COVID-19 Vaccination: Securing Safety with Proven Science
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken lives, affected jobs, permanently closed businesses, has canceled vacations and weddings, has caused burnout and affected how we grieve. We are experiencing a global health crisis that is unique in our lifetime. By April 2021 over 150 million cases have been recorded worldwide, with over 32 million cases in the US alone, and more than 570,000 deaths across North America.
Eminent scientists and disease experts have been working tirelessly, since the beginning of the pandemic, toward finding a way forward and we now have vaccinations available to fight back.
Currently, there are a few vaccines that have been granted Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA) in the US and its important for all of us to access accurate information about what this means. Misinformation is often a major cause of vaccine hesitancy, and there is much misinformation about both COVID-19 and its vaccine because they are new.
Vaccination can help to protect you, as well as those around you that you interact with, so making an informed decision about getting vaccinated is vital. Understanding the vaccinations on offer, how effective they are and if there are any side effects are common questions and concerns.
We will answer a number of the most frequently asked questions below, and also encourage you to check the CDC website for the most up to date Covid-19 information and resources.
Understanding how the Covid-19 vaccine works
Your immune system protects you from illness and vaccines make your immune system stronger by helping it develop protein antibodies to ensure that your body will be able to fight Covid effectively if you are exposed.
For more in-depth explanation of the differing Covid-19 vaccines and how they work, visit the vaccine page at the CDC website.
How safe is the Covid-19 vaccine?
Rigorous scientific testing has been used to ensure that vaccines meet the stringent US standards before they were authorized for use. In the US, more than 235 million vaccines have been administered as of April 2021.
According to the CDC these vaccines are both safe and effective after being tested on tens of thousands of volunteers in clinical trials. People who have received vaccines already are being closely monitored under an FDA program that is more intensive than any before in US history using additional clinical trials and collected data.
But its new, I am worried it won’t be safe.
A lot has been written about whether these vaccines are safe because of being brought to the market quickly. Most of the concerns are from people without any qualifications who are understandably scared but don’t have access to the essential information that the experts have.
We are all scared on some level, this pandemic is unprecedented, the world has been turned upside down in short period of time and there are lots of uncertainties, but the approved vaccines don’t need to be one of them, trusting the experts is the best solution.
These vaccines may have been produced quickly out of necessity but that doesn’t mean that corners have been cut. Research and testing were fully funded because of the health crisis which enabled organizations to devote the resources required to find a solution as quickly as possible.
The US has been in a state of emergency and the FDA has an authorization process EUA, that comes into play during a crisis that enables vaccines to be approved when the required evidence of effectiveness is available and meets the rigorous standards for quality, effectiveness and safety.
Which COVID-19 vaccine is best?
The best COVID-19 vaccine is the first one that is available to you. Do not wait for a specific brand. All currently authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines:
CDC does not recommend one vaccine over another.
Will I get sick from the vaccine?
In a word no. Rest assured you won’t get Covid-19 from the vaccine because whilst these vaccines contain a small amount of the mRNA which degrades after the protein spike if produced, they contain NO live virus.
Immunity occurs a few weeks after your second dose so you will need to still keep up your safety practices like social distancing, disinfecting and wearing a mask where necessary and other government mandated requirements.
You may experience some minor side effects. Similar to other vaccines you may feel some pain at the injection site as well as redness or swelling, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches and sometimes a low-grade fever. These symptoms indicate that your immune system is building up your immunity to the virus.
What about an allergic reaction?
It’s rare to have an allergic reaction to any vaccine. If you have any concerns, because you have a previous history of allergic reaction to a vaccine, talk to your doctor.
Safeguards Are in Place
CDC has provided recommendations for COVID-19 vaccination providers about how to prepare for the possibility of a severe allergic reaction:
- All people who get a COVID-19 vaccine should be monitored on site. People who have had severe allergic reactions or who have had any type of immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy should be monitored for at least 30 minutes after getting the vaccine. All other people should be monitored for at least 15 minutes after getting the vaccine.
- Vaccination providers should have appropriate personnel, medications, and equipment—such as epinephrine, antihistamines, blood pressure monitor, and timing devices to check your pulse—at all COVID-19 vaccination provider sites.
- If you experience a severe allergic reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccination providers can provide care rapidly and call for emergency medical services. You should continue to be monitored in a medical facility for at least several hours.
Learn more about what to expect after getting vaccinated for COVID-19, including normal side effects and tips to reduce pain or discomfort.
Dispelling common Covid-19 myths
- Will not cause you to test positive for Covid-19.
- Will not alter your DNA
- Helps protect those around you as well as yourself – we need as many people as possible to be vaccinated for maximum community not just people in high-risk categories.
- Is needed even if you already have had Covid-19. Contracting Covid-19 doesn’t give you immunity so even if you have contracted it before or have a positive antibody test, you still need vaccination to build immunity.
Meanwhile, you can stay informed by checking trusted health websites, such as those listed above, and talking with your healthcare providers.
Am I eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Every Californian age 16 and up is eligible for vaccination. There are about 18.7 million Californians aged 16 to 49, and while some of those people have likely already been vaccinated because they’re health care workers or fell into another category that made them eligible earlier in the rollout, there will still be millions of people who can get inoculated for the first time. This might require patience while you wait for an available appointment.
How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Due to changes regarding availability of the vaccine and locations offering it, we have listed some helpful and trustworthy links for you below. You will be able to find and schedule a COVID vaccine appointment.
- CDC VaccineFinder: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/reporting/vaccinefinder/about.html
- Vaccine Finder: https://vaccinefinder.org/
- GoodRx: https://www.goodrx.com/covid-19/california
The bottom line
For now, the most important thing all of us can all do to get this terrible pandemic under control is to follow the 3 W’s – wear our masks, wash our hands, watch our distance from other – and roll up our sleeves for the vaccine as soon as it’s available to us.