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Want to help stop the pandemic? Health experts say vaccinations are an important tool

Health experts know many hesitate to get vaccinations, but note reasons to do so

Have you joined the hundreds of thousands of Hillsborough County residents in getting your COVID-19 vaccination? If so, congratulations! You're one step closer to crushing COVID.

The Florida Department of Health and CDC say vaccines are safe, effective, and play a crucial role in ending the pandemic.

Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. They teach our immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19.

The CDC says vaccinations will not alter your DNA and are safe to get if you'd like to become pregnant one day. The CDC says you should be vaccinated even if you've already had COVID-19. That's because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick. Even if you have already recovered, it is possible you could be infected with the virus again.

Health experts say you shouldn't be fooled by something you might see on the internet. There are zero at-home remedies to cure COVID-19 and it is extremely dangerous to ingest any kind of disinfectant.

The only at-home treatments recommended by health care professionals to help reduce symptoms of COVID-19 are sleep, hydration, and some over-the-counter medications. Here is more information on common vaccine myths and facts.

Another huge benefit of getting vaccinated? The CDC says you can finally start doing some of the things you loved doing pre-pandemic.

This includes gathering inside a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people or with unvaccinated people who are not at risk for severe illness. The CDC also says fully vaccinated people can travel domestically without a COVID-19 test and can skip the quarantine after travel.

The CDC has a complete list of guidelines for fully vaccinated people.

Be sure to keep your COVID-19 vaccination card in a safe place and take a picture of it to have as a back-up. Different states and even countries might take varying positions on whether airlines, cruise ships, concert halls, and other venues can request proof that you've been vaccinated.

It is still important to take precautionary safety measures when in public. So even as vaccine distribution ramps up, you should still practice social distancing, wash your hands often, and have a mask ready to wear when around larger groups.

Vaccines are available to anyone 16 and over and there are plenty of vaccination options available throughout Hillsborough County. They are free and no insurance is required. Click here to find a location near you. 

Once you get your vaccine, remember to take a picture with your "I Got Vaccinated" sticker using the hashtag #CrushCovidHC. Together, we can crush COVID!

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