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Vaccine rollout, take 2.

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I'm getting my first shot this afternoon at 1:40. :)

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The state of Pennsylvania should have contracted a Russian hacker to write the vaccine scheduling software. Would have probably worked! What a mess.

Inaccurate, just plain useless. Wild goose chase. 


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JC 1965

I got my first shot 1 1/2 weeks ago. I get my second one Feb. 28th.   :handgestures-fingerscrossed:

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My first was Thursday PM with my 2nd scheduled for late this month. I registered with at least 5 different entities but have yet to get an email/text notification about scheduling for the shot. My successful appointment was with one of the aforementioned entities but came about by “word of mouth” using some ‘mystical’ link from a forwarded email. For whatever reason trying to type that link into a browser DID NOT WORK. I assume all this will improve with time and the actual appointment was smooth as could be. 

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I was lucky. Once I my age group was included I immediately got online. It said there was a 5 minute wait and it was just that. It took about 5 minutes to register and my appt. was 3 days later. Once I got there I was in and out in less than 25 minutes and that included the 15 minute wait to see if I was going to keel over. I guess there's advantages to living in a county with a total population of less than 23,000. :)

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Handy Don

Great news that we're getting to the head of the line.

I found this article from The NY Times informative and reassuring but even after my Moderna #2 I will still be masking up in public in deference to the many. who are still waiting their turn. I'll just worry less.

Good morning. The vaccine news continues to be better than many people realize.
A nurse prepared a dose of the Moderna vaccine in the Bronx on Saturday.James Estrin/The New York Times

Infections aren’t what matters

The news about the vaccines continues to be excellent — and the public discussion of it continues to be more negative than the facts warrant.

Here’s the key fact: All five vaccines with public results have eliminated Covid-19 deaths. They have also drastically reduced hospitalizations. “They’re all good trial results,” Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, told me. “It’s great news.”

Many people are instead focusing on relatively minor differences among the vaccine results and wrongly assuming that those differences mean that some vaccines won’t prevent serious illnesses. It’s still too early to be sure, because a few of the vaccine makers have released only a small amount of data. But the available data is very encouraging — including about the vaccines’ effect on the virus’s variants.

“The vaccines are poised to deliver what people so desperately want: an end, however protracted, to this pandemic,” as Julia Marcus of Harvard Medical School recently wrote in The Atlantic.

Why is the public understanding more negative than it should be? Much of the confusion revolves around the meaning of the word “effective.”

What do we care about?

In the official language of research science, a vaccine is typically considered effective only if it prevents people from coming down with any degree of illness. With a disease that’s always or usually horrible, like ebola or rabies, that definition is also the most meaningful one.

But it’s not the most meaningful definition for most coronavirus infections.

Whether you realize it or not, you have almost certainly had a coronavirus. Coronaviruses have been circulating for decades if not centuries, and they’re often mild. The common cold can be a coronavirus. The world isn’t going to eliminate coronaviruses — or this particular one, known as SARS-CoV-2 — anytime soon.

Yet we don’t need to eliminate it for life to return to normal. We instead need to downgrade it from a deadly pandemic to a normal virus. Once that happens, adults can go back to work, and children back to school. Grandparents can nuzzle their grandchildren, and you can meet your friends at a restaurant.

As Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told me this weekend: “I don’t actually care about infections. I care about hospitalizations and deaths and long-term complications.”

The data

By those measures, all five of the vaccines — from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson — look extremely good. Of the roughly 75,000 people who have received one of the five in a research trial, not a single person has died from Covid, and only a few people appear to have been hospitalized. None have remained hospitalized 28 days after receiving a shot.

To put that in perspective, it helps to think about what Covid has done so far to a representative group of 75,000 American adults: It has killed roughly 150 of them and sent several hundred more to the hospital. The vaccines reduce those numbers to zero and nearly zero, based on the research trials.

Zero isn’t even the most relevant benchmark. A typical U.S. flu season kills between five and 15 out of every 75,000 adults and hospitalizes more than 100 of them.

