North Central Health District

COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

COVID-19 Vaccine

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Protection Against COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccine information is changing quickly – check this page regularly for updated information. 

Vaccines are one of the best defenses we have against infectious diseases. With the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, the newly developed COVID-19 vaccines give our communities another tool to stop the spread of this illness.

Vaccine Distribution

The Georgia Department of Public Health and North Central Health District are following both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC recommendations for vaccine distribution. Due to the limited initial supply of COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine is only being offered to groups in Phase 1A+ at this time. Those that qualify for COVID-19 vaccine include:

  • Healthcare personnel – This group includes paid and unpaid people serving in a healthcare setting who have the potential for direct exposure to patients or infectious materials and includes, but is no limited to: physicians, nurses, dentists, laboratory workers, environmental services, EMS, fire department that provides health services, etc.
  • Residents and employees of long-term care facilities
  • Adults aged 65 and older
  • Caregivers of adults age 65 and older
  • Law enforcement officers, fire personnel (including volunteer fire departments), dispatchers and 911 operators

Given that supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine are limited at this time, North Central Health District is following the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Vaccine Rollout Plan. Everyone who desires the COVID-19 vaccine will ultimately be able to get a shot. However, until additional vaccine becomes available and allows for expansion to other phases, we ask for the public’s patience and understanding during this process.

COVID-19 Vaccination Phases

Phase 1A+

  • Healthcare personnel – This group includes paid and unpaid people serving in a healthcare setting who have the potential for direct exposure to patients or infectious materials and includes, but is no limited to: physicians, nurses, dentists, laboratory workers, environmental services, EMS, fire department that provides health services, etc.
  • Residents and employees of long-term care facilities
  • Adults aged 65 and older
  • Caregivers of adults age 65 and older
  • Law enforcement officers, fire personnel (including volunteer fire departments), dispatchers and 911 operators

 

Phase 1B – This phase is NOT open at this time.

  • Law Enforcement and Fire Department administrative staff
  • Frontline critical workforce employees, such as educational faculty and staff, court employees, food processing staff, grocery workers, transportation/public transit staff, health care distribution employees, coroners, corrections employees, USPS employees

Phase 1C – This phase is NOT open at this time.

  • Adults aged 40 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions
  • Other essential workers

Phase 2 – This phase is NOT open at this time.

  • Adults between the ages of 40 to 64
  • Individuals in congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, group homes, dormitories
  • Individuals in jails, prisons, detention centers
  • Any others living in congregate settings

Phase 3 – This phase is NOT open at this time.

  • Workers in industries important to a functioning society and at moderate risk of exposure as listed in the executive orders, such as restaurant workers, hairstylists, barbers, etc.
  • Young adults aged 16 to 39

Phase 4 – This phase is NOT open at this time.

  • Everyone residing in Georgia for whom the vaccine is recommended, who was not included in any of the previous phases.
  • Children, once the vaccine is approved for pediatric use.

Vaccine Locator

All 13 of our county health departments are administering COVID-19 vaccine, and all public health districts in Georgia are receiving vaccine. Other providers are slowing coming online as they receive supplies. Georgia Department of Public Health has published a tool to find COVID-19 vaccination sites across the state. This list shows all sites where COVID-19 shots are available to those currently eligible for vaccination in Georiga. Find a COVID-19 Vaccination Site here.

Getting a Vaccine

Individuals in Phase 1A+ can schedule appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through public health by calling 1-844-987-0099.  Do not call the local health department for an appointment – vaccination is not conducted at all county health departments at this time. Anyone that schedules an appointment for vaccination will be required to show proof of age, workplace identification or proof of affiliation. Phase 1A+ will be able to receive vaccine Mondays through Saturdays. Vaccine will be provided by appointment at a drive-thru clinics. Only those with an appointment will be allowed at vaccination sites.

To schedule your second does of COVID-19 vaccine, please call the call line 2-3 days before the day of your second dose. At this time, we cannot schedule out the second dose in advance. 

Before receiving any vaccine, you will be required to review information from the vaccine manufacturer. Access the Emergency Use Authorization information for the vaccine offered to you:

To receive COVID-19 vaccination, you will be required to complete and sign the NCHD COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Consent Form. Complete the form, print it out, sign it and take it with you to your vaccination appointment. Copies of the form will be available on-site.

