Coronavirus vaccine Q&A for seniors
State Medical Director Betsey Tilson and Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Cameron Wolfe answer senior citizens' questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
look talking to primary care physician is always the right move, and I think it's generally the right thing to say on DSO for those patients who certainly take lots of medicines. If you had questions that a unique about those, uh, it's likely your primary care physician understands your situation the best. I will say that from the vaccine safety point of view, there's really very few things that we would see is contra indications of difficulties. Um, I always like to know if patients of mine carry, for example, on EpiPen. So if they've had really severe history of allergic responses to different things in the past, understanding that ahead of time so their primary care physician or they're vaccinated or for that matter can sort of walk them through the safety elements of that. And I think it's always generally helpful if someone's on, um, sort of higher doses of blood donors that folks know about them. But neither of those ultimately, uh, contraindications to the vaccine. And generally speaking, almost any combination of medicine is actually safe to get this. So whilst I certainly wouldn't want to ever get in the way of someone's relationship with their primary care physician and encourage open discourse. Actually, almost of these medicines are completely safe. When when put together with the vaccine. Thank you very much for that information. Dr. Wolfe, Um, again, you're listening to a special AARP North Carolina live Tele town Hall. We're talking about the coronavirus and vaccinations we just heard from Dr Cameron Wolf from Duke University Hospital. We also have with us Doctor Betty Tilson, who is our state health director and a good friend of ours. Of course, Dr Catherine Sevier, who is not only in advanced practice, registered nearest but also served as a RPS um uh, state President. She has an extensive an extensive background in clinical nursing, academic cancer center, administration and health policy development. She was founding executor executive director and CEO of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. And she also leads a statewide these state wade effort to improve care for those that serious illnesses as co chair of the North Carolina Serious Illness Coalition Doctor, Severe. Thank you so much for being with us, as always. I understand. Of course, you have recently received your vaccine. What information? Like an insurance card or medical medical, Medicare card should a person take with them to receive the vaccine? So thanks, Mike, for having me be here today. Yes, I did receive the vaccine last Tuesday. Um, and I just needed to show up with my identification. Um, and I want to give people some tips about that because I did learn a lot having done it myself and I, Dr Wolf, and one of those people that carries an EpiPen. And I did great. So I do want to validate what you said. Um, but the important things for people that air coming thio get the vaccines is that they dress comfortably. Make sure that their sleeve will roll up high enough for them to get the injection in their arm if they're weak and standing is a problem. Um, then if they have a wheelchair, they should probably bring it and ask one of their family members or to their caregiver to help them get through the line. Um, the other thing that they told us is, please don't come too early, because that's how bottlenecks occur, but beyond time. So, um, for those of you that that like to be there early, just know that they're discouraging you getting there too early. So more than 15 to 20 minutes ahead of time. And then probably the most important thing that I didn't think about going in was to be prepared to get my second shot scheduled. Since you don't know which vaccine you're going to get, look ahead at your calendar for 21 or 28 days and know whether you know and know about your availability, because they do want to schedule your next appointment as soon as you leave. Thank you very much, Doctor. Savvier that those were some very, very practical, helpful, uh, tips for for folks, um, to be thinking ahead before they go out there. And don't just show up too early and without thinking through what this all means of your Just listen, joining us you are listening to a special live tele town hall of AARP, North Carolina Where speaking Thio North Carolina leading experts talking about the coronavirus and the vaccination. I want to go back. Thio, our state health director, Dr Betty Tilson. Um, Dr Tilson, we're just We're talking with Dr Savvier about folks going to get their vaccine. But what about homebound individuals say who are over the age of 65. How are they able to receive the vaccine? Yeah, that's a really, really good question that we've been really talking a lot about on again expectations, setting that, the operational complexity of that. It's going to take us a little bit longer to really be able to get a good distribution out to people's homes with the very limited supply right now and the big focus on getting it out as quickly as possible. We have been focusing on those places that could have a lot of high throughput. More of those vast Mac that mass vaccination sites where people can can come couple pieces to that is one getting that vaccine out quickly. Second, is the the stability of the vaccine that once it's thought, um, then you have to use it very quickly. Um, and so and then the third piece is again just making sure that you have some of that medical emergency care in place in the very, very, very rare case that maybe someone has allergic, um, allergic reaction. All