I assume you would agree that any vaccine that transforms Covid into something much milder than a typical flu deserves to be called effective. But that is not the scientific definition. When you read that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 66 percent effective or that the Novavax vaccine was 89 percent effective, those numbers are referring to the prevention of all illness. They count mild symptoms as a failure.

“In terms of the severe outcomes, which is what we really care about, the news is fantastic,” Dr. Aaron Richterman, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, said.

The variants

What about the highly contagious new virus variants that have emerged in Britain, Brazil and South Africa? The South African variant does appear to make the vaccines less effective at eliminating infections.

Fortunately, there is no evidence yet that it increases deaths among vaccinated people. Two of the five vaccines — from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax — have reported some results from South Africa, and none of the people there who received a vaccine died of Covid. “People are still not getting serious illness. They’re still not dying,” Dr. Rebecca Wurtz of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health told me.

The most likely reason, epidemiologists say, is that the vaccines still provide considerable protection against the variant, albeit not quite as much as against the original version. Some protection appears to be enough to turn this coronavirus into a fairly normal disease in the vast majority of cases.

“This variant is clearly making it a little tougher to get the most vigorous response that you would want to have,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said. “But still, for severe disease, it’s looking really good.”

A vaccination site in North Charleston, S.C.Cameron Pollack for The New York Times

What would an expert do?

The biggest caveat is the possibility that future data will be less heartening. Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, for example, have issued press releases about their data, but no independent group has yet released an analysis. It will also be important to see much more data about how the vaccines interact with the variants.

But don’t confuse uncertainty with bad news. The available vaccine evidence is nearly as positive as it could conceivably be. And our overly negative interpretation of it is causing real problems.

Some people worry that schools cannot reopen even after teachers are vaccinated. Others are left with the mistaken impression that only the two vaccines with the highest official effectiveness rates — from Moderna and Pfizer — are worth getting.

In truth, so long as the data holds up, any of the five vaccines can save your life.

Last week, Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University told my colleague Denise Grady about a conversation he had with other experts. During it, they imagined that a close relative had to choose between getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine now or waiting three weeks to get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. “All of us said, ‘Get the one tomorrow,’” Schaffner said. “The virus is bad. You’re risking three more weeks of exposure as opposed to getting protection tomorrow.”

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 Vaccination is going great guns here in the UK. Most 70+ as far as I know have been done. I had mine last Friday. Get my second early April. I've had no side affects, unless you count sleeping like a log all Friday night. I usually wake after around four hours and then doze for a couple more. But I think that's an age thing. Though I'm not in bad shape for the shape I in. :D

Edited by Stormin
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The COVID vaccination campaign seemed to generally be going well and I commend those who have received their shots, but I’ve made an observation lately that is bothering me.


As I mentioned previously, I was lucky enough to receive my vaccination way back in October as part of one of the trial studies.  I didn’t know until February that I had indeed received the real deal, but I had my suspicions after the minor side effects I had after the second shot.  At my last visit in March they took another blood draw, swab, and had me answer a litany of questions about what I’ve done and have experienced.  So they continue to monitor this for tens of thousands of people like me, always monitoring for potential problems.


Illinois, my home state, struggles with many aspects of efficient governance.  But the vaccination distribution has really been handled well.  We initially went through the tiered system where the shots were available for the most at-risk and oldest populations, but we were able to move fairly quickly down the list into the less at-risk tiers.  Finding a place to get the shots wasn’t an issue, but securing an appointment early was highly competitive and took a lot of persistence on each individual’s part.


My wife – who is awesome in every way and really had to settle when she picked me – managed to get her family and my parents appointments pretty early on.  So we were breathing a little easier sooner than many.  Since availability has opened up to everyone 16 and older and we were finally able to get some corollary issues squared away for my son, we were able to get his first shot in him over this past weekend.  My daughter is too young to qualify for any of the vaccine varieties but as soon as she does, she'll get it.


We took him to one of the mass vaccination sites which is held at the county fairgrounds.  I don’t know how many people they can process through there in a day, but it’s a lot.  It is very well run from what I can tell.  There must be 75 stations where you can pull up with your car and stick your arm out for a shot.

