COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Two COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, have been approved by FDA’s emergency use authorization process and are now being administered to adults throughout the country. Both vaccines require an initial injection followed by a booster injection 3-4 weeks later.

According to the new Montana governor’s plan, healthcare workers, emergency response personnel, and long-term care facilities have already been offered vaccines. The next groups are expected to be those over age 70 and those with high risk chronic medical conditions, including asbestos related disease (ARD). At this point, CARD has joined a community COVID-19 vaccine list in cooperation with the other local providers and Public Health, so that patients can be called when vaccines become available. CARD patients wishing to get the vaccine can call (406) 293-9274 to be put on the list, but at this time, we can’t say when or to which facility you will need to go to when your turn arises. If you currently have a COVID-19 infection you should not be vaccinated, but vaccination is recommended if you have had COVID-19 and recovered, especially if it was more than 90 days ago.

Vaccines work with your immune system preparing it to fight the COVID-19 virus when you get exposed. Both currently available vaccines have undergone clinical trials that have shown them to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19, in addition to helping keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do contract the virus. Because of the way the vaccines are created, it is not possible to contract COVID-19 from the vaccinations. It does, however, take time for your body to build up immunity after vaccination, so you may not be protected for 1-2 weeks after your second injection. Research on COVID-19 immunity is ongoing, so these vaccines may become recommended on a routine basis, similar to how the flu vaccine works.

COVID-19 vaccine side effects may include soreness at the injection site or mild short-lived flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, body aches, chills, and headache. This just means your immune system is kicking in like you want it to. Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) are very rare and after receiving the vaccination you will be monitored for a short time to ensure prompt treatment if this were to happen. As of December 30, 2020 there had only been 29 documented cases of anaphylaxis from a COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., and over 1 million people had been vaccinated. Those allergic to phenylethylene glycol and polysorbate should not get an mRNA vaccine. To reduce discomfort from flu-like symptoms, talk to your provider about taking an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or Tylenol. Call your provider if redness or soreness where you received the injection increases after 24 hours, or if other side effects do not resolve within a few days.

The decision about whether to get vaccinated or not is up to you, but please remember that it is not only about you; it is about your family, friends and community as well. Getting vaccinated helps protect the people around you, particularly if they are at high risk for complications. The COVID-19 virus is not going away, so the goal for 2021 and into the future is to achieve herd immunity, which means there are enough people (at least 80% receiving vaccines) immune to COVID-19 that the disease is unlikely to spread from person to person. You can contribute to herd immunity by getting vaccinated. Being vaccinated, however, does not exempt you from taking other measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 like social distancing and mask wearing, although this may change as more data is analyzed. As we get close to 80% or even 90% of people vaccinated, it will result in lowering the risk of spread to a level that not only protects high risk individuals, but allows our economy and social life to return to normal. We look forward to seeing our patients faces again!

Remember to get and stay informed using sources that represent up to date science, not hearsay. If you have other questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccines, it’s a good idea to talk with your healthcare provider before making your choice.