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COVID-19 Vaccinations

1/7/2021

Before it's your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine, take the time to educate yourself. 

 

Please note: COVID-19 vaccine appointments are full for this week. Please schedule your appointment on MyChart or call our appointment line at 218-326-7344 starting at 9:00 AM on Monday, April 19th for an appointment the week of April 19th - 23rd. 

Grand Itasca is now able to administer COVID-19 vaccines to all individuals 16 years of age and older.

While we do not have a wait list, our top priority is using every dose of vaccine that we are allocated. To ensure that all doses are administered to those who meet the current vaccine criteria, we've prepared a will-call or "stand by" list for those who are able to arrive at the clinic within about 15 minutes. Register for the stand by list here.

For more information about the vaccine, please read the frequently asked questions below.

Importance of Getting Vaccinated

Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Stopping a pandemic requires all of us to do our part. For months, you’ve helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 by taking steps like wearing a mask, washing your hands, staying at least 6 feet from others, and remaining home if you’re sick. Getting vaccinated is another step you can take to help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus and spreading it to others. Getting vaccinated along with continuing to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

I am young, healthy and at low risk for COVID-19. Should I still get the vaccine?

Yes. The more people who get the vaccine, the closer we can get to reaching herd immunity. Herd immunity is when most people are immune to a disease (meaning they can’t get it) because they got a vaccine or they already had the disease and cannot get it again, at least for a while. Herd immunity can stop or slow the spread of disease.

Who Should Get Vaccinated?

If I had COVID-19 should I get the vaccine?

Yes. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 produce antibodies, but we don’t know enough yet about antibody levels and how long they last, so we recommend everyone who is offered a vaccine to get one. ​​​​​​​If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, wait until your symptoms have gone away and you have completed your isolation period before receiving the vaccine. It is unlikely you will become re-infected with the virus within 90 days of first being infected. If you have received a positive COVID test result in the last 90 days, you may want to consider waiting near the end of the 90-day period to receive your vaccine.

If I had a positive antibody test should I get the vaccine?

Yes, it's recommended that you get the vaccine even if you have tested positive for antibodies.

Should pregnant or lactating women receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recommend making the vaccine available to pregnant and lactating women, however the decision to vaccinate is up to each person.

Can kids receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be given to people age 16 and older (with parent/guardian consent), while the Moderna vaccine is for people ages 18 and older. No vaccine has been approved yet for children under age 16. Several companies, including Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, have started including children as young as age 12 in clinical trials. However, much more information is needed before a vaccine can be given to children.

Should I get vaccinated if I have allergies?

Several reports of severe allergies have been recorded. While we do not want to minimize that risk, there have now been millions of doses given worldwide and we know the chances are very small. The overwhelming opinion is unless you have had an anaphylactic reaction in the past that has required the use of an EpiPen, you should get the vaccine. This vaccine is safe if you have a history of mild allergies to foods, antibiotics, environmental allergens, etc.

If I am immunosuppressed, should I still get vaccinated?

There are different levels of immunosuppression. Getting vaccinated for COVID is even more important for those with weakened immune systems! Unless you are actively receiving chemotherapy, we recommend you get the vaccine. When in doubt, ask your provider.

How Should I Prepare for My Vaccine Appointment?

What can I do to prepare for my appointment?

Wear a short-sleeved shirt for ease of receiving the vaccine.

Wear a mask and maintain a social distance of six feet from others when possible at your appointment. Only those getting a vaccine should come to the appointment, if possible.

If you are pregnant, lactating (nursing) or have a weak immune system, review special details about the vaccine on the CDC website.

If you have questions, be sure to ask your regular care team before you arrive.

Please also review this Pfizer Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization for more details about the vaccine.

How long will my vaccination appointment take?

After receiving the vaccination, you will be asked to wait for a 15-minute observation period to monitor you for immediate adverse reactions. If you have a history of allergic reactions to a vaccine, you will be asked to wait for a 30-minute observation period. Our vaccinators are prepared to respond to adverse reactions during the observation time. They will have access to EpiPens and guidance on how to care for individuals experiencing reactions.

What Happens After I Get Vaccinated?

What are the most common side effects and what should I do if I experience any?

