COVID-19 Vaccines are Available Near You Now
COVID-19 vaccines are readily available in rural areas now to help protect you and those around you. Over 65 percent of people have either received a vaccine or want to get vaccinated as soon as they can. Dr. Mark Dowel, infectious diseases specialist with Wyoming Medical Center Banner Health in Casper, Wyoming, says getting a vaccine helps rural communities stay open.
“It’s important for our society in terms of being able to keep our businesses open, and I think it’s important that there’s this vaccine sitting there that is an opportunity to protect those around you. I encourage everyone to get it, obviously I’ve received it, my whole staff, I advise all my patients to get it, and my family.”
There have been more than 31 million known cases and over 559,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, in comparison to influenza, which causes roughly 50,000 deaths per year.
“I’ve treated a lot of influenza and in the United States directly or indirectly we lose about 50,000 people a year to the flu, and we’ve lost ten times that many with COVID in one year. And I think sometimes we forget that. There are a lot of mild cases of influenza, but this is more deadly.”
Dowel says getting a vaccine means taking away any worry about COVID-19.
“If you have, pick a number, 40 percent of the population still susceptible to this next winter, and you have a bunch of people that are not vaccinated and don’t know that they’re carrying it, whether you’re in rural America on a ranch or a farm, or whether you’re in a city, it just takes one. And so, if you want to take it out of the equation for you and your family and not worry about it, you go get your vaccine and you protect those around you.”
Dowel says the COVID-19 vaccines in the Unites States were developed quickly thanks to modern technology.
“The misunderstanding out there is that this was all made up right at the last minute, it was rushed and it wasn’t done well. The technology for this particular vaccine has been around since the 1990s, and since they had already studied the way to make this vaccine was in the queue ready to go. And so, they were able to very rapidly develop this.”
Long-term side effects are unlikely, but you may experience some short-term side effects.
“Well, I can tell you from personal experience, I got the Pfizer, and my arm on the first shot was sore six hours and the second time about eight hours, and I had nothing else. I have friends and colleagues that have had some fever with the first, or especially the second dose, maybe a day, they have fatigue, they may have chills they may have headache. But most commonly, you take some ibuprofen or Tylenol, and you go about your day.”
While the CDC recommends getting a vaccine as soon as you can, the government will not mandate COVID vaccines, and it is ultimately a personal choice.
“I admire so much the people in the rural areas, I live in a rural area and those that are so dedicated to bringing ranching, farming to us. And I got to tell you, don’t think that because you’re in a really rural area that this cannot hit you and affect you and your family, don’t think it’s only a big city and East Coast and West Coast phenomena. So, that’s why I want people to think this through really well.”
Talk to your healthcare provider about any other questions you may have about COVID-19 vaccines or visit vaccines.gov to learn more.