There has been an intense focus on the development of an effective vaccination since the World Health Organization (WHO) classified COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020.
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There have been three vaccines awarded emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), two of which have since acquired full FDA approval for people over the age of 16. More than 87% of individuals in the United States have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by mid-December 2021, thanks to widespread vaccination campaigns.
Because of the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations to public health, it is critical that the public has easy access to reliable, scientifically sound information.
What Is COVID-19?
A novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 was discovered in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. COVID-19 is the term given to the sickness that can develop from the virus.
A cough or sneeze can spread SARS-CoV-2 when the infected person is within six feet of the coughing or sneezing victim.
People who are more than six feet apart can also spread the virus by airborne transmission. It’s possible to inhale or exhale aerosols that contain the virus and spread the disease through the air. In confined spaces with inadequate ventilation, viral transmission is more likely to occur.
Coronaviruses can be transmitted by contact with infected surfaces, but this occurs less frequently.
Individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 will experience symptoms that are notably different from one another. Other symptoms include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, a loss of taste and/or smell, a headache and/or body discomfort and nausea or vomiting as well as nasal congestion and/or a runny nose.
Patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms may have trouble gaining or maintaining consciousness; have difficulty breathing; and have pale/discolored skin (including lips and nail beds) in severe cases. Please seek immediate medical assistance if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Asymptomatic and presymptomatic people can still spread the virus, even if they don’t display any symptoms yet.
Multiple coronavirus variants have arisen since the outbreak of COVID-19. It is possible to spread these variants more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus; for example, the Alpha, Delta, and Omicron (B.1.1.7) variants.
What COVID-19 Vaccines Are Available?
Known as Comirnaty, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine received final FDA approval on August 23, 2021, for people 16 and older. Spikevax, formerly known as the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, received FDA approval for adults over the age of 18 on January 31, 2022. The vaccine’s approval by the FDA was based on a substantial body of evidence showing that it is both safe and efficacious.
An emergency use authorisation (EUA) has been issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson (Janssen). The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is still authorized for emergency use in children 5 to 15 years old.
All three of these vaccines are given by injection into the upper arm muscle.
Tens of thousands of adults and adolescents have participated in clinical trials to see if they are effective with these drugs. When immunizations were given to patients in the studies, they were considerably less likely to develop severe symptoms, require hospitalization, or die from COVID-19. The vaccines were far superior to placebo in terms of protection and negative effects.
Pfizer and Moderna have created mRNA vaccines. This vaccination uses a harmless, synthetic snippet of virus genetic material to train the immune system to recognize and destroy the virus.
The vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen is a virus-based vaccination. A genomic segment of SARS-CoV-2 is incorporated into a deactivated common cold virus in order to create a vaccine. To better combat the coronavirus, the immune system can use this information.
In order to receive the full benefits of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, most patients require two doses. A third dose of these mRNA vaccines has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for persons with weaker immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients.
All previously completely vaccinated adults over the age of 18 can now receive FDA-approved booster doses.
- For people initially vaccinated with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, a booster is authorized for all adults. At least five months after receiving the original immunization, you will receive a booster shot.
- Anyone over the age of 18 who received their first shot during the previous two months and was initially immunized with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is eligible for a booster shot.
People over the age of 12 who have been completely immunized for at least six months can receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The FDA has permitted a “mix-and-match” approach to booster doses, allowing any of the three authorized vaccines to be used. Booster shots may be administered with the same vaccine.
What COVID-19 Vaccines Are Under Development?
There are now three vaccinations on the market in the United States, although more are in development. If research studies show that they are safe and effective, they may be approved.
In Europe, an AstraZeneca viral vector vaccine is in use, but the FDA has not yet approved it for use in the United States. Another vaccine, created by Novavax, has been approved for use in Europe and is presently being studied by the FDA. Protein subunit vaccines are designed to help the body’s immune system recognize and combat coronaviruses by adding a tiny coronavirus protein.
As additional SARS-CoV-2 strains emerge, it is possible that improved booster vaccinations will be developed to combat a wider variety of coronavirus variations. A universal coronavirus vaccine is also being developed, which would protect against sickness caused by virtually any current or future coronavirus.
What Is the Timeline for Vaccination?
Since the FDA approved the first COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, vaccination has been ongoing. Federal management oversees vaccine delivery, although vaccination programs are generally run by state and municipal governments.
