Columbus Health Officials Seek To Normalize The Vaccination Process
As the vaccine rollout continues, Columbus health officials are dispelling the myths associated with getting vaccinated and making a change when it comes to second dose scheduling.
At a recent virtual town hall forum on the vaccine, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Dr. Sophia Tolliver encouraged residents to make a decision based on facts rather than fear. She wants to stop the cycle of misinformation, especially when it comes to minorities.
"We know that COVID-19 disproportionately affects our black and brown communities, absolutely in part to racism." Dr. Tolliver said. "Our vulnerable communities are made vulnerable by racism. We talk about social determinants of health, where you live, where you work, where you play, where you get educated, where you eat or don't eat. All of these things play into your health. We see significant rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, and chronic diseases that make us more susceptible to more severe disease. We want to stop that vicious cycle. If we don't get the vaccination, we'll just be in this cycle of more people dying."
While there are side effects, Tolliver said the vaccine is safe and effective.
"The body has to be triggered in order to get that information to the immune system to fight that disease," Dr. Tolliver continued. "That triggering could be fevers, chills, stomach aches, body aches, fatigue. We need to reasonably expect some side effects because that's what it's triggering our body to do, to have that immune response. It's a momentary pinch to trigger your immune system to stop a disease that's literally killing people. I want you to think about that."
Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts added that the vaccine simply arms the body with defenses, and does not contain or give anyone the virus. She also noted an important distinction. The vaccine doesn't prevent someone from getting COVID-19; it prevents "getting sick" with COVID-19.
"Why I say that is because the vaccinated person is the protected person," Dr. Roberts said. "You're likely going to shed less virus. But we still need more research to find out if you get exposed to COVID-19 and you don't build up the symptoms, could you be shedding the virus even though you are asymptomatic to your loved ones who are not vaccinated or not protected. That's why it's so crucial that at this point and time, even once you get vaccinated you still follow those public health recommendations."
Those include masking up and social distancing. Dr. Roberts acknowledged some scheduling snafus especially regarding the second dose with reminder messages sent out a day before the due date. Columbus Public Health amended that plan effective today.
"When you get vaccinated at Columbus Public Health when you get your first dose. you will get your appointment for your second dose," Dr. Roberts said. When we set up the initial plan, there was nothing intentional to hold the second dose back or make it more difficult. We anticipated our system would work smoothly. We learned that AT&T was blocking some of our text messages because they thought it was spam. We are fixing that problem. Starting Monday when you are vaccinated at the Fairgrounds, you will get your return appointment for your second dose right then and there."
The city, Franklin County and major hospital partners are launching a campaign for underserved minorities. Columbus's vaccine equity plan includes increasing access for the most vulnerable populations and mobile outreach to inform and engage the community. Dr Roberts and Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther take part in a vaccine information session for barbers and hair stylists later this afternoon