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Answers To Your Questions About The COVID-19 Vaccine

If you own a smartphone, or know someone who does, you may have heard a lot of hype attached to the COVID-19 vaccine. Stories about people having severe reactions, including death, about the vaccine changing your DNA and even making you traceable have been floating around. These stories have resulted in a lot of mistrust surrounding the vaccine. For this reason I’m publishing this post to answer some questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. These answers are not mine, by the way, they are brought to you by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website put there to educate the public on this important vaccine.

  1. What vaccines are available in the United States?

Three vaccines are currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States—Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

2. Is the vaccine safe?

Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection; the Moderna vaccine was found to be 94.1% effective  while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 66.3% effective.

3. How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

The COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States work by building immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. When someone is infected, the body’s germ-fighting apparatus made up of macrophages, b-lymphocytes and t-lymphocytes (white blood cells) go to work to fight off the infection. This can take several weeks. After the infection has passed, the body keeps a supply of white blood cells which produce antibodies to fight off the virus. The COVID-19 vaccine works in the same way without you getting sick.

4. Should you get vaccinated?

All three vaccines are recommended for persons 18 years and over. Once your doctor gives you the all clear, you should strongly consider taking the vaccine. If you are a diabetic or have kidney disease, you are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death, according to the CDC.

5. Who should not be vaccinated?

The CDC states, “If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—after getting the first dose of the vaccine, you should not get a second dose of either of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.” If you develop hives, swelling or wheezing four hours after receiving the vaccine, you are having an immediate allergic reaction. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a weakened immune system, the CDC recommends you talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine. See information for specific groups.

6. What other side effects might you experience?

Some people experience site pain and flu-like symptoms during the first 48 hours, but many people don’t. These side effects are an indication that your body is building protection. The CDC advises that you speak to your doctor about using over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve your symptoms. However, you should not take these meds prior to having the vaccination in an attempt to prevent side effects. Note that side effects after your second shot may be more intense than those following your first shot.

7. What can you do after your second shot?

After you have had your second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you can consider yourself fully vaccinated. If you had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you only get one dose. However, you are not out of the woods yet. You must wait 2 weeks for the vaccine to take full effect. This means you should continue to follow all the CDC guidelines for protecting yourself during the pandemic, i.e. wearing your mask, social distancing, washing your hands and the like. Once the 2 weeks have passed, you can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people and even visit with unvaccinated relatives or friends without wearing masks. The CDC explains it more fully.

I hope these answers have been helpful to you. However, I would still encourage you to consult with your doctor if you have any questions or doubts about what you see here. If we all band together and do what we ought to do, we would one day be looking at COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, but if we don’t … you fill in the blanks.

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