What You Need to Know if You’re on the Fence About the COVID-19 Vaccine

As April 19th approaches, everyone who is 16 or older in Massachusetts will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For some people, this could be the moment they have been anxiously awaiting since the start of the pandemic. For others, it could be a source of uncertainty and stress. I’m here to give you some unbiased information about the safety, efficacy, and practicality of the COVID-19 vaccines currently being distributed in the United States to offer some clarity and insight into your decision to get vaccinated!

Many people may think that the vaccine is rushed, and it is true that these were vaccines that were granted emergency approval in record time. However, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t extremely safe and well-understood. The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are the first mRNA vaccines to be widely distributed, but the technology used to make them has been thoroughly researched and discussed since the 1990s. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, which uses a harmless virus, completely separate from COVID-19, to tell your body to create an immune response to the virus. Viral vectors have been used for around 50 years for several uses besides vaccines, including cancer treatment.

covid-19 wall graffiti Photo by Adam Nieścioruk from Unsplash

While I was writing this article, the news broke that there would be a pause on the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six women out of around 7 million people who received it developed blood clots. If this news made you anxious or nervous in any way, know that you are not alone. The pause on the vaccine will allow researchers to determine if it is safe to distribute to the population and if the potential, although extremely rare, adverse side effects of the shot are safer than getting COVID-19 itself.

After clinical trials by each vaccine manufacturer, which each had tens of thousands of people representing diverse ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds were run for several months, an independent group of scientists and public health professionals analyzed the data from the trials and decided that the benefit of the vaccines in preventing symptomatic disease and death from COVID-19 outweighed any reactions or side effects of the shots. After their recommendation, the FDA began to issue emergency use authorization of the vaccines due to the record-high number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 in the United States.  Woman looking into a microscope Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels In any vaccine, where your body is producing an immune response, there is a possibility of side effects. Normally lasting no longer than two days, fever, chills, headache, nausea, and soreness or redness at the injection site are all common. Severe allergic reactions, which can occur with any vaccine, have been very rare. The CDC has stated that anaphylaxis has “occurred in approximately 2 to 5 people per million vaccinated in the United States." Over 200 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the US, and there is no evidence that links long-term effects or death to any of them. 

COVID-19 vaccine Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Whether or not you decide to get vaccinated, I hope this gave you some helpful information!

Remember that the best vaccine you can get is the one that is available to you when you are eligible to receive it!

If you want any more information on COVID-19 vaccines or want to get started searching or pre-registering for your own appointment, please visit the following sources: 

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html 

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/preregister-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-appointment