“This is a scientific triumph.”
That’s what Patricia A. Stinchfield, a nurse practitioner and president-elect for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said in a Poynter Institute webinar about the speedy development of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This chapter that we are on in this pandemic hit a new, historic breakthrough with this mRNA vaccine platform,” Stinchfield said. “The path out of this pandemic now has some light.”
Misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, the politicization of the pandemic itself and the general anti-vaccine movement has complicated some people’s trust in getting vaccinated. In addition to standard health measures, the best way we can fight this pandemic is by sharing verified, scientific information. Uplifting positive discourse, asking legitimate questions and accepting science-based innovations will help us, and others, survive. Experts like Stinchfield will guide us to a safe, social society.
In an interview with Vox, Dr. Anthony Fauci said 70 to 85 percent of the population will need to be vaccinated in order for herd immunity to work, though closer to 85 percent is better. Given the wide range of symptoms in cases, or lack thereof, Fauci explained it makes it difficult to get the message across that everyone needs to take precaution. However, with hospitals overflowing, acceptance of the pandemic and its solutions is imperative.
“Normal is as far away as we want it to be,” he said.
To ease any concerns, we checked back in with Dr. Richard Kang. In September, he offered guidance on navigating a world plagued by COVID-19. Today, he offers insight and information about the vaccine.
Why should I trust the vaccine is safe?
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines went through thorough testing, including Phase 3 trials and showed a 95 percent effectiveness. The vaccines were tolerated well during the study. The vaccines did have mild short-term side effects, including pain at the site of injection, fever, chills and headache. Some people also had a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, but this was not common.
Are there any particular conditions/disorders/allergies etc. that indicate I should not get the vaccine (like if I’m pregnant or have cancer)?
Right now the CDC only recommends people not get the vaccine if they have a history of anaphylaxis to any ingredient in the vaccines.
Is the vaccine going to affect my fertility?
There is no data on the effects of the vaccines on women’s fertility. Also, there is no data currently on the safety of the vaccine for pregnant women. The CDC does not make any specific recommendations in this regard, but continues to state the overall safety of the vaccine.
I’ve read that experiencing flu-like symptoms are a sign the vaccine is working. Why?
Flu-like symptoms such as fever, aches and pains can represent the immune response to an illness or vaccination. It is common with any vaccine to experience these and shows that your body is mounting a response to the vaccine.
Should I get the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
Yes, the vaccine is still recommended even if you have had Covid-19. This is because it is unknown how long natural immunity lasts. In the studies, people with previous COVID infections were not excluded.
I’m not in a high-risk group and most people recover from COVID-19. Should I get the vaccine?
Yes. One thing consistent with COVID-19 infections is the unpredictable course. The vaccine offers protection and the benefit of preventing a severe infection outweighs the risk of the mild side effects.
Is there anything else important to know?
People have said they are nervous because the vaccine introduces genetic material into the body. The mRNA in the vaccine is used to transcribe the Viral spike protein, to which your body will mount the immune response. The mRNA is then destroyed. It never enters the cell’s nucleus. Therefore there is no genetic alteration in your cells.