of those are different and more difficulty. If now you're going to someone's home and a one by one. So we're thinking through that. I think it's going to take us a while, though, to get it out to everybody and their individual home. But we're working, thinking through our home health care. When we have enough vaccine, can we ensure that our home health care agencies can have a vaccine? Thio bring that out. We're thinking through is a place that we could deploy some of our national Guard to be able to do that. Um, but And then it might also be that if we get a third vaccine authorized, um, that if a single dose vaccine and it's also more stable, um, that that would be more applicable to going out to individuals home. So there's a bunch of different things in play. But again, um, just expectation setting. It is gonna take us longer to be able to get it to people's home. And if there's any way that people can come to a vaccination site in these early weeks, that will be the quickest way we can get people vaccinated. Have another. Another question for you, Dr Tilson. We've been speaking, of course, mostly about people who are 65 older. What about of a person to say under 65 But they do have chronic health conditions. Um, when can they expect to be able to receive the vaccine? Yep. And that depends on ah lot of it. Their occupational risk? A. Well. So our next phase Group three is our frontline, essential workers. And there was several way reasons why Group three was that next prioritization one. Um, there's actually a fairly high percentage of people that are frontline, essential workers that have chronic health conditions. So that's the population with again large prevalence of chronic health conditions. It's also population where they have read high risk of exposure. They have to goto work. They can't be at home, but they have to goto work and have high risk of exposure. It has also population with a high proportion of our minority. Populations are historically marginalized population that we know have disproportionately carry the burden of this pandemic. So if anybody under 65 that is a frontline, essential worker with chronic conditions or not, they will be in the next phase. Now, if somebody under 65 that is in the front line, essential worker may be able to work from home or has that lower risk of exposure thin, they would be group. For now. These groups are big, so it's hard to predict exactly when we can go through the phases, our frontline, essential workers. It's probably close to a million people, and then people under 65 with one, um, or condition. That's about another four million people. And if you remember, I said that right now we're only getting 125,000 new doses every week. It's gonna take us a while to get through those big populations. Okay, Very good information. Thank you very much, Doctor Tilson. Want to go before we go to the phones? And just a reminder again. If you would like to ask a question of any of our guests, please press star three on your phone. You'll be then connected with an AARP staff person who will note your name your question and put you in on R A Q. So before we do that, I'm gonna goto Dr Cameron Wolf for one more. One more question and then we'll go live to the phone. Um, Dr Wolf, you were hearing lots of you know rumors and things out there. People who are against vacs vaccinations. Ah, lot of misinformation that's out there regarding people who are age 65 or older. Are there any reasons why a person of that age group should not take the vaccine? Yeah, thanks. That's such an important question. Look, this the simple answer is no. To be honest, it's These vaccines have been trialed in very large groups of people and now sort of more than 20 million. At most recent count have been distributed nationally. They're really the only people who I give really careful, um, pause to as like we said earlier, those with very significant allergy reactions. Um, and even then, we've got very clear gardens from the CDC is to understand what that allergy is and how how to counsel people around it. So even for folks who, like Dr Sylvie I mentioned earlier who carry an EPI pen and have this sort of the most severe allergic reaction to the vast majority of those people could still get this quite safely. So if you if you know you have a significant allergy history come forward and discuss it because we want to know if that's a reaction to previous vaccines or certain ingredients that could be found in vaccine. But even the two vaccines that are on the market at the moment are incredibly simplistic in terms of their ingredients list. And so folks have often had lots of other medication problems, or concerns will be completely fine with this. So in answer the an entity question, um, the overwhelming majority of people over the age of 65 in fact, those younger to um can take this and in fact, we would recommend that they do. Okay, thank you very much. And as you noted before having that conversation with your physician, uh is very important answering those questions and considering everything, Um, let's now go to our communications director here at AARP North Carolina. Steve Han Steve is, uh, keeping an eye on our Q of of phone of questions coming in from listeners out there who would like the opportunity to ask questions. Live Steve, can you hear me out there? How is how are the phones? Lighten up out there? Uh, Ted, Mike, we're just getting a lot of questions today, and so many of you have questions. Really? On how, What, Where, when and why? Uh, about getting your vaccine. So I don't know if Joyce Roberts is still with us, but Joyce has a question about the effectiveness of the vaccine. Uh, Joyce, can you hear us? Yes, I can. And your questions? Yeah. And your