Effectiveness of Covid Vaccines in Florida

If you’re still hesitant about taking the COVID-19 vaccine, you’re not alone. With so much varying discourse surrounding the shot, it can be hard to make a decision that you feel absolutely certain about. Overall, it’s true that the Covid vaccine is effective at what it was designed to do: prepare your body to combat the COVID-19 virus should you catch it, preventing severe symptoms that require hospitalization or that can cause death. 

Although each vaccine is unique, all of them offer protection against severe disease. Here’s a more in-depth look at the effectiveness of Covid vaccines.

How Does the Vaccine Work?

Despite what you may have heard, the vaccine does not infect you with the COVID-19 virus. Unlike many other vaccines that work by injecting the live virus into the patient, the COVID-19 vaccines are not made up of the live virus, so you cannot get infected with the virus through the vaccine itself.

Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are being administered in the U.S. right now, and others are on track to do the same. All three vaccines work in similar ways to help your body fight against the virus.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine work by delivering a tiny piece of genetic code from the SARS CoV-2 virus to host cells in the body, essentially giving those cells instructions, for making copies of spike proteins (the spikes you see sticking out of the coronavirus in pictures online and on TV). The spikes do the work of penetrating and infecting host cells.

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These proteins stimulate an immune response, producing antibodies and developing memory cells that will recognize and respond if the body is infected with the actual virus. Unlike vaccines that put a weakened or inactivated disease germ into the body, Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines. The effectiveness of these Covid vaccines are both about 95% against severe disease.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is slightly different but works in a similar way. It’s categorized as a carrier vaccine, which uses a different approach than the mRNA vaccines to instruct human cells to make the SARS CoV-2 spike protein. Scientists engineer a harmless adenovirus (a common virus that, when not inactivated, can cause colds, bronchitis, and other illnesses) as a shell to carry genetic code on the spike proteins to the cells.

The shell and the code can’t make you sick, but once the code is inside the cells, the cells produce a spike protein to train the body’s immune system, which creates antibodies and memory cells to protect against an actual SARS-CoV-2 infection. The effectiveness of this Covid vaccine is 72% overall with an 86% efficacy against moderate and severe disease in the U.S., according to analyses posted by the FDA in February.

It’s important to know that Covid vaccines are still effective if you develop mild to moderate symptoms after receiving the dose(s). With the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, side effects can include chills, headache, pain, tiredness, and/or redness and swelling at the injection site, all of which generally resolve within a day or two. 

On rare occasions, mRNA vaccines have appeared to trigger anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that is treatable with epinephrine (the drug in Epipens®). For that reason, the CDC requires vaccination sites to monitor everyone for 15 minutes after their COVID-19 shot, and for 30 minutes if they have a history of severe allergies. Talk to your primary care physician if you’re concerned about an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

As with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you may experience fatigue, fever, headache, injection site pain, or myalgia (pain in a muscle or group of muscles), all of which generally resolve within a day or two. It has had noticeably milder side effects than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, according to the FDA report released in late February. No one suffered an allergic reaction in clinical trials for the vaccine, according to the company.

It is highly likely that you’ll experience some level of side effects and symptoms after receiving a Covid vaccine. However, these symptoms may prove to be a problem if you’re pregnant.

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Can I Take the Vaccine While Pregnant?

If you’ve been holding back on taking the vaccine because of your pregnancy or the possibility that you’ll become pregnant in the near future, you’re not alone. It’s important to be absolutely sure of the decisions you make when it comes to your health and the health of your body.

With that being said, this decision should really be between you and your OB/GYN, as their answer may differ depending on which trimester you’re in, which risk factors are unique to your body, what kind of symptoms you’ve had during your pregnancy, and many other factors.

Dr. Susan Fox and her team of medical professionals are here to answer all of your questions regarding the effectiveness of Covid vaccines and whether or not taking it is right for you and your baby. Give us a call today or schedule an appointment online.

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