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What You Need To Know About The COVID-19 Vaccine

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Since vaccines began to arrive in the state in mid-December, more than 700,000 Floridians have been fully vaccinated. Despite the growing number of vaccines, some Floridians are still unsure of what the vaccine consists of, where to get it and more. 

WUFT compiled answers to some common questions. 

Fast facts about the vaccine:

  • Currently, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being offered around the state. Both vaccines have an efficacy over 90% — Pfizer at 95% and Moderna at 94.1% effective. 
  • Both vaccines require two doses. If you receive the Pfizer vaccine, you’ll return for your second dose about 21 days after you receive your first dose. The Moderna vaccine will be administered 28 days apart. The CDC recommends that you do not get your second dose early, but try to receive it as close to the 21 or 28 day mark. 
  • Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have intramuscular injection, which means they are injected into the muscle of the recipients arm. 
  • While Pfizer and Moderna are currently the only two vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the New York Times says there are 67 vaccines in clinical trials on people, and at least 89 trials occurring on animals. Johnson & Johnson is currently testing a vaccine with an efficacy of 72%. This vaccine would only require one dose, as opposed to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which require two doses. Johnson & Johnson could apply for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration this month if the vaccine is effective, according to the New York Times.

Who can get the vaccine?

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order on Dec. 23 that indicates who will receive the vaccine during the first phase of distribution. Currently, long-term care facility residents and staff, people 65 years and older, health care professionals with direct patient contact and anyone who health professionals deem vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Do I need an appointment to get the vaccine?

Yes. If you qualify for the vaccine, you will need an appointment to get the vaccine. In Florida, eligible residents can register by visiting myvaccine.fl.gov. You will need to specify what county you live in, whether you are a front line worker and whether you are an Epi-Pen user or not. 

If you are not currently eligible for the vaccine, you can still sign up to receive updates on when appointments become available. 

Do I need the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?

Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even people who have already had COVID-19 need the vaccine due to the health risks associated with the virus. The CDC says that experts do not yet know how long people are protected from COVID-19 after contracting the virus, but suggests that people who have had the virus wait 90 days after contracting to get the vaccine. 

Where can I get the vaccine?

You can find a vaccine location by visiting the Florida Department of Health website. Once there, you will be able to search by county and city to see what local locations are offering the vaccine. 

On Tuesday, Gov. DeSantis announced additional vaccine locations at Publix and Walmart locations across the state of Florida. There are 539 Publix locations, 119 Walmart locations and 43 Winn-Dixie locations that are administering the vaccine. 

These locations still abide by the state executive order, requiring that you fall into one of the specified categories to be eligible for the vaccine. 

After the vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask and social distance?

Yes. Yes. Yes. The CDC says you should continue wearing a mask and keeping six feet between you and others even after receiving both doses of the vaccine. CDC experts say that they will need more time to understand how the vaccine protects recipients in the real-world before ending any mask and social distancing mandates. 

The CDC also recommends that additionally you avoid crowds, avoid rooms with poor ventilation and wash your hands frequently. 

I heard there are new strains of the virus. What can I do to protect myself?

While there are new strains of COVID-19 reported, such as the U.K. strain, the Tampa Bay Times reported that the new strains should be treated just like the original COVID-19 strain. The new strains aren’t more dangerous, the Times reports, they just spread faster. 

Healthline suggests to keep wearing a mask, social distancing and frequently washing your hands.

Still have questions regarding the vaccine or COVID-19 in general? Leave them in the form below for our Untold Florida project, and we will work to get you answers.

Alyssa is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.