By Dr. Zulfikar Bux
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt Medical Center
Kaieteur News – There are many that are forming negative opinions on being vaccinated against the COVID-19 infection because of myths that are being circulated. In the meantime, the virus keeps mutating and is spreading rapidly than before causing more deaths worldwide. Vaccines are our main hope of getting this pandemic under control, but at least 80 percent of us need to take it before we can reach a state where we can exit this pandemic. Today, I will share with you facts about the COVID-19 vaccines so that you can be properly informed and hopefully, be convinced of the need to be vaccinated when your turn comes.
What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
As you know, COVID-19 is deadly in some and can be mild in others. It can also cause devastating long term effects that may debilitate you if you get infected. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you by creating an antibody response in your body without you having to become sick with COVID-19. In the rare instance that you do become sick, the vaccine might keep you from becoming seriously ill or from developing serious complications. Getting vaccinated also might help protect people around you from COVID-19, particularly people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
What COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and how do they work?
Currently, several COVID-19 vaccines are in clinical trials. Once these trials are finished, they are presented to a panel of experts that will review their data and decide whether the evidence is good enough to grant emergency authorization for their use. Each country/union of countries has its own group of experts that will review the data and approve/reject the use of a particular vaccine. So far, the following three vaccines have been granted emergency authorization for use by numerous countries worldwide:
● Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
Data has shown that the vaccine starts working soon after the first dose and has an efficacy rate of 95 percent seven days after the second dose. This means that about 95 percent of people who get the vaccine are protected from becoming seriously ill with the virus. This vaccine is for people age 16 and older. It requires two injections given at least 21 days apart.
● Moderna vaccine
Data has shown that the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 94.1 percent. This vaccine is for people aged 18 and older. It requires two injections given at least 28 days apart.
● Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
Data has shown that the vaccine has an average efficacy rate of 70 percent. The efficacy rate can vary from 62 to 90 percent and varies according to age, dose and time between doses. It requires two doses which can be given between 4 to 12 weeks after the initial dose.
How quickly does the vaccine start to produce antibodies?
Clinical vaccine trials showed some protection seven days after the shot. Seven days is when the body starts showing replicated antibodies. However, the vaccine’s full, 95 percent protection needs at least 28 days and two shots with the Pfizer vaccine, and 35 days and two shots with Moderna’s. So, just because you got the shot, does not mean you are protected right away.
What are possible side effects of COVID-19 Vaccines?
Like any other vaccine you would have taken in your lifetime, there is a possibility of some side effects from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. The following are possible side effects that may occur from taking the COVID-19 vaccine:
● tenderness, swelling and/or redness at the injection site
● muscle ache
● feeling tired
● fever/high temperature (37.8°C or greater)
A less common side effect is swelling of the glands, which could start a few days after the vaccine and may last for up to two weeks. This usually indicates that your immune system is responding to the vaccine. Like any other vaccine and medication, there is a very rare risk that some may be allergic to the COVID-19 vaccine. It may lead to allergic reactions that can be reversed with treatment once given prompt attention.
The more vaccines are approved for use, the better are our chances of getting at least 80 percent of the world vaccinated by the end of 2021. Medical professionals are working tirelessly to combat the COVID-19 infection. Come onboard and wear your mask, watch your distance, wash/sanitize your hands and get vaccinated when the opportunity presents itself. Let’s work together to exit this pandemic in 2021!
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