Local Vaccine Distribution, What You Need to Know

Sloane O'Conner'22

Ever since the start of Covid-19 in January 2020 and its quick spread across the globe, headlines have focused on the negatives of the pandemic. However, it seems the headlines have changed lately, away from the total cases and deaths to the vaccine, and ever since December 14, 2020, when the first vaccine was administered in the United States a wave of optimism swept across the nation. Now two months after the first vaccine was given, people have begun to start asking very important questions about the vaccine, like, is it safe? When will I be allowed to get one? Here are the answers to that and more. 


The first question that everyone seems to be asking is when will you be able to receive a vaccine? The vaccine distribution varies from state to state, if you live in Virginia, the vaccine rollout started off very slowly due to a number of unprecedented problems. (Washington Post- “Confusion and chaos: Inside the vaccine rollout in D.C., Maryland and Virginia”). However, since then the state has picked up its pace with Virginia having administered more than 1.4 million including nearly 95% of the first doses available to the state. Virginia also now ranks 12th among all states for percent of the population that has received at least one dose, and 9th among all states for percent of available doses administered, according to CDC data presented by the New York Times (Vaccinate Virginia- Virginia Department of Health). 


The Virginia vaccine distribution system is broken down into different phases. Phase 1a is the first group allowed to get the vaccine. This group is composed of health workers and senior centers. The next phase is phase 1b which is made up of residents 65 and older and people 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. After that, there are no qualifications one needs to get the vaccine and there are no set rules after phase 1b in Virginia. Not to mention the fact almost all the waitlists are full and due to the country's shortage in vaccines, it might be weeks or even months before everyone who is already signed up is able to receive a shot (Vaccinate Virginia- Virginia Department of Health). 


Next is D.C. whose distribution plan basically mirrors Virginia's plan. DC is distributing it in phases. First, it’s senior centers and frontline healthcare workers and then 65 and older and after that, there is no set plan on how to get the rest of the people in DC vaccinated. 


Maryland also has the same vaccination plan as Virginia that has two phases, the first of which goes to frontline healthcare workers and senior centers and the second phase goes to people 65 and older (Virginia Department of Health-COVID-19 Vaccine Phases).


The next question that gets brought up a lot is if there are any side effects to the Covid-19 vaccines? The side effects differ, but most people feel pain and discomfort on the injection site for days after they receive a shot while others feel incredibly nauseous and sore, but all in all the side effects from the vaccines are relatively short-lasting and are not much trouble. However, it has been proven that if you suffer from severe allergies it is highly recommended that you do not receive a vaccine after four people in the United Kingdom received the vaccine, they developed hives and had trouble breathing, swallowing, and had a huge drop in blood pressure. (BBC-“Covid-19 vaccine: Allergy warning over new jab”)


Another very prevalent question when it comes to the vaccine is why would someone want to opt out of receiving one and is the government going to use it to track me? 

One reason previously discussed why someone would not take the vaccine is because of medical reasons. Another reason why someone would opt-out of receiving a vaccine is that they are afraid that they may be bad side effects later down the line that has not yet been discovered, However, this is an unjust fear because almost all side effects pertaining to vaccines in history are discovered within the first 6-8 months ( CDC- “Overview, History, and How the Safety Process Works”). So by now, it’s extremely unlikely that there is a mystery side effect that could harm you. Another reason why someone would opt-out of receiving a vaccine is that they are afraid the government is going to use it to track them. This idea of the government using this to track your every movement is totally false. These ideas were made up on the internet to sow fear in the American public against taking the vaccine and have disproven a plethora of times. 


The final prevalent question I am going to answer is will you need to have a COVID-19 vaccine to attend school next year at Saint Stephen’s and Saint Agnes? I was able to ask Mrs. Adams, the head of our school, that question and she said, “ The timeline for vaccine distribution for children is unclear at the present time, so we have not made decisions about expectations around vaccines for students.  We are hopeful that the vaccine will be approved for use in children as soon as possible.”