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Decades of Research Gave Us COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines that fight the virus’ spread result from decades of scientific research. That’s why they could be developed so quickly.

Some people, though, are still concerned about their safety because of their quick development. It’s understandable to be cautious, but it is also important to know the facts.

Is the vaccine safe?

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority.

Messenger RNA vaccines aren’t new. They were developed decades ago and studied continuously by scientists. They are already used against some forms of cancer and researches are studying them for use against Zika, the flu and other viruses. Early in 2020, when researchers learned which virus caused COVID-19, they began designing the mRNA instructions for cells to build the unique spike protein into an mRNA vaccine. Today, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the United States. That means they can be made available to the public during the pandemic.

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?

No. Because the mRNA vaccines don’t use the entire virus, and it isn’t live, it cannot give you COVID-19.

Will the vaccine change my DNA?

No. These vaccines do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Your cells simply “read” DNA like instructions to find out what to protect against.

Will vaccines keep me from catching COVID-19?

Vaccination can help protect you from getting COVID-19, but you need two doses of the currently available vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna). Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses 2-3 weeks apart. The first dose helps the immune system create a response to the virus. The second dose further boosts the immune response to ensure long-term protection.

Can I go hug my friends once I get the vaccine?

It takes about two weeks for you to reach full immunity after you receive the second dose of the vaccine. Until then, you could still catch COVID-19, so you need to continue to take precautions. Even after you receive the vaccine, you still need to:

  • Wash your hands
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay at least 6 feet from others in public

Using additional precautions may seem unnecessary, but it could help stop the spread of the virus. Once case numbers drop, officials may determine that some precautions can stop.

Is the vaccination expensive?

No. It is free to you. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 won’t cost you anything. All FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are covered at no additional cost during the public health emergency. Health plans are required to cover the costs of giving the vaccine. That means you won’t have any out-of-pocket expenses.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Local pharmacies are giving the vaccine, but quantities are limited. When it is your turn to get the vaccine, you can check pharmacies through the map on the Arkansas Department of Health website.

Should I call my doctor to get the vaccine?

Not right now. Most doctor’s offices do not have the vaccine at this time. Calling to request the vaccine at your clinic ties up the phone lines needed for patients who need medical attention. Eventually, the plan is to have several thousand vaccination providers available, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals and federally qualified health centers.

Are the vaccine’s side effects worse than coronavirus?

Not at all. Side effects from the vaccine are typically mild. According to the CDC, any symptoms are merely a sign that your body is building protection. Common vaccine side effects range from soreness at the injection site to flu-like symptoms. Find out more from the CDC on these symptoms and when to call the doctor.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 vaccine side effects?

The v-safe smartphone-based tool uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. V-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one.

What if I am high risk or have a special medical condition?

If you have a specific medical condition or concern, talk with your doctor about whether the vaccine is appropriate for you and how and when you should get it. If you have an underlying or chronic medical condition, make sure you communicate with your doctor during the pandemic. Managing your health conditions is vital during the pandemic.

Should I get vaccinated if I’ve already had COVID-19?

People who’ve already been infected with the virus should get vaccinated when it is available to them. Some evidence suggests people can be re-infected and may benefit from vaccination. Vaccines should be offered to people regardless of COVID-19 infection history.

 

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