take initiative, the better the results.

Will the vaccines protect against mutated variations from the UK, South Africa, and Brazil?

At this point, the CDC and FDA both believe so.

Will we need to continue to take the COVID vaccine annually to stay protected?

It’s possible, but at this point, it does not seem likely.

What is the vaccination incentive program?

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