MIAMI COUNTY — While the longevity of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available remains unclear, the need for people to get vaccinated isn’t in question for one local doctor.
Upper Valley Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Scott Kanagy said that every person that gets vaccinated helps another resident.
“This is the next step to beating this virus. Every individual that gets vaccinated is one less individual that is likely to transmit it to others,” said Kanagy on Thursday during a press conference about the phase 1B vaccine rollout.
Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association Vice President of Health Initiatives Lisa Henderson agrees.
“I just want to echo the excitement that this vaccine brings in the path forward and out of this pandemic,” Henderson said. “I think what we’ve seen nationally is, because of the higher level of risk, that certainly, our older Ohioans have been more interested in access as quickly as possible to the vaccine.”
Henderson said the association’s hospitals, including Premier Health and Kettering Health Network facilities in Miami County, have already vaccinated more than 15,000 people in phase 1A of the process, meeting and exceeding Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s expectations.
Henderson said the public educating themselves on the vaccine, however, is of the utmost importance.
“Public health, hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Ohio Department of Health, those trusted and transparent education sources, are working hard to provide reliable data sources regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccines,” Henderson said.
Kanagy admits there are still unknowns relating to the longevity of the vaccine, however, including if it will be an annual vaccine, like that of the flu.
“We don’t know enough, we really just don’t know enough about this vaccine at this time,” Kanagy said. “We will need to wait until that information comes out.”
Kanagy said side effects to the vaccines experienced at UVMC include mainly localized reactions such as rashes, joint or muscle discomfort and swelling of the lymph nodes around the area.
“The side effects in the majority of the individuals have been minimal at this point,” Kanagy said of the UVMC staff that have been inoculated. “With that being said, as health care providers, we want to make sure we realize that there can be life-threatening side effects, but we have not seen that here at Premier yet.”
Serious side effects could include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or swelling of the throat or diffuse body rash.
“We recommend immediate care at the nearest emergency room, in that case,” said Kanagy, who said any serious side effect would likely happen shortly after the vaccination.
Both Kanagy and Miami County Public Health Commissioner Dennis Propes said they are being extremely cautious when administering the vaccine.
Miami County Public Health Commissioner Dennis Propes said MCPH staff have those receiving the vaccine stay for 15 minutes after the shot, and anyone with a known allergy to any of the ingredients or other history with vaccine issues are asked to remain for 30 minutes. He said there is medical personnel on standby to monitor people for symptoms.
“I can’t give an exact number, but we have found that the individuals we have vaccinated with the vaccine to be very safe with really little difficulty in receiving it,” Kanagy said.
Propes said the next segment of phase 1B is those 75 and older and those with severe congenital, developmental and early onset medical disorders begins Jan. 25. Propes said they are looking for more guidance from the Ohio Department of Health for what medical conditions will qualify and what level of proof will be needed to receive the vaccination.
Henderson said in order to help get life back to normal, she hopes the public will take advantage of the vaccine.
“As individuals have access to facts about the vaccine, it’s our hope they will opt to receive it,” Henderson said.