There is only one topic readers have questions about when it comes to this point in the coronavirus pandemic: vaccines, vaccines, vaccines.
This week, we answer questions about what to do if you are eligible to be vaccinated and what to expect after vaccination.
What should I do if I qualify for one of the current vaccination phases?
The first step is knowing if you are eligible to be vaccinated. The state Department of Health (DOH) has an online questionnaire called Phase Finder that will let you know if you fall into any of the phases currently open for vaccination. If you are not yet eligible, you can provide contact information to be notified when your time comes.
If you are currently eligible, call your primary care provider, clinic or pharmacy to find out more about their vaccination plans.
DOH urges people not to show up for a vaccine without an appointment and to be patient because it might take weeks for slots to open.
DOH has a list by county of where vaccines can be administered. However, at a Washington State Hospital Association news briefing Tuesday, Mandee Olssen, chief quality officer of Kittitas Valley Health said the state’s vaccination list isn’t accurate.
A DOH spokesperson said the list of vaccination sites “is a work in progress.”
If you’re having trouble or have questions, you can call DOH at 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
Most local health districts and counties have information about where vaccinations are happening. Snohomish County has three mass-vaccination sites set up and has already filled all available time slots in the near term. King County is in the planning stage for mass-vaccination sites.
What should I expect after I’m vaccinated? Should I still wear a mask?
The two vaccines available in the United States, made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, require two doses and provide about 95% efficacy in clinical trials.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires a booster three weeks after the first shot, and Moderna has a four-week gap between the two shots. This means that the 95% protection generated by the two vaccines won’t fully kick in until five or six weeks after the first shot.
Some vaccines, like for the flu, can prevent people from getting sick but not necessarily from being infected and able to transmit the virus to others. It isn’t yet known if that is the case with the new vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, COVID-19, said Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to Kaiser Health News.
“We don’t yet know if the vaccine protects against infection, or only against illness,” Frieden said. “In other words, a vaccinated person might still be able to spread the virus, even if they don’t feel sick.”
It is prudent for the vaccinated to still wear masks because clinical trials didn’t answer the question about a vaccinated person still being able to spread the disease, Michele Roberts, a DOH acting assistant secretary, said last month.
“Even if you’ve been vaccinated, it’s just unknown if you could still transmit the disease to others,” she said.