By: Giselle Pineiro, D.O.
Since the beginning of its rapid spread, development of a vaccine against COVID-19, or Coronavirus 2019, has been the most promising approach to control the pandemic. A vaccine shows the immune system what a virus looks like before an active infection, so the immune system can be prepared for a future infection.
The currently approved COVID-19 vaccines use messenger RNA, or mRNA, a type of temporary message used in the cell, which does not interact with our DNA. MRNA has been the subject of research for decades, despite its newest use in a vaccine.
Important Facts about the COVID-19 vaccines:
- do not contain the SARS-CoV2 live virus and cannot cause a COVID infection
- do not use preservatives or ingredients that help boost the body’s response to the vaccine
- requires two doses, an initial dose plus a booster several weeks later
Two vaccines have current FDA approval to prevent COVID-19:
- Pfizer-BioNTech, for individuals 16 and older, with a booster at 21 days
- Moderna, for individuals 18 and older, with a booster at 28 days
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are common side effects of the vaccine?
These include fever, chills, fatigue, redness or tenderness at injection site. Side effects, or “on target” effects, tell us the immune system is working hard. Allergic reactions, including severe swelling and difficulty breathing require immediate attention by a medical professional. Any side effects should be reported through vsafe.cdc.gov.
- Should I receive a vaccine for COVID-19 if I have experienced a serious allergic reaction (i.e. anaphylaxis) to any vaccine ingredient?
Currently, experts advise against receiving either COVID-19 vaccine if an individual has a known history of severe or immediate allergic reaction to COVID-19 mRNA or component of the vaccine. If you have a reaction to the first dose, you should not receive a second dose.
- If I am trying to get pregnant, am currently pregnant, or am breastfeeding, is it save to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
Experts agree that pregnant and breastfeeding people receive a COVID-19 vaccine; the vaccine does not affect female fertility. You should discuss this further with your doctor.
- If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, should I receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. If you had a recent infection, it is recommended to wait 90 days before receiving the vaccine since reinfection during that time period is uncommon.
- How do we know these vaccines are safe for all people, given the history of racism in medical research in the United States?
Firstly, black, indigenous, latino, and other communities of color have been hit hardest by COVID-19, in rates of infection and death. Both COVID-19 vaccination’s trials included safe, ethical conditions with a large variety of participants from many racial and ethnic backgrounds. Results showed greater than 90% effective rates in people like you and me.
- How can I get vaccinated? How much does it cost?
The vaccine is free of charge! If interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, please call the health department, your local physician, or the CRMC COVID-19 hotline at 229-891-9380.
- Should I continue to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others after vaccination?
Yes, continue wearing a mask, washing hands, and socially distancing. While vaccination protects from infection, we are unsure how long immunity will last. Once the great majority of people receive their vaccines, there will be a better chance to ease social distancing measures. Vaccination saves lives!