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 will not be receiving doses of vaccine from the state allocation for the week of January 25-29. We will offer more appointments as soon as we receive more vaccine supplies. These vaccines will be available for people 65 years or older and healthcare workers with direct patient contact.
Supplies are limited and vaccines will not be given to people without an appointment. When appointments are available, you can make an appointment by clicking the link below or calling this phone number: 828-884-4007.
You can sign up to be notified of new appointments using the county’s notification system, Transylvania T.E.A.M. Alerts. Sign up to receive emergency alerts and public service announcements by phone call, text, or email. Click here to sign up online for T.E.A.M. alerts. Be sure to select “General Announcements” to receive notifications about COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
We are experiencing a large volume of calls asking about vaccine availability. To help respond to these calls, Transylvania County Library will be modifying their hours and functions to operate the Transylvania County COVID-19 Call Center. The call center will answer questions, provide up-to-date information, and assist with making appointments (when they are available). The Transylvania County COVID-19 Call Center is now open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., 7 days a week. 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 1/21/21)
- 1,499 first-dose vaccines given by TPH
Please note: these numbers are for vaccines provided by Transylvania Public Health, not for all providers in Transylvania County, or for all Transylvania County residents who may receive vaccinations in other counties. Some of these vaccinations have not yet been recorded in the state’s vaccine management system and are not yet included in data on the NCDHHS Dashboard, which is updated weekly on Tuesdays. Vaccines scheduled for this week include those offered by Transylvania Public Health and some offered by Blue Ridge Health – Brevard Health Center.
ABOUT THE VACCINE
Scientists had a head start. The 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.
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). More than 70,000 people volunteered in clinical trials for the first two vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna to see if they are safe and work to prevent COVID-19 illness. To date, these vaccines are 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 with no serious safety concerns noted in the clinical trials. For more information about the process, visit https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/Vaccine-Timeline.pdf.
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 side effects have been reported. 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.
Supplies are limited for now. A vaccine will be available to everyone who wants it, but supplies will be limited at first. It will take time for manufacturers to ramp up production, even if they started early. The good news is that mRNA vaccines have shorter manufacturing times than other types of vaccines.
Those most at risk will get it first. Independent state and federal public health advisory groups have determined that the best way to fight COVID-19 is to start first with vaccinations for those most at-risk, then reach more people as the vaccine supply increases throughout 2021. To see when you might expect to receive a vaccine, see the Vaccine availability list on the back of this handout.
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.
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.
COVID-19 vaccines will be free. It will be available to everyone at no cost, whether or not you have health insurance.
You’ll need two shots to build up your immunity. After you get a first dose, you will need to come back 3 to 4 weeks later for a second dose. You will get a printed card and email reminder of when to get your second dose. It is important to get two doses of the same vaccine.
We’re still learning about the COVID-19 vaccines. We know that the Pfizer vaccine can protect people from COVID illness for at least two months. We’ll know more about how long immunity from the vaccine lasts as people have been vaccinated for a longer period of time. Experts are still deciding whether people who are vaccinated need to quarantine if they have close contact with someone with COVID-19.
Continue to practice the 3Ws until most people are vaccinated. Wear a mask. Wait six feet apart. Wash your hands. That’s the best way to protect each other until everyone has a chance to get the vaccine.
VACCINE 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. In response to indications that the federal government might base future allocations on vaccine supplies that have been distributed but not administered, the state is working to rapidly use all first doses. NCDHHS is asking local vaccine providers to give as many vaccines as quickly as possible and to also demonstrate outreach to underserved communities. As of January 24, North Carolina has given 88% of all first doses and is ranked 10th among all states in total vaccines administered.
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. 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 is currently offering vaccines for people 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living condition. It will take several weeks to offer vaccine to everyone in this group. Click here to learn more about Group 2 from NCDHHS.
GROUP 3 (formerly Phase 1b Groups 2 and 3): This group includes people of any age who must work in person and are employed in one of the following 8 sectors: critical manufacturing, education and childcare, essential goods, food and agriculture, government and community services, public health and social workers, public safety, and transportation. A timeline for completing this group will depend on vaccine supplies and the number of people in these categories who want a vaccine. Click here to learn more about Group 3 from NCDHHS.
GROUP 4 (formerly Phase 2 Groups 2-4): This group now includes anyone 16-65 years old with have medical conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, people who are incarcerated or living in other close group living settings, and other essential workers. The CDC defines these essential workers as those in in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety (e.g., engineers) and public health workers. By the time we get to Group 4, we anticipate that vaccine supply will be more plentiful and options for vaccinations will be available in places like grocery stores and pharmacies.
GROUP 5 (formerly Phase 4): Finally, vaccines will be offered to everyone who wants a one.
VACCINATION APPOINTMENTS IN TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY
Transylvania County is following state guidance and working to provide vaccines as quickly as possible to as many people as possible and also reaching out to underserved communities. Depending on available vaccine supplies, we will continue to hold larger vaccination events at sites within the community. We will also offer more targeted vaccination opportunities to make sure that everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to receive one.
We will remain focused on the current priority group until most of the people in that group who want vaccines have received them. Some folks may be choosing to “wait and see” before getting the vaccine, and that’s okay. Once we open vaccines to new groups, we will continue to offer them to previous groups as well.
Transylvania Public Health will be giving vaccines by appointment only. An appointment-based system will be necessary to avoid long lines and delays with limited vaccine supply. We are not opening appointments weeks in advance
To make an appointment, please have the following information ready:
- Race and ethnicity
- Number of health conditions with higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness (just the number: None, One, or Two or More). These include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, and type 2 diabetes, among others – the complete list is available https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html.
- For frontline workers: Employer
- For long-term care staff or residents: Facility name
- For those with tribal affiliation: Community name