Most recently, the Pfizer vaccine has been made available to all age groups, most recently the 5-11 and 12-15 age groups. The vaccine will be approved for emergency use in children 6 months to 5 years old, according to Pfizer. Moderna is still conducting research on its vaccine in a younger demographic.
How Can I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?
There are already COVID-19 vaccines accessible to all clinically recommended age groups in the United States (see table for details).
Please contact your state and local health departments for information on vaccination locations in your area. You can also get advice from your doctor.
It has been built with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to give information on vaccine availability around the country. Medical offices, clinics, hospitals, and even mass vaccination sites can provide vaccines to their patients.
It’s vital to remember that you won’t be able to pick and choose whatever vaccine brand you get. Vaccine types and manufacturers are being reported by a large number of sites. If you have any questions or concerns regarding a particular vaccine, you should talk to your doctor about it.
Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe?
More than 535 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States since December 2020, demonstrating the vaccine’s safety in studies involving tens of thousands of patients in several nations.
Pain or swelling in the arm where the injection was given, fever, chills, and headache are among the most common side effects. The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all known to cause substantial tiredness or exhaustion.
After a few days, these symptoms usually subside and offer no long-term issues. Side effects are possible with either of the two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, although the second dose has been the most frequently reported.
There have only been a handful of reports of serious adverse responses for all three immunizations. After receiving the shot, you will typically be requested to remain at the vaccination site for 15 minutes to check for any adverse reactions. Medical personnel should be notified right away if any symptoms of an allergic response such as swelling of the face, hives, trouble breathing, or dizziness occur during this time.
Women under the age of 50 have an increased chance of developing thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccination. Fewer than 60 of the nearly 17 million people who have received the vaccine have experienced this side effect, which is extremely rare. The FDA and CDC have decided that the vaccine’s advantages outweigh its risks, so it can be used again. TTS has not been connected to any other approved vaccines.
In general, the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If you have any of the following conditions, you should consult your doctor before getting vaccinated:
- I’m familiar with allergies.
- I’m sick right now, with a temperature.
- Was recently exposed to a person who was infected with COVID-19 and is showing signs of illness?
- You’re taking an anticoagulant, anyhow
- Have a problem with bleeding
- Being immunocompromised
- Treat your immune system with medication.
- Pregnant or attempting to conceive?
- Are you breastfeeding?
- Heart muscle or lining around the heart is inflamed
- Have already been vaccinated against COVID-19.
While none of these things automatically preclude someone from receiving a vaccine, discussing them with a physician can assist ensure that the vaccine is administered safely.
At your vaccination appointment, you should expect to be given a booklet outlining the possible risks. If you have any questions or concerns after reading this form, you should bring them up with the vaccine site medical staff.
Who Shouldn’t Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
People with a history of allergy to the COVID-19 vaccination or any of its constituents should not receive the vaccine.
How To Stay Safe After Vaccination
In order to defend against the coronavirus, vaccinations do not work immediately. Your body’s immune system takes some time to establish a reaction to COVID-19, and during this period, you are still vulnerable. While the vaccines have been proven to protect against serious sickness, it is not yet clear if they prevent the virus from spreading.
COVID-19 does not cause serious disease, hospitalization, or death in those who have been vaccinated. Anti-infection properties are also a benefit. Vaccinated individuals, on the other hand, are susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and disseminating the virus to others.
Maintaining basic protection against COVID-19 after vaccination is essential for these reasons. Taking these precautions will help you and others stay safe, and they include:
- Steer clear of huge crowds.
- Maintaining a six-foot physical separation from other persons
- People should avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places.
- Indoors or when you are unable to maintain physical distance, you should use a mask or other facial covering
- Hand washing on a regular basis
- People who exhibit signs of COVID-19 should stay home and avoid interaction with others.
Busting COVID-19 Vaccine Myths
There are still some misconceptions concerning the safety of COVID-19 vaccinations, despite the fact that numerous studies have found them to be completely safe. Getting the facts straight may dispel a lot of myths:
- The virus is not transmitted by the COVID-19 vaccine: Because the coronavirus material in the vaccinations is so little, the virus cannot be spread, the vaccines use them. Vaccines defend against COVID-19 because they teach your immune system to recognize the virus.
- Your DNA is unaffected by COVID-19 vaccines: Vaccines have no way of getting into your cells’ nucleus and causing damage.
- The COVID-19 vaccine has no effect on the ability of women to become pregnant. No studies have revealed any influence on a woman’s ability to conceive due to these or any other immunizations.
