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UnityPoint Health is partnering with federal, state and county public health departments on allocation and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Our team members have begun receiving the vaccine using an effective, efficient and fair process.
The first phase of vaccine distribution focuses on frontline health care workers in patient service with the highest risk of exposure. Currently, the vaccine is not available to the general public in our community, and UnityPoint Health does NOT have a wait list for the vaccine. As soon as we have more information to proceed with public vaccinations, we'll partner with public health to contact our communities regarding next steps.
It is unknown exactly how long the first phase of vaccine distribution to healthcare workers will last. The next phase to follow will expand to other essential workers and high-risk patients. This means that we do not anticipate the COVID-19 vaccine will be widely available to patients/general public until spring 2021 or later.
Until a vaccine is distributed to the general public (and even for some time after), we MUST remain vigilant. Please wear your mask, limit indoor gatherings, practice social distancing, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and stay home when you're sick.
See our COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for more information.
Supplies will increase over time, and the vaccine should be able to the general public later in 2021. As soon as we have more information to proceed, we will partner with public health to contact people who are eligible for the vaccine regarding next steps. A COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for young children until more studies are completed.
The vaccine is being distributed according to federal, state and public health guidelines, health care workers with the highest risk of exposure were identified as the first tier to receive the vaccine. We started vaccinating UnityPoint Health team members in December 2020 and continue to make progress based on available number of vaccine doses.
The next tier will include additional essential workers and higher risk patients. Distribution will depend on the number of available vaccine doses and progress will vary by county due to a variety of factors. If you identify as a member of one of these groups, please know we're working quickly to determine eligibility, timelines and processes. We appreciate your patience.
We expect COVID-19 vaccines to be widely available to the general public later in 2021. Eligibility, timelines and processes will depend on the number of available vaccine doses.
As soon as we have more information to proceed, we will partner with public health to contact people who are eligible for the vaccine regarding next steps.
Yes. In order to receive Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, the vaccine must be proven safe and effective. The science is rooted in years of research, and every step of the vaccine process went through the same safety assessments as all other vaccines. We want our communities to know our clinical leaders and experts at UnityPoint Health have also thoroughly reviewed all the data surrounding the clinical trials of these vaccines.
The COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Unlike traditional vaccines, mRNA vaccines do not take a virus or germ, weaken it and inject in the body to illicit an antibody response. The vaccine will not put COVID in your body or alter your DNA in any way. Instead, the COVID vaccine teaches your body to make a protein. Your cells then make this protein, illicit an antibody response and protect you from getting COVID.
After receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, it's still important to follow all the guidelines we've come to know during the pandemic: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and stay home when you're sick. We don't know how long the immunity from the vaccine is going to last, and it's going to be a while before a large percentage of our communities get this vaccine.
Both vaccines available under the FDA EUA (emergency use authorization) are 2 dose vaccines with the second dose for the Pfizer vaccine at 21 days and Moderna vaccine at 28 days. These are the intervals utilized in the vaccine studies, so it is optimal to remain consistent. The CDC has stated that if the second vaccine is given late, the series does not need to be restarted. The second dose should be the same brand as the initial dose as there is not data to support interchanging brands.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory for UnityPoint Health team members at this time. Each team member will be provided educational materials so they can be equipped to make an informed decision on whether or not they choose to receive the vaccine.
Pregnant and nursing individuals are eligible to receive the vaccine. They were excluded from the clinical trials in the development of this vaccine, so no information has been collected regarding its safety during pregnancy. However, our Women's Service Line supports the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the position the vaccine should be offered to pregnant and lactating individuals. You can learn more about the American Academy of Pediatrics considerations and recommendations regarding receiving the vaccine while pregnant or nursing.
It is important to know that being pregnant puts a woman at increased risk of more severe COVID-19 with an increase in ICU admission and ventilator use when compared to non-pregnant women in the same age group. The bottom line – it's a personal decision, so we recommend pregnant individuals contact their provider to discuss their individual situation. Also, the COVID-19 vaccine does not impact fertility.
Yes. Although people who've had COVID-19 have built up antibodies to fight future infection, we don't know how long that immunity lasts. We recommend that people who've had COVID-19 wait 90 days from their infection to receive the vaccine. One of the reasons for this is simply the supply of the vaccine. We want everyone in our communities to be able to get the vaccine.
If you have severe anaphylaxis or an allergy to one of the components of this vaccine, please talk to your health care provider before getting this vaccine. For most people, even those with seasonal allergies or minor food allergies, it is safe and we highly recommend getting the vaccine.
History in the making as the COVID-19 vaccine arrived at UnityPoint Health campuses for our front-line team members. When it's your turn, we hope you'll roll up your sleeve, too.