Tue | Jan 19, 2021

Save our souls: Take the coronavirus vaccine

Published:Wednesday | January 13, 2021 | 12:11 AM

Some Jamaicans have expressed concern about getting vaccinated now that COVID-19 vaccines are available in the United States and other countries, and are expected to reach our shores by April. While more COVID-19 vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorised or approved for use. Safety is a top priority, and there are many reasons to get vaccinated.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), none of the authorised and recommended COVID-19 vaccines, or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States, contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that the COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

There are several different types of vaccines in development, all of which will teach our immune systems how to recognise and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever.

However, according to the WHO, these symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building protection against the COVID-19 virus.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it is possible a person could be infected with the virus just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, neither the recently authorised and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.

If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection is possible, vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing recommendations to federal, state, and local governments about who should be vaccinated first.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests that natural immunity may not last very long.

However, it is not known how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until there is more data on how well the vaccines work.

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about.

However, at the end of the process, our bodies will learn how to protect against future infection. That immune response and making antibodies is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Q. Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?

A. Yes. COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognise and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19.

Being protected from getting sick is important, because even though many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may experience severe illness, have long-term health effects, or even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you don’t have an increased risk of developing severe complications.

Q. How effective is the Pfizer vaccine after one injection?

A. Pfizer said the late-stage trial found its shot was about 52 per cent effective after the first dose, with study results showing protection starting as early as 12 days after receiving it. A week after the second dose, the shot’s effectiveness rose to 95 per cent, Pfizer said its study found.

Q. Are you immune to COVID-19 if you get it once?

A. Research is still ongoing into how strong that protection is and how long it lasts. The WHO is also looking into whether the strength and length of immune response depend on the type of infection a person has without symptoms (asymptomatic), mild or severe. Even people without symptoms seem to develop an immune response.

Source: World Health Organization