COVID-19 Vaccine: When can you get vaccinated, and what will it be like?

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It’s a huge day in the United States because it’s the day the Electoral College casts their votes in the presidential election, but also, front line workers around the nation will be punching the clock this morning and receiving the first American doses of the COVID 19 vaccine. There’s a lot to digest, so I’ll do this in Q&A format.

Who gets the Coronavirus vaccine?

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for people ages 16 and over. Although, who can get the vaccine is very different from who does get the vaccine first.

When can I get vaccinated?

It takes time to ramp up production of a vaccine, in addition to some drama as Trump opted out of an opportunity to purchase more from Pfizer. Because of this, it’s going to be months upon months for the average Jane to be vaccinated. The first to receive doses today will be essential front-line workers at about 100 hospitals nationwide. Only about 2.9 million doses are being distributed this week, with an estimated 20 million going out by the end of the year. There are 21 million healthcare workers in this country, so we’re looking at that first segment continuing in 2021, when the next prioritized group will be the nation’s 3 million people in long-term assisted living facilities.

Is the COVID vaccine safe?

The studies and tests of the Pfizer vaccine included more than 44,000 participants. According to the FDA, a review of the safety and performance of the shot found no specific safety concerns. It’s important to remember that the studies conducted on the vaccine focused on people 16 and older and did not study people under 16 or pregnant women. If a study is conducted, it may prove the Pfizer vaccine is safe for children under 16 and for pregnant women, but until that trial is conducted, they’ll be excluded from vaccinations using this drug. There are some mild side effects, which I’ll talk about in a second.

What’s the COVID19 vaccine like?

Pfizer’s vaccine takes two doses, about 3-4 weeks apart. It gets injected into the arm, much like the contemporary flu vaccine and has similar but slightly more common side effects.

What’s the difference between the COVID vaccines?

With the global rush to find a solution to this outbreak, there are obviously more than one viable vaccine options out there in development. Pfizer is the first to market, but Moderna’s less-sensitive vaccine isn’t expected to take much longer for approval. Generally, the two are considered to be comparable in safety and effectiveness, but the Moderna vaccine doesn’t need the same super-cold storage temperature, making it easier to distribute because it can be stored in a conventional freezer.

Where are vaccines available?

The vaccines have first been distributed to major hospitals, but plans are for vaccine doses to eventually be available at nursing homes and even at your corner drug stores. Both CVS and Walgreens have announced partnerships on that front.

What are the COVID19 vaccine side effects?

There are side effects to the COVID19 vaccines, though they’ve been described as ‘mild’ and slightly more active than the flu vaccine. Those are things like soreness and redness in your arm where you get injected, fatigue and a mild fever that can be expected to disappear within 24 hours. They’re actually saying the symptoms are most-like one of the leading Shingles vaccines.

Why are there side effects?

That’s a great question. Vaccine side effects are your body acknowledging the vaccine and ramping up production of the defenses which help you fight off possible infection.

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