The Truth About COVID-19 Vaccinations

At the University of Maryland Extension we support and provide science-based solutions for everyday problems, including public health information. As COVID-19 vaccinations are rolled out across the country, we are encouraging Marylanders to take action.

With the vaccinations have also come rumors and myths about its effectiveness and how it may affect the public. In light of the misinformation coming through outlets like social media, we have created a COVID-19 vaccination information page to provide factual information.

A doctor placing a bandage on the injection site of a patient. Original image sourced from US Government department: Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you’ve heard from your brother-in-law’s uncle’s second cousin that vaccines are being used to microchip people or that it may alter your DNA, please don’t listen to them. Find information from trusted and reputable sources, talk with your family physician, get your facts before making decisions.

Because the truth is, COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and effective, and they may save your life.

To find a vaccination clinic near you, check out our state and local resource page.

Dashing Toward the End of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been plaguing our lives for more than a year now. Things will not be back to normal any time soon but as we approach the end of Phase 1 of vaccine distribution, there is hope that this global pandemic is coming to an end. If you are interested in doing your part to stop COVID-19, this article will provide information on where, when, how to get vaccinated, and if you are eligible now (or when you should be eligible). 

The information provided will come from the CDC recommended progression for the country as well as my local COVID-19 webpage. To find your local COVID-19 webpage, google “covid-19 vaccination [name of your county]” and it should be one of the first links. Your county webpage is designed to provide more specific COVID-19 related information about your area. This will include vaccination sites around you where you may choose to schedule a vaccination (I recommend CVS and Walgreens for their low wait times and well-organized user portal). If you find that you are not eligible for the current phase of vaccine distribution, this website will also show COVID-19 testing sites so that you can be regularly tested and help to minimize your risk of transmission. 

The COVID-19 vaccination isn’t scheduled to be available to the general public until Phase 3 which begins in May of this year. If we can manage to maintain this timeline, we should see a steady decrease in new cases as we approach autumn of 2021. I’m sure that many of you are hoping to get vaccinated well before then and this may be possible for you. If you fit into the phase 1 category, you can schedule an appointment now. Phase 1 includes healthcare workers, essential personnel, and at-risk populations. You probably know by now if you’re an essential worker. If you are an essential worker, you were one of the few people who had permission to leave their homes during the lockdown toward the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. To discover if you are at risk, you should consult your primary care doctor and reference your medical history. You are also considered at risk if you are over the age of 65 or receiving treatment at a hospital. 

If you do not meet any of those requirements, you may be eligible to participate in Phase 2. Phase 2 begins in April and set to focus on critical infrastructure personnel and other at-risk populations. The key difference between Phase 1 and Phase 2 is that Phase 2 will prioritize younger at-risk groups and essential workers who are considered low-contact or lower-risk. You may be included in this group if you are age 16-65, with pre-existing health conditions or you are an essential worker where your workspace typically holds less than 12 people. Unfortunately, if you do not fit into any of these groups, you will have to wait until May, but that’s less than two months away! Stay strong, wear your mask, and wash your hands when you enter and leave your residence.