Throughout the past year, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other healthcare and medical organizations have worked tirelessly and conducted extensive research to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end. This includes the development of effective vaccines. With cases reaching nearly 30 million, the federal government is racing to give vaccine access to the entire U.S. population.
Currently, there are more than 50 COVID-19 vaccines going through clinical trial phases. As of February 2021, two authorized vaccines are being distributed throughout the U.S. in prioritized phases. Understandably, people have questions regarding the safety and effectiveness of this medical breakthrough. Here’s what we know so far.
What is the COVID-19 vaccine?
In general, vaccines work to train and prepare the immune system by creating specific proteins, otherwise known as antibodies, that fight several viruses and bacterias that could cause illness. The current COVID-19 vaccines work the same way by supplying the body with a blueprint to create T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes in the event it encounters the virus.
Commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine
1. Does it work?
A: The current vaccines have shown a high success rate when it comes to preventing COVID-19. They are carefully evaluated through official trials and only gain approval after substantial research. As of right now, the numbers show a decreased risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine, and experts believe those who get vaccinated may also be protecting those around them by slowing the spread.
2. Is it safe?
A: The COVID-19 vaccines are proven to be safe and effective. The vaccines have gone through established and newly devised monitoring to ensure overall safety. After receiving approval, experts study those who have been vaccinated for potential side effects. If any adverse effects are reported, the vaccine is restudied and adjusted by healthcare experts.
3. Are there side effects?
A: Overall, the vaccine will help protect you and those around you from contracting COVID-19. However, there have been some minor side effects reported. While these effects could be uncomfortable, they should dissipate in a few days. At the injection site (on the arm), you could experience pain and swelling. To alleviate this pain, apply a cold compress on the area and be sure to use the arm throughout the day. You may also experience fever, chills, headache, and tiredness. To reduce these symptoms, dress lightly and consume plenty of fluids. If these side effects do not subside after a few days, or if they worry you, contact your general practitioner.
4. Do I need the vaccine if I have had COVID-19?
A: Experts believe people should be vaccinated, regardless of previously having COVID-19. If you received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19, it is recommended to wait 90 days before getting the vaccine. If you are unsure how you were treated or have questions regarding the vaccine, talk to your doctor.
What to do before and after you get the COVID-19 vaccine
Since the COVID-19 vaccine is still new, it is common to have questions about what to expect before, during, and after getting vaccinated.
Here’s what you can expect from the vaccination, tips to use during your appointment, and ways to take charge of your vaccine experience.
Before Your Vaccination:
- See if you are eligible to be vaccinated at the moment.
- Research the different vaccines and how they work.
- Educate yourself on the benefits of getting vaccinated.
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth, and be sure to safely distance from others.
- You should receive a fact sheet that tells you about the risks and benefits of the vaccine you will be getting.
- You will get a specific COVID-19 vaccine that is recommended for you by your doctor.
- You should receive a sheet that explains what vaccine you got, the first dose's date, and the location where you received the injection.
- Once you have been vaccinated, you will be monitored for any adverse effects.
After You Get Vaccinated:
- Even if you experienced side effects from the first dose, you must receive the second dose unless instructed otherwise by your healthcare provider.
- Talk to your provider about V-Safe. This free app uses texts and surveys to provide personalized care after you have received your vaccine. V-Safe will also remind you about your second dose.
- The vaccine needs time to build protection and immunity, and it may not be fully effective until one to two weeks after your second dose. At this time, it is essential to wear your mask in public and socially distance yourself from others around you.
Information is from February 4, 2021 9:00am ET. For current information, visit the CDC website.
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