question for the presenters today? Yes. I'm 83 years old, and I received the vaccine, but and I wanted to know, really, just that that seems supposed to keep me from possibly getting the virus. Or is it? For if I get it, uh, it will be helped to keep me from getting a bad case. What is it really for? I mean, I'm happy to answer this if if to start off, I don't think we have in order. I mean, man, that's a That's a terrific question. And answer the question. It's actually both. So it does two things. It not only if you're exposed prevents you from getting sick, but it also prevents you from getting severely sick if that would occur. So when we look at the rights of those who were vaccinated right to infection in those who were vaccinated, it was reduced 95% on average for both of these vaccines. And that was pretty independent of my age, actually, which was really reassuring. But when you look further into that, even for the folks who were in the 5% who still maybe have came down with the covert infection, the severity of their illness was markedly less so. I think it does both in answer to your question. It is not only to reduce you getting sick, but it is to reduce your chance of getting, uh, sort of hospital requiring sick. There was a little bit of effort that was also done to try and say, Well, you know, can people be asymptomatic and yet still carry the virus and be able to pass that to others? And whilst that was not the primary focus of these trials, they were primarily looking at people who became symptomatic with viruses. It was quite clear also, that those who were asymptomatic were far less common also. So for both of those reasons, you described less illness and even if you're in one of the 5% still gets sick, it's far less to the thank you, Thank you very much. for that. That answer there, Dr. Wolfe, Um, let's go back to Steve. Steve. What? We've got another question out there. Thio, Uh, for any of our guests. Uh, we sure it is. Like I said, we have so many. Um, so hopefully we're gonna be sharing some additional information today about where you can find out where vaccines are available in your county. Hopefully that will answer a number of questions that are coming in. But Barbara Walker here in Raleigh wants to know the difference between the available vaccines. Barbara, are you Are you with us? Well, we may have lost Barbara, so let's move on toe. Really? A good a good number of questions. Um, Janet Blake of Asheville. She is one of many who are still kind of concerned about the availability of of vaccine and wonders why her county is getting such a small amount. Janet, argue with us. Well, this is doctor tells, and I can proactively answer that, even if Janet isn't with us. Um, and the answer is going to be the same across the state because we're getting less than 10% of what we would need to really cover everybody in the actual who are in the eligible group. So the demand is gonna be far more than the supply and the ability of our providers to do vaccine. They will not get as much supply as they actually can deliver vaccine. And that is going to be the case across the entire state for quite a while. Until we can get more supply from the federal government into the state and more supply is is made. So that's just gonna be the reality for the state for the foreseeable future is that every county is going to get far less then is the need in that county. But we are gonna push that out as quickly as possible and really be sure that everything that we have in the state is used within the week lose within seven days. Um, so that we're sure that it's being pushed out as quickly as possible. And I know that's really uncomfortable, and I know that's really frustrating, and I know that is not something that we're used to, but that is gonna be the reality for the next couple of months. Is that the demand and the people eligible for the vaccine is gonna be far greater than the amount of vaccine that we have. But from from our position, our our commitment is that we're gonna push it out as quickly as possible. So every little supply that we have gets into people as quickly as possible. Dr. Tilson, thank you very much for that. It Zoe said. You said earlier in the call A couple of times now it's very important for people. Toe have Ah, really, um a stronger are clear expectations from people Understanding What the how how monumental this task really is that you are are trying to manage. Steve, Let's go back to you again. Um, for another caller. Thank you, Mike. Let's go to Kings Mountain if we could Lamar thing. Gibson, um, was told that she needs a letter. She's expecting a letter. Are you still with us today? I am 75 years old, and when I contacted the health Department about how they would go about distributing or administering vaccines, I was told that a letter will be sent out to those eligible and that was over two weeks ago. I have not received the letter people that I do know that have gotten Shots have gone all over creation. Just toe. Get. Get that. So what do I do? I would also like to tell you that I did have covert. I survived cove it in October. Um, my doctor had me take a blood test and said I was immune. But in the statement that I received, uh, it also said they could not guarantee how long I would be immune. So could you address this? Yeah, this is Doctor tells I'll start and then also see if Dr um, well, for severe wants to chime in after So with. I'm not sure what county your and I apologize. Cleveland. Okay, I would call the Cleveland, um, county health Health Department directly. Um, instead of waiting for a letter, I would just go ahead and call that I did. You get a you get a voice message, and if you go over there, they You know this You can't get through, you