Vaccines are drugs developed to help prevent viral diseases. It consists of the weakened virus, dead virus or contagious viral components that will stimulate the body to produce antibodies against the virus and boost immune systems in case of viral exposure.
In the case of COVID-19, vaccines are now available and approved by FDA for emergency use. There are some main points everyone must know about COVID-19 vaccine program.
1. Safety of COVID-19 vaccine
Not every pharmaceutical or drug company is authorized to make the vaccine, it is not that simple to develop them. FDA ensures the quality, safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines by large clinical trials before launching it in the market and for now, Emergency Use Authorization has been issued to 2 companies for their COVID-19 vaccines. There is a misconception among laymen that vaccine is injecting virus so it can cause covid-19. No, it is the dead or weakened virus that can boost your immunity against the virus.
After a vaccine is injected, many monitoring systems are there to ensure no case of any adverse reactions. Complete details along with follow-up of people who get vaccinated are ensured. Mostly there are no adverse side effects as it undergoes many clinical trials before its approval and availability to the public. But sometimes it can happen but it’s a very rare chance. So, for few people or very low risk, we can’t deprive the whole community of getting immune to this life-threatening virus.
2. Types of COVID-19 vaccines
As already mentioned, vaccine is the dead/weakened or contagious component of virus. In the case of COVID-19 vaccine, researchers and medical specialists are using either viral vector (genetically modified virus) or viral RNA (part of viral genome). From lab experiments and clinical trials, it was observed that RNA vaccine is more effective i.e., 92-95% as compared to the vaccine containing viral vector. The Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine both are messenger RNA vaccines approved by FDA and ACIP, while some Chinese companies are working on viral vector vaccine as well.
3. Two shots are required
The two vaccines approved by FDA, both required 2 shots to be effective. Depending upon the type, a second shot is recommended 3 to 4 weeks after the first shot, thus eliminating all the chances of getting seriously ill on exposure.
COVID-19 affects people differently depending upon one’s immunity; you never know how it will affect you. For some, it is asymptomatic while for others it can be deadly. Stopping a pandemic is only possible when we use all the options available, one of the most important is vaccination. Immunity boost by vaccination along with natural herd immunity has a significant role in fighting against this virus.
4. People who get the vaccine on a priority basis
COVID-19 vaccine is very limited for now, as only 2 vaccines are approved by FDA. So it cannot be available for everyone across the globe till we can start producing it at a very large scale. Advisory committee on immunization practices (ACIP) has put forward some recommendations
• Phase 1a
Health care personnel include everyone working in the healthcare setting and are at potential risk of exposure to COVID-19 patients. Healthcare personnel are front-line warriors for the nation in this deadly pandemic. As their exposure is maximum and they are responsible for providing the healthcare facilitates to patients, so they must be vaccinated on a priority basis
Long-term care facility residents provide all the care to disabled and elderly people. As the elderly and disables are immunocompromised people so, to lower the death rate owing pandemic, all the residents and caretakers of long-term care facility must be vaccinated.
• Phase 1b
Frontline essential workers such as firefighters, agriculture workers, police force, grocery store workers, daycare and education sector workers.
Old people having age 75 years or above are more prone to chronic illness and death from covid-19
• Phase 1c
People aged 65 to 74 years having low chances of recovery from COVID-19 illness and cannot handle the severity of this disease.
People aged 16 to 64 years who are immunocompromised can suffer from severe complications from covid-19.
Other essential workers like in transportation sector, finance, law, public safety and health, logistics, information theology, law and media.
Once the vaccine is approved on a large scale, it will be available for everyone across the globe.
5. No worries about the cost
No one has to worry about the cost of COVID-19 as it is free almost all over the world. As the government and health care sector in any country just wants to end the pandemic as it has affected our economy in drastic ways, so irrespective of who can afford and who can’t, it is available for everyone. Hospital authorities can charge you for its administration but the vaccine itself is free for now.
6. Side effects
Some people might experience some side effects after vaccination but there is nothing to worry about. It’s the response of your body i.e., building protection against covid-19. You might feel pain and swell on the arm where vaccine is injected, along with fever, headaches, chills and fatigue. It can affect your daily life but it will go away in a few days without any severity.
To reduce the pain and discomfort, consult your doctor for counter medicine. To avoid discomfort naturally, exercise your arm and take plenty of fluids. But if you have symptoms after the first shot that doesn’t mean you don’t need the second shot. All the protocols and guidelines of vaccination must be followed to avoid COVID-19 severity. It’s not only about you, it is also about your loved ones around you so get vaccinated.
7. Increase supply of the vaccine
Although for now, only two vaccines are available, various drug and pharmaceutical companies around the world are at the stage of clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine. Once any other vaccine gets approved by FDA, ACIP will review all the data and give recommendations regarding that vaccine. Thus it’s just a matter of time; soon vaccines will easily be available for anyone anywhere in the world.
8. An Important tool to stop the pandemic
Although wearing masks and social distancing can reduce the chances of exposure and infection but it is not enough. Since its breakdown in 2019, strict lockdown was observed all over the world but no one can stop the exponential increase in covid-19 cases and mortality rate till people start developing herd immunity.
So along with all the precautionary measures, immunity is required to get rid of this pandemic and vaccination is the only tool that can boost our immunity to fight against the COVID-19 virus.