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curiousKC | Answers to COVID Questions You Need to Know

Your Questions Are Welcome

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Above image credit: Questions about COVID-19 abound. Here's what our team of reporters knows so far. (Canva)

Editor’s note: Flatland’s public-powered tool curiousKC is here to keep you updated. So, here are answers for some of your most frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. These answers are summaries based on the information in each linked article.

Q: Where can I register to get the vaccine?

You can visit the Jackson County Health Department’s website, or call (816) 404-6456 to determine eligibility and schedule an appointment to get the shot.

For vaccines in Johnson County, Kansas, visit the Johnson County Health Department’s website, or call (913) 715-2819.

The Wyandotte County interest form can be found on their website.

Clay County has an up-to-date phone line offering vaccine information in the county: (816) 415-3250. You can also visit their website.

Platte County is asking its residents to fill out this survey if they are interested in getting the vaccine. 

Douglas County has asked residents to submit this interest form. Officials will reach out to schedule the vaccine. 

Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes. All available vaccines have been thoroughly studied to make sure they are safe and effective. 

There is a chance you could experience mild side effects after receiving the vaccine. These are normal. The vaccine gives the body a recipe to boost immunity, so the side effects mean your body is adjusting and learning to fight off the coronavirus. 

Jason Glenn, at the University of Kansas Medical Center, put it this way:

“(The vaccine is) wearing a jacket with the virus logo on it, but there’s no actual virus inside. That teaches the immune system to attack anything that looks like that without actually exposing you to the risk that you might catch the disease.” 

Side effects can include swelling around the injection site, fever, chills and headaches. In extremely rare cases, people have experienced anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction). However, providers have medicine available to treat the reaction immediately. This is why you must wait 15-30 minutes before leaving after receiving the vaccine. 

Q: What are the ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the ingredients for the Pfizer vaccine are: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

According to the FDA, the ingredients for the Moderna vaccine are: messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose.

Q: What is the capacity situation in Kansas City area hospitals?

The Kansas Hospital Association’s most recent data from Feb. 8 show that as of that date, 25% of hospitals in the Kansas City metro expected a staffing shortage that week. This includes data from hospitals in the following counties: 

  • (In Kansas) Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Wyandotte 
  • (In Missouri) Bates, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Jackson, Lafayette and Ray.

According to Kansas data, there are 333 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and 86 patients who are in the ICU who are suspected or confirmed COVID patients. 

The data also show that there are just 28% of “adult staffed ICU beds available” and 25% of “all staffed inpatient beds available.” 

On the Missouri side, it’s about the same. The Missouri Hospital Association’s COVID-19 dashboard data from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 showed that around medical bed availability hovers at around 22% and ICU beds at 21%.

Back in November, another Flatland report spoke to Alex Garza, incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force to understand the impact of staff shortages. 

Garza said: “An analogy would be, I could have 100 buses, but if I only got one driver, I got one bus. … The rest are just taking up parking spots.”

However, it’s worth noting that as of Feb. 8, hospitalizations in Kansas City have decreased by 19%, according to the Mid-America Regional Council. As Nick Haines recently shared in his latest installation of Nick’s Picks, Kansas City reported the lowest number of COVID-19 cases since July. 

Q: Is coronavirus airborne? Is it floating in the air so even on a walk do we need to wear a mask?

Yes, in October the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention found that the virus is passable through airborne transmission. However, that doesn’t mean you need to worry about catching it just walking alone outside. 

COVID-19 is passed through respiratory droplets, which everyone produces when they speak, sneeze, cough, sing, yell or exhale deeply. These droplets typically travel a few feet before they fall to the ground. When people are in close proximity these larger droplets can spread to others.

Smaller respiratory droplets can hang in the air for hours instead of falling to the ground, these are called aerosols. These can move around in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, spreading to other people in the area. 

The ways to avoid this airborne spread include:

  • Wearing your mask if you are in proximity to others.
  • Avoid spending time in crowded indoor spaces.
  • Maintain 6 feet of social distance. 
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Don’t touch your face without clean hands.
  • Meet people in outdoor settings.
  • If you are in a place with poor ventilation, open a window if possible.

Q: Why are the U.S., the state, and the city governments not spraying like other countries are doing, like Korea or China, to kill the virus?

The EPA does not recommend using fogging, fumigation, electrostatic spraying or drones to help control COVID-19 unless the pesticide product has specifically been labeled to include disinfection directions for those.

The CDC recommends cleaning contaminated surfaces with liquid disinfectants to prevent the spread of the disease.

As data emerges, the EPA may consider allowing some disinfectant registrants to add directions for UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) use to their labels. Chinese agricultural company XAG Technology has been testing using drones to spray disinfected to help fight the virus.

Learn more with Kansas City PBS’ continuing coverage and list of resources:

Here are some other questions we’ve answered:

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