have to find in the register. But if they can't take you, they won't let you. Don't find in. Yeah. And again, unfortunately, that's a That's gonna be the reality for a while. Because of the amount of vaccine Cleveland County has is gonna be less than Cleveland County. Cleveland County needs I would keep trying with the help the health Department. Thea other pieces. And this was a question that you don't have to stay within your county. So depending on how mobile you are, you could go to any county health department across the state and also some of our federally qualified health centers. And our health systems also have vaccine. So you are not on Lee bound to your county. You can also go thio other places across the state on again at our website. We do have a listing of all the places that have vaccine. And so depending on how mobile you are, you can try other providers. Second question about immunity. We don't know how long natural immunity will last from an infection. So I'm so glad that you got through that that infection, that is great. Uh, they are, um we think that maybe about three months after the infection that people in unity would last, But we don't know how long beyond that, and and having the infection does not mean that you shouldn't get the vaccine. The vaccine is still recommended for people. Even if they had that that infection, so go ahead. And now the good news is, maybe you have a little bit more protection than the other people. But I would still go ahead and try to get that vaccine. Okay. Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you so much, Dr Tilson, for that. And have a quick question before we go back to Steve to take our next live call mrs for any Either any of our guests. Um, one of the questions that has been brought to my attention a couple of times. Now, um, has been if somebody gets the first dose of the vaccine and they're not able to get the second shot within three weeks or four weeks, does that mean they have to go back and get the first shot again? Or how? How exactly does that work? Mhm. Yeah. I mean, one of the nice Sorry, but there you go. No, no, no. I was gonna say I'm happy to take that, but I'm also happy to refer to Dr Wolf for the other than that. Wow. Well, I was gonna say one of the one of the things that come with time has been a little bit better data to exactly what flexibility we have there. And I think the CDC put a really important update on their website towards last week that will help us understand that we should certainly still be aiming to get as close to that three or four week gap this possible. That is where the wealth of our data is lives and what we should try and achieve. But I think what's also been clear is that there's actually a little more bandwidth. If if, you know, let some people get sick on the day of the second vaccine or heaven forbid that need to be in hospital or away for some other reason, um, that they have given us flexibility to go out to six weeks if need be. Um, I'm not sure that I would encourage that, but I think it gives us flexibility that to expect that a vaccine response at that at that length of time will still be very, very good. But for the most part, you know, if we need to try and shoot for three weeks fighter or four from the dinner, I think that's what we should do that Knowing that we have some degree of flexibility. Oh, thank you both very much. Um, Steve, let's go back to you for our next call. Um, just a reminder again, If you'd like toe ask a question, Press star three on your telephone keypad and you'll be connected to an AARP staff person. Uh, Steve, over to you. What do we have next? Very good. Thanks again. So a zay said so many questions that we're getting are related to How can I get a vaccine where I live? So we will, uh, certainly repeat helpful numbers for you. And we'll put some in our Facebook, uh, Facebook comments box for you as well. But before we do so id like Thio here from Carrie Miller. Charlotte carry it Looks like it's one of the lucky ones that got a vaccine, but wondering basically how long she needs Thio. Practice her her good health protocols. Carrie, are you there? Yes, I am. Can you hear me? We can hear you loud and clear. And so your question today, okay. My question is is my husband is 80. I'm 76. We received our first, um vaccination last Tuesday. The schedule for the segment on Tuesday, February ninth and we're prepared to practice. You know, the, uh, all of the precautions that have been given to us. Well, how long should we practice these precautious for the rest of this year? How long after a second destination is given? I'm happy to take that and then also have other china. And so one I have to tell you. You you telling me you got the vaccine and it almost brings tears to my eyes. I'm so glad I know. It's been really in short supply. So it just brings joy to my heart when I know people have, um, have gotten the vaccine. Um, And that already in the second dose. So so, Yeah. Um, I think because as we've talked about there is gonna be such a small percentage of the population, at least for a while, that have been vaccinated. And with so much virus, um, spreading and we're still learning more and more about, um, the ability toe spread. Once you've been vaccinated, we still feel it's probably very, very low. But I think for a while and a zoo, long as we have such widespread vaccine, widespread virus and such a small percentage of our population being vaccinated to still practice those preventive measures. Um, I think can Onley help. Once we get more, a bigger popular percentage of our population vaccinated, our rates are coming down, and I think we can be I'll be a little bit less cautious. But for the foreseeable future, for the next couple