COVID-19 VACCINE INFORMATION
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine adds one more layer of protection in our community’s efforts to slow the spread of this virus. A vaccine is an important step towards getting our families, communities, schools, and workplaces “back to normal” sooner.
However, we understand that some folks may have concerns about safety and effectiveness. Others may be anxious to know how quickly they will be able to receive a vaccine. Transylvania Public Health is working to provide accurate, fact-based information about the vaccine as quickly as we can to help you make the decisions that are right for you and your family.
See below for information about the vaccine itself and how it will be distributed in North Carolina. If you have further questions or concerns, please call our nurse line at 828-884-4007. For more information, visit the CDC COVID-19 Vaccines page or the NCDHHS COVID-19 Vaccine Information page.
Transylvania Public Health is offering COVID-19 vaccines to everyone who wants one, ages 18 or older. Next week, we will be offering Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at our offices by appointment only. Call 884-4007 to make an appointment. COVID-19 vaccines are also available in Transylvania County at Wal-Mart Pharmacy, Ingles Pharmacy, Walgreen’s, and Blue Ridge Health Center-Brevard Health Center.
We are also offering small-scale vaccination opportunities in worksites, churches, community centers, and neighborhoods. To request a vaccination event for a group of 5 or more people or to offer your location as a vaccine site, click here or call 884-4007.
Transylvania Public Health will continue to “pause” our use of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine until we learn more, in alignment with NCDHHS, CDC, and FDA guidance. Appointments that were scheduled for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be rescheduled. This “pause” is a sign that the system is working to identify small numbers of potential issues so they can be investigated. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will be meeting again on Friday, April 23.
While it is extremely rare that you would have a severe adverse reaction, people who have received the J&J vaccine and develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath two to three weeks after their vaccination should contact their health care provider and mention they’ve received the J&J vaccine.
The Transylvania County COVID-19 Call Center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday. Staffed by the Transylvania County Library, the Call Center is available to answer questions, provide up-to-date information, and assist with making appointments (when they are available). Call 828-884-4007.
Please beware of scams! Transylvania Public Health is not maintaining a waiting list for vaccines and will never ask for money to register for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Transylvania County Vaccination Numbers
(as of 3/8/21)
- 5,689 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given by Transylvania Public Health (3,976 first doses and 1,713 second doses)
- 6,390 residents of Transylvania County have received at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine, and 4,011 are fully vaccinated (not including vaccines provided to long-term care staff and residents through the federal pharmacy program and some residents who received vaccines in other states)
- 18.6% of Transylvania County’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 16.9% of North Carolina residents.
Some vaccinations may not yet be reflected in data on the NCDHHS Dashboard, which is updated weekly on Tuesdays.
ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINES
As of now, 3 COVID-19 vaccines have proven to provide significant protection against COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death, with no serious safety concerns in clinical trials. These vaccines have received emergency use authorization from the FDA and have been approved for use by the CDC. Other COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in clinical trials and may be approved in the future.
- Pfizer-BioNtech: This is a two-dose vaccine approved for ages 16 and up. The second dose should be given 21 days after the first dose. Click here for more information about the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine from the CDC
- Moderna: This is a two-dose vaccine approved for ages 18 and up. The second dose should be given 28 days after the first dose. Click here for more information about the Moderna vaccine from the CDC
- Johnson & Johnson (under its Janssen Pharmaceuticals Company label): This is a single-dose vaccine approved for ages 18 and up. Click here for more information about the J&J Janssen vaccine from the CDC
What’s the difference between the vaccines? The two-dose vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) use mRNA to give your body temporary instructions to make a protein that teaches your body to make antibodies (germ-fighting cells) against the COVID-19 virus. The one-dose vaccine (J&J/Janssen) uses a harmless virus called adenovirus to give your body the same type of temporary instructions. All the vaccines are very effective in preventing someone from getting COVID-19 and preventing hospitalization and death. The clinical trial showed no serious safety concerns. Your body naturally breaks down everything in the vaccine. There is no COVID-19 virus in the vaccine, and none of the vaccines can change your DNA.
People who receive the one-dose vaccine do not need to return for a second vaccination. The temporary reactions are similar among all vaccines, although people receiving the one-dose vaccine may only experience temporary reactions once. Temporary reactions may include a sore arm, headache, fever and feeling tired and achy for a day or two after receiving the vaccine. Younger people are more likely to have reactions than older people. None of the vaccines can give you COVID-19.
