MACON, Ga. — Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and how to get it in Central Georgia.
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Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
State and federal authorities say yes. The Georgia Department of Public Health website says over 70,000 people participated in clinical trials for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to ensure they are safe and effective. They are both authorized by the FDA and are nearly 95% effective in preventing COVID-19.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No. There is no COVID-19 virus in the vaccine, the GDPH website says. The vaccine imitates the infection so that our bodies create antibody defenses to fight the virus.
What is the difference between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines?
The FDA says both vaccines are highly effective, require two doses, and have a shelf life of up to six months. Pfizer's second dose is given 21 days after the first dose; Moderna's, 28 days after.
Both are messenger RNA vaccines. That means the virus' genetic code is injected into the body so it can instruct cells on what antibodies to produce. The Pfizer vaccine is the first mRNA technology ever approved for human use by the Food and Drug Administration.
One main difference between the two is that Moderna's vaccine is easier to store. It doesn’t require super-cold freezer transportation and can be stored in normal freezers.
Do the vaccines have side effects?
They can have mild, temporary, and normal side effects. The Georgia DPH says these are signs that your body is building protection. Some people may feel pain and swelling in the arm where they got the injection. Some may have fever, chills, tiredness, and headaches.
If I had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to be vaccinated?
Yes. Health agencies recommend that people who have recovered from COVID-19 should be vaccinated.
Do I need to wear a mask and social distance after I have been vaccinated?
Yes. The CDC says it is important for everyone to continue to practice social distancing, wash their hands, wear masks, take precautions, and use all tools available to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia?
Starting Thursday, March 25, the vaccine will be available to everyone in Georgia ages 16 and older.
- Note: Pfizer is the only COVID vaccine currently approved for children aged 16 and older.
Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Kemp announced four new mass vaccination sites, with one located in Macon at the Macon State Farmers Market on Eisenhower Parkway. You can pre-register at myvaccinegeorgia.com and you have to make an appointment -- no walk-ins are accepted.
You can still get the COVID-19 vaccine at Central Georgia public health departments, but you must also first schedule an appointment. Vaccinations are also available with an appointment at private providers, like pharmacies.
Atrium Health Navicent is operating a drive-thru vaccination site at the Family Health Center, located at 3780 Eisenhower Parkway.
First and second vaccine doses are also available by appointment at The Wellness Center, located at 3797 Northside Drive in Macon.
To schedule an appointment at either vaccination site, visit www.CovidsafeGA.org or call 478-633-SAFE (7233).
Click here to use the Georgia Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Locator and search your county to find who's providing vaccinations.
You must be eligible for the current phase of distribution to receive the shot.
How do I schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 in Central Georgia?
The new mass vaccination site in Macon is taking appointments, you can pre-register at myvaccinegeorgia.com.
The Georgia Department of Public Health website says departments are scheduling vaccines by appointment only. Most other providers are doing the same.
You can call the North Central Health District at 1-844-987-0099 or 478-749-0179 to schedule your appointment.
The NCHD covers these 13 counties: Baldwin, Crawford, Hancock, Houston, Jasper, Jones, Macon-Bibb, Monroe, Peach, Putnam, Twiggs, Washington and Wilkinson.
The phones lines are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Michael Hokanson with the NCHD says if you are on hold by 4:30 p.m., they won't hang up on you. They'll schedule everyone who is currently on hold but won't take any new calls.
You can call the South Central Health District at 478-275-6570 between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday OR click here to schedule online. Right now they are by appointment-only.
The SCHD covers these 10 counties: Bleckley, Dodge, Johnson, Laurens. Montgomery, Pulaski, Telfair, Treutlen, Wheeler and Wilcox.
If you live in the West Central Health District, you can register online here.
The WCHD covers these counties/areas: Columbus, Chattahoochee, Clay, Crisp, Dooly, Harris, Macon, Marion, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor and Webster.
CVS Pharmacy has started scheduling appointments. You can find the schedule and make an appointment here.
Publix has started scheduling appointments. You can find the schedule and make an appointment here.
Navicent Health has started scheduling appointments. You can see the schedule and make an appointment here.
Kroger has started scheduling appointments. You can find more information here.
Ingles has started scheduling appointments. You can register to receive the vaccine at Ingles here.
When will new appointments open?
That would vary by district, but unfortunately, they won't have quick answers. It will depend on vaccine availability that they can't control.
Call the Georgia COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at (888) 357-0169 if you have any more questions about COVID-19 and the COVID vaccine. This number is not for scheduling appointments for vaccination.
Click here for more information about Georgia's COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine distribution.