COVID-19 Vaccines: A Way Back to Normalcy

Photo: wcu.edu

 

Introduction

Vecinos Farmworker Health Program has aided efforts in ensuring the Latino and farmworker community in the seven western counties of North Carolina have the resources to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including access to vaccines. 

 

Debunking Some Myths

Misinformation and conspiracy theories prevent people from accessing the vaccines currently available, which makes it harder to contain the virus. The Latino community, including Vecinos patients, have shared concerns about the vaccines’ safety and ethical compliances. Education is a crucial part of our work, so here are a few debunked myths from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies. 

Can a COVID-19 vaccine contain the actual virus?

  • The CDC says “none of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19” which means you cannot get the virus from the vaccine. However, because it takes a few weeks for a person to develop protection against the virus it is possible to become exposed to the virus and get sick. 

Will the vaccine cause infertility?

  • According to the CDC, there is no current evidence that any vaccine, including the COVID-19, causes fertility problems. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause problems during pregnancy, such as the development of the placenta. 

Will the vaccine alter my DNA?

  • There is no scientific evidence that any medication can alter a person’s DNA. The COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA. The current vaccines available are either mRNA or viral vector vaccines which deliver instructions to cells in our body to build protection against the virus.

The government will force you to get a vaccine?

  • The federal government cannot require you to get vaccinated. Additionally, the CDC “does not maintain or monitor a person’s vaccination record.” Individual employers can impose their own mandates, please contact your employer for questions regarding vaccination mandates.

Will I need to show proof of identification to get the vaccine?

  • Not only are all vaccines free to anyone who wants one, North Carolina is not requiring proof of identification in order to receive a vaccine. U.S. Citizenship is also not required nor will it be checked. Everyone who is eligible for a vaccine is encouraged to get one.

For additional FAQs about the vaccines, please visit: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019

 

Vecinos’ work

Since July 2020, Vecinos has been providing educational materials, dispersing critical protective equipment, and providing free COVID-19 tests to the Latino residents of the seven western-most counties of North Carolina. Vecinos has also collaborated with other organizations to help those in need with food drives and other events catered to the community. To date, Vecinos has distributed over 1,700 masks and over 680 bottles of hand sanitizer.

In February 2021, Vecinos joined forces with the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, the Community Care Clinic, the International Friendship Center, and other important allies forming the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau Vaccine Initiative to provide vaccination clinics aimed at Latino residents. Through this initiative, Macon County became the top county in North Carolina for most Latinos vaccinated in one county in the state of NC. Over 1,400 people have been vaccinated with the help of collaboration efforts with Vecinos!

Vecinos will continue to provide education and resources to help battle the pandemic in our communities while also connecting Latinos to vaccine opportunities throughout western NC.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Overview

Life changed for everyone when the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world, but with the help of technological advances in medicine, we could go back to the normalcy we all miss and yearn for. 

Numerous companies took on the challenging task of developing a safe and effective vaccine to help fight off the virus. In the United States, three vaccines were approved for emergency use authorization (EUA): Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can authorize unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products after the Secretary of Health and Human Sciences declares that there’s an emergency threat from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, including infectious diseases.

Pfizer and Moderna are both considered mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says COVID-19 is part of the coronavirus family which has crown-like spikes on their surfaces called spike proteins. The mRNA vaccine “teaches [the body’s] cells how to make copies of the spike protein” so if one is exposed to the virus, the body will know how to fight it. 

Johnson and Johnson is considered a viral vector vaccine which “uses a harmless version of a different virus, called a ‘vector,’ to deliver information to the body” on how to create those same protein spikes as in the mRNA vaccines. 

On April 13, the CDC and FDA recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which they called “an abundance of caution,” after there were six reported cases of severe blood clots after receiving the vaccine. An investigation is currently underway to see if the vaccines are responsible for such blood clots. 

Although these blood clots are concerning and alarming, they are also extremely rare.  Over 7.2 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been administered in the United States, giving someone less than a 1 in a millionth chance to suffer from these symptoms. However, the CDC recommends that if you have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the past three weeks and “develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath [you] should seek medical care right away.”

 

We can all play a part

We can all play an important part in beating this pandemic. 

  • Talk with your local faith community to set up transportation opportunities to vaccine clinics for those who don’t have access to reliable transportation. 
  • Advocate for accessible and equitable vaccine distribution in your community. 
  • Volunteer at a vaccination site, especially if you’re bilingual and can help vulnerable communities with information distribution. 
  • Educate others by sharing accurate and factual information from credible sources such as the CDC and FDA. 
  • Donate to pandemic relief funds, including Vecinos!

Our mission includes protecting farmworkers, the livelihood of our food supply. Together we can find a way back to normalcy.

 

References/Sources

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