7 Key Facts About COVID Vaccines

The Covid vaccines are an essential step in ending the global pandemic. Here are seven key facts to know about Covid vaccines and how they may contribute to returning the world to normal.

1. Covid vaccines can be made faster than traditional vaccines.

Most previous vaccines required that the harmful virus itself be part of the vaccine. Scientists use a weakened or attenuated form of a virus or an inactivated, killed virus to make traditional vaccines. These methods need a lengthy investigation and testing period to develop the vaccine and determine if it is safe and effective.

The Covid vaccines use different technology. The Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines use mRNA technology. mRNA is a modified genetic platform that can be programmed against a disease. Because the Covid virus has a protein on its surface that is specific to it, mRNA technology allows researchers to code the mRNA vaccine, so the body recognizes the protein and builds immunity to Covid.

The mRNA platform was already in existence when Covid became a worldwide pandemic. It took scientists less time to code the mRNA against Covid than to develop a traditional vaccine.

The Johnson and Johnson Covid vaccine uses viral vector technology. Like mRNA, viral vector technology was already being used. Viral vector vaccines use a different, non-harmful virus as a platform to instruct the body's cell to build immunity. The virus, known as a vector, was coded with the Covid virus's protein, again shortening the time needed to develop the vaccine.

2. More people can get the Covid vaccine.

Traditional vaccines often contain one or more allergens which can cause severe allergic reactions. Vaccines may contain preservatives or be grown in an egg-based culture exposing people to these substances. Some vaccine containers have latex tops. A vaccine which comes into contact with the latex can produce an allergic reaction. None of the Covid vaccines contain these allergens.

3. The majority of side effects are mild

According to the CDC, any vaccine can cause mild side effects like pain at the injection site, fatigue or fever. Side effects are an indication that the body's immune system is working and building antibodies against the disease. Many participants in the Covid vaccine clinical trials reported common side effects. There were no severe adverse events reported connected to getting the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. In those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine there has been a low incidence of blood clots.

4. The doses required are different.

The mRNA vaccines require two doses, three to four weeks apart, for maximum effectiveness. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is one dose. When you get vaccinated, you will be told which vaccine you received and if and when you need to return for a second dose.

5. The Covid Vaccines are not for all ages.

Based on data from the clinical trials, the Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization for specific age groups to receive the vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine was originally authorized for those age 16 and older. Just today the age range was extended to include children ages 12 to 15. The other two Covid vaccines are restricted to people age 18 and older. 

6. The Covid Vaccines have storage restrictions.

Because the Covid vaccines do not contain preservatives, they must be stored at strict freezer and refrigerator temperatures. The vaccines expire and become unusable if left too long at room temperature. The CDC has provided recommendations to all vaccine providers on how to store and handle the vaccines.

7. The Covid Vaccines are still being studied.

Although the FDA granted approval to use the Covid vaccines, once they were used for the general public, the CDC became responsible for monitoring their safety and effectiveness. As more people receive the vaccines, the CDC is collecting data and monitoring any issues associated with the vaccines' use. The CDC will update the rules and recommendations for the Covid vaccine use as new data becomes available.

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