Healthcare workers in Montgomery County have recently received the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine, and are gearing up to vaccinate more residents as additional vaccines arrive. Provided by the federal government through the Maryland Department of Health, these vaccines will be offered free of charge and are recommended to residents over the age of 18.
Everyone should research and understand the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and make an informed decision about getting vaccinated. That puts your health and the health of our community in the hands of knowledge rather than the hands of skepticism, misinformation, and ignorance. While we must always remember the history of racism, abuse and neglect African Americans have experienced by government systems and the healthcare industry, we must also acknowledge what has changed and act on opportunities to preserve our health and build our futures.
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a viral immunologist at the National Institutes of Health was a key scientist behind the Moderna vaccine. Knowing the reluctance that many African Americans have about taking a COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Corbett felt that it was important to be visible. "This person who looks like you has been working on this for several years and I also wanted it to be visible because I wanted people to understand that I stood by the work that I'd done for so long," Dr. Corbett said.
Clinical trials proved the Moderna vaccine to be 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses and who had no evidence of being previously infected. Clinical trial participants consisted of males and females of diverse ages, and races/ethnicities and among persons with underlying medical conditions.
According to the CDC, the hospitalization rate for African Americans was almost four times the hospitalization rate for White Americans and the death rate was almost three times that of White Americans. In a December study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 35 percent of Black adults said they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated.
Montgomery County Health Office Dr. Travis Gayles was among the first to receive the vaccine. "I think the vaccines are safe, and are a new tool to help alleviate the burden of COVID-19 in our communities, particularly in those communities hit disproportionately," he said.
The vaccine is not recommended for people who have severe (anaphylactic) allergic reactions or allergic to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, people who have had an allergic reaction after a first dose, and people who are allergic to polyethylene glycol or polysorbate.
Please visit Montgomery County’s COVID-19 Vaccination page for more information about vaccine distribution and when you can receive one.