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COVID-19 Vaccines: Who Is Eligible, How to Get Vaccinated, What to Expect?

Covid Vaccine

One of the best ways to tackle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is through immunization programs. At this point, several COVID-19 vaccines are available such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson / Janssen. The ongoing vaccination process may seem confusing, especially because most of us have never experienced this apocalyptic scenario before. To help you get informed, we are going to simplify the whole process in this post. Read on to see who is eligible for vaccination, how to apply, and other useful things you need to know.

Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID19 Vaccine

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been authorized for ages 16 and up, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for persons with ages 18 and up. At this point, over 150 million people (more than half the population) are eligible to receive a vaccine against COVID-19.

According to the CDC, the U.S. supply of vaccines is expected to be limited at first. For that reason, 

they issued recommendations to federal, state, and local governments regarding the priorities for vaccinations. The vaccine rollout is recommended to develop in three phases:

  • Phase 1a: healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities to receive first doses of COVID-19 vaccines
  • Phase 1b: frontline essential workers (police officers, firefighters, corrections officers, USPS workers, food and agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, teachers, daycare workers). People aged 75 years and older are also included in phase 1b of vaccine rollout.
  • Phase 1c: people aged 65-74 years (except for residents of long-term care facilities who received the vaccine in phase 1a), people aged 16-64 with an underlying medical condition, and other essential workers such as persons working in logistics and transportation, food service, information technology, and communications, media, public safety, law, and public health

It’s useful to keep in mind recommendations from the CDC are not binding. Each state has the right to determine priorities regarding vaccination. To check whether you’re eligible, you should visit the official public health website of your state for more specific vaccination eligibility requirements. In the “Useful COVID-19 vaccination resources” section, you can find the link with all state and territorial Health Department websites.

How to apply for the vaccine?

Covid Vaccine

The application process for the vaccine depends on each state. For that reason, it’s useful to visit the link with health department websites, find your state, and see how to apply. The link is available further in the article.

Some state and local health departments have set up platforms where people can confirm the eligibility, schedule an appointment, and confirm the vaccine they will take. However, some health departments have arranged mass vaccinations relying on a first-come, first-served approach.

Can I choose which vaccine against COVID-19 I get?

Since several vaccines against COVID-19 are available, it’s impossible not to wonder if and how you can choose which one to get. However, it’s highly unlikely any of us have any say in the matter. You probably won’t be able to choose the vaccine. Why? Well, numerous factors are involved, including limited supplies, the vaccines used by the health department in your area, and the time of vaccination. Again, it’s useful to check out the health department website of your state of residence. In the end, the type of vaccine doesn’t really matter, and people are advised to get any vaccine their health departments offer since they have high effectiveness.

Basically, at this point, you can’t choose the vaccine. But, you may be able to do so once they become commercially available. At the moment, you can’t buy a vaccine against COVID-19 in pharmacies. But, CVS, Walgreens, and other chain pharmacies may start offering vaccines in partnership with the federal government.

What does “fully vaccinated” mean?

A person is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving the second dose of vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson / Janssen.

A common misconception is that a person is “fully vaccinated” as soon as they receive a vaccine, but that’s simply not true. You are not fully vaccinated immediately or if it has been less than two weeks since receiving a single-dose vaccine or the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna.

How to protect yourself and others when you’re fully vaccinated?

Disregarding all the rules and recommendations once you’re fully vaccinated is a huge mistake. Keep in mind we are still learning how the vaccines work. Once you are fully vaccinated, you can finally gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without having to wear a mask. You can also gather indoors with people from 

other households without wearing a mask unless any of these men and women are in a high-risk group of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19.

In case you, as a fully vaccinated person, have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, you don’t have to get tested unless you’re experiencing symptoms as well.

While all these are important changes, as a fully vaccinated person, you still need to be cautious in order to protect yourself and other people; you should still:

  • Wear a mask in public
  • Maintain social distancing (at least six feet apart)
  • Avoid crowds
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
  • Delay your domestic and international travels

Always keep in mind that many people are still not vaccinated. So you need to be particularly careful in order to protect them. Also, make sure to watch out for symptoms of COVID-19.

Useful COVID-19 vaccination resources

State & Territorial Health Department Websites, CDChttps://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/healthdepartments.html

COVID-19 Vaccine, CDChttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html

COVID-19 Vaccines, U.S. Department of Health and Human Resourceshttps://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/index.html

Conclusion

Most people are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, but each state determines their ultimate eligibility and priority requirements. Make sure to check the official website of the public health department of your state to learn more about the process. Remember, getting a vaccine doesn’t mean you are fully vaccinated immediately, and you should still be cautious to protect yourself and others.

