Updates on the Covid-19 Vaccines
A lot has been happening with the Covid-19 vaccines recently. Here’s what you should know.
THE STORY: Now that Covid-19 vaccines are becoming more widely available, there’s a lot of news about them to catch up on. How do the three vaccines work and is one better than the others? Plus, where and when can you sign up to get yours? Here’s a look at what you should know about the vaccines.
THE VACCINES: There are currently 3 vaccines available for Covid-19 -- Moderna, Pfizer and the new Johnson & Johnson. Moderna & Pfizer are both mRNA vaccines that work by injecting genetic instructions to make spike proteins, the part of the coronavirus that latches onto human cells. These proteins trigger the immune system to build up antibodies and other immune defenses against an actual infection. Both of these vaccines require 2 shots, approximately one month apart.
According to the CDC, “Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses who had no evidence of being previously infected.” Side effects can include redness & swelling in the shot area, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea - typically these are mild to moderate and more people were affected after the 2nd dose.
When it comes to the Pfizer vaccine the CDC had this to say, “Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection.” Side effects for this vaccine are the same as with Moderna with people being more affected after the 2nd dose.
The Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine is a one shot vaccine as opposed to two and is viral vector vaccine which means it uses a modified version of a different virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells. For COVID-19 viral vector vaccines, the vector (not the virus that causes COVID-19, but a different, harmless virus) will enter a cell in our body and then use the cell’s machinery to produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. This produces a spike protein which our immune system then recognizes as something that shouldn’t be there which activates the system into producing antibodies. According to the CDC, “was 66.3% effective in clinical trials (efficacy) at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who had no evidence of prior infection 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine. The vaccine had high efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did get sick.”
HOW YOU CAN GET YOUR VACCINE: Because vaccines are currently limited (though in a recent speech President Biden directed states to make all adult Americans eligible to receive coronavirus vaccines no later than May 1), the CDC makes recommendations for who should get the vaccine first then states make their own plan. You can check on your state’s plan HERE. For most places, vaccines are currently being given to essential & healthcare workers as well as senior citizens.
As of February 18th, 15 states had opened up vaccines to people with high-risk medical conditions for Covid-19 such as cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, pregnancy, diabetes, sickle cell disease, a developmental disability, a heart condition, a pulmonary disease like asthma, a neurological condition like dementia, and immunocompromising diseases like AIDS. These states include: Alaska, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming. However, you should check your state’s specific guidelines because not all states include all of the above as qualifying conditions. To show eligibility you will need to bring a doctor’s note or medical records to show you have a qualifying condition.
THE ROUND-UP: While it may be a few months before most people have received their Covid-19 vaccines, strides are being made in the production and implementation of vaccines. To find out when you are eligible to receive yours, simply check your state’s health department website and sign up to be notified of eligibility if you are not currently able to receive it.