COVID-19 vaccination update: Phase 2 Massachusetts

It is already being widely published that in the state of Massachusetts, the first group of individuals included in the “Phase 2” roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination are currently eligible to receive doses. This includes all individuals aged 75 and older who are well enough to travel out of their homes to a location where COVID-19 vaccines are being administered.

Please note this is in addition to ALL Phase 1 eligible individuals:
Listed in order of priority:
– Clinical and non-clinical health care workers doing direct and COVID-facing care
– Long term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities
– First responders
– Congregate care settings
– Home-based health care workers
– Health care workers doing non-COVID-facing care

Other groups within Phase 2 are still pending eligibility. **If you are waiting, the most appropriate approach is to be patient.** Everyone’s turn is coming, and tremendous efforts are being made to ensure the steps are ordered so as to optimize the safety of the entire population, relative to the capacity of production, shipping and storage. We all have the same goal and want to see an end to this pandemic. As long as we remember that we are all in this together, WE WILL ACHIEVE THIS GOAL.

Attached to this message there is a document attached listing further details on the current phase of the vaccine roll-out in Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, due to supply limitations, we are still not able to obtain a supply of doses at the Thrive Adult Primary Care office at this time. Just as I requested above, we endeavor to remain patient and will simply continue submitting requests at reasonable intervals until the supply can meet the demand.

I am personally happy to report that I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine last month at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, am scheduled for my second dose in a couple weeks, and that it was all an impressively seamless experience, although I understand I was among the lucky ones who managed to schedule online without any issues.

Having explained principles of preventive vaccination to patients for many years, having regularly surveyed information updates on the current mass vaccination effort, having heard stories of others who also completed at least one dose, and now having had my own experience, please allow me to offer the following insights:

1) The objective of mass vaccination is a phenomenon called “herd immunity.” That is, in the interest of *public* health, we understand that amplifying antibody generation in as many members of the general population as possible helps to decrease the viral burden across the board, and thereby hinder (or ideally eliminate) spread of infection. While it is extremely difficult to completely wipe a micro-organism from existence because of the ability of viruses to mutate rapidly, by strengthening immune systems with vaccines, we achieve this to the best of our ability **as a population**. I have explained this principle in-depth year after year on my blog, here is a link to what I had posted on it most recently (yes, it has been a while since I regularly blogged):

http://www.thriveapc.com/2018/09/flu-shots-2018/

2) There is little to no utility in getting up in arms about the lack of availability of the vaccine, nor on the flip side to get bent out of shape regarding associated risks. Let’s face facts, please: YES, the vaccine supply remains limited. YES, the vaccine is not 100% risk-free. Oh, and YES, there are studies to prove its efficacy and safety, and YES, these studies have limitations. But why do I recommend universal consideration of the vaccine? Because YES any and all risks associated with the vaccine have been widely demonstrated to be far fewer and less consequential than risks associated with actual infection and contagion with COVID-19, especially in certain populations. YOU ARE CERTAINLY FREE TO DECLINE VACCINATION, BUT IF YOU DO, PLEASE REMAIN MASKED AND SOCIALLY DISTANCED FOR THE SAFETY OF OUR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS.

3) While I am on the “yes” track, let me add that YES, most of us feel something after receiving the vaccine dose. For me, my arm hurt in the area where I received the shot for about 2 days afterwards. A lot. And the day after my vaccine dose, I was quite fatigued. Was it worth it? In my mind, a thousand times YES. Do I expect to feel sick after my second dose? Absolutely, YES. Will it hinder me? A thousand times, NO. I’m not personally afraid of the virus. If I were to catch COVID-19 I feel quite confident that with or without the vaccine I would feel bad for a few days then move on with life. But I would not be able to live with myself if I thought for a moment that I might be a vector passing the virus along to someone who winds up with a bad outcome. And there are many of those people whose health is my responsibility. So I personally see this as much my civic duty as voting. That’s my personal perspective.

4) Finally, because I have a number of patients who are chronically ill and homebound, there have been several queries as to whether they might be able to receive vaccine doses at home. If this situation applies to you, please be assured that as soon as I am aware of vaccine doses being available for any visiting health or medical service, I will prioritize efforts to get the vaccine into your arm at home. In the meantime, PLEASE STAY SAFE AT HOME, as you have been for the past several months. Your turn is coming, and I will continue to advocate for you until supply can meet the demand.

Thanks kindly for your attention to this long message. Hang in there, and stay tuned for further updates.

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