Greetings my fellow Pitt County Residents!
Like many of you, I will stay up on New Year’s Eve, not to see 2021 in, but to see 2020 end. It has been a long and difficult year for all of us and thankfully it is drawing to a close. The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in our community opens a new chapter in the story of this pandemic; one which I, and I am sure you, hope will be the final chapter of this event.
Pitt County Health Department is working with Vidant Health to vaccinate healthcare workers who are caring for patients who have COVID-19; healthcare workers who are vaccinating other healthcare workers; and residents and staff of long-term care facilities within our community. The vaccine will soon be available to other groups within the community, but will be staggered based upon risk of contracting the virus. Once available to these groups, the Health Department will notify residents by sending news releases to all local media outlets. This information will also be posted on the Coronavirus page of the County’s website. I understand that some of you are reluctant to take the vaccine, and I can respect that. This vaccine appears to be highly effective and safe. I would encourage you to look to credible sources for information about the vaccine before you make a final decision to accept or refuse the vaccine.
This vaccine is the next step in the evolution of vaccine production. As you may know, the first two vaccines approved are messenger RNA vaccines. Rather than growing the virus, extracting the protein to which we build antibodies, and processing the protein into a vaccine, these vaccines provide our bodies with the instructions to build the viral protein our immune system needs to see to give us immunity. This concept has been under development for many years.
Receiving the vaccine does not immediately make you immune. Like other vaccines, your body must process this and produce the antibodies that will protect you. This will take 2-3 weeks to happen. Both of the current vaccines are given as a two-shot series with the first dose on day 0 and the booster dose on or after day 21 or day 28 depending on the brand.
While we are waiting for the vaccine to reach enough people to take a bite out of COVID-19 we all need to remain “COVID SMART”. COVID SMART means:
∙ Staying home when you are SICK
∙ Wearing your MASK
∙ Waiting SIX FEET from others
∙ Washing your HANDS often
I know we all have some degree of COVID fatigue, but I think we are entering the final miles of this marathon. The firefighter in me hopes that these vaccines will be the extinguishing agent that finally puts this fire out!
I wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!
With warmest regards, I remain most humbly yours,
John L. Silvernail, MD, MPH
Pitt County Health Director