The United States administered its first doses of the coronavirus vaccine on December 14, 2020. The first wave of doses will be going to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. You probably have a lot of questions, so we’re here to help. We found the answers to common questions so you don’t have to.
How many different vaccines are there?
As of December 21, 2020 there are two vaccines that have been approved for the prevention of COVID-19 by the Food and Drug Administration(FDA): Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Other vaccines in large-scale phase 3 trials include AstraZeneca and Janssens.
How does the coronavirus vaccine work?
Pfizer and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines. The vaccine contains “material from the virus that causes COVID-19 that gives our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus,” according to the CDC. The mRNA produces the spike protein, which is the same protein that covers the coronavirus. From there, your body recognizes this foreign substance and produces antibodies to fight against it, just as it would if your body was exposed to the actual coronavirus. The mRNA vaccine teaches the body how to fight and react if it were in contact with the real coronavirus.
Who will get the vaccine first?
According to the CDC, there will be three phases of vaccine distribution with subphases. Phase 1a: long term care residents and frontline healthcare workers, phase 1b: individuals over the age of 75 and frontline essential workers, phase 1c: individuals 65-74 years, individuals 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions and other essential workers. Phase 2 includes teachers, childcare staff, and all other adults. Phase 3 will include young adults and children.
When can we expect the vaccine to be widely available to the public?
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Americans can expect the vaccine to be available to the general population around March or April.
What happens after I get the vaccine? How will I get my second dose?
All but one vaccine in Phase 3 trials require a second vaccine dose. The CDC has created a smartphone tool, V-safe, that works as a personalized health monitor to check in with you. On the app, you’re able to report any side effects to the vaccine and depending on how severe, a CDC employee may check in with you. The app also reminds you to get your second dose.
What are the side effects of the coronavirus vaccine?
The most commonly reported side effect is injection site reaction. This can include pain and swelling. Other common side effects that can occur throughout your body are fever, chills, tiredness and headache. Side effects usually go away within a few days after the vaccination.
Is the vaccine free?
Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. tax dollars will be free to the American public. Vaccine providers may be able to charge a vaccine administration fee, which can be covered by most insurances.
Will the vaccine be mandatory for Americans?
President-elect Joe Biden said that he would not make the vaccine mandatory.
If I get the vaccine do I still need to wear a mask?
The CDC recommends that people still wear masks and social distance in order to slow the spread in communities by using all protective measures such as masks and social distancing. Experts are still learning more about the protection of the coronavirus vaccine in real life, so until then, it is important that individuals still wear masks and social distance.
Hear what geriatrician, Dr. Jessica Kalender-Rich, with the University of Kansas Health Systems has to say about seniors receiving the vaccine, click here.