“What does the COVID-19 vaccine mean to me?”
That question was posed to Matagorda County leaders as the county continues its fight against a pandemic that has caused the loss of life and businesses.
“The COVID 19 vaccines represent an opportunity for the citizens of this country to safely exit the worst medical disaster our country has seen in a century,” said Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald.
The state currently has the third global highest coronavirus cases by state with over 2.78 million. They also have the third-highest total coronavirus deaths in the United States, reporting over 48,000.
What remains as the strongest component to fight the battle against COVID-19 are the number of vaccines that are readily available throughout the county.
According to Matagorda County Public Information Officer Mitch Thames, the county has seen a record number of vaccines given out in the last few weeks from different organizations.
“We have seen MEHOP take care of most if not all of the teachers that wanted to have the vaccine. Several industry partners have administered the Vaccine to their employees, their family and any essential worker that we could find, the total number of vaccines were over 500,” Thames said.
“We had last week’s drive through event with the Texas National guard, that count was 1620. We had the MRMC give even more, the last two days, that number was 1100. The Palacios Medical Group had a large vaccine event in Palacios,” Thames said.
Thames reported that for participants in the first dose of Pfizer vaccines back on March 18 and 19, were able to receive the second dose April 8-9.
“Working around 1000+ students and 150+ staff members daily, there was no doubt in my mind that the vaccine would be important for me especially with the efficacy rate being so high with these vaccines. Of course, before making that decision, I did a great deal of science based research and advice from our family doctor. Everyone is different and is in a different situation, so making that choice has to be a personal choice for what is best for them. It absolutely shouldn't be a dictated decision by the government. So, with all of that said...the vaccine means to me us getting back to normal sooner than later,” said Van Vleck Superintendent John O’Brien.
Recently, MRMC held a vaccination hub event where many received the vaccination to combat COVID-19 but still not as well attended as hospital officials had hoped would attend the event.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA).
Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines will undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.
“To me it’s the best way to protect the health and economic interest of myself and others with minimal risk and no cost,” said Aaron Fox with the Matagorda Regional Medical Center.
The CDC said the COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC recommendations on wearing masks and social distancing are the best ways to protect against COVID-19 illness. CDC recommends you get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as you are eligible.
CDC, FDA, and other federal partners will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines as they continue to become more broadly used in the population.
“Personally, it means peace of mind for me and my family. I hope it means the same to our citizens of Bay City and Matagorda county. I feel better protected against the virus and safe to be around others. My hope is that many that were reluctant to receive the vaccine early on will reconsider so that we can all feel safer and more comfortable about getting back to some semblance of normal,” said Bay City Mayor Robert Nelson.
Thames said he would strongly encourage county residents if they have the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine, they should do it.
“Our message hasn’t changed concerning the vaccine, sign up everywhere and respond to the first group that calls you for a shot. That has been the message since day one of the vaccine,” Thames said.
Fox said the hospital district has long recommended residents gain the vaccine when offered it.
“The hospital district has always recommended and still recommends becoming vaccinated at the first possible opportunity,” Fox said.
Still, there are reports across the nation where some gain the vaccine but still contract the virus but not a severe cases proving the vaccine is working.
We have not seen any cases like this. There have been instances of people becoming ill with COVID-19 between their first and second shot or before two weeks have passed after their last shot, but we have no reports of a fully vaccinated person two weeks after their second shot becoming ill with COVID-19,” Fox said.
As COVID-19 vaccines are authorized and then recommended for use in the United States, it will be important to understand what is known about each vaccine. The CDC will provide information on who is and is not recommended to receive each vaccine and what to expect after vaccination, as well as ingredients, safety and effectiveness.
“It means getting business back to their normal, returning citizens and visitors to our shops, and bringing back our festivals, fundraisers, and live events. People inherently want to gather and we as a community are ready to do just that. We want everyone to be safe and vaccinations provide peace of mind. We are the MCEDC and BCCDC thank our community leaders for ensuring we have vaccinations available and accurate information at our fingertips,” said Jessica Russell, Bay City Development Corporation director.
Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommending to prevent COVID-19: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
As of Feb. 27, large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials are in progress or being planned for two COVID-19 vaccines in the United States: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.
With all the vaccines starting to come out, more and more doses are starting to make their way to areas for residents that seek it out.
What does concern Thames are the people in the community that still have no plans of getting the vaccine if made available to them.
“I wonder what the percentage of people is who do not want to take the vaccine,” Thames said.
“It is simply a medical treatment that my local doctor advised me to take,” Thames said.