It took – I timed it - six minutes from the time we pulled into the lot to the time the nurse stuck the needle in my son’s arm.  Amazingly efficient.  We waited the 15 minute period and drove away.


Here’s the problem I have:  There was hardly anybody there receiving their vaccination.


When we got there, there were two cars in front of us.  While we got the shot, two more pulled in behind.  In the waiting lot there were fewer than 10 including us.


Where is everybody?


I realize the total 21 minutes we spent at the place do not represent what might be happening the remaining hours of the day or other days of the week, but it was disappointingly underutilized.


Checking the numbers for our county and larger area, we are still a long way away from having all eligible adults vaccinated, but things are getting better.  The opportunity and convenience is there, but it seems like many people have lost interest in doing the right thing and getting their shots.


Apparently, this isn’t unique.  Many of the vaccine opportunities aren’t being taken across the country.  If this is the case where you live, get in there now before they start scaling back or redirecting shipments overseas.


I’m not sure what the holdup and apprehensions are.  Yes, there are potential side effects that generally amount to temporary minor discomfort and malaise.  Yes, there might be other side effects that will affect small numbers of people that we’ve yet to see.  The fact that the entire medical community got their shots first ought to count for something when it comes to allaying fears over the safety of the vaccines.


It seems like an obvious tradeoff to me to be sick for a short while versus rolling the dice with a disease that’s already killed more than a half million Americans.  Someday we’ll know more about the seeming randomness to who gets it severely and who suffers enormously but for now why take the chance? 


Those who think they can predict their fate should consider what’s been going on with my cousin’s wife who has been in and out of the ICU since January.  She’s an Olympic caliber swimmer who swims and runs miles every day.  She has always been in amazing physical condition with none of the middle age ailments that affect the rest of us.  Covid knocked her down at Christmas and her prognosis isn’t improving.  Yet the 400 pound drunken smoker we have here in the office had nothing more than a stuffy nose when he tested positve.


The disaster unfolding in India, Thailand, and other places is truly heartbreaking.  How quickly things went south in India is the most frightening aspect of the crisis and shows how fates can turn on a dime.  A month or two ago all the signs were there that Indians were somehow beating this thing.  But then tables turned.


Vaccination goes a long way to warding that off that sort of scenario.  But the key is getting as many shots in as many arms as quickly as possible.  Numbers matter.


Herd immunity was an obscure concept only discussed in limited circles a year ago.  As a society we have achieved herd immunity with such things as smallpox, polio, measles, mumps, and others.  The concept is that if a large enough group of people (or animals) are immune to a disease, the disease can’t get enough of a foothold to spread beyond an isolated case or two.  As it tries to move from one host to the next, the immune response knocks it down.  It can still find another to infect, but it becomes geometrically harder and harder for it to spawn an outbreak because there aren’t enough places to land.  The extremely limited opportunity to spread effectively makes the whole herd, even those who aren’t themselves immune, unlikely to become infected.

It’s the ultimate “all for one and one for all” scenario.


Taken to the successful extreme, a disease can be eradicated even without an active vaccination campaign underway.  For instance, they don’t give smallpox shots anymore.  It doesn’t mean it doesn’t still exist in the wild somewhere in a deep corner of the world, but there were few enough available hosts long enough that the disease eventually died out in the areas where humanity conducts their daily lives.  Thanks to vaccination. 


It all falls apart when lack of participation sets in. We’ve seen recent localized outbreaks of measles in communities where those averse to vaccination cluster.  This is something easily and effectively controlled by vaccination yet every year we see it. This is one of those things we can look at from afar and say, "duh."


Science doesn’t know the exact percentage of a population it will take to achieve immunity against this current plague, but given that we are still seeing new infections and deaths every day it’s a given that we’re not there yet and apparently not even close.  The predicted herd immunity rate can be modelled and estimated, but who would want to make a prediction in today’s society where updated data and forecasts are scorned by many to be evidence that science doesn’t know what it’s doing.


