The COVID-19 vaccine was developed in less than a year, which is faster than any other vaccine in history. This incredible speed has created some reservations about its safety. While the COVID-19 vaccines were fast-tracked, this does not mean they are unsafe. Many factors contributed to the speed of development. Scientists around the world, with the help of previous research into other coronaviruses, collaborated and shared information and data they collected. The mRNA vaccines were developed with readily available materials, and governments fast-tracked clinical trials and vaccine approvals.
All COVID-19 vaccines were put through standard clinical trials, which included laboratory trials and three phases of clinical trials to determine the safety and effectiveness. The fast-tracked elements did not affect the accuracy of trial results. Of the vaccines put through clinical trials, only 7% succeeded in preclinical studies. Enrolment and follow-up with patients in clinical trials were within a normal time frame, and vaccines still went through the submission process and review of application by the FDA.
A large amount of information has led to widespread myths associated with the COVID-19 vaccine. From September to December 2020, hesitancy towards receiving the vaccine fell by 5%, but misinformation remains. The vaccine does not cause autism or damage children or babies, nor does it weaken the immune system. It does, however, protect you against COVID-19 and protect others by building herd immunity. There is no requirement anywhere in the United States to get the vaccine. The vaccine does not contain an active viral material, so you can’t get the coronavirus from the vaccine. The vaccines will not end masks and social distancing immediately. Full protection from the virus may not develop until weeks after the second shot, and vaccinated people may still be able to act as asymptomatic spreaders.
What Vaccines Are Available?
Currently, there are two authorized vaccines in the United States, Pfizer and Moderna. Vaccines are given in two doses through intramuscular injections and are free with or without insurance. It’s essential to track which vaccine you received because vaccine brands can’t be mixed and matched. It’s also important to note the date you received it to prove eligibility for the second dose. There are another 3 vaccines in the final phase of clinical trials: AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Janssen. If approved, these vaccines can provide unique benefits. AstraZeneca can be stored in a refrigerator, but is currently experiencing a setback when its rollout was halted in South Africa as it lacks efficacy against the COVID-19 variant spreading there. Novavax may produce a stronger immune response, and Janssen is administered in a single dose.
The CDC recommends that healthcare workers and long-term care residents receive the vaccine first, followed by frontline essential workers and people over 75. The last group to receive the vaccine will be younger people and the rest of the essential worker population. Individual states can adjust these guidelines as they see fit. Make sure to stay up to date with your local health department and state resources to find out where to receive a vaccine and when you are eligible. Vaccines will be distributed through commercial pharmacies, healthcare facilities, local health departments, community centers, large chain grocery stores, schools, and nursing homes. Talk to your doctor about complications before receiving the vaccine. Fight misinformation. Spread just the facts about the COVID vaccine.
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