In Mason County, the COVID-19 vaccination effort is well underway, and Mason Health is at the forefront of administering the vaccine to eligible residents. Doing their part to help keep the community healthy, Mason Health is working alongside Mason County Public Health to administer doses in a safe and timely manner. So far, Mason Health has provided over 7,500 doses of vaccine to Mason County residents. As more supply arrives in the coming months, Mason Health is planning to increase opportunities for eligible community members to become vaccinated.
In December, Mason Health began their vaccination efforts by administering doses to healthcare professionals and first responders. As more members of the population have become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, Mason Health has adapted their plans to ensure swift vaccine administration, including for those who are over 65 years of age. Currently, Mason Health is offering several different avenues for eligible residents to access the COVID-19 vaccine, including through primary care providers, pop-up events and drive-thru vaccine clinics.
Patients within the Mason Health system can inquire about vaccine access through their primary care provider. To accommodate residents across Mason County, Mason Health is also hosting pop up vaccination events to reach groups that are most at risk for COVID-19. The locations of these pop-up events are taking place at common gathering places like senior centers and churches. There are also plans to host pop-up events in more remote areas of the county, so that more people can have access to the vaccine. Mason Health is also offering a drive-thru vaccine clinic, where residents can pre-register and receive their vaccine while in their car.
Although there are many routes to vaccination in the county, Mason Health leadership says that the current challenge is keeping enough vaccine on hand. With a high demand and with inconsistent shipments of new vaccine doses, Mason Health encourages residents to stay informed and encouraged that they will eventually be able to receive the vaccine.
“Don’t lose heart, don’t lose patience, don’t give up,” says Dr. Dean Gushee, chief medical officer for Mason Health. “Because the way out of this thing is vaccination, so I encourage people to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is important and being patient about it is critical. We’re doing the best we can and we’ll get to you.”
How to Get The COVID-19 Vaccine
To learn more about vaccine availability, or current eligibility, residents are encouraged to visit the Mason Health website. On the website, residents can receive up to date information on vaccine availability and the different options to register for vaccine events that are hosted by both Mason Health and Mason County Public Health. In the near future, Mason Health is also planning to roll out an online scheduling tool that will help patients to better navigate the vaccination process.
Currently, Mason Health is receiving the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which require two doses for full efficacy. At each vaccination site, the Mason Health team is working closely with patients to ensure that each patient will receive the full course of their vaccine.
“We have currently both manufacturers in, and we are definitely separating them in terms of events,” explains Nicole Eddins, senior director of ancillary services at Mason Health. “Both vaccines are essentially identical in terms of the type of vaccine they are, they’re both mRNA vaccines. However, if you get the Moderna for the first dose, you need to get the Moderna for the second dose and vice versa with Pfizer.”
For residents who are able to schedule a vaccination at Mason Health, they are advised to fill out the downloadable consent form that is available on the Mason Health website, and bring it with them to their vaccination appointment. Side effects of the vaccine can vary from person to person and from first dose to second dose.
After the first dose, people may experience a sore arm. After the second dose, there is an increased risk of side effects like aches, lethargy, and a low-grade fever. Gushee says side effects can often signify that the vaccine is developing an immune response in the body and that side effects are usually short lived and generally dissipate after 24 hours.
“The second dose, you’re very likely not going to feel up to work in the next day,” says Gushee. “So, we’re suggesting for as many people as possible to look at their schedule and look at their Friday. If they are a shift worker, that might be, you know, any day of the week. So that way, you have the next couple days to just kind of lay low.”
As more vaccine doses become available in the coming months and as more of the population becomes eligible for the vaccine, the Mason Health team is looking forward to administering more vaccines and doing their part to create a healthier community.
“We’re trying our hardest to get the vaccine out as quickly as efficiently as possible,” says Gushee. “We’ve got a long road ahead of us and we can only do it at the pace the inventory comes in. We’re trying our best to juggle everything and everyone’s understanding of that is greatly appreciated.”
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccination availability or eligibility in Mason County, visit the Mason Health website.