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Small-Town Values Can Make A Real Impact

In Beaverhead County, we follow our own values instead of the crowd. We look out for our neighbors because they do the same for us. Although we may not always agree, we can all agree on one thing: 


The lifestyle we’ve chosen is pretty special  

and we’ll do whatever it takes to protect it.


That’s why Barrett Hospital & HealthCare wants to make sure everyone in our community has the real facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. Because knowledge is power—and together, we have the power to protect everything we love about our small-town way of life.


Following are common questions we’ve heard at Barrett Hospital & HealthCare, along with our honest answers. 


Is all the hype about the Delta variant true or is it just a scare tactic? 

As much as we’d all like it to be “fake news,” the Delta variant is very real. It’s highly contagious and nearly all COVID-19 patients who are now hospitalized have not been vaccinated.  


We’re pretty isolated here, so what are the chances of getting COVID?

Even though we have a small population, Beaverhead County has a low vaccination rate. The virus can easily be passed by a visitor coming into town or by someone who works out of town – any number of ways. All it takes is one person to start a domino effect.   


Since 2020, we have had more than 50 COVID-19 hospitalizations.  And as of 10/05/2021, Beaverhead County has had 15 deaths due to COVID-19. So sadly, no one is protected just because they live in a small town.


Why should I get vaccinated? I don’t go anywhere.

You may feel like you don’t get out much, but you probably have more interactions than you realize. Going to church or synagogue; picking up groceries or seed; visiting friends or socializing with neighbors; grabbing lunch at a diner or drive-thru … any of these activities could expose you to the virus. Because the Delta variant is so aggressive, you’re at greater risk of serious illness if you’re unvaccinated. 


I hear about “surges” in big hospitals, but how does that affect our community? 

Patients with the Delta variant are filling the beds of hospitals, and many are at or near capacity across Montana. It’s a heartbreaking situation that can impact patients at rural hospitals like Barrett Hospital & HealthCare. 

If the beds become full at the larger hospitals in Montana, it can put you and your family at risk, too. Think of it this way …   

If you were in our ER with chest pains or a serious injury, you may need to be transferred to larger hospital for trauma care. But what happens if a bed isn’t available for you because the hospital’s ICU is filled with COVID patients? It’s a heartbreaking thought that has become a reality for many families since COVID hit. Barrett Hospital & HealthCare wants to make sure that doesn’t happen to anyone we care for. 


If I wait for enough ‘other people’ to get vaccinated, I won’t need to get the shot, so why do it now?

The longer more people “wait to see what happens,” the longer we’re going to be dealing with the physical, emotional and even the financial outcomes related to COVID-19. The best defense in crushing the current surge faster, and helping prevent other variants do the same in the future, is vaccination. In other words, every shot counts.  


I got the first dose, why bother with a second one?    

If the vaccine you received involves two doses, it’s really important to get the second one so you have maximum protection. It’s kind of like putting a base coat on a dark wall. The first coat might cover about 50% of what you were shooting for, but if you want maximum coverage (or at least about 90%), you need to apply a second coat. 


If I don’t have insurance, how much will the vaccine cost? 

Nothing. It’s 100% free and available to anyone 12+.

Will the vaccine alter my DNA? 

No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. 


I heard there’s a chip in the vaccine. Will they be able to track me?  

There is no tracking chip of any kind in the vaccine. None. We can’t say what led to the confusion around a microchip, but it may be related to the syringe label. Some syringe manufactures offer labels with a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip to help verify that the vaccine hasn’t expired — general information like that. But rest assured, there is no microchip or any other tracking device in the vaccine. 


Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine? 

It’s a valid question, but no need to worry. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine because it does not contain the live virus.


I’m afraid of getting sick after I get the shot, so what am I supposed to do? 

To be honest, we can’t promise that you won’t have a minor reaction. But if you do, it most likely will be related to a sore arm, tiredness, a headache, chills, a fever, or feeling a little nauseous or achy. These symptoms are usually gone within a day or two. It might help to weigh the fear of minor side effects with the possibility of contracting a life-threatening virus.


If the vaccines were fast-tracked for approval, how can they be safe? 

It’s important to know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has fully approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine/the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.