Scientists had a head start. These vaccines were able to be created quickly because they are based on existing research. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were built upon years of work in developing vaccines for similar viruses. The mRNA technology used in these vaccines is new, but not unknown. Researchers have been studying mRNA for decades as potential vaccines against diseases like flu and rabies, and to stimulate immune system responses against cancer. Viral vectors like the one used in the J&J/Janssen vaccine have been used since the 1970s for use in virus vaccines, gene therapy, to treat cancer, and for molecular biology research. Click here to learn more about how vaccines work
Tested, safe, and effective. COVID-19 vaccines must pass three phases of clinical trials like other drugs and vaccines before receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This includes testing the vaccines in volunteers to see if they are safe and if they work to prevent COVID-19 illness. More than 100,000 people volunteered in clinical trials for the three vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J/Janssen. (For more information about the process, visit https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/Vaccine-Timeline.pdf.) More recently, the CDC studied nearly 4,000 frontline workers and found that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing infections (including asymptomatic infections) among working adults in real-world conditions.
You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. There is no COVID-19 in the currently available vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines give your body instructions to make a kind of protein. This protein safely tricks your body into thinking the real virus is attacking. Your body then strengthens itself to fight off the real COVID-19 if it ever tries to attack you. Your body gets rid of the small protein naturally and quickly. The mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of your cells and does not affect or interact with your DNA.
Few serious side effects have been reported. No deaths have been linked to the COVID-19 vaccines. You may have temporary reactions like a sore arm, being tired or feeling off for a day or two after receiving the vaccine. A very small number of allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine have been reported, so people who have had severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), to any ingredient in that vaccine or to any vaccine or treatment that is injected should not receive the Pfizer vaccine until we learn more. Vaccine providers will watch patients for 15-30 minutes after vaccination to ensure the patient’s safety. Like all drugs, vaccines continue to be closely monitored after they are approved for use through the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Healthcare providers are required to report serious side effects, or if someone gets seriously ill with COVID-19. There is also a smartphone-based health checker called V-SAFE that uses text messaging and web surveys to do health check-ins after people receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
People who have had COVID-19 still need to be vaccinated. A vaccine will protect you against future infections, and it is safe to get the Pfizer vaccine if you have had COVID-19. You don’t need a COVID test before vaccination. However, if you currently have COVID-19, you should wait to get a vaccine until you are no longer infectious to others (to protect those giving the vaccine) and your symptoms have completely resolved.
COVID-19 vaccines will be free. It will be available to everyone at no cost, whether or not you have health insurance.
Vaccines will eventually be available from many providers. Vaccines will be available first in hospitals, local health departments and long-term care facilities, and then in a variety of settings like clinics, pharmacies, and vaccination events in prioritized settings and in the community. Find out where you can get one at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.
Protection takes time. It typically takes two weeks after you receive your vaccine (one dose of J&J/Janssen or both doses of Pfizer or Moderna) for your body to build immunity against the COVID-19 virus. Until you are fully vaccinated, be sure to keep taking all prevention steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Vaccination helps us get back to normal. People who have been fully vaccinated can start to gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask, and can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without wearing a mask (unless any of those people are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19). If you’ve been fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine after being in close contact to someone with COVID-19 unless you have symptoms.
But we’re not there quite yet. We know that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 disease and especially severe illness and death. We’re still learning how effective the vaccines are against newer variants of the virus and how well the vaccines work to keep people from spreading the disease to others. For now, everyone–including those who are fully vaccinated–should continue to take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations. Continue to avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, wear a mask in public places, and stay 6 feet apart from others. Delay travel if possible. Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested and stay home if you have any symptoms.
VACCINATION AVAILABILITY IN NORTH CAROLINA
Because vaccine supplies are currently limited, states must make vaccine available in phases. Experts recommend first protecting health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19, people who are at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying, and those at high risk of exposure to COVID-19.
NCDHHS has released guidance for vaccine distribution to align with federal priorities while empowering local health departments and hospitals with flexibility to move to the next priority group as they complete phases and have vaccines available. NCDHHS is asking local vaccine providers to give as many vaccines as quickly as possible and to also demonstrate outreach to underserved communities.
