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Dr. Randi Abramson provides information on Moderna vaccine

Bread for the City is excited to be added to the vaccine distribution efforts here in the Nation’s Capital. We are expecting 400 doses for DC area frontline staff and medical providers. We are hoping to give out the vaccines before the end of January. As soon as we give out the first 400 doses we will receive the next shipment to get the vaccines out to our community. I got the opportunity to speak with Dr. Randi Abramson, Chief Medical Officer, about Bread for the City’s plan to distribute the Moderna vaccine. 

When will Bread for the City start administering the Moderna vaccine?

RA: The doses will be received within the next couple of days and we will be giving our first vaccine on Monday, December 28th. It will be four days a week in the afternoon from 1-4 pm. I hope to get as many people vaccinated as possible without overcrowding our exam rooms.

Who will get the vaccine?

RA: The participants are being selected by the Department of Health, which is in the first phase of distribution. The dose went to hospitals in phase 1A and now phase 1B is going to public health entities and that’s how we were able to get the vaccine. 

What does this mean for the virus in DC?

RA: It means we will start to turn the corner and begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The virus is not going away, but we need to manage it better. We are hoping that we won’t be confined the rest of our lives with masks, social distancing, and no large events. The vaccine will help us manage the virus in a safe way so we can start to have people gather again and get back to fun activities that we are all missing desperately.  

What does it mean for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) to be participating?

RA: I think the District asking Federally Qualified Health Centers to step up and administer the vaccine is a huge recognition of our place in public health. I think it means two things, some of the vaccines will go to our own staff and the other fabulous thing is that the vaccine will go to community health workers, those who have been on the frontline working closely with those who might have COVID-19. Bread for the City was one of the few that were chosen, and I think when we say public health we’re talking about food, clothing, social services, legal services, and advocacy because all of that is part of public health to create a better quality of life for people. 

When do you believe we will make this available for the general community?

RA: We don’t know the answer to that. We’re still working on what phase 2 looks like and it’s going to be a lot of our essential workers such as teachers, daycare workers, grocery store clerks, pharmacy staff, and etc. It’s a huge number of people who are in phase 2. 

Should people still wear a mask once they get the vaccine?

RA: Yes, it doesn’t change anything right away. We all need to continue to wear masks and continue to social distance. Even if you have the vaccine, the second dose, or it’s been two weeks since you’ve had the second dose and the likelihood is that you have pretty good immunity, you still should wear a mask. It should not change any of our behavior until we vaccinate a large portion of our population. 

Are there any side effects people should know about?

RA: There are side effects to the vaccine and everyone should be very aware of it. The first dose is typically easier than the second dose. After the first dose the vast majority of people say they have a little muscle ache, they’re fatigued, and a little sore from the shot. The two days after the second dose is where people might have a slight fever, more achiness, fatigue, and headache. It’s a sign that the body is building up immunity so that when you are exposed to the virus your body is able to fight it off. There is no live virus in the vaccine or any of the vaccines that are being developed. 

How is the community reacting to the new vaccine?

RA: A lot of people are excited about getting the vaccine and that’s great. There are many people who are scared and don’t feel as if they’re ready to take the vaccine, and that’s perfectly reasonable. I’m asking all those people to keep an open mind, watch and see what happens over the next few months. Have an open mind and be willing to change your mind once we have more experience and more information. It’s a lot of information and it’s a scary thing, but it’s something we’ve been doing for decades. We have a lot of experience and they have been planning on how to make a vaccine during a pandemic for decades. The current vaccine that is being used is something we are working extremely hard to make a part of our preventive medicine. 

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