- Pregnant women can safely get COVID-19 vaccines: Pregnant women can safely receive vaccinations, according to an increasing body of evidence. Pregnant women are also protected from severe COVID-19 by vaccinations. Vaccination during pregnancy and nursing may even provide some protection for the baby.
Sleep, Sickness, and Vaccines
A healthy immune system necessitates a good night’s sleep. Studies on other vaccines have revealed that sleep deprivation can diminish vaccine effectiveness, but research on the COVID-19 vaccines has not yet been completed.
Accurate sleep has been linked to a lower risk of illness, better infection outcomes, and a stronger immunological response to vaccines. When white blood cells (immune system cells) moving to impacted parts of your system are reduced, the body’s ability to defend itself may be compromised. Sleep deprivation has been linked to these decreased immune system cell movements.
Another way sleep loss is linked to a diminished immune response is through our T cells, which are key players in the body’s natural defenses. A chemical called integrin, which aids T cells in attaching to virus-infected cells, is depleted when a person gets too little sleep, raising stress hormone levels. T lymphocytes may be less effective if they have less integrin due to sleep deprivation.
Immune responses to vaccines, such as the flu shot, might be affected by sleep deprivation. Patient’s immune system response is lowered in patients with sleep deprivation (less than 7 hours per night) and they have a much higher chance of not being protected despite the immunization.
Those with sleep difficulties may ask if the immunization may interfere with their current medication or worsen their condition. “There is no evidence that it is likely to worsen any sleep disorder, and all patients are encouraged to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” says Dr. Michael Thorpy, Professor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center. As Thorpy points out, sleep apnea is connected with worse outcomes in persons who contract COVID-19, thus vaccinating patients with sleep apnea is particularly crucial.
Pfizer and Moderna Vaccinations’ vaccines have “adverse effects that are infrequent but moderate,” says Thorpy, “such headache, and generally connected with the second dosage.” Taking acetaminophen after vaccination can help alleviate some of the side effects.
Dr. Thorpy further points out that “better sleep at night is generally related with the satisfaction of being vaccinated,” as he says.
Ongoing COVID-19 Vaccine Research
As a result of the positive results of vaccines, scientists are still focusing on several crucial areas of COVID-19 vaccine research, including
- Existing vaccinations are ineffective against altered strains of the virus.
- What happens if you alter the dosage schedule or quantity of doses?
- Some vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective for children and adolescents.
- How many people must be immunized in order to provide protection to the entire population?
FDA and CDC also maintain numerous programs to track vaccine responses and detect any adverse reactions as soon as they occur, and they collaborate with healthcare professionals to ensure that vaccines are administered safely. For more information about the vaccine, your eligibility, or any adverse reactions, please speak with your doctor.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep Before Your COVID Vaccine
That’s because a healthy immune system is built on a foundation of restorative sleep.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) president Dr. Kannan Ramar remarked in a press release that “while COVID-19 vaccines are being delivered, it is of greatest significance that patients continue to prioritize their sleep.” Your body’s ability to respond to a vaccine is enhanced if you get adequate, high-quality sleep on a regular basis.
There has been a correlation between vaccine response and a lack of sleep. The International Journal of Behavioral Medicine discovered in 2020 that flu vaccines tend to be more effective in persons who obtain adequate sleep the night before the injection. Other studies have found that patients’ responses to hepatitis A and B vaccinations are similar.
At the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Westborough, Dr. Khurshid Khurshid is the director of the UMMHC/UMMS Center for Neuromodulation. “Sleep has an important role in increasing innate and acquired immune response,” he said. Everyone, but especially health care professionals, should be aware of the positive impact that sleep has on immunity. Sleep following immunization has been proven to increase the immune response to an invaded antigen, and this impact is clinically significant.”
Getting a good night’s sleep before and after immunization may be beneficial, as Khurshid explained in the press release.
A recent poll by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the sleep of many Americans.
Three-quarters of those polled stated their sleep quality had been compromised, 30% said their ability to fall asleep had changed, and 29% said their nightly sleep amount had decreased.
3 tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
- A bedtime and morning routine should be established. Do not watch television or read in your bedroom. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and comfortably chilly.
- Turn off your television and other electronic devices 30 minutes to an hour before night to limit your exposure to blue light. Set your phone on silent and keep it out of reach of your bed so you’re not tempted to check social media or the news.
- Before going to bed, try to cut back on coffee, alcohol, and heavy meals. Limit yourself to short, sugar-free and easily digestible foods after dinner if you want to prevent interrupting your sleep.
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