GROUP 1 (formerly Phase 1a): Transylvania Public Health will continue offering vaccines to people eligible to receive the vaccine in Group 1, which includes all healthcare workers with direct patient contact and long-term care residents and staff, including skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes and continuing care retirement communities. This group includes people who are home caregivers providing regular medical care to medically fragile children and adults. Guidance has also been updated to include people receiving long-term home care for more than 30 days including home and community based services for persons with intellectual and developmental disability, private duty nursing, personal care services, and home health and hospice. Click here to learn more about Group 1 from NCDHHS.
GROUP 2 (formerly Phase 1b Group 1 and Phase 2 Group 1): Transylvania Public Health will continue offering vaccines for people 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living condition. Click here to learn more about Group 2 from NCDHHS.
GROUP 3 (formerly Phase 1b Groups 2 and 3): Transylvania Public Health will begin offering vaccines to frontline essential workers starting on March 10. Frontline essential workers include people of any age who must work in person and are employed in one of the following 8 sectors:
- Critical manufacturing (including workers who manufacture medical supplies and equipment, PPE, and products in the food and agricultural supply chain)
- Education (including preK-12 teachers and support staff, childcare workers, and higher education instructors and support staff) Click here to learn more about eligibility for Group 3 education and childcare workers from NCDHHS.
- Essential goods (including workers in stores that sell groceries and medicine)
- Food and agriculture (including meat packing, food processing, farms, food distribution and supply chains, and restaurant workers)
- Government and community services (including U.S. Postal Service and shipping workers, court workers, elected officials, clergy, homeless shelter staff, and veterinarians)
- Healthcare and public health (including public health staff and social workers)
- Public safety (including firefighters and EMS, law enforcement, corrections workers, security officers, and workers responding to abuse and neglect)
- Transportation (including public transit workers, DMV workers, transportation maintenance and repair technicians, and workers supporting highway infrastructure)
GROUP 4 (formerly Phase 2 Groups 2-4): People with high-risk medical conditions or living in close group settings. This group includes anyone 16-65 years old who has a health condition that increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including:
- asthma (moderate to severe)
- cerebrovascular disease or history of stroke
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- cystic fibrosis
- diabetes type 1 or type 2
- heart condition (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy)
- hypertension or high blood pressure
- immunocompromised state (weakened immune system from: immune deficiencies, HIV, taking chronic steroids or other immune weakening medicines, history of solid organ blood or bone marrow transplant)
- intellectual and developmental disabilities including down syndrome
- liver disease including hepatitis
- neurologic conditions such as dementia and schizophrenia
- pulmonary fibrosis
- overweight or obesity
- sickle cell disease (not including sickle cell trait) or thalassemia
- smoking (current or former, defined as having smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime)
This group also includes anyone who is living in congregate or close group living settings, such as people who are homeless or living in a homeless shelter and people who are incarcerated. Click here to learn more about Group 4 people with high-risk medical conditions from NCDHHS.
GROUP 4: Other essential workers. This group includes people working in the following sectors:
- chemical industries (including workers in petrochemical plants, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceutical facilities, consumer products)
- commercial facilities (including retail workers and hotel workers)
- communications and information technology (including news reporters and staff, service repair dispatchers, data center operators)
- defense industrial base (including workers supporting essential services to meet national security commitments)
- energy (including electric, petroleum, natural and propane gas workers)
- financial services (including workers who maintain systems for processing financial transactions, workers needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services)
- hazardous materials (including nuclear facilities workers, workers managing medical waste), hygiene products and services (including laundromats, sanitation workers)
- public works and infrastructure support services (including plumbers, electricians, exterminators, workers supporting parks)
- residential facilities, housing and real estate
- water and wastewater (including staff at water authorities, wastewater treatment facilities, water sampling and monitoring)
This group also includes students living in dormitories or other group living settings. Click here to learn more about eligibility in Group 4 essential workers from NCDHHS.
GROUP 5 (formerly Phase 4): Everyone who wants a one.