Vaccination Options for Healthcare Providers
  1. Become a vaccine provider. Enrolling as a vaccine provider will allow you to order and administer vaccines to your staff, clients and the community. To become a vaccine provider, you must register on GRITS and complete the Pandemic Enrollment Application. Providers without access to GRITS may create an account on the website or email DPH-COVID19Vaccine@dph.ga.gov with any questions regarding registration. Existing vaccine providers registered with GRITS can check their status using the instructions below.
  2. If you are not eligible to become a vaccine provider, you can choose to partner with a local pharmacy, hospital or healthcare entity that is already a registered provider or is eligible to be a provider (see option 1) to be included in their vaccine orders. NCHD will not be able to find or facilitate local partnerships on your behalf. Please reach out to existing partners in your community.
  3. Entities that are unable to be vaccine providers and are not partnered with other local providers can seek vaccination through their local county health department if they fall in the current vaccination phase/tier. Vaccination will be provided by appointment on a first come, first serve basis once it becomes available locally and will depend on availability. Additionally, individuals seeking vaccination must come to the vaccination site; the Health Department does not have the capacity to provide vaccination at the facility site. Those eligible for vaccination must call 1-844-987-0099 to schedule an appointment.

 

Vaccine Provider Enrollment Process

  1.  You can access your status in GRITS: https://www.grits.state.ga.us/production/security_ui.showLogin
  2. You will have one of three statuses:
    • Approved – You’re good to go. 
    • Duplicate – This means you have already submitted your enrollment and it is pending approval. 
    • You can enroll.  Please use the checklist to ensure you complete all the necessary steps, including training. You will need to complete training for shipping, handling, and storage of COVID-19 vaccine, along with GRITS training and administration processes. You will need your certificates as .pdf attachments. 
    • Your IIS Identifier is the organization code you use to login to GRITS. GIP staff will work with providers individually to obtain any missing information, and to verify that all requirements have been met. 
  3.  Once GIP fully processes your completed enrollment application, they will send a confirmation email to you. That email will contain your approval, your PIN, and an order survey to complete your first vaccine order.
  4. Complete the order survey using the PIN provided to you (do not include the preceding GAA). Please take a screenshot of the last page as confirmation for your records.
  5. Beginning Monday, December 14, you will receive an email when your order has been placed.
  6. Please send any questions to: DPH-COVID19Vaccine@dph.ga.gov.

PLEASE NOTE: Neither DPH nor NCHD will create or otherwise provide COVID-19 vaccination consent forms to external healthcare providers. Georgia Hospital Association has created a COVID-19 vaccine consent form template that can be used by facilities to create a form.

 

Vaccine Safety

Operation Warp Speed has been working to make a COVID-19 vaccine since the beginning of the pandemic. While the development of COVID-19 vaccines has been unprecedented, safety is a top priority. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the most strict pharmaceutical review group in the world. The FDA carefully reviews all safety data from each vaccine manufacturer’s clinical trial and agrees to issue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) only if the benefits of a vaccine outweighs any potential risks. Each COVID-19 vaccine was tested in large clinical trials to ensure they meet safety standards for vaccines. These trials included people of different ages, races, ethnicities and those with pre-existing medical conditions to see how the vaccine protects different demographics.

 

Side Effects

The clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines have document side effects that include muscle pain, fever, headache, fatigue, chills and joint pain. These side effects have been shown to mild to moderate and short-lived. There have been documented risks of severe allergic reaction in individuals with any allergy in cases where the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is used. Signs of severe allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, swelling of face/throat, rapid heartbeat, rash, dizziness and weakness. These may not be all the possible side effects of any COVID-19 vaccine. All vaccines are still being studied.

 

Post-Vaccination Reporting

FDA and CDC will continue to monitor safety of COVID-19 vaccines as they are distributed. Anyone can report side effects of COVID-19 vaccination to CDC using a smartphone tool, v-safe. V-safe uses text messaging and online surveys to provide personal health check-ins after patients receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The tool will also remind people to get the second dose of vaccine if needed. The program is completely voluntary. For v-safe assistance, call 800-232-4636. Side effects can also be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. Reports can be made online or by calling 1-800-822-7967.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Does North Central Health District have COVID-19 vaccine?

North Central Health District received the first shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, Dec. 23. Our district’s vaccination efforts are underway. 

Who can get vaccinated?

DPH and NCHD are following ACIP and CDC recommendations for vaccine distribition. Right now, only the following groups are eligible for vaccination:

  • Healthcare personnel – This group includes paid and unpaid people serving in a healthcare setting who have the potential for direct exposure to patients or infectious materials and includes, but is no limited to: physicians, nurses, dentists, laboratory workers, environmental services, EMS, fire department that provides health services, etc.
  • Residents and employees of long-term care facilities
  • Adults aged 65 and older
  • Caregivers of adults age 65 and older
  • Law enforcement officers, fire personnel (including volunteer fire departments), dispatchers and 911 operators

We will update this list as more groups become eligible.

