Learn About COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects, Costs and If It Works
Now that the first 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 to be as high as 95% effective with no reports of serious side effects.
But a majority of people must get the vaccine – which involves two doses – for it to be effective.
“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 spring. Production is still being ramped up. The vaccine will be distributed first to those most at risk. This includes 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, pain at the injection site, fatigue 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?
The first two vaccines that are coming out are a two-dose regimen, and it is vital that people get both doses. You will need to schedule your second dose when you are getting the first.
- The vaccine’s effectiveness goes up with the second dose. For example, the Pfizer vaccine is only about 50% effective with only one dose, but increases to 93% to 95% with two doses.
- 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, fatigue, 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 no serious adverse side effects were discovered within the study periods, there is always a slight risk there will be isolated reports.
The way the vaccine is designed means that there will be very low risk for long-term side effects. The RNA protein quickly leaves your cells after it does its work of alerting your immune system.
What’s more, safety monitoring is continuing after the vaccine is approved for distribution.
How Much Will the COVID-19 Vaccine Cost?
For now, the government is covering cost of the vaccine itself. There may be a slight administration fee if you do not have health insurance. Private health insurance companies, such as Avera Health Plans, and government insurance programs like Medicare will cover the vaccination at no additional cost to you.
Information about the COVID-19 vaccines continues to evolve. Go to Avera.org/covid-vaccine for the most up-to-date information.