If I’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need the vaccine? Can I stop wearing a mask or social distancing after I’ve been vaccinated?
Experts at the Montgomery County Health Department are answering those questions and other inquiries about the vaccine in a social media campaign under the hashtag #COVID19Vaxfacts.
The state made the vaccine available to those between ages 65 and 69 this week. All residents ages 70 and older, health care workers and first responders are also eligible for shots.
So is it still necessary to roll up your sleeve if you’ve recovered from COVID-19? Yes, experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say, due to the severe health risks associated with the disease and the fact that re-infection is possible though rare.
Don’t throw away your mask or stop social distancing once you’ve received the shot. While the vaccine greatly reduces the risk of being infected with COVID-19, experts say, it doesn’t completely eliminate your chances.
And, no, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. None of the vaccines currently authorized in the United States uses the live virus that causes COVID-19, experts say. Side effects such as a fever are normal and indicate the body’s immune system is learning how to recognize and fight the coronavirus.
The vaccine is available at no cost. Appointments can be made at the website www.ourshot.in.gov or by calling the state’s 2-1-1 telephone assistance service.
Those who call 2-1-1 to schedule a vaccine should ensure they are booked at a vaccine site, the health department recommends. The health department is only administering vaccines from the former Save-A-Lot on South Boulevard, the shots are not available at either COVID-19 testing site in Crawfordsville.
Appointments cannot be scheduled in person at the vaccine site or the health department’s offices.
As of Tuesday, 2,570 Montgomery County residents have received their first dose of the vaccine, according to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard. About 400 residents have been fully vaccinated.
Statewide, nearly 590,000 people have been given the first dose and more than 155,000 have completed the series, according to the state health department.
Indiana officials have based shot eligibility on age rather than moving up teachers and other essential workers as other states have done. They cite statistics that those ages 60 and older represent 93% of Indiana’s COVID-19 deaths and 64% of hospitalizations, arguing that vaccinating those people will have the biggest impact.
New cases, deaths and positivity rates are trending down locally, but Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Scott Douglas said recently he expects cases to increase as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
Although the county moved out of the red zone last week as the spread of COVID-19 slowed, it must remain at a less restrictive level for two straight weeks before the current restrictions are lifted.
More contagious strains of COVID-19 have also been detected in Indiana and elsewhere in the nation.
A total of 710 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the county last month, down from 1,238 in December, according to state health department figures.
There were eight deaths in January compared to 20 in December, the state reported. A cluster of cases at a local long-term care facility contributed to December’s death count.
Nine new cases and one death were added to begin February, according to the state. A total of 3,607 cases and 57 deaths have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.