When and Where to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

Thanks to those in science and healthcare, we now have a safe and effective way to fight against the spread of COVID-19 and one of the most important tools to end the pandemic.

The COVID-19 vaccine has proven effective in lowering the number of people getting and spreading COVID-19 as well in helping to prevent serious illness and death– and that is why healthcare professionals throughout the nation and here in east Georgia encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated.

And the best news is that everyone five years of age and older is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. And this vaccine is available at multiple locations throughout our region.

Lester Johnston, M.D., an internal medicine and pediatrics specialist at Community Medical Associates in Washington, advises all patients to receive the vaccine even though COVID-19 numbers currently remain low.

“The vaccine most definitely helps decrease mortality and morbidity, meaning it decreases the chance of death; it decreases the intensity of the illness, and it decreases the length of the illness,” Dr. Johnston said. “Eighty-five to 90 percent of the patients hospitalized at Wills Memorial Hospital for respiratory distress and failure for coronavirus did not have the vaccination, while 10-15 (percent) were vaccinated.”

In addition, according to the CDC, people who are up-to-date on vaccines are likely to have stronger protection against COVID-19 variants.  Therefore, it is important to receive the vaccine so that you are shielded against the possibility of infection – which could increase again, despite current infection levels.

Once you have decided to receive the vaccination, the next question is which one to receive (there are three authorized versions of the vaccine on the market) and where to do so.


Which COVID-19 vaccine should I get?

Of the three vaccines currently approved for use in the United States, the versions produced by Pfizer or Moderna are mRNA vaccines and are preferred by medical professionals. This is because mRNA vaccines act as a courier (the “m” stands for messenger) that supply your body with the blueprint for how to counter the coronavirus – specifically which protein to produce to trigger an appropriate immune response. It is a decades-old technology that has long produced results in fighting disease.

Each mRNA vaccine requires a two-dose course, and there are also boosters available at recommended intervals to enhance and/or maintain effectiveness over time.


Who should receive the vaccine and when?

The two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for everyone ages 5 and older. The doses should come 3-8 weeks apart and the dose for children 5-11 is different than ages 12 and older.

Meanwhile, the two-dose Moderna vaccine is recommended for everyone ages 18 and older. The doses should come 4-8 weeks apart. We encourage you to learn more about staying up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccines through the CDC.


What about boosters?

Boosters are not recommended for patients ages 5-11 at this time. However, every patient aged 12 or older is recommended to receive a single booster five months after becoming fully vaccinated (which occurs two weeks after their second vaccination dose). Currently the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only one authorized for children ages 5 through 17.

However, patients aged 18 and older may receive a booster produced by either company.

Further, a second booster is recommended for adults ages 50 years and older and may be received four months after the first booster. The CDC provides the latest information on vaccine boosters, and we encourage you to read more here.


Where can I receive a vaccination in my community?

There are several vaccination providers throughout east Georgia and nearby Wilkes County.

Click here to view the local vaccination locations and contact any of them for more information or to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment. And please stay up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccines by following the current recommendations found here.