If you’re wondering about the clinical trials, they were very well executed. Most people don’t realize that the part of the trial that was “fast-tracked” applied to regulatory approvals, funding, data analysis and submission to the FDA. In other words, a lot of the red tape was cut out of the process. What was not fast-tracked were critical parts of the process, like enrollment of patients, clinical follow-up of those patients, capturing events that occurred, and following up on them. So, yes, the vaccines are safe.


It’s also important to know that the Pfizer vaccine has since received full FDA approval for individuals 16 and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals age 12 through 15. 



I might be at risk of getting COVID, but what about the risk of getting vaccinated? 

No vaccine is completely risk-free, but in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, the chance of having a serious or life-threatening reaction is extremely low. That’s why it’s important to weigh the potential risks of getting vaccinated with the real risks associated with getting COVID-19, especially now that we’re dealing with the Delta variant. 


For example, people who get COVID and become severely ill have a greater risk of dying from it or experiencing permanent disability, if they recover. Many people who don’t fully recover experience ongoing symptoms like chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle pain and neurological problems.  


Also consider these facts as of 10/07/2021 to help you put the potential risks into perspective: 

In Montana: 2,061 COVID deaths/ 156, 079 cases and 1.32% death rate from COVID-19.

In Montana: 0.01% death rate post vaccine (and the deaths were not necessarily caused by the vaccine itself).


We want to have kids, but we’ve heard the vaccine can cause infertility, so why take the risk? 

A lot of confusion around the vaccine and infertility started from a false report on social media. In a nutshell, it said the COVID-19 vaccine encourages the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the coronavirus’s surface to “teach” the body’s immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein on it. This statement is true. 


But here’s where false information was spread … The report suggested that the spike protein on the coronavirus was the same as another spike protein involved in the growth of the placenta during pregnancy. It was falsely reported that getting the COVID-19 vaccine would cause a woman’s body to fight this different spike protein and affect her fertility. This is completely false, and there’s no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines lead to reduced fertility.


[In fact, women who participated in the COVID-19 clinical trials were able to conceive after vaccination, and locally, Barrett Hospital & HealthCare also has patients who were vaccinated and then became pregnant.]


Here’s another point to consider. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):

Has stated that “all claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility are unfounded and have no scientific evidence supporting them.” 

Recommends vaccination for women who are now pregnant or lactating or who may become pregnant.


Why get vaccinated if I can still pass the virus on to other people?

Getting vaccinated is a personal decision, but your choice can affect other people. Yes, it’s possible for vaccinated people to infect other people, but you’re a lot less likely to spread the disease if you’re vaccinated. 


Here’s why: At the peak of infection, you’re just as infectious as someone who has not been vaccinated. But the levels of virus decline much more rapidly when you’re vaccinated, so you’re “infective” for a much shorter amount of time. 


Also keep in mind that the vaccine prevents severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19. So, the vaccine isn’t just for you, it’s for all the people that you come in contact with, like your coworkers, people at the grocery store, your parents and grandparents – and the people they come in contact with.  


People who got vaccinated are still getting COVID, so what does that say about the vaccine? 

Some people might say the vaccine doesn’t work because there are “breakthrough” cases (i.e., when someone who is fully vaccinated gets infected). But that statement doesn’t hold water. 


Yes, some people will get sick even if they are vaccinated. But that doesn’t in any way mean the vaccine isn’t effective. Here’s how Barrett Hospital & HealthCare looks at the vaccine in relation to breakthrough cases …


First, the vaccines were designed to keep people out of the hospital and to keep them from dying. The vaccines are still very effective in doing that because the majority of patients hospitalized with the Delta variant are not vaccinated. Here’s another way to look at it … 


Getting vaccinated is like putting sunscreen on before you go fishing or work outside. Sunscreen provides a significant amount of protection against sunburn, but depending on the person, and how long that individual is exposed to the sun, may also determine whether or not they get burned and if so, how severely they’re affected.   


Shouldn’t everyone be entitled to their own opinion about the vaccine? 

Absolutely. That’s why Barrett Hospital & HealthCare is doing all we can to make sure everyone in Beaverhead County has the real facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. That way, they can form an opinion based on information they know is true.  

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