The entire COVID-19 pandemic has been filled with uncertainty, and a major medical goal during this time was to create a safe, effective vaccine. Many of us have not witnessed the process of vaccines eradicating a disease, and understandably have questions about the new vaccine. Here’s what you need to know about the COVID vaccine.
What Is the COVID-19 Vaccine?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the COVID vaccine protects us against the coronavirus by “creating an antibody response in your body without your having to become sick with COVID-19”. As of right now, there are two vaccines that are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19 in the United States. The approved and recommended vaccines are:
- Pfizer/BioNTech: This mRNA vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95% one week after the second dose. It requires two injections 21 days apart and is for those 16 years and older.
- Moderna vaccine: The Moderna vaccine is for those 18 years and older, and has an efficacy rate of 94.1%. It requires two injections 28 days apart.
Both of these vaccines use mRNA. The COVID-19 mRNA does not have the genetic information of the illness, it instead gives your cells “instructions for how to make a harmless piece of an S protein.” Your immune system recognizes the protein as foreign and out of place and will make antibodies that are effective against COVID-19. Therefore, the COVID vaccine does not use the live virus that causes COVID-19, and cannot give you COVID.
When Will the Vaccine be Available?
Eventually, it will be important for people of all ages to get the vaccine, but right now it’s not available for everyone. The vaccine is available first for health care workers, residents in long-term care facilities, those 75 and older, and front line essential workers. Next, it will go to adults between 65 and 75, those over the age of 16 with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers. Only after that will phase 2 begin, which includes all people 16 and older who were not already recommended for the vaccine.
Should We Get the Vaccine as a Family?
Those in your family should get the COVID-19 vaccine when they are able to according to the CDC phases. The vaccine helps protect us against the potential complications associated with COVID-19, while also preventing the spread of the disease to those around us. However, you may not be able to get the vaccine as a family. Clinical trials in children are still occurring, which is why there is no recommendation for those under 16 to get the vaccine.
At first, the COVID-19 vaccine may be intimidating, but it is very important for protecting us individually and collectively from COVID-19. It’s currently available to those who are most at-risk for exposure to the virus, but when it becomes available it’s important to get it. However, there is not a vaccine yet recommended for kids under 16.