The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that pharmaceutical companies were scrambling to make a vaccine for public use, especially within a much shorter time frame than usual. After a few months of clinical trials and testing, multiple companies from around the world released vaccines. In the past few months, many countries have begun inoculation programs to ensure that all their citizens are vaccinated, in hopes to curb the further spread of the coronavirus. Vaccines are the talk of the town at the moment as there seem to be many misconceptions about each type, especially because every country has approved different vaccines.
The vaccination is an essential tool in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Not only will it help to prevent catching the virus, but it also helps people from getting seriously ill from other diseases. It also builds protection within people’s immune systems and herd immunity, which could lead everyone to become more resilient against COVID-19. At the moment, the most effective way to fight the coronavirus until there is a surefire way of treating the disease is to get vaccinated, follow safe distancing guidelines, and continue to wear a mask in public. However, similar to every medical treatment, there are side effects and slight risks involved with every vaccine, also depending on the person’s background.
mRNA vaccines aim to protect against infectious diseases. They teach our cells how to make a protein, which then triggers an immune response within our bodies. This immune response produces antibodies that attack foreign invaders, thereby preventing us from contracting the disease, particularly the fatal symptoms. It protects us against the coronavirus. mRNA vaccines do not impact or affect our DNA in any way. Even though this type of vaccine might be new, it has been researched and studied for decades.
The Pfizer vaccine is an example of one mRNA vaccine and made by an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation. It is recommended for people ages 16 and older. Side effects include pain at the muscle in the arm, where the injection is, headaches, fatigue, muscle, and joint pain, and a fever. It has been reported that more people experience side effects after the second dose of this vaccine.
The Moderna vaccine, also made by an American pharmaceutical company, is another mRNA vaccine but administered to people ages 18 and older. The vaccine is safe and effective even for people with medical conditions associated with a risk of severe disease, like diabetes and asthma. Similar to the Pfizer vaccine, it requires two doses. Side effects include pain, swelling at the muscle, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, fever, vomiting, and joint pain.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was manufactured by a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company. So far, this particular vaccine has received the most controversy because of the complications associated with the vaccine in those that have taken it, despite initial high expectations. Not only have there been disputes over its supply, causing Europe to have a slow vaccine rollout for its population, but there were reports of blood clots in those that had taken it.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the first single-shot vaccine to be administered publicly, compared to the other vaccines that require two injections. The major American corporation is committed to providing the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis especially in emergency cases. However, the US has currently temporarily halted the use of this vaccine because six women had blood clots and one of them died, making it a risk for all.
Novavax is another vaccine option. Also given in two doses, this vaccine uses a different technology from the mRNA vaccines. The clinical trials reported a 96% effectiveness in preventing the coronavirus, comparing well with the Pfizer vaccine. Novavax is reportedly safe as those tested did not report severe side effects or adverse reactions. It also has relatively high effectiveness against other variants of the COVID-19 virus.
As vaccine eligibility is increasing, it is important for everyone to be aware of what to do and what not to do after getting the vaccine. Those who have preexisting medical conditions and allergies must do proper research about the vaccine before getting it, or else serious side effects could occur. However, it is important to mentally prepare for side effects as they could happen to anyone. Even if you get vaccinated, wearing a mask is still essential in containing the spread of the virus. If everyone acts accordingly, the world could potentially go back to its pre-COVID “normal.”