Q&A with Casper-Natrona County Health Department Executive Director Anna Kinder about getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Casper-Natrona County Health Department Executive Director Anna Kinder sat down with Wyoming News Now’s David Graf to address some of the concerns around the COVID-19 vaccine.
Casper-Natrona County Health Department Executive Director Anna Kinder addressing some of the...
Casper-Natrona County Health Department Executive Director Anna Kinder addressing some of the concerns and questions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine in an interview on May 7, 2021.(David Graf)
Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - As the number of people receiving a COVID-19 vaccine has dropped off in Natrona County, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department wanted to address some of the concerns surrounding the vaccine for people that have not been vaccinated yet.

Casper-Natrona County Health Department Executive Director Anna Kinder sat down with Wyoming News Now’s David Graf to address some of the concerns around the COVID-19 vaccine.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

DG: Why do you have to wear a mask even if you’re vaccinated?

AK: It really helps, and it’s part of the CDC guidelines. If you know who you’re with and they’ve been vaccinated, then obviously you don’t have to wear a mask. Much like you and myself, we’re both vaccinated. We’re still socially distanced. We’re out of respect for those kinds of things, but we don’t have to wear a mask if the other person is vaccinated. But if you go into large crowds or groups or things like that, you don’t necessarily know everyone’s status. So it’s just one way to protect yourself as well as others.

DG: What is mRNA? It’s new, so is it safe?

AK: mRNA is definitely something new. We’ve been using the technology for quite some time and doing a lot of research and study. In fact, the Ebola vaccine that came out was an MRNA, so we’ve been looking at this for quite some time. We just altered it to work for the COVID vaccine. It’s not a live virus or anything that’s a less harmful version of the virus. It’s basically using proteins to train the body to recognize the virus. It’s just using your own proteins to recognize the virus and building antibodies against it.

DG: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has certainly made headlines. Is it safe? Should people get it?

AK: Johnson & Johnson did have its use suspended. It has come back because it was like one in a million people that there were complications with, so we still recommend that you watch for any issues or complications that go with the vaccine. It’s still very safe, and we’ve used it for so many people without any issues. The benefits of that vaccine far outweigh the risks associated with it.

DG: People have been getting diagnosed with COVID-19 for a little over a year, and people are still getting it. How long should someone wait to get the vaccine after having been diagnosed with COVID-19?

AK: We recommend that you check with your healthcare provider. As long as you’re not sick or having any signs or symptoms and after your isolation period, then, if you’re feeling well enough, you can absolutely get the vaccine as soon as you’re able. It’s really up to you, but we’re really not sure how long the body’s own resistance exists. So getting the vaccine is one more step in protection.

DG: There’s pollen in the air, and it’s definitely allergy season. Will allergies or asthma affect people if they choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

AK: The only reason that you would be concerned with any kind of allergies is if you’re allergic to any of the ingredients within the vaccine itself.

DG: Plenty of people have pointed to the fact that they’re not at risk for any of the serious illnesses related to COVID. Why should they still get a vaccine?

AK: We have seen over time that it really doesn’t matter who COVID goes to. It’s affected young, old, healthy, not healthy, complications all across the way. So the vaccine is the only defense that you have to prevent illness, severe illness or even death. But it’s also to help protect those other people in your life, whether that’s at work, home, play, etc. It’s the one thing that we can do to prevent the transmission of the virus.

DG: Is there a way to limit or prevent some of the side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccine?

AK: The biggest thing that you need to do is to prepare to have enough time to recover if you do have a strong response to the vaccine. It’s your own body’s response to the vaccine. Make sure you’re hydrated, move your arm, make sure that you feel well the day you go to get the vaccine. The nice thing is that those responses usually do leave pretty quickly.

DG: There have been cases of people getting the vaccine and still getting COVID-19 afterward. Why is that?

AK: So much like when we get the flu vaccine, we still have cases, or you may still get the flu. You may just get a lesser version of it. So along the same lines with all immunizations and vaccines that we have, it’s not a hundred percent guarantee, but it can help.

DG: These vaccines were released to the public in record time. How can people know that they’re safe?

AK: There was lots of time, money, effort and resources put into something that we’ve been studying for many, many years. There wasn’t a lot of red tape, and they knew that this was something that we could make a worldwide impact on and knew how important it was. The amount of money, effort and study that went into the vaccine really has benefitted all of us across the United States and worldwide. That’s really what’s made the difference. In regards to being safe, we haven’t seen huge allergic responses to them. They’re relatively safe. We’ve only seen minor immune system responses to them. Things that we can readily treat while they’re at the vaccine center. We’ve had hundreds of millions of people get vaccinated at this point, so this is how we’re going to get back to how we truly want to live.

DG: What are the individual and community benefits to coming and getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

AK: Knowing what the vaccine levels are in each community help guides like, ‘Do we have to have any restrictions?’ but getting back to what we wanna do, what we wanna be and how we want to do things in the current world that we live in. I know for myself I would surely like to be able to go out into restaurants and the public and not have to worry anymore.

DG: What is the single most important thing that somebody should know about getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

AK: We just want people to know you can go and get it relatively easy, even with a 15-minute wait, we know that we can get you vaccinated within 30 minutes. But the thing is this is what’s gonna make the difference to move past COVID, which I don’t know about you, but I’m sure ready for that.

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