months, I think I would still be, um, pretty cautious in your prevention strategies until the rest of us could get the vaccine. Dr. Wilson, You anybody else wanna try me on that question? Yeah. No, I completely agree. That e I mean, I think so. The cooler. Um you know, I feel very rest assure that you're going to get some good protection pretty quickly, But it does also take a few weeks after the second dose of the vaccine to really have accumulated the full sort of defensive, uh, immune position. So you it's wise to to wait some time after that second dose, and I agree with you and then depends a lot on what's happening around us and for the time being, with such a large proportion of cases, still circulating that I think we revisit those sorts of questions in a few months, and then we get a much clearer view of what's happening in the community. Okay, Thank you. But, Steve, let's go back to you for our next call. Thank you. I know so many of you two are clear. You're glued to the news these days and you're seeing stories, maybe from other states where there's mass mass mass vaccination sites and things Maybe seeming to move a little quicker. Eso Catherine Doherty in Raleigh has an idea that she wants thio run by it. Catherine, are you there? Yes. Um uh, why don't you Why don't they give the vaccine out at a larger venue like the fairgrounds or PNC Arena, etcetera? So more people can get the vaccine? I'm 78 years old, and it's hard to get Thio the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville or the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mhm. Um, yeah, I'll tackle that. So a couple things that one is again to say that we are getting out that vaccine quickly against sweep up. More than 90% of the doses in the States have already gone out, So we are getting out when we is a balance between having these mega vaccination sites and more points of access. So the bigger sites that we do it draws that vaccine availability for the whole last local state. And again, if we only have 125,000 coming into the state each each week. Um, if we do put most of them in one mass vaccination site, then we just won't have many other places to send the vaccine. So it's a balance between geographic access and then, um, and then the volume at one particular site. So that's what we're trying toe balance and one of the reasons that you've heard that maybe in some of our smaller counties of West Vaccine, because more of it has been a that Charlotte Motor. Um, midway, if we did another one big in Raleigh, and we'd have to pull from the rest of the state, So it's a balance, um, that we're trying to strike between making sure there's multiple points of access, but also some mass vaccination sites to help with speed. So we'll be balancing that as we go for it will be a lot easier once we have more vaccine to be able to support those big sites. Um, and right now, again, we're just trying to balance making sure there's some everywhere in the state on and not to having too many big sites that draws from the rest of the state. Thank you very much, Doctor Tilson. Um, let's go back to Steve for our next call. Steve, What we have. Great. Thank you. Uh, Jackie DeLay and Murfreesboro. Jackie, too, was one of those lucky ones who who received her vaccine last week. But now, like many of us, she's worried about the variant That's, uh, popping up in North Carolina. Jack Kerry there? Yes. And your question today? Uh, yes, that is My question is, if this new Vecsey, uh, virus does come to North Carolina, where we be required to have a different shot, I could probably take that If others happy toe go this way. Um, you know, the very in question is going to come up a little bit, I think partly because this is what viruses are expected to do. Is it just like a flu? Season ebbs and flows with different viruses that circulate each year. We expect that this will do something very similar. I will say that what we've seen so far has actually been pretty reassuring in terms of the vaccine being effective, not only against in particular variety that's emerged from the UK but also a variety that's arrived from Brazil on South Africa. So I don't envisage a short term change in vaccination strategy at all. In fact, I would use the presence of discussion and the sort of publicity around variance. That's actually the reason why we need to ramp up our vaccine efforts. Um, part of the part of the reason, um, mutations and variants occur is that they occur more commonly if there's just more illness circulating in the community. So our our best way, in fact, to counter act that is to try and vaccinate more aggressively and drive out infection, writes down. Now What I can't say is, if we're sitting here in a years time or two or five years time, will we not need tohave subtle adjustments to the way the vaccine is given in the same way that we do year to year with the flu shot? I don't know that in fact, I would hesitate to say that it probably will need some variation over time. But I think people should take really good confidence that the current one actually matches the UK strain really well on. There's no reason to think that it that it won't still be quite effective for other variants that pop up well, well, that clear, We need to track that. So, um, rest assured, I think you've done exactly the right thing, which is to go ahead and get vaccinated. And this is, uh this is a cold for others to do that, Betsy or cancer. And I'm not sure if you would add to them. I certainly agree with everything that you said, and I think that that's one of the things that we certainly will be following pretty closely is the effectiveness of the vaccine as the and and one thing that Dr Wolf said that we expect these these viruses to be