Since the outbreak of the coronavirus infection, the World Health Organisation has been responding rapidly, working with governments around the world to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus disease.
There was accelerated development during early 2020 of varied technology platforms for a COVID‑19 vaccine.
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By January 2021, 69 vaccine candidates were in clinical research, including 43 in Phase I–II trials and 26 in Phase II–III trials.
In Phase III trials, several COVID‑19 vaccines demonstrated efficacy as high as 95% in preventing symptomatic COVID‑19 infections.
As of January 2021, nine vaccines have been authorized by at least one national regulatory authority for public use: two RNA vaccines (the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine), three conventional inactivated vaccines (BBIBP-CorV from Sinopharm, BBV152 from Bharat Biotech and CoronaVac from Sinovac), two viral vector vaccines (Sputnik V from the Gamaleya Research Institute and the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine), and one peptide vaccine (EpiVacCorona [ru]).
Meanwhile, the United States Food and Drug Administration, a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services in the U.S has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines, which were found to be safe and effective in clinical trials.
Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, with over 114,000 infections and almost 1,500 deaths since the outbreak began is also expecting about 100, 000 doses of Pfizer vaccine by early February.
As more people get their shots, here are what we think you should know before getting vaccinated:
What side effects can I expect from the COVID vaccine?
Minor side effects are common after COVID-19 vaccination. Almost everyone experiences arm pain at the injection site. Other symptoms can include low grade fever, body ache, chills, fatigue, and headache.
You can expect to feel better within 24 to 48 hours. Some people feel too unwell to go to work or perform their usually daily activities during this period. Contact your doctor if your symptoms have not improved by the third day.
Moving your sore arm around may help to relieve discomfort. If you have a fever, drink plenty of fluids. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help with fever, pain, and other discomfort. However, it’s best to not take a pain reliever right before getting your shot, because there is a chance this could blunt your immune response.
The good news is that these side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working and that your body is building an antibody response. The currently available vaccines require two shots, and side effects are more likely to occur after the second shot.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I already had COVID-19?
Even people who have already gotten sick with COVID-19 may benefit from the vaccine, according to the CDC.
Here’s what we know. COVID-19 can lead to serious illness and long-term complications, even in younger people and those without underlying medical conditions. We also know that it’s possible for someone who has already had COVID-19 to be re-infected, though this is not common.
On the other hand, we don’t know how long natural immunity to COVID-19 — the protection that results from having been sick — lasts. It’s not clear if the strength or duration of natural immunity varies based on the severity of the initial illness. We also don’t know how long immunity conferred by vaccines lasts.
During the initial deployment of the vaccine to front line workers and people in long-term care facilities like nursing homes, people eligible for the vaccine will get it regardless of whether or not they were previously infected. They are not being tested for antibodies prior to vaccination.
As scientists learn more about natural immunity after COVID illness, vaccination criteria based on the presence of antibodies may play a role in the future.
Will the COVID vaccine prevent me from infecting others?
The answer is, we don’t know.
Clinical trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines found that both do a good job preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease, including severe COVID-19. However, the trials did not measure whether a person who is vaccinated is less likely to spread the virus to someone else.
It’s possible that the vaccines protect against COVID-19 disease by preventing a person from becoming infected in the first place. However, it’s also possible that the vaccine protects a person from COVID-19 illness, but does not prevent a person from becoming infected. In other words, a vaccinated person may have replicating virus in their nose and throat even if they are protected from becoming sick.
The bottom line? If you’re among the first groups of people to get vaccinated, it’s best to continue wearing masks and maintaining physical distance in order to protect others who haven’t yet gotten the vaccine.
Once I get the COVID-19 vaccine, can I stop taking other precautions?
The vaccine will protect you from getting sick, but it may not prevent you from infecting others. That’s why, at least for now, you should continue wearing a mask and physically distancing from others, even after you get your shot.
It’s possible that the vaccines protect against COVID-19 disease by preventing a person from becoming infected. However, it’s also possible that the vaccine protects a person from getting sick but does not prevent the virus from replicating in that person’s nose and throat.
Does that mean there’s enough virus in your nose and throat to infect someone else? Not necessarily. But we need more research to know for sure.
Where does that leave us? If you’re among the first groups of people to get vaccinated, it’s best to continue wearing masks and maintaining physical distance in order to protect others who haven’t yet gotten the vaccine.
Source: Harvard Health Publishing