Two new vaccines have been approved for COVID-19 and more are in the pipeline. Texas has elected to prioritize people over the age of 65 for vaccination. So, what should seniors and their families know about these new vaccines? Here are some key factors.
The vaccine cannot rewrite your DNA, give you COVID-19, or make you infertile.
The Vaccines Are Safe
There’s a lot of concern out there that these vaccines have been rushed to production and are thus unsafe. It’s true that the time from start of development to approval is faster, by far, than the previous record of four years. However, this was not achieved by cutting corners or shortening the length of trials to an unsafe degree. Rather, it relates to the following factors:
- Chinese scientists were able to provide a genetic sequence of the virus very quickly. The draft genome of SARS-CoV-2 was made available to the world in January of 2020. This allowed vaccination development to begin even before the pandemic had reached global proportions.
- Extra funding has been provided to speed development. Additionally, vaccine trials have been prioritized over other clinical trials.
- mRNA vaccines are faster to develop than other types. While this is the first mRNA vaccine used in humans, the technology has been in development for years for cancer treatment.
These vaccines cannot rewrite your DNA, give you COVID-19, or make you infertile. A few people, mostly with a history of severe allergies, have experienced severe reactions to the shots, which is why you need to remain in the clinic for 15 minutes after receiving your shot. For residents of assisted living homes, the staff are trained in how to detect and treat severe allergic reactions.
The Vaccines Take Time to Work
Two stories of health care workers catching COVID-19 a week after getting the shot might make you worry that they don’t work. Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines don’t provide full protection right away. Additionally, the vaccines approved right now have a two-shot regimen, meaning that while the first dose provides some protection, the second dose is needed to complete the series.
The vaccine is a two-shot regimen…the first dose provides some protection; however, the second dose is needed to complete the series.
Recipients don’t get full protection until six to eight weeks after the first shot and should plan accordingly. Again, you can’t catch COVID-19 from these vaccines. You can, however, still catch it shortly after being vaccinated.
Yes, There are Side Effects, But They Aren’t Severe
Side effects from vaccines are called reactogenicity and they’re the result of your immune system responding to the shot. Most side effects are mild, including pain, swelling and redness at the injection site. However, some people have experienced headaches, fevers, chills, and fatigue. These side effects generally last no more than a day and are worse with the second shot. Again, you can’t get COVID-19 from the shot. The reactions, however, might be frightening to people who are suffering cognitive decline and you should be sure to reassure them. For slightly younger patients, it might be best not to schedule anything important for the 24 hours or so after getting the shot.
Why Are These Vaccines So Important?
It’s important for everyone to get the vaccine as soon as it’s available to them. For seniors, the vaccine can stave off severe illness or death; even if you do catch COVID-19 after being vaccinated, you will not be as sick or sick for as long. We don’t yet know for sure whether vaccines completely stop infection and transmission, but studies are ongoing. Even if they don’t, they will significantly reduce the amount and length of time somebody is contagious for.
Getting a high take up in the number of vaccinations is vital to stopping the pandemic.
People who have already had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine as natural immunity fades quickly in some individuals (although others are showing a good immune response after many months). However, you should hold off on being vaccinated if you currently have COVID-19 or are testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. Getting a high take up in the number of vaccinations is vital to stopping the pandemic and letting us return to normal…and start spending safe time with our families again. So, again, everyone should get the vaccine as soon as it is made available to them. These vaccines are safe and effective and will help us return to public life.