shifting. And that's one of the things that will be. Following is the effectiveness of the vaccine with the expected shift of the viruses. Great. Thank you both very much for that. Steve, Let's go back to you for our next question. Oh, thank. And this, Well, hopefully answer the question for self Bellevue, including some of our Facebook listeners today. But, uh, could you once again explain the differences between the two vaccines and maybe the advantages or disadvantages of both? Yeah, I'm happy to start and have others, um, chime in there. They're actually quite similar. I would not say there's major differences between the two. There's a little bit of difference in terms of storage and handling, but from ah person. Um, and ineffectiveness in the safety profile actually quite similar. They both have the same, um, technology. What's called the messenger RNA technology. Um, they're both quite simplistic in there in the ingredients, actually very, very similar. And they work the same way. And so when we looked at the clinical trials in between the two, there was about 75,000 people in between the clinical trials for these two vaccines a fighter and the Madonna so very, very large clinical trials and the fact that the data that looked at effectiveness not again, not only in getting the infection but the effectiveness and preventing severe disease and then the safety profile, um, was very similar across the two and also very similar within within the the enrolling in the clinical trials, A very similar across age if you had underlying chronic conditions so very, very, very similar effectiveness and safety profile. So really not much of a difference between these Thies too. So really, I would say is if you have a place where you can find available vaccine, get that vaccine very little difference between between the two can. I don't know if there's anything else that you would add to that. No, I think you're spot on. I mean, it was actually really reassuring for me to see housing where these were because that sort of, you know, further really underlined the fact that the technology works and that the that there were so synonymous. And I would go also add that you know, they were equal from a safety and efficacy point of view across gender, across race, across ethnicity, basically across age too, which is pretty unique amongst vaccines. We typically see a much more substantial drop off in older adults with vaccination. Yet we did not see that, so I don't know, I would agree completely that it it wouldn't matter which dose you. I mean, I had a fight, the vaccine, and I took great heart and seeing Tony Fatty turned up and get the Madonna vaccine, and I think that would be just fine. Thank you all very much for that, Steve. Back to you for our next live question. Yes. And hopefully James Jones is still with us because James is, uh, speaking on behalf of maybe a lot of people who who don't use a computer and may not have the easiest time getting information. Uh, so he's wondering, you know, how can someone, perhaps the system James, are you there? I'm still here. Thank you. Very good. My question. Waas. I've called the county health department, which is the numbers that they put out in this area and every time I called. My basic answer is we're not taking anything called to the computer. I don't have a computer. I don't have access toe one. I could go to the library, but the libraries, they're pretty much either closed or there. Pull the capacity. Can't get in now. Going with this? Uh, I'm 81 year old. I have COPD and I am on oxygen now. I Also, I called over Bunkum County and I can't get any other names or numbers, uh, to call to get the vaccine. Now. I am also retired military. I did call the V A hospital. They took my name and phone number, but that's all I've heard. I don't know whether I'm in line for a vaccine or not. That's my basic question. We're going to get one. Thank you. Any of our guests? Yeah. And we know that this is way No, this is a huge barrier, and we're trying to make it better every day and every week. And we have heard you loud and clear and definitely no, that's a barrier. There's a couple things they'll offer. Um, as as resource is one. And we can make sure we send this out to the whole of center. We do have ah co vid help line a central covert help line. Um and I'll tell you that number. But we can also send that out, which is 877 490 e. I don't have a pencil with me this time. I know we're saying we can We can certainly send send that out. We're also gonna be standing up a statewide and much more robust statewide call center as well. That should be live next week to make that easier for people to navigate. And we're also sharing a lot of our guidance and best practices with all of our vaccine providers, including our health departments and our health systems in our community health centers, making sure they have another avenue beyond just a computer for people who just as you said, don't have a computer, that making sure there's other ways for people to get appointments, um, the, uh, phone phone instead of email as well. So we're working to enhance that at the state level as well as at the local level to try to decrease those barriers because we know those barriers. Dr. Tilson, this is Catherine. Um, one of the things that we're seeing in the Greensboro area is that churches and other groups are helping out some of their seniors by making some of those calls or doing some of that online searching I personally and very computer literate, but would not have gotten the vaccine when I did, except that I have a daughter who is like a was on a mission to get us the vaccine. Um, and so a lot of our members may have church friends or organizational friends that have computers