Scientists anticipate that the shots may cause mild flu-like side effects — including sore arms, muscle aches, and fever. Because we are unsure if any symptoms are related to the vaccine or if you contracted COVID prior to getting vaccinated, we are recommending you quarantine at home and get tested.

Do I have to continue wearing a mask?

Yes! You should continue wearing face masks, practicing excellent hand hygiene, and social distancing until enough vaccine is manufactured and distributed, we learn how long the vaccine will protect us, and our community shows levels of minimal spread. The studies were not designed to look at the effectiveness of limiting transmission, only infections. With time, this data should be available and decisions on public health recommendations may change.

Will boosters be needed or a yearly vaccination like the flu?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two doses, Pfizer 21 days apart and Moderna 28 days apart. You need both doses to be considered fully vaccinated. We do not yet know about other needs for re-vaccination.

One to two weeks after the second dose, both vaccines were found to be more than 94 percent effective, which is the best possible immune response. We do not know what to expect in the next six months to two years. There will likely be fading immunity, but we do not yet know if additional doses of the vaccine will be necessary.

What if I miss my second dose of the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is not effective unless you receive both doses. The first dose of the vaccine helps prepare your immune system and the second dose provides most of the immunity.

Will insurance cover the COVID-19 vaccine?

We are not charging for the COVID-19 vaccine itself at this time. We do charge, however, for the administration of the vaccine. The charge for the administration of the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine is $44. The charge for the administration of the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is $62. The charge for the admnistration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is $62. Your insurance will be billed for administering the vaccine. The cost is typically covered by insurance companies with no out of pocket costs to the patient.

Speed of Vaccine Development

How did the vaccine come out so quickly?

RNA vaccines can start to be developed once the RNA sequence is known, which only took 2 days with COVID. Production for our vaccines started when they produced the vaccines for the trials. Therefore, once the trials were completed and found to be safe and effective, the doses were ready to be shipped.

This is in contrast to typical vaccines which are not produced until trials are completed. Typical vaccine manufacturing requires identifying a virus, growing the virus, weakening the virus then producing the vials. This takes significantly more time than the process for developing an RNA vaccine.

What is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)?

In an emergency, like a pandemic, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) can release a vaccine or drug for use, even without the typical timeline. If there’s evidence that strongly suggests that patients have benefited from the vaccine in clinical trials, the agency can issue an EUA so the vaccines can be distributed immediately. Current data from both Pfizer and Moderna for the COVID-19 vaccine strongly indicate that the vaccines are safe and effective. These vaccines will continue to be studied, as is true with all vaccines.

What is an RNA vaccine?

RNA is injected and taken up by our muscle cells. RNA acts like instructions for our cells to make a portion of the spike protein that is seen with Coronavirus. Once the RNA is used, our cells break it down naturally. This partial protein is placed on our cell walls. Our body recognizes that as foreign and develops an immune response. This immune response primes our body to attack natural Coronavirus in the future to prevent serious illness.

Is the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as good as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?

The J&J vaccine is another tool in the toolbox to end the pandemic. Comparing the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine is like comparing apples to oranges. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine was studied when we had more variants. It’s the most up to date vaccine that has been tested head-to-head with the variants. We have no studies comparing vaccines to one another, so to make assumptions that one is better than another is false.

Safety of the Vaccine

Is it safe to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. We understand that people may be nervous about getting the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna are both safe and more than 94 percent effective, according to results from large clinical trials involving more than 70,000 people.

Before the FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 11 and for the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 18, the trial results were reviewed by a group of independent experts retained by the companies, by FDA experts, and by an independent panel convened by the FDA. The FDA did not find any serious side effects that would prevent the release of the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA will continue to monitor people who have received the vaccine to ensure there’s no evidence of even rare safety issues.

Is the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine safe?

As of Tuesday, April 13th, we have paused administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The CDC and FDA are reviewing adverse reactions that occurred in six of the 6.8 million doses that have been given to date. We have every indication that this vaccine is safe but in an abundance of caution, the CDC and FDA are asking to pause until they have reviewed these cases. 

Based on the evidence available, we consider the risk to patients to be extremely small. However, patients who develop any concerning symptoms including severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should contact their health care provider or go to the emergency department immediately.