Q:  I keep hearing different information about vaccine distribution and I am worried I won’t know when it is my turn to sign up. How can I be sure I know who can get the vaccine?

A:  It understandably has felt confusing because we are hearing information from the state as well as from each county. We are even hearing about how the distribution is being handled in other states on the news and it can add to our confusion.

It can easily feel like everyone knows something different or has the inside scoop on when and where to get the vaccine.  Ultimately, both Ventura and Los Angeles Counties are following the CDC’s recommended phases. Each county has a website set up where you can learn about the phases of distribution and sign up to receive email alerts when new information is available.

For Ventura County you can visit the website at https://www.venturacountyrecovers.org/vaccine-information/ and for Los Angeles County the website is http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/covidvaccinedistribution/.

Distribution is based on a few factors. First, it depends how quickly each county receives the vaccines. Then, it depends on how quickly they can distribute them which means they need people to give the vaccines, coordinate the appointments, and people to receive the vaccines. Not everyone who qualifies in each phase to receive the vaccine will take advantage of the opportunity. These are unknown factors that effect the timeline of distribution.

The key is that while we cannot predict the full timeline, the websites above will be updated with the current information. You can check them daily and get their email alerts to stay on top of the current situation. Things are constantly changing based on the many factors involved. One change we already saw was that originally the second group was going to include people age 75 and up, and this was moved to age 65 and up based on the Governor’s recommendation.

Many people are concerned they won’t know how and where to register and may miss their opportunity. If you do not have access to check the website and get the email updates, then call and check in with your local senior center or doctor’s office. As soon as the information is made available all these agencies will do their best to disseminate the information. If they do not know the answers, they can at least check the website for you.

There are two vaccines being provided now, Pfizer and Moderna. The Pfizer one requires the second dose be provided 21 days after the first and Moderna’s second dose is provided 28 days after. Moderna has 94.5% efficacy and Pfizer has 95% efficacy.

It is important to understand that even after you have been vaccinated it is recommended to continue the same COVID protocols, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. It is not known yet if you can still transmit the virus to other people even after vaccination. Until we have reached herd immunity, these safety procedures will have to remain in place.

The vaccine is a tool to reduce our risk, but does not get rid of the risk completely. We are all anxious for it to be our turn for the vaccine. And, we are getting closer every day. As with everything for the past 10 months, we must be patient and stay informed as we go through this process.   

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org.

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