After over a year of suffering and stress, grief and isolation, hope has arrived through immunization. We’ve already seen the impact that vaccines can have on Covid-19 infections: as vaccination numbers go up, the rates of positivity, hospitalization and death have plummeted across the country.
The message is clear: vaccination works.
All people 12 and older who can get the Covid-19 vaccine should. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that vaccination helps keep people safe from getting Covid-19, and those who are vaccinated and contract Covid-19 are far less likely to become seriously ill. That means that vaccinated people can return to traveling and participating in activities they love, while reuniting with friends and loved ones. In most places, they can even take off the mask.
If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, it’s important that you study up and learn the facts so that you can make an informed decision. Below, you’ll find a mini guide to how vaccines work, what’s available to you, and why you should consider getting a Covid vaccine in order to protect your family, your friends, your community—and yourself.
What is a vaccine?
A vaccine helps your body ward off illness. By placing a small portion of a germ, or something similar to the germ into the body, the immune system develops antibodies, which will be ready and waiting to fight off the actual disease, if you’re exposed to it.
What is the Covid-19 vaccine?
The Covid-19 vaccines available in the United States do not contain any active part of the Covid-19 virus. Each use a protein found on the virus to stimulate the body to have an immune response and develop antibodies that will protect it from Covid-19 vaccine in the future. While some people may experience side effects from the vaccine, they cannot catch Covid from it.
What vaccines are available to protect people against Covid-19?
United States residents have access to three different Covid-19 vaccines, each of which is a little bit different. Here’s an overview of the options.
The Pfizer-BioNTech requires two doses approximately three weeks apart via a shot in the arm. It’s recommended for people 12 and older. Clinical trials have shown the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be 95 percent effective against Covid-19. It takes two weeks after the second shot to have full immunity potential.
The Moderna vaccine requires two doses, 28 days apart. It’s recommended for people 18 and older. Clinical trials have shown the Moderna vaccine to be 94.1 percent effective against Covid-19. It takes two weeks after the second shot to have full immunity potential.
Johnson & Johnson-Janssen
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine requires only one dose, and that sets it apart. It’s recommended for people 18 and older. In clinical trials it was found to be 66.3 percent effective against Covid-19. It takes two weeks after the second shot to have full immunity potential.
Of note: Federal health officials briefly put a pause on the J&J vaccine in April as they examined a possible connection to a rare blood-clotting disorder. That pause has been lifted, but the CDC warns that “women younger than 50 years old should especially be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination.”
Where can I get vaccinated?
When they were first released, vaccines were hard to come by. But now that they’ve available for months, it’s easier than ever to make an appointment. The site Vaccine.gov can also help you find vaccines nearby, along with a list of incentives that private companies are offering to those who get vaccinated, such as free transportation to vaccination sites, free childcare during and even free donuts.
Alabama Public Health also offers an excellent online resource to answer all of your vaccine-related questions, and even provides a scheduling portal (along with an updated dashboard about vaccine doses delivered, a map of vaccine clinics and a tracker of cases and deaths). Another great option is to make an appointment with your primary care provider and ask for advice on which vaccine is best for you, and where to get it.
Why should you I vaccinated?
Vaccination is safe, effective, and free. If you look at the recent reports, nearly all of the recent deaths related to Covid-19 are people who are unvaccinated.
By building community immunity, we can quickly return to the normalcy we used to take for granted. Businesses can thrive. Families can reunite without worry. Our sense of safety and security can return. But it’ll take all of us to get there.