Learn About COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects, Costs and If It Works
Now that COVID-19 vaccines are being dispersed let’s talk about what it means for you.
Health experts say a vaccine is a vital step toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on clinical studies data, the vaccines are showing high effectiveness rates, both in preventing COVID-19 and the incidence of severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.
But a majority of people must get vaccinated for it to be effective in preventing ongoing spread of COVID-19.
“There is no other way we’re going to get past COVID-19 without this vaccine,” said David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality. “We need at least 70% of the population to get vaccinated to get back to normal lives, so we can visit grandma again, start to travel and all those things.”
We understand you have some questions before it’s your turn to get vaccinated. Here’s what the experts and data say about the vaccine.
When Can I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
It’s expected to be widely available to most healthy adults by late spring. The vaccine was distributed first to those most at risk, including front-line health care workers and those living in long-term care facilities. Avera's website will keep people informed so you will not need to call your clinic to inquire about getting the vaccine.
Avera is following best practice guidelines from state health officials, the Catholic Healthcare Association and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to determine vaccine roll-out.
Even after you get the vaccination it will still be important to continue wearing a mask and follow recommended guidelines to stay safe.
Is the COVID Vaccine Safe?
Vaccines that have been approved for emergency use have undergone rigorous testing by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) to ensure safety and efficacy.
Studies indicate coronavirus vaccination side effects are mild and include headaches, muscle aches, pain at the injection site, fatigue, nausea and mild fever.
In fact, Basel said these are signs that the body is working to build immunity.
Were the Vaccines Rushed Through Approvals?
The COVID-19 vaccines went through large trials. The most compressed time was the manufacturing process, which started earlier than normal ahead of approval.
“The government paid these companies to ramp up production ahead of the typical timeline. Usually companies wait until a drug is approved to set up manufacturing,” Basel explained.
How Many Doses Do I Need?
If the vaccine you receive requires a two-dose regimen, it is vital that people get both doses. You will need to schedule your second dose when you are getting the first. One approved vaccine requires only one dose, so make sure you understand which vaccine you are receiving. Vaccines from different manufacturers should not be mixed.
- The effectiveness of two-dose vaccines goes up with the second dose.
- One of the compacted parts of the study is how long patients have been followed after getting the vaccinations. This doesn’t create safety concerns, but it’s still to be determined how long immunity will last and if people will need a booster shot after about a year.
Why Can’t My Kids Get It?
The vaccine data is very promising, but is currently being studied in children. When more study information is available, the FDA will provide protocols on whether or not it’s recommended for children. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people age 16 and older.
What if I Have Side Effects?
Mild side effects – headache, muscle aches, fatigue or low fever – will occur in some people. It’s still important to follow through with the second dose. Side effects will only last for a day or two.
These side effects mean your body is producing the desired result – an immune response. However, for most people, getting no symptoms at all does not mean the vaccine is not working. It means you are one of the lucky ones who will be symptom-free.
While there is always a slight risk of serious adverse side effects, these are very isolated events. The risk is very low for any long-term side effects.
What’s more, safety monitoring is continuing after the vaccine is approved for distribution.
How Much Will the COVID-19 Vaccine Cost?
At this time, there is no out-of-pocket cost of the vaccine to the vaccine recipient.
Information about the COVID-19 vaccines continues to evolve. Go to Avera.org/covid-vaccine for the most up-to-date information.