The year 2020 is gone and I know most of us are happy to see it go. Unfortunately, the end of the year isn’t the end of the COVID-19 pandemic as it is going to follow us into year 2021. We are all experiencing pandemic fatigue and are ready to get back to “normal”, whatever that may be. One bright spot to the end of our year is the newly approved vaccine. Unfortunately, just like everything else with this pandemic, many rumors and misinformation are spread that makes it difficult to know what to think of this vaccine. In order to help everyone, understand what this vaccine is truly all about, I have listed some facts and commonly asked questions (all information below is directly from the CDC, CDPHE, and Mayo Clinic websites).
THE VACCINE WILL NOT GIVE YOU COVID-19
The COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for emergency use by the FDA do not use a live or inactivated virus. The vaccine provides your body with the ability to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Since it is teaching your immune system to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, it may produce symptoms, such as fever, which are normal and are a sign that the vaccine is working. It does take a few weeks to build the immunity after vaccination which means that it is possible to become infected with the virus just before or just after the vaccination.
THE VACCINE WILL NOT CAUSE YOU TO TEST POSITIVE ON COVID-19 VIRAL TESTS
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and Moderna vaccine won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD COVID-19 MAY STILL BENEFIT FROM GETTING VACCINATED
Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19 and early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long. We will not know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works. The CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
GETTING VACCINATED CAN HELP PREVENT GETTING SICK WITH COVID-19
While many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness, or they may even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. If you get sick, you also may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you while you are sick. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. This means that you may still become infected with COVID-19 and still be able to spread it if you are infected, you just will not get as sick as you may have without the vaccine.
RECEIVING AN MRNA VACCINE WILL NOT ALTER YOUR DNA
The COVID mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and can most easily be described as instructions for how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease.
VACCINE INJECTIONS DO NOT CONTAIN TRACKING MICROCHIPS
No vaccine injections or nasal sprays – including the shots for COVID-19 – contain microchips, nanochips, RFID trackers, or devices that would track or control your body in any way.
COST IS NOT AN OBSTACLE TO GETTING VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19
Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers may be able to charge administration fees for giving the shot. Vaccination providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
YOU WILL STILL NEED TO WEAR A MASK AFTER RECEIVING THE COVID-19 VACCINE
There is not enough information currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
COVID-19 VACCINES CURRENTLY AVAILABLE REQUIRE TWO DOSES
The two vaccines that are currently approved require two doses to be effective. Other COVID-19 vaccines that may be approved in the next year could possibly be only one dose.
THE COVID-19 VACCINE WILL BE ALLOCATED FROM MOST AT RISK FIRST DOWN TO LEAST AT RISK LAST
At first, there will be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine. There are currently two vaccines approved and being shipped out to facilities now, rather than waiting until there is enough vaccine for everyone. However, it is important that the initial supplies of vaccine are given to people in a fair, ethical, and transparent way. Please see the CDC website for more information regarding when vaccines will be available for different groups of people.
LENGTH OF IMMUNITY IS UNKNOWN
The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Some early evidence—based on some people— seems to suggest that natural immunity may not last very long. Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have more data on how well it works. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
HERD IMMUNITY IS POSSIBLE IF ENOUGH PEOPLE ARE VACCINATED
Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people don’t have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. It has been mentioned by some leaders in healthcare that it is thought to be somewhere around 70%.
THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE THAT SHOULD NOT GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE AT THIS TIME
Researchers don't know enough about how COVID-19 vaccination can affect children, pregnant women or their babies. There is also no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for breastfeeding women. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about getting the vaccine. Also, if you have a history of allergic reactions, talk to your doctor before getting the vaccine.
SIDE EFFECTS FROM COVID-19 VACCINATION
After COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection. Mild side effects include pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given, fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, and joint pain. Most reactions happen with the first few days after vaccination and last no more than three days. If you experience side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, it doesn't mean that you have COVID-19.
WHEN DECIDING WHETHER TO GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE, PLEASE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
COVID-19 Disease has many possible long-term effects. Some people — even those who had mild versions of the disease — continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery. Much is still unknown about how COVID-19 will affect people over time.
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
- Muscle pain or headache
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Loss of smell or taste
- Memory, concentration, or sleep problems
- Rash or hair loss
- Heart—some have shown lasting damage to the heart muscle, even in people who experienced only mild symptoms.
- Lungs—pneumonia associated with COVID-19 can cause long-standing damage to tiny air sacs in the lungs resulting in scar tissue.
- Brain—even in young people it can cause strokes, seizures and Guillain-Barre syndrome as well as increasing the risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vessels—it can make blood cells more likely to clump up and form clots which can cause heart attacks and strokes as well as damage from tiny clots to lungs, legs, liver, and kid