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Covid-19 Vaccine Facts for You

As we hopefully approach the end of this current Covid-19 pandemic, our best bet is the vaccines that have been approved by the FDA. Throughout the past year there has been a great deal learned about Covid-19 and how to treat those infected, as well as developing a vaccine that will help the general population move towards immunity. Over the past year scientist and pharmaceutical companies have worked tirelessly to develop vaccines that have been given approval by the Food and Drug Administration. During the rollout of these vaccines, there has been a lot of information about who should or shouldn’t receive this vaccine and some of this information is accurate, while some of it is not so. Let us here at HPFY give you some straight facts about these vaccines that can return us to normal.

COVID-19: The Vaccine Front

Different COVID-19 Vaccines and How they work?

It has been one year since Covid-19 or the coronavirus basically brought our world to a standstill. This disease has been caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus strain. While most people (approximately 80%) only develop mild symptoms, the remaining 20% can experience severe problems like hypoxia to respiratory failure. We are fortunate that right now there are three vaccines that have been approved by the FDA and they include:

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech: This vaccine is a two-shot dose given roughly 21 days apart and is a mRNA (messenger RNA) type vaccine. Clinical trials have reported an average of 95% efficacy for this vaccine. Unlike vaccines that use weakened or inactivated germs for pathogens, mRNA vaccines “teach” our bodies how to make a protein to trigger an immune response to protect us if the real virus enters our bodies. The FDA has approved this vaccine for those 16 years of age and older. This vaccine does not contain eggs, preservatives, or latex.
  2. Moderna: This vaccine is also an mRNA vaccine that is injected into the upper arm. It also does not contain any egg, preservatives, or latex and is a two-shot regimen. Moderna reported efficacy of 94% for their two-shot dosage. Each shot should be administered 28 days apart. The Moderna vaccine is approved for use in those who are 18 years of age and older.
  3. Johnson & Johnson/Janssen: Unlike the other two approved vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot in the upper arm. This vaccine has proven to be (on average) 66% effective in fighting Covid-19 infections and higher efficacy of preventing hospitalization and death in those who got sick according to the CDC. Also, this vaccine is not an mRNA-type vaccine. It is a viral vector type of vaccine which means a modified version of a different virus (the vector) enters our cells and then uses the machinery of that cell to produce a harmless spike protein that our immune system recognizes as being foreign and produces antibodies or other immune cells to fight off an infection. This vaccine is also for those 18 and older and may be ideal for those with aichmophobia or needle phobia since it is only one shot.

These are the three vaccines that have passed through rigid clinical trials and Food and Drug Administration scrutiny for safety and efficacy. Currently, there are two other pharmaceutical companies operating large Phase 3 clinical trials, so hopefully, in the near future, there will be more vaccines available. These vaccines can play a part in achieving “herd immunity.”

What is Herd Immunity?

The Mayo Clinic defines herd immunity as when a large part of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, therefore making the spread of that disease from person-to-person unlikely. Besides vaccines, there is only one way to achieve this herd immunity and that is through infection itself. With Covid-19, that may not be the route we want to travel. The herd immunity threshold varies from disease to disease, but to achieve this herd immunity a large proportion of the population must be immune in order to reduce the spread of this disease. Experts have predicted that in order to achieve herd immunity in the United States we would need 70% of our population (more than 200 million people) to become immune via vaccination or through infection. This could be achieved by spring or summer dependent upon vaccine distribution and population compliance.

Who is eligible for COVID-19 Vaccination?

Fortunately, we have three very effective vaccines available with the hope of a couple more on the not-so-distant horizon. So who is eligible to receive these safe and effective vaccines? With initial vaccine supply limited, the CDC has recommended that the following groups should be prioritized for vaccination:

  1. Healthcare Personnel
  2. Long-Term Care Facility Residents
  3. Frontline Essential Workers
  4. People 75 and Older 5. People Aged 69-74 Years Old
  5. Those 16-64 with underlying health conditions
  6. Other essential workers

While our federal government is overseeing the overall distribution of these vaccines, it is the states themselves who have set the guidelines for vaccine eligibility. To find your states/territory’s health department check the Vaccine Rollout Recommendations at CDC’s website.

All three vaccines have proven to be effective for those who are eligible, but there may be questions about who should not receive the vaccine. For instance, children under the age of 16 are not eligible for any vaccine yet. Further clinical trials will need to be done to determine the safety and efficacy for those under 16. Also, those who have severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to any component of the Covid-19 vaccine should NOT receive the vaccine. Also, anyone who suffers the same type of anaphylaxis reaction to any other vaccine or injectable medications should consult their health care provider to determine any risk in getting the vaccination. Other underlying medical conditions that may require further discussion can be found in Underlying Medical Conditions at the CDC’s website.

Already Vaccinated? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Stop Wearing Your Face Mask Yet

Once you have been vaccinated, there still needs to be diligence on your behalf in order to keep others safe. It is still recommended that once you have received your vaccine (one or two shots) that masks should still be worn, we should still socially distance, and washing hands regularly is a must. While you may be protected, there are still those that may not have received a vaccine due to eligibility issues or conditions that may preclude them from getting an inoculation, such as an autoimmune disease. There are some supplies you should keep on hand even after your vaccination and they are:

The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on everyone’s life and hopefully, we are in the home stretch. With three vaccines available and others on the way, hopefully, by summer we can regain some resemblance of a “normal” life, but everyone needs to be working together towards a mutual goal. Consult your physician to determine if there is a vaccine that may be better suited for you but rest assured that they are safe and effective and should get us to where we want to be.

 

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