that would be willing to help them to do some of this searching as well. Great. Thank you, Dr. C. B a, um, Back to you, Steve. Back to our last few minutes for the program of trying to get another couple calls in. Very good. So so many of you two are just worried about possible interactions. What to do the day off? Well, this vaccine interfere with any of any of my pre existing, um, conditions. So, Betty Moses. Betty, are you still there? We love to take your question about the vaccines and sickle cell. It's Philip Moses, not Daddy. Oh, uh, yes. I was wondering what happens when people have sickle cell, which is in in my bloodline. How would that affect at fail? So I'm I'm happy to start that and then have other people chime in. Um, so, um, a couple of things that we when we look at again those clinical trials, there weren't a large population of people with sickle cell in those clinical trials, but There were a lot of people with, um, some of the complications of sickle cell for thinking about, um, cardiovascular, um, and blood vessel inflammation. And there were no extra concerns in terms of of safety or and no concern about last last lack of effectiveness in the in the clinical trials. The other piece we know is that having sickle cell puts you at much greater risk off having severe disease if you were to get the true covert infection. So it is recommended for people with sickle cell to get the vaccine. And again, we have limited data specifically on the vaccine for people with sickle cell. Except again, we have people with all sorts of different chronic diseases that are can be complications of sickle cell and then again balance it with the risk that we know what we do know for sure. People with sickle cell disease have a much higher risk a severe illness or death if they were to get the infection. So it really is up to that individual person to weigh that risk and benefit, but that it is recommended for people to get sickle cell. Um uh, people with sickle cell to get the vaccine. I'm so glad you say that because I think that risk and balance is exactly the way that we've viewed not just sickle cell but vaccination in other groups not covered under the trial. So that's the same for my transplant population. That's the same for our population. Receiving chemotherapy outside of a very small group of people getting transplanted. Um, really, All of those individuals, including the sickle cell family that was described there are at higher risk of complications due to covert. So it actually ramps up the desire to get folks vaccinated in that group. Couldn't agree more. Thank you very much, Steve. Back to you for another call from the from the phones? Yes. Thank you. Let's take a follow up to that from Janet Husby and Ivanhoe. Janet Drug. Kind of wondering about the out to January there. Yes, I am. Um, might actually have two questions. Ah, one. Uh, have teachers in all healthcare workers been vaccinated yet? I did have the fortune of receiving my first dose last Saturday at a well run drive through Well coordinated by the Sampson County Health department. Um, that after the first dose you know, I'm scheduled for the second. And I was wondering, how important is it to receive the vaccine in the same arm? Is it necessary to receive it in the same arm? They don't think the arm makes any difference necessarily. Um, it's probably gonna be more dependent on which arm is closest to the vaccinate or if you're driving up the drive so that that wouldn't bother me one way or the other. Um and I'm glad you you were able to attend such a well run clinic by the sound of And then, um, I've mistakenly forgot in the first part of the question to someone else could jump in there. Yeah, I'll take a doctor. Wolf. Um, the question is about are all have all teachers and all healthcare Robertson vaccinated. So in group One and group to which are open now are all direct health care workers, people in long term care facilities, um, and staff and people who are working vaccination sites as well as people over 65 above. So there are some teachers that maybe have been vaccinated one, um, if they were 65 above or also a health care worker. And also, we do know that there are some teachers who have been vaccinated because we did. Um, we did, um, a redo the prioritization, um, framework a couple weeks ago, and there have already been some clinics scheduled for teachers, so we know that there are some teachers that have been scheduled, but the vast majority of teachers are going to come into the next phase, which are frontline essential workers. Um, that will be group three. And that's when the vast majority of teachers will be vaccinated as those frontline essential workers. Frankly, I'm I'm a little, um you know, beside myself that I went before they did. Mhm. They think Part of the question. I'm sorry. Go ahead, Doctor. Book. I was gonna say I mean, I think that's a fair concern, and I appreciate the concern being right. I will say that the one the one the way that the prioritization was designed was to very much think of not just exposure, but in particular individual risk. Um and and I'm you know, I would support the data that looks at mortality and hospitalization and illness. Severity being so disproportionately affected in our older adults do to covert. But for that reason, age came in ahead of sort of working in certain the central areas for vaccine vaccine priority not to say that our teachers don't deserve to be vaccinated. Heaven forbid that parent of two young kids, I can't wait to my school system. Sort of becomes a little more normal again. Um, but I do think that the priority had had had good medical basis for Thank you very much, Dr. Wolf, in the last couple of minutes, I wanna ask each of our guests if