Any given one of us might be fine with the disease, but who knows what might happen to the person we transmit it to or they transmit it to or they transmit it to.  Since many people who contract this disease exhibit no symptoms, spreading it to other that may react more severely is done by surprise and many cases remain a mystery as to their origin.  If one of us who is infected happens to give it to someone who is fragile or who has a fragile contact of their own, problems result.


If only there was a way to prevent the spread…


I don’t understand where the breakdown is and why the reluctance to do something that is so fast, simple, relatively painless, and free.  I heard today that 20% of American adults have no intention of getting vaccinated.  That’s about 54 million people.  Add that number to the kids 16 and younger who aren’t eligible to get any vaccination yet (due to lack of testing) and the total rises to 135 million people.  That’s 38% of the population left unvaccinated.  At those rates, the hope for herd immunity goes out the window along with the prospects of things returning to normal.


I wonder too that if vaccination rates are low enough that we should expect mutations in the rampant virus to continue to evolve variants that could end up being vaccine resistant.  Most mutations in any kind of organism generally make things less viable, but we've seen some degree of new variants already so it's certainly possible.  Fortunately they've shared the same protein structure on the outer corona to allow the antibodies to recognize and do their job.  But geez...


Kids still seem to be handling infection fine…except for those who don’t.  There have been some uncommon but definite health conditions uncovered in young people by covid.  Avoiding vaccination might give some the opportunity to discover if their kids, their kids’ friends, or their kids’ classmates are in the unlucky group.


For those who have been infected or those who will be infected it's also looking like the risk for problems later in life are also likely.  Lots of reports of blood vessel leakage, clotting, and other complications that don't get better over time.  Not to mention the big "what if?"  What if this is one of those viruses like chicken pox that lays dormant in a person only to rear iteself later in life as something nasty like shingles?  Who knows.


Again, if only there was something we could do to prevent this...


The upsides are great, the downsides have been negligible.  The longer we take to get to herd immunity together the longer we have to complain about wearing masks and not being able to gather in large groups in church, at the races, and at tractor shows.  Society has lost patience with precautionary measures and the media interprets every peak and valley to match their particular agenda.  I’d like this to be over too and there are two paths we can take:  The easy and fast path (get vaccinated), or the hard and slow path (let the disease continue to meander through society).


If ever there was an "easy button" to push, this is it.


I've yet to hear a great reason to avoid vaccination in general, or the COVID vaccines in particular.  Potential side effects are a legitimate concern, but so far the incidence of anything other than the flu-like symptoms generated by the body's response to the challenge have been almost non-existent.  Even if something significant occurs one-in-a-million times (the J&J blood clotting issue was less than this), that is far fewer than the number of deaths alone we have seen so far from the disease (running right at 1500 out of a million).  That even ignores other non-lethal forms of the illness.  I just don't get it.


Get out there and get your shots if you can!



Edited by wh500special
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I agree that the odds are in your favor if you are vaccinated. I, and all of my family with the exception of under age children, are vaccinated. My experience with the mass vaccination site here in Maryland (for wife) was 1st shot, in and out in 15 minutes. Run by National Guard. Weather was snowy/rainy. 10 stations. Maybe 50 cars. 2nd shot, great weather, 2 hours and 45 minutes. Could not count the cars. They were backed onto the highway waiting to get in just to wait another 2 hours. Still very efficient. 

I went to a private grocery chain pharmacy for mine. 20 minutes in and out including my 15 minutes mandatory wait. 

Our biggest issue was finding an appointment, and I blame that on the Maryland Health Department and the way they decided to distribute. Just like the flu shots, they should have made the Moderna vaccine available to primary care doctors. They all have it now. By the way, other than a sore injection site for less than 24 hours, none of us had any side effects.


So, I will ask any of you who are reluctant to get vaccinated, please get the shots. Let's get this thing behind us and get the government off our backs telling us what we can do, and what we can't do. The sooner we reach herd immunity, the sooner we will have more tractor shows.

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