Based on CDC recommendations, NCDHHS allows providers to not offer vaccine to temporary travelers who do not reside, work, or spend significant time in North Carolina, including people coming into the state for the main purpose of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. People who spend significant time in North Carolina and are able to spread the virus in North Carolina should be vaccinated when and where they have access to vaccine. This includes people who have a residence and/or live in North Carolina, work in North Carolina, or receive ongoing health care in North Carolina. Providers should continue to not put restrictions on administering vaccinations based on North Carolina county of residence. Vaccine providers should have a process for people to declare their vaccine eligibility and significant time spent in North Carolina, but should not require individuals to present identification or proof of residency to be vaccinated or to schedule an appointment for vaccination.
VACCINATION APPOINTMENTS IN TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY
People can receive the COVID-19 vaccine from any approved COVID-19 vaccine provider in any county. All providers in North Carolina are under the same guidance from NCDHHS with expectations to use all first doses with a week of receiving them and to prioritize equity in vaccine distribution to historically marginalized communities and underserved populations.
COVID-19 vaccine providers in Transylvania County currently include Transylvania Public Health, Wal-Mart, Ingles Pharmacy, Walgreen’s, and Blue Ridge Health-Brevard Health Center. Vaccine doses allocated to each county will be distributed among the approved providers based on their capacity to give vaccines. Gordon’s Pharmacy in Brevard has also been approved as a COVID-19 vaccine provider. (Transylvania Regional Hospital is also an approved vaccine provider, but is only offering vaccines to their employees at this time.) Other vaccine providers are available in nearby counties and at regional vaccine distribution sites.
Transylvania Public Health is currently offering vaccines to everyone ages 18 or older. (We only rarely receive allocations of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which is approved for ages 16 or older.) Transylvania Public Health is following state guidance and working to provide vaccines as quickly as possible to as many people as possible. We are now working to transition away from the very large drive-through events to smaller vaccination events at sites within the community.
Transylvania Public Health will be giving vaccines by appointment only. Each week, we will offer appointments at the beginning of the week for vaccination dates later in the same week. We do not offer a waitlist for vaccination appointments. When they are available, you can make an appointment by calling 828-884-4007 or using the link posted at the top of this page and on the transylvaniahealth.org homepage.
You may make an appointment for yourself or on behalf of other people. Be sure to enter all information correctly.
Please do not make an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine within 14 days of receiving any other vaccine. Please do not make an appointment to receive a vaccine (or call and cancel if you have already made an appointment) if you are currently in isolation due to a positive test for COVID-19 or are in quarantine due to a close contact to someone with COVID-19.
Family members who have appointments at separate times on the same day may arrive together and receive their vaccines at the same time. Otherwise, people should arrive AT their scheduled appointment time.
To make an appointment, please have the following information ready:
- Race and ethnicity
- Eligibility group (for help determining your group, visit https://findmygroup.nc.gov/)
If you enter a valid email address, you will receive an email from nccvms.dhhs.nc.gov asking you to register for an account on the NCDHHS CVMS Recipient Portal. Please complete this registration before your appointment if you are able. You can sign in and make an account using this site if you want to see your vaccination record.
SECOND-DOSE VACCINE APPOINTMENTS
People should plan to receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from the same provider that gave their first dose. Second dose vaccines are sent to each provider based on the number and timing of first doses given.
If you have received your first dose of vaccine from Transylvania Public Health, we will schedule your second dose appointment for the same location and time of day as the first dose, 28 days later for Moderna and 21 days later for Pfizer. You do not need to make an appointment for your second dose online or by phone. You should receive an email confirmation and reminders about your second-dose appointment.
If you cannot make your second dose appointment, please notify us by calling 884-4007 or replying to your email confirmation. We will cancel your existing appointment and place your name on a list to be worked in to our next available second dose clinic, as supplies are available. Although it is ideal to get your second dose as originally scheduled, it is acceptable to receive the second dose up to 42 days after your first dose. (In general, you should not expect to have a new second dose appointment scheduled until after the date of your original second dose appointment. We may not be able to schedule your new second dose appointment until a few days before or on the same day of the next clinic, depending on cancellations for that date.)
Family members who have appointments for the same vaccine at separate times on the same day may arrive together and receive their vaccines at the same time. Otherwise, people should arrive AT their scheduled appointment time.
Please bring your vaccination card so we can update it with your second dose. (If you are unable to bring your vaccination card from your first dose, we can provide a new card with the second dose). You do not need to bring anything else.