When will more people be able to get vaccinated?

Groups eligible to receive vaccine are limited because COVID-19 supplies are limited. As supplies become more available, more and more people will be able to receive the vaccine. Public health does not manufacture vaccine so we do not have any timeline on when more groups will be eligible for vaccination. 

Does the vaccine use live virus?

No. The is no component of the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) in the Pfizer BioNTech nor the Moderna vaccine. These vaccines utilize synthesized mRNA, which the body uses to make it’s own “spike” protein. The immune system reacts to the spike protein by creating blocking antibodies. Later, if we are exposed to coronavirus, those antibodies would attach to the spike protein on a real coronavirus particle and prevent the virus from entering our cells.

Does the vaccine contain preservatives?

No. The vaccine only contains salt water, synthetic mRNA and inert fat globules. There are no eggs nor preservatives used in the vaccine.

How effective is the vaccine?

The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has been reported to be 53% effective after the first dose and 95% effective after the second dose. The Moderna vaccince is reported to be 80% effective after the first dose and 94% after the second dose. It is currently unknown how long any vaccine will protect against COVID-19. All vaccines are still being studied. 

Will I need two injections of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Both the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses to be fully effective.

  • Pfizer BioNTech requires 21 days between the first and second dose.
  • Moderna requires 24 days between the first and second dose. 
Does my second shot need to be the same vaccine as my first one?

Yes. It is highly recommended to go with the same company’s vaccine for both doses. There is no information at this time to see how different vaccines work with one another. If you get the Pfizer BioNTech shot for the first does, you should get the Pfizer BioNTech shot for the second. If you get the Moderna shot first, the Moderna shot should be your second. 

How long will the vaccine protect me from COVID-19?

The duration of protection against COVID-19 is unknown for all versions of the vaccine. The manufacurers are continuing clinical trials and vaccine duration will be closely studied.

Should I get vaccinated if I've already had COVID-19 and recovered?

Yes. There is very limited information about how much natural immunity a person may have after recovering from COVID-19. Both this disease and the vaccine are new. We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated. It is recommended that people who have had COVID-19 and recovered get vaccinated.

If I have COVID-19 right now, should I get vaccinated?

No. Vaccination should wait until you are symptom free and are able to discontinue isolation.

What are the potential side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine?

Based on the available data from vaccine manuacturer clinical trials, the following side effects were observed, though they were mild and short lived:

  • injection site reactions
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • joint pain
  • fever

In addition, the Pfizer BioNTech clinical trial document four cases of Bell’s palsy in those that received the vaccine. There have been a few serious allergic reactions that have led to hospitalization after individuals with histories of allergies received the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

 

These may not be all the possible side effects of any COVID-19 vaccine. All vaccines are still being studied. 

Can I report side effects after getting vaccinated?

Yes. CDC has created a voluntary, smartphone tool called v-safe that uses text messaging and online surveys to provide health check-ins after individuals receive a COVID-19 vaccine. V-safe allows users to report side effects to CDC, and CDC representatives may conact the individual for more information. Side effects can also be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. Reports can be made online or by calling 1-800-822-7967. 

What happens if severe side effects are reported?

CDC will work with the FDA and vaccine safety partners to quickly review any issues if safety concers are discovered. Up-to-date vaccine safety information will be shared with ACIP, which may make changes to the vaccine recommendations.

If I get vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask, social distance, etc.?

Yes. Vaccines are still new, and data from clinical trials do not fully represent the real world. It will be important for everyone to continue to use all the tools we have available to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. 

Where can I get vaccinated once it is available to me?

Public health departments, hospitals, primary care providers, pharmacies and other healthcare providers all around Georgia are enrolling as COVID-19 vaccine providers. As vaccine becomes more available and more people are included in eligible groups, these providers will be able to vaccinate more people. Each county health department in Georgia’s 159 counties will play an important role in getting vaccines to all parts of the states, including rural areas. 

Will there be a cost for the COVID-19 vaccine?

No. COVID-19 vaccine is free. Some vaccine providers may charge an administration fee, but providers must administer COVID-19 vaccine regardless of the recipient’s ability to pay administration fees. North Central Health District does not play to charge an administration fee at this time. 

All COVID-19 vaccination appointments for the week of Jan. 18 - Jan. 23 have been booked. We have booked appointments for all vaccine supply we currently have available. We will open additional appointments for vaccination once we have received more vaccine. Please look here and to our social media for updates when we get more vaccine shipments.