July 25, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine in Jasper County

First doses given Tuesday to healthcare workers

Tuesday, Jasper County administered its first COVID-19 vaccine. As a part of Phase 1a, healthcare personnel and long-term care residents are eligible for the vaccine.

“Jasper County Health Department has partnered with Mercy One Newton, Newton Clinic and Newton Medicap Pharmacy to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine based on availability by priority groups in Jasper County,” Jasper County Health Administrator Becky Pryor said. “Mercy One Newton will be administering the COVID vaccine for their employees in a closed POD (point of dispensing). Long term care facilities in Jasper County will be receiving their doses directly from the State.”

Currently, the Iowa Department of Public Health is requiring the county only administer Phase 1a at this time. A second does of COVID-19 vaccine will be required 28 days after the first does is given.

Vaccines are available at Newton Clinic and Newton Medicap Pharmacy. Healthcare working should bring a badge or letter from a healthcare employer and insurance card to receive the vaccine.

Newton Clinic will be available for walk-in appointments from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 to 11 a.m. Saturdays. Scheduled appointments are required at Medicap with times available from 9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

According to the Center for Disease Control, like all vaccines, the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines were tested rigorously for safety before being authorized for use in the United States. mRNA technology is new, but not unknown. It has been studied for decades.

mRNA vaccines do not contain live virus and carry no risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person. mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.

mRNA vaccines take advantage of the process that cells use to make proteins in order to trigger an immune response and build immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In contrast, most vaccines use weakened or inactivated versions or components of the disease-causing pathogen to stimulate the body’s immune response to create antibodies.

mRNA vaccines have strands of messenger RNA inside a special coating. That coating protects the mRNA from enzymes in the body that would otherwise break it down. The coating also helps the mRNA enter the muscle cells near the vaccination site.

mRNA vaccines tell our cells to make a piece of the “spike protein” that is found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Since only part of the protein is made, it does not harm the vaccine recipient, but it is antigenic and thus stimulates the immune system to make antibodies.

After the piece of the spike protein is made, the cell breaks down the mRNA strand and disposes of it using enzymes in the cell. As stated above, the mRNA strand never enters the cell’s nucleus or affects the vaccine recipient’s genetic material. Knowing this helps you respond to misinformation about how mRNA vaccines alter or modify someone’s genetic makeup.

Once displayed on the cell surface, the protein or antigen causes the immune system to begin producing antibodies.

These antibodies are specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein, which means the immune system is ready to protect against future infection.

mRNA vaccines have been studied for influenza, Zika, rabies and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Recent technological advancements in RNA biology and chemistry, as well as delivery systems, have mitigated the challenges of these vaccines and improved their stability and effectiveness.

Beyond vaccines, numerous preclinical and clinical studies have used mRNA to encode cancer antigens to stimulate immune responses targeted at clearing or reducing malignant tumors.

mRNA vaccines have several benefits compared to other types of vaccines, including use of a non-infectious element, shorter manufacturing times and potential for targeting multiple diseases. mRNA vaccines can be developed in a laboratory using readily available materials. This means the process can be standardized and scaled up, making vaccine development faster than traditional methods. In the future, mRNA vaccine technology may allow for one vaccine to target multiple diseases.

For more information about the vaccine, contact the Jasper County Health Department.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com