Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in March of 2020, our country has been awaiting the good news of a vaccine that can give us another tool to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The scientific community has been working tirelessly around the world to develop a vaccine. On December 11, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and on December 18, 2020, the FDA issued a EUA for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Now that there are authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, accurate vaccine information is critical. Although the COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time, this does not mean that any corners in safety have been cut. All COVID-19 vaccines that are being used have gone through the same safety tests and meet the same standards as any other vaccines produced through the years. Studies show that both COVID-19 vaccines are very effective and have a 94-95% efficacy rate. When you compare this rate to the seasonal influenza vaccine of approximately a 50% efficacy rate, the COVID-19 vaccines are quite remarkable.
The benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine are:
- It will help keep you from getting ill with COVID-19.
- Vaccination is a safer way to help build protection since there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you or cause a life-threatening illness to you or others.
- Vaccination will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic. While wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chances of being exposed to the virus or spreading it, these measures are not enough.
Common questions about the COVID-19 vaccines:
Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19? No. Both of the approved vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that the vaccine cannot make you sick. Vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms such as a fever but these are normal signs that the body is building protection against the virus.
After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test? No. Neither of the authorized COVID vaccines can cause you to test positive on viral tests which are used to see if you have a current infection. There is a possibility that you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus, which is the goal of vaccination.
If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine? Yes. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The natural immunity that someone gains can vary from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long. We won’t know how long immunity produced by a vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccine works.
Getting vaccinated is one of the many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for some people, it can cause severe illness or death. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
Submitted by: Tammy Ingalls, Burnett County Public Health LTE Nurse
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