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Good-bye 2020, hello 2021!

It’s a new year and a fresh start. Even though I am happy to be finished with 2020, I cannot help but be thankful for what the year taught me, namely, being intentional. This past year, I realized how precious life can be, the importance of community, and making sure we take good care of ourselves.

This year, I have decided not to set any resolutions, at least not what we typically consider resolutions. I’m not out to lose 10 pounds, eat more greens or read 100 novels, although those aren’t bad things. Going into 2021, I want to be intentional about taking care of my ‘whole’ self.

Instead of focusing on a “new” you – I challenge you to focus on loving the you that you are today and join me in being intentional about taking care of your ‘whole’ self.

Here are 7 Ways to ring in 2021 feeling good – like you should:

1. Practice Gratitude – Write down one thing you are grateful for at the start of each day.

2. Stay Positive – Recognize situations filled with negative thought, and work to shift to positive thinking.

3. Self-Care – Try adding a new healthy food to the grocery list each week.

4. Make A Plan – Think of the next birthday or holiday and plan ahead to feel less anxious.

5. Interact with Others – Plan a standing virtual get together with friends.

6. Laugh and Smile – Talk to a funny friend or watch a sitcom.

7. Celebrate – Start a new tradition.

As we make the shift from 2020 to 2021, UnityPoint Health’s goal is to be able to slowly change the focus on illness to wellness. With the COVID-19 vaccine, I know our team is already feeling like we have been given a dose (or two) of hope. Many of our team members are experiencing a sense of relief knowing they no longer need to worry about what they are bringing home and exposing their families to. Which is why we completely understand there are a lot of questions and anticipation on when the COVID-19 vaccine will be made available to the general public. The following are answers to some frequently asked questions we’ve been receiving. We’ll be sure to share more information, as we learn more.

How is the vaccine being distributed right now?

• According to federal, state and public health guidelines, health care workers with the highest risk of exposure were identified as the first tier to receive the vaccine.

• We started vaccinating UnityPoint Health team members in December 2020 and continue to make progress based on available number of vaccine doses.

• The next tier will include additional essential workers and higher risk patients. Distribution will depend on the number of available vaccine doses and progress will vary by county due to a variety of factors. If you identify as a member of one of these groups, please know we’re working quickly with the Webster Public Health Department to determine eligibility, timelines and processes.

• We expect COVID-19 vaccines to be widely available to the general public later in 2021. Eligibility, timelines and processes will depend on the number of available vaccine doses.

How will I be notified when I can receive the vaccine?

• As soon as we have more information to proceed, we will partner with public health to contact people who are eligible for the vaccine regarding next steps.

Additional Information & Guidance

• If you have questions about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, visit our website to review Frequently Asked Questions (https://uph.link/zjc) as well as check out the Pfizer (https://uph.link/l7m) and Moderna(https://uph.link/i4y) Vaccine Fact Sheets from the FDA.

• Learn about the COVID-19 vaccine from fact-based sources, such as the FDA (https://uph.link/uo6) and CDC (https://uph.link/h3y).

• Contact your health care provider if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

What are some of the potential side effects?

• For more information on vaccine safety, speed of development and potential side effects of vaccination, we recommend reading the Pfizer EUA Fact Sheet (https://uph.link/l7m) and Moderna EUA Fact Sheet (https://uph.link/i4y).

How do I know this vaccine is safe, since it was just developed? How can I trust the approval process?

• We want our community to know our clinical leaders and experts at UnityPoint Health have thoroughly reviewed all the data surrounding the clinical trials of these vaccines.

• In order to receive Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, the vaccine must be proven safe and effective. The science is rooted in years of research, and every step of the vaccine process went through the same safety assessments as all other vaccines.

• For more information on vaccine safety, speed of development and potential side effects of vaccination, we recommend visiting the CDC website (https://uph.link/h3y).

If I have already tested positive for COVID, can I get the vaccine?

• Yes, but per CDC guidance, we are recommending a voluntary deferral until approximately 90 days following diagnosis. This is to facilitate vaccination of those still susceptible to infection, as current evidence shows that risk for reinfection within 90 days is very low.

Can pregnant or nursing individuals receive the vaccine?

• Yes, pregnant and nursing individuals are eligible to receive the vaccine. They were excluded from the clinical trials in the development of this vaccine, so no information has been collected regarding its safety during pregnancy. However, our Women’s Service Line supports the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the position the vaccine should be offered to pregnant and lactating individuals.

• It is important to know that being pregnant puts a woman at increased risk of more severe COVID-19 with an increase in ICU admission and ventilator use when compared to non-pregnant women in the same age group. The bottom line – it’s a personal decision, so we recommend pregnant individuals contact their provider to discuss their individual situation.

As we anxiously wait for the vaccine to be available to the general public, please remember to continue to wear a face covering, social distance and wash your hands often, to help reduce your risk of COVID-19. If we keep doing these things, it gives me hope that wellness can be our priority this year.

I look forward to sharing various wellness topics throughout the year, so we can be intentional about taking care of our ‘whole’ selves.

Leah Glasgo is president and CEO of UnityPoint Health — Fort Dodge

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