Vaccines are drugs developed to help prevent diseases. Whenever someone gets a vaccine, they can get a live weakened virus, dead viruses, or the vaccine can contain components of a virus. Vaccines are made to try and stimulate the body’s immune system into making antibodies. These antibodies will then help fight off and ward against the illness you have received the vaccine for. Vaccines are made to hopefully prevent the severity of the disease, cause enough of a response to avoid spreading the disease, or prevent the disease altogether.
Vaccine safety is the top priority of the CDC when it comes to coronavirus protection, and experiencing mild side effects is a normal sign the body is building immunity. The vaccine is only one of the important tools to help stop the pandemic. Recommendations for who should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine while supplies are limited can be found on the CDC website.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, meaning they contain messenger ribonucleic acid. The injected vaccine is taken to your cells and gives them instructions on how to spike the proteins that match the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. When the cells form the spike proteins on their surface, the body recognizes them as foreign and develops an immune response. The mRNA does not enter the cells nucleus and mess with your DNA, but it does alter the exterior of the cell in order to stimulate an antibody response to target foreign entities specific to the spike protein like the coronavirus, as the virus is shaped like the spike proteins. By doing so, the body is able to fight the virus before it is able to affect the body. After the proteins are made, the body destroys the mRNA, so it is not permanent within the body making medical professionals certain. There will not be any damage to a person’s DNA due to the vaccines.
Northwell Health’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Chief Quality Officer, Mark Jarrett, MD, says the coronavirus vaccine will work best if herd immunity is reached. In order to gain immunity, over 80 percent of the population needs to receive the vaccine in order for the virus to not be able to spread easily. Over time, the virus will begin to disappear because the number of people able to transmit the virus due to the medical inability to receive the vaccine is significantly low.
A Vaccine is Not a Cure
Vaccines do not get rid of an illness, but merely helps the body prepare and protect itself in order to prevent the spread of the sickness. In order to fade out an illness, the number of protected people needs to be greater than the number of those who are unvaccinated. It may take a couple weeks for the immunity to build up within the body once the vaccination is administered, and there is a chance of still catching the virus. However, the vaccine should lessen the severity of the symptoms. With the coronavirus, huge numbers of vaccinations need to be widely distributed in order to create immunity, the supply is currently far less than the demand even with 40 percent of the population being weary about receiving the vaccination. The vaccine is vital in fighting the virus, but it will not be a quick pass back to our old lives.
How Long does the Vaccine Last?
At this time, there is no knowledge on how long the vaccination will last in order to provide protection from Covid-19. Even after completion of the vaccination course, everyone is still required to follow local and national Covid-19 guidance and regulations in order to help prevent the spread of the virus. Face masks should be worn, participation in social distancing, and limiting your time out and about are safety precautions patients will still need to live by even with the vaccination.
There is not enough evidence to indicate a person cannot transmit the virus after the vaccine. People with the vaccinations could still be an asymptomatic infector and could possibly transmit the virus. Those with the vaccine should still abide by COVID-19 safety precautions and not let their guard down despite maybe feeling confident and protected. The vaccine is not perfect, and a number of cases have proven a small amount of people vaccinated still became infected with the virus.
All medicines put a patient at risk of experiencing side effects, and vaccines are no different. Patients may experience either short-term or long-term side effects, but not everyone experiences them. Most side effects are mild and will go away after several days. 1 in 10 people who receive the vaccination may experience pain around the injection spot, headaches, chills, joint pain, tiredness, and fever. These side effects tend to be very common within patients. Common side effects occurring in more than 1 in 10 people include swelling and redness at the injection site and nausea. Uncommon side effects occurring in 1 in 100 vaccinated individuals include enlarged lymph nodes and feeling unwell.
Who Will Not Be Vaccinated?
- Individuals under the age of 16
- Those not in the priority groups
- Those with severe allergies resulting in anaphylaxis or those required to carry an epipen
- Those who are allergic to the vaccine ingredients
- Those with weakened immune systems
- HIV patients
- Cancer patients
- Those who take medication weakening your immune system or effect your bleeding risks
Do not get the second vaccination if you experienced a severe allergic reaction to the first dose, such as facial swelling, difficulty breathing, and very high temperature. Always consult your local vaccinating team if you have any questions about taking the vaccination. Certain medication may prevent you from being able to receive the vaccination.
The Pfizer vaccination, approved by the MRHA, is estimated to be 95 percent effective from protecting you against Covid infection. The vaccine will be drawn up and administered into the upper arm like most vaccines. 21 days after the first vaccination, a second vaccination will need to be administered again in order to be fully protected. It is important with the various types of vaccines; the second dose is double checked to ensure it is the same type as the first.
Making vaccinations is complicated and so is the distribution. Even with the vaccine ready for distribution, manufacturers and distributors lack the proper supplies to hold large quantities of the medication making distribution slow. Being patient as manufactures work hard to provide supplies for the demand of vaccines.
What if I Do Not Want to Get Vaccinated?
Polls show 40 percent of the American population either do not want the vaccine or want to wait before getting one. The reason being a lack of trust. Certain employers can require their workers to be vaccinated, but a mandate is highly unlikely and unconstitutional. Public health authorities instead will educate people about the benefits and potential side effects of the vaccine. This method is utilized for every vaccine. Ultimately, the choice of vaccination is up to the individual but certain restrictions and consequences can arise depending on certain circumstances.
New strands of COVID-19 are being discovered daily. With the rate of mutation and variants in the virus, new vaccines may need to be created and administered in the future. However, due to the limited research and understanding of the new strands, there is not a guaranteed answer about whether or not a new vaccine may need to be administered at this time.
Due to the rapid changing nature of Covid-19, please consult the local vaccination teams regarding any updates.