References

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Covid19 Side Effect: Brain Fog?

COVID19

With over 50 million worldwide COVID recovered cases, many survivors are still feeling the lingering side effects. You may have heard of the quickened heart rate, dizziness, and chronic fatigue. Recently, however, one particular side effect has gained a lot of attention – brain fog.

People forget names, lose concentration, and have trouble planning or prioritizing properly. In the last couple of months, experts have studied this recent side effect. They’ve analyzed its impact and where it is coming from.

If you want to know more, you are in the right place! Here is what science has to say about brain fog from COVID-19.

Real Life Brain Fog Cases

Millions of survivors have completely recovered from the illness. But, some of them are having lingering side effects.

“It feels like I’m having dementia,” stated a COVID survivor patient after experiencing the brain fog side effect. New York Times published the story of Lisa Mizelle, an experienced nurse practitioner who got infected in July. Afterward, she started to forget lab tests and routine treatments.

Ms. Mizelle stated she had to consult with colleagues about terminology she would normally use with ease. Plus, whenever she left the room, she would immediately forget what her patient said. This made her feel scared and anxious when working.

Michael Reagan also had a terrifying experience. After recovering from the coronavirus, the patient lost 12 days of his memory from his trip to Paris. Although he went on a vacation a couple of weeks earlier, he couldn’t remember any of it.

According to an infectious disease specialist, Tanu Singhal, recently, there have been more and more patients admitted for the brain fog side effect. One patient was admitted for a mild COVID infection. He didn’t need any significant treatment. But, after one month, the patient became forgetful. His forgetfulness escalated to the extent that he forgot almost everything.

He became withdrawn and drowsy and had to receive treatment. Singhal stated brain fog comes in various spectrums and needs more research. But, what we do know is that COVID-19 doesn’t behave like any other known pathogen. It breaks all the common barriers and boundaries.

Why Do People Experience Brain Fog?

Around 55% to 60% of recovered COVID-19 patients experience neurological symptoms. Studies show they have visual disturbance, fatigue, headaches, and mood changes. Major functional and microstructural brain integrity disruptions are common.

According to Singhal, COVID-19 enters the system through the ACE-2 receptor. These receptors can be found scattered around the system. That’s why the infection has complete access to all parts of the human body. So, it can also affect the central nervous system.

One reason for the forgetfulness may be actual organ damage. Depending on the severity of the infection, the virus can influence internal systems. Another reason might be a byproduct of stress. Our body has too much on its plate when it’s infected with COVID-19. So, the nervous system has nowhere left to run.

Brain fog is thought to be caused by POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). This is a well-known blood circulation health disorder. At first, patients think these symptoms are “just in their head.” But neurology reports are showing otherwise.

Although more research is necessary, it is evident that some survivors have typical POTS signs. Tae Chung, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, stated that these symptoms are very real. And they do cause a stir.

In fact, they are linked to autonomic nerve dysfunction. Our autonomic nervous system is responsible for many involuntary body functions. Like blood flow, bowel movement, and sweating.

Chung estimates that the virus could be linked to progressive inflammation in the autonomic nervous system, which ends up causing POTS. But, before a patient can diagnose the issue, they must recognize the symptoms.

How to Recognize the Symptoms?

According to Columbia University, even mild COVID cases can still cause COVID-19 brain fog. Among hospitalized patients, around a third of them experienced acute neurological symptoms.

Global case reports show that patients may experience:

  • Inattention
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Trouble working for long hours
  • Difficulty getting out of bed
  • Forgetfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep

The least common symptoms are behavior and thinking problems. That’s why some people might feel anxious or have trouble sleeping. When accompanied by the typical sensory symptoms, like loss of taste and smell, this side effect can be a real problem.

It can make you lose your appetite, cause discomfort, lightheadedness, and more. Therefore, survivors who were previously thriving may now experience profound changes in their day-to-day lives. It is best to ask for help to curb these symptoms.

Can People Recover?

Yes. Brain fog seems to be a temporary side effect. No one has complained of chronic or permanent forgetfulness and fatigue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go away as fast as people want it to. It can linger, but the body will eventually recover.

If you suspect to have any neurological side effects, it’s best to get evaluated at an outpatient clinic. You might want to keep a diary and record the symptoms you are experiencing. To do that, pay attention to your memory, sensory symptoms, fatigue, taste and smell, anxiety, and sleep.

References

https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/even-mild-cases-can-cause-covid-19-fog

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/covid-19-story-tip-brain-fog-fatigue-dizziness–post-covid-pots-is-real

https://scroll.in/article/981106/why-do-recovered-covid-19-patients-report-brain-fog-an-infectious-disease-specialist-explains

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7527190/