UGA Extension, federal agencies recommend COVID-19 vaccination
Federal agencies are promoting the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA technology. UGA Extension is partnering with local entities, including health departments, to provide a public education campaign informed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Department of Public Health (DPH) to promote the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine to help lay the groundwork for residents to willingly take the vaccine as it becomes available locally.
Extension, CDC and DPH have compiled resources on a publicly available website and encourage all members of Georgia’s agriculture community to share them. UGA Extension encourages anyone working closely with the agriculture sector to utilize the materials, called “Protect Your Peach,” which were jointly developed with CDC and DPH to target Georgia farmers and ag workers. Members of Georgia’s agriculture community are encouraged to contact their local Extension offices if they would like to request copies of Extension’s ‘Healthy Georgia’ flyers, which are in the process of being distributed statewide to targeted locations which are providing vaccines.
The Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) has published a COVID-19 Handbook for Agricultural Workers.
In a Jan. 21 webinar, Dr. Janelle Routh, who represents the CDC on the multi-agency COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force asked employers to encourage their workers to get vaccinated.
‘Getting information out to employees about what to expect can be incredibly helpful,” Routh said.
The mRNA technology teaches our cells how to make part of what is referred to as a “spike” protein found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. After the cells make the spike protein portion, our cells break it down and our immune system makes antibodies against it. For a more detailed explanation, click here.
Routh emphasized that the vaccines are safe, noting:
• The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been through the same rigorously safety testing that all U.S. vaccines go through before authorization for use;
• While the public may have only recently become aware of mRNA technology, it has been studied for more than a decade;
• The vaccines do not contain live virus, and they do not carry a risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person;
• The vaccines do not alter or interfere with DNA.
• The vaccines will not give recipients COVID-19 or cause them to test positive on tests that detect the presence of the virus.
Routh encouraged employers and employees who have received the vaccination to be “vaccination ambassadors,” sharing their experiences with people around them. The CDC has a collection of communication materials about the vaccines. The materials can be downloaded at https://gfb.ag/CDCCovaxInfo.
The webinar also provided information for employees to know before, during and after being vaccinated.
• Take time to learn about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines and how they work.
Check with state or local health department to see if they are recommended for vaccinaton.
• Vaccination recipients should receive a fact sheet on the specific vaccine they received, including information about risks, benefits and potential side effects.
• Recipients should receive a vaccine record car that indicates which vaccine they received, the date on which they received it and where they received it. This information is important when scheduling the second dose.
• Recipients may be asked to enroll in V-Safe, a free smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after they receive the vaccination.
• There have been side effects, but Routh said most are mild and generally go away within one or two days. Side effect more frequently occur following the second dose.
Routh recommended getting employees to be vaccinated on the day before off days at the end of their shift, staggering employees to maintain consistent workforce strength, and assessing workers post-vaccination for side effects.
“We don’t yet know the duration of protection from these vaccines, nor do we know how they protect against transmission in vaccinated people. We do emphasize that even vaccinated people should continue to follow safety guidelines like masking and social distancing,” Routh said.