I really want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. How do I get it?

I really want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. How do I get it?

There are a few different avenues you may utilize to receive a COVID-19 vaccine: Public Health, as well as your local healthcare providers, and some pharmacies. For the sake of this blog post, we will assume that you are receiving your vaccine through public health.

The North Dakota Department of Health has created an online COVID-19 Vaccine Locator that tracks availability across the state. For more information visit https://www.health.nd.gov/covidvaccinelocator. Please note the inventory availability is updated daily based on provider vaccine inventory. North Dakota providers who are not receiving vaccine through the North Dakota Department of Health may have vaccine available that is not indicated in the vaccine locator.

What are Priority Groups?

The first thing you need to determine is which priority group you are in. The North Dakota Department of Health has determined three priority groups (called Phases) that will receive the vaccine prior to it being opened up to the general public. Within each phase are smaller groups (called Tiers) that are given order priority. For more information about phases/tiers, visit https://www.health.nd.gov/covid-19-vaccine-priority-groups.

  • Phase 1A includes healthcare workers, first responders and long term care residents and staff. As of January 25, 2021, all regions have completed, or have nearly completed, this phase.
  • Phase 1B includes older individuals, people with underlying health conditions, other congregate settings, child care workers, and employees of preschools and K-12.
    • Persons age 75 and older
    • Persons age 65-74 with two or more high-risk medical conditions
    • Staff and persons living in other congregate settings (i.e., corrections, treatment centers, homeless shelters, etc.)
    • Persons age 65 and older with one or more high-risk medical conditions
    • Persons age 65 and older with or without high-risk medical conditions
    • Persons with 2 or more high-risk medical conditions, regardless of age
    • Child care workers
    • Workers employed by preschools or Kindergarten through 12th grade: (Teachers, nutritional services, aides, bus drivers, principals, administrative groups, custodians, etc.)
  • Phase 1C includes essential workers and people of any age at increased risk for COVID-19
    • National Guard, not previously covered
    • Workers enabling access to human food (i.e., grocery workers), not including restaurant workers
    • Public safety answering points (911)
    • Manufacturing related to the development or supply of COVID-19 vaccine
    • Other healthcare/public health workers not included in Phase 1A
    • Free standing clinical laundries
    • Public transit, including bus, taxi, ride share
    • Persons age 16-64 with one or more high-risk medical conditions
    • Blood bank workers not previously vaccinated
    • Information Technology
    • All other essential workers per Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

How do I sign up?

Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health (Eligibility Determination Survey) and Custer Health (Vaccination Interest Survey) both have created surveys that will get you started on the road to COVID-19 vaccination.

By completing this survey, you will identify your appropriate tier know when you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note that by completing this survey you have not secured your COVID-19 vaccine. Presently, both vaccine interest surveys are only open to individuals in Phase 1B. As Phase 1C gets closer, the surveys will open to these additional groups.

As vaccine is made available, public health units will contact individuals who have completed the interest survey and were placed in the appropriate phase/tier to attend a vaccination clinic and receive vaccination. At this time, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being utilized at public health unit vaccine clinics, meaning you will need to receive two rounds of the vaccine 21 days (for the Pfizer) 28 days (for the Moderna) apart. Individuals wanting to be vaccinated will reserve their appointment time through a link shared by the health units. Please note that if you have not reserved your appointment time, you will not be able to receive a vaccine at a public health vaccination clinic.

What do I do the day of my vaccination?

Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health is conducting its vaccine clinics at Bismarck Event Center (located at 315 S Fifth Street in Bismarck). Custer Health is conducting its vaccine clinics through its office (located at 403 Burlington Street SE) in Mandan.

Once you have that appointment time reserved, there are just a couple of reminders:

  • Be sure to wear a mask to your vaccine appointment. Universal precautions have made a huge impact in dropping our overall positive case count – take care of your fellow humans!
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing. You will be getting your vaccination in your upper arm, so make sure you won’t need to shed clothes in order to get your shot.
  • You should receive a vaccination card or printout that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it and where you received it.
  • Once you receive your vaccine, you will need to be monitored for 15-30 minutes, depending on your history of allergic reactions. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/allergic-reaction.html. You may want to use your monitoring time to get signed up for V-Safe.
  • Sign up for V-Safe at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/vsafe.html. This online symptom monitoring system uses text messaging and web surveys to quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If you are receiving your first round of the COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to register for your follow-up dose.

What should I expect after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

Individuals receiving a COVID-19 vaccine have reported some side effects, including pain or swelling on the arm receiving the shot. Some individuals have also reported fever, chills, fatigue and headache. If you have pain or discomfort, talk to your healthcare provider about taking over the counter medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If you have concerns about any potential vaccination side effects, it is important to discuss those with your healthcare provider prior to vaccination.

Other suggestions to help reduce pain:

  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area
  • Use or exercise your arm
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Dress lightly

In most cases, these side effects will last only a couple of days. If redness/tenderness where you got your shot increases after 24 hours, or if your side effects are worrying and do not seem to be going away after a few days, contact your doctor or healthcare provider.

A printable handout for what to expect after receiving your COVID-19 vaccine is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/pdfs/321466-A_FS_What_Expect_COVID-19_Vax_Final_12.13.20.pdf.

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