Thousands of people in Alachua County have already received their COVID-19 vaccine, but many residents still have questions and concerns.
On Thursday, UF Health and the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County hosted a virtual town hall to help families and individuals get the information they need create a vaccination plan.
Residents were able to address their concerns and ask questions related to getting vaccinated such as: how vaccines work, who should get vaccinated, benefits and potential side effects and how long the vaccine protects people from coronavirus.
Dr. Michael Lauzardo, assistant director of UF Health Screen, Test and Protect, said because there is so much misinformation out there, it is important for people to learn both the benefits and side effects.
“All of these concerns are very legitimate,” Lauzardo said. “There are things we don’t know about the vaccines and we just have to be honest and share those things. But we also do know a lot about the vaccine rollout.”
Lauzardo said they aren’t exactly sure how long the vaccine will protect people from the virus.
“A booster may be needed as soon as a year or it may not even be necessary at all,” he said. “I cant give you a straight answer because we really just font know yet, but don’t let the fact that a booster shot might be necessary stop you from completing the vaccine series.”
Dr. Kathleen Ryan, UF Health associate division chief for pediatric infectious disease, said although pregnant women were not included in the vaccine trials, the CDC is still recommending pregnant women to get vaccinated.
“They are recommending pregnant women in any trimester to go ahead and get vaccinated,” Ryan said. “From all the women that have been vaccinated, there has been no effects on the pregnancy or on the fetuses or babies.”
Due to the pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Lauzardo says he recommends women under the age of 50 avoid that vaccine along with those who have experienced blood clots in the past.
“Blood clots have not been associated with clients in any way shape or form with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, so my recommendation would be to get those.”
Paul Myers, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County, said all vaccinations sites in Alachua County do not require an appointment anymore.
“Anyone who wants a vaccine, can get one. There are over 30 retailers in the county that are offering vaccines and no appointment is necessary. You can walk up to a Publix, CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, Winn-Dixie, etc. Even our Health Department sites and UF Health sites don’t require appointments anymore.”
UF Health and the Florida Department of Health hope to host future events like this to continue to interact with the community and address any vaccine related concerns.
Visit alachua.floridahealth.gov to register for the COVID-19 vaccination waitlist or call (352) 334-8810