By Taylor Boyd
Both types of the COVID-19 vaccine were received by officials in the West Piedmont Health District (WPHD) Tuesday, according to Nancy Bell, public information officer.
Sovah health care professionals received the first dose of the two-part Pfizer vaccine last week, according to previous reports.
Bell said Tier 1A workers in some areas of district could begin receiving the Moderna vaccine as early as this week. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be used, she added.
While both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are more than 90 percent effective and build immunity to the COVID-19 virus, Bell said it is too early to tell which, if either, vaccine is better.
She said the biggest difference between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines is “that immunity is present in the Pfizer vaccine within seven days of the first dose. For Moderna, immunity” begins about a week after both doses have been administered.
Neither vaccine will prevent the spread of COVID-19 and will only prevent the individual who has received the vaccine from getting the virus. “That is why everyone should take it. The vaccine builds immunity to COVID,” Bell said.
She said it is likely that widespread vaccination will take place by early summer, and “extra caution now is advised until we get to that point, so our friends and relatives are around for Thanksgiving and Christmas 2021.”
While some online sources indicate the vaccine will work on COVID-19 mutations, Bell said “it’s still too soon to know.”
Bell said the WPHD does not have a way to estimate how many new COVID-19 cases will arise following Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
“The numbers in the district, in the state, and in the United States surged after Thanksgiving” she said, adding the post-holiday surge depends on if people choose to observe the state and federal recommendations on traveling, gathering, mask wearing, and social distancing.
Gov. Ralph Northam has expressed that he’s considered issuing an Executive Order with additional restrictions if COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise, Bell said.
“One of the cases where he would do this is if Virginia hospitals become filled to capacity or communities cannot function due to high numbers of sick persons in isolation,” she added.
With the rise in case numbers following Thanksgiving, COVID-19 has become the leading cause of death in the United States, beating out heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Heart disease is responsible for about 655,000 Americans annually, or about one in four deaths in the country.
“Heart disease is a chronic health condition brought on by obesity, sloth, or other chronic medical conditions. COVID is a sudden onset virus that affects different parts of the body, most often the lungs,” Bell said.
The CDC website said heart disease can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, not smoking, consuming healthy foods and drinks, controlling blood pressure, managing diabetes, and monitoring cholesterol.
Bell noted there is no medication to fight COVID-19, which spreads easily in situations where people gather or do not use masks.
“COVID prevention is more straightforward and based on three key pieces of advice: Distance yourself from others, was your hands frequently, and always wear a mask when you will encounter other,” Bell said.
As of Monday, Dec. 21, data from the Virginia Department of Health suggested there are 2,393 cases, with 202 hospitalized and 48 deaths. In the City of Martinsville, 917 cases were reported, 88 hospitalized and 27 dead.
The data also suggested there are 314,481 cases in Virginia, with 17,083 hospitalized, and 4,705 dead from the virus.
Information from the CDC suggested there are 17,790,376 cases in the United States and 316,844 dead from coronavirus.
For more tips on staying safe, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.