EDITOR’S NOTE: After meeting with the Habersham Board of Health regarding the county’s low vaccination rate, District 2 Public Health Director Dr. Zachary Taylor released the following information.  

It is important to know the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and have accurate information for individuals to make informed decisions about getting the vaccine. District Two Public Health is providing up-to-date vaccine information to improve understanding within the community regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

In Habersham County, 13,929 residents have been fully vaccinated, 31 percent of the county population. In the U.S., 160 million people are fully vaccinated, 48 percent of the total population. Globally, 988 million people have been fully vaccinated, 13 percent of the world’s population.

It is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Studies show COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for children 12 years and older and adults. The vaccines have gone through the most intensive safety monitoring in the United States. Over 30,000 persons participated in the clinical trials establishing the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

The ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines vary by manufacturer. However, there are no preservatives, eggs, latex, or metals in the vaccine. None of the vaccines contain mercury.

A COVID-19 vaccine will not alter DNA. mRNA and viral vector vaccines deliver instructions to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. The material never enters DNA cells.

Depending on the COVID-19 vaccine an individual receives, the number of doses needed may be one dose or two doses. Pfizer vaccines require two doses three weeks apart. Moderna vaccines require two doses one month apart. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is only one dose.

It is not uncommon to experience side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine; these are signs the body is building protection against the virus. An individual may experience pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Other side effects may include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea several days after receiving the vaccine.

An individual should be vaccinated even if they have had COVID-19 in the past. Experts do not know how long an individual is protected from getting sick again from the virus. The vaccine provides a strong boost of protection for individuals who have recovered from COVD-19.

COVID-19 vaccines are available at all county health departments, no appointment is necessary and walk-ins will be accepted or visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccine location near you.

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