When you have the opportunity to receive a COVID vaccination, we want to help you base your decision on the facts.
Who can get the COVID Vaccine?
The Georgia Department of Public Health is prioritizing COVID vaccinations based on the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19, and ethical considerations. The goal is for all Georgians to have access to COVID vaccine as soon as large enough quantities are available and allocated to Georgia by the federal government.
Among Georgia’s current eligible populations for vaccination are individuals aged 16 and older with disabilities and their caregivers, parents of children with complex medical conditions who are at high risk for COVID-19 complications and individuals with certain medical conditions as defined below.
- Any Individual aged 16 and older with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 and are now eligible to receive a vaccination. These medical conditions include:
- Asthma (moderate to severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Heart conditions
- Immunocompromised (from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines)
- Liver disease
- Neurological conditions
- Obesity (BMI is 30.0 or higher)
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Sickle Cell disease
- Thalassemia (blood disorder)
- Intellectual Disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 22.
- Developmental disability is a physical or mental impairment that happens before the age of 22, is expected to last a lifetime, and impacts at least three activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include self-care; receptive and expressive language; learning; mobility; self-direction; capacity for independent living; and economic self-sufficiency.
- Disabilities also include disabilities caused by an injury (e.g., traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury), a disability due to a longstanding condition that could cause vision loss, nerve damage or loss of a limb, or a disability due to illness such as ALS or multiple sclerosis.
- Caregivers provide care to people who need some degree of ongoing assistance with everyday tasks on a regular or daily basis. The recipients of care can live either in residential or institutional settings, range from children to older adults, and have chronic illnesses or disabling conditions.
Parents of children with complex medical conditions or who are at high risk for COVID-19 complications include:
- Malignancies requiring active treatment
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including organ transplant (bone marrow or solid organ) within 2 years
- Critical congenital heart disease
- Asthma (moderate to severe)
- Sickle cell disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Significant neurologic injury or condition
- Technology dependence (e.g. BiPAP, trach)
Why should I get a COVID Vaccine?
The COVID vaccines that are currently offered are 95% effective at reducing the likelihood of developing symptomatic COVID. During research studies, these vaccines also dramatically reduced the number of severe cases of COVID-19. Getting aCOVID vaccine will help protect you, your family, your friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
As of January 28, 2021, there have been 25,456,670 reported new infections and 427,626 covid related deaths in the United States.
How do COVID mRNA vaccines work?
How were COVID mRNA vaccines tested?
Emory University was one of the earliest test sites for COVID mRNA vaccines. Diverse members of our community, medical professionals, and others around the world volunteered to be a part of the testing of the vaccines and aided with their development. Outside experts such as scientists at the CDC and FDA carefully monitored the process according to rigorous standards. Many of the people who helped develop and test the vaccine have also rolled up their sleeves to get it. All of their findings were made public and are available online for outside experts (and you) to examine. This has been and continues to be an open, visible process.
How did they develop these vaccines so quickly?
- University researchers had already been studying the science behind mRNA vaccines for decades.
- To make most vaccines, scientists have to grow the whole virus or produce parts of it, which takes time. This mRNA vaccine doesn’t use any part of the virus, so nothing needed to be grown.
- A lot of Americans volunteered to test the vaccines.
- Pfizer: 42% of global participants and 30% of U.S. participants have racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds; Moderna: 11,000 (37%) study participants were from communities of color.
- COVID was spreading very quickly in American communities, so it took less time than usual for people in the studies to be exposed to COVID to see if they had immunity.
- The US government took on the financial risk of producing vaccines ahead of time. This meant companies were willing to manufacture vaccines right away, instead of waiting for approvals.
What are the side effects and risks?
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have already had COVID vaccines before you, including almost 40,000 people in 2020 during the testing phase of the vaccines which we call clinical trials.
- It is NOT possible to get COVID from the vaccines.
- 85-90% of people who got the vaccines either did not report feeling any side effects or had only mild symptoms that didn’t interfere with daily activities.
- If you do experience side effects, it is generally a sign that your immune system is working well. They occur more often after the second dose. This may include discomfort at the injection site, some tiredness, mild headache, muscle or joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, fevers/chills, or a general feeling of being unwell. As with all vaccines, the risk of having an allergic reaction is very small.
- Pregnant women were not included in the initial studies, but there is no suggestion of particular risks. They can receive the vaccination and should discuss any questions with their doctor.
How do I get the COVID vaccine?