COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE FROM OCONTO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH
Oconto County Public Health is continuing a planning process to ensure safe distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The safety of the COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority. According to the CDC, the data and findings from the vaccine clinical trials show that the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh the harms of becoming infected with COVID-19. CDC and other federal partners have expanded their safety monitoring systems to allow for evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine safety in real time. It is important to note that two doses of the vaccine is needed for full protection. Flu-like symptoms have been reported as a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine and this is a normal sign that the body is building protection against COVID-19.
Due to the limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is implementing the distribution plan developed by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This distribution plan contains a series of group recommendations that list who should get the vaccine first using these three goals:
- Decrease death and serious disease as much as possible.
- Preserve functioning of society.
- Reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities.
Oconto County Public Health will continue to follow the rapidly evolving distribution plan. At this time, in Phase 1, COVID-19 vaccine is available only to specific populations including health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, essential workers and those whose age and/or health condition puts them at higher risk of complications from COVID-19. Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are receiving the vaccine in the first part of Phase 1. Essential workers and those whose age and/or health condition puts them at higher risk for COVID-19 complications have not yet been defined and those populations will follow health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Oconto County Public Health and other health departments do not define the groups; they follow the guidance from state and federal partners. In Phase 2 and beyond, COVID-19 vaccine will be available to the general public.
“We realize that our residents have many questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, and at this time, there are questions that we do not yet have the answers for,” stated Debra Konitzer, Oconto County Health Officer. “We ask for the public’s patience as we receive and implement guidance from our federal and state partners. Oconto County Public Health staff continue to work diligently to protect the health of our residents during this critical time in the pandemic.”
Konitzer emphasizes that the vaccine is one tool to stop COVID-19 and until the vaccine is widely available, it is critical to continue to wear a mask in public, avoid gatherings, wash your hands often, keep 6 feet of distance between you and others, and stay home if you are sick, quarantined or waiting for COVID-19 test results.
As the pandemic continues to evolve, information changes frequently and sometimes rapidly. Konitzer states that Oconto County Public Health will continue to keep residents updated on the latest COVID-19 information, including vaccination, on the county’s COVID-19 website at www.ocontocountycovid.info and on Facebook at Oconto County-a Place for You.