we could, um, just a final thought on vaccination. Um, just anything that you've said earlier that you want to emphasize, Or perhaps something that you intended to say earlier. You want the last opportunity to do so. So I'll begin with Dr Tilson. Um, a couple of things. Yep. No, absolutely a couple things. That one. I'm just so grateful that everybody, uh, that there's so much excitement on desire to get vaccinated. I think there's probably nobody who wants to be the through pandemic more than me. And I'm so excited that people are so, um, uh, excited and motivated to get the vaccine second pieces just again. Level setting. I know that it's frustrating. I know our systems need to be improved. I know the demand is gonna outreach the supply. I know that on DSO just to want to be sure that we're all that again, that expectation setting that it is gonna be a long time till everybody who wants the vaccine can get the vaccine. And so just that just being really transparent that that expectation setting and then the third is again just re emphasizing the incredible safety and effectiveness of this vaccine of the Are these two vaccines really really reassuring? Um, and I think it's amazing that we have a vaccine that is, that vaccines that are so safe and effective across all sorts of populations, it will be our way out of the pandemic. But it's going to take us a while. We're talking months, six months, if not more, That this is, uh, this is a slow marathon and so just want to be sure. We're really, um, clear about that expectation, and it's going to take a long time to get everybody vaccinated, but it will be our way out. And so I'm so glad that people are so excited. Andi wanting to get the vaccine. Dr. Tilson, thank you so much again for being with us today and for the transparency and honest assessments that you've given us in. The call is much, much appreciated. Um, Dr Wolf. Closing words from you. Um, yeah. Look, I reiterate as well how how comfortable I now feel having had 22 well, past 22 million today in terms of national doses administered, which, you know, whilst not getting close yet to the sort of 70% of of the community protected that we're going to need for herd immunity, it gives us just such a wealth of safety and efficacy data that has continued to look reassuring. Um, you know, if you have asked me six months ago, what would I be gleefully happy to accept in terms of a vaccine? I wouldn't. I was 100% sure we'd have won it all at this point. So they have to that 95% effective and really have not brought up any significant safety signals has has been far better, frankly, than what I could have hoped for. Um but we've got to drive that number up. This is the way out of this pandemic. There's no question about that. Um, you know, I would just thank people for showing their interests. This is this is exactly what we have to bring the communities and have communities. Um, you know, support each other to get vaccinated if we're gonna work our way out of this. So thank you for everyone's interest. Thank you, Dr Wolf. We really appreciate your expertise in this and always a pleasure working with you, sir. Finally, Dr Savvier. Any closing words? Um, just one thing, Um, that while we were on the phone, we did a little exploring about va help. And it does look like that any of our veterans, of which we know about 10% of North Carolina are veterans. Uh, if you are part of the VA health benefit group, they are going to be providing vaccine toe. All of the people who receive care there. So by going on va dot gov health care, um, you're gonna be able to find the covert vaccine. So I thought that was helpful information since we're all looking for places to find the vaccine and in the meantime, what I wanna say to all of our members and to all of you out there, keep the faith, keep wearing your mask. Um, and just just be patient because we all want to get back to our families and the people we love. Thank you very much. The to that, via comment goes also frenetically texting via colleagues Who during this. And they also they reiterated that even though they're Paradigm Nation has ever so slightly different being a federal institution that all of the VA in the state now have open spaces and slots ready to vaccinate. So, yeah, just reiterating. You'll know where your local via is or, heck, people could always call the Central Durham via which controls most of the states. Um, sort of be a network. They'll be out to get you into clinics. Sure. Thank you all very much. Want to thank our all of our guests? Dr. Betty Tilson, Dr Cameron Wolf and Dr Kaplan say be a wanna thank you. The listeners and participants in this Tele town hall for your discussion. Your great questions on this important topic. We're very sorry if we were not able to answer your question. We had so many of you in our Q. But we did see a lot of similar questions. Onda. Hopefully you got the information that you were looking for. Um, you can look at our face book, AARP, North Carolina page for additional information and links. You can also note, um, the AARP dot org's Web page has got some very good information, Um, including North Carolina specific information, uh, to help put you in the right direction. You can also call us directly at 1888 6872277 That number, of course, is on our website and to reach out to the state, the state has also have the covert 19 help line. That number is 877 490 6642 Again, that's toll free. 877 490 66 for two. I want to thank you all again for being part of this important discussion today. I'm Michael under the state director with AARP North Carolina. Thank you for your time and your attention and your wonderful questions. Stay safe, and we will be out there doing our part as well. Take care now