Wellness Wednesday – 2/17/21
COVID-19 vaccinations have finally made their way to the Merrimack Valley as states began their respective rollout plans earlier this month. “To vaccinate or not to vaccinate” is an increasingly popular dilemma, so this week we’re providing everything you need to know about the novel COVID-19 vaccine. Whether you are for or against the vaccine is trivial, for when it comes to matters of health and wellness, research is always paramount. So, allow us to start that research for you with the latest vaccine facts from reliable sources around the web.
Facts & Resources
While getting any sort of shot can be intimidating (especially for those of us with a fear of needles) they are a lab-tested, CDC-approved way to help our bodies build immunity. According to the CDC, the COVID-19 vaccine does not actually contain a live virus, and thus will not make you sick with COVID-19. However, the process of the vaccine entering your body can result in symptoms, but “these symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.”
Moreover, the CDC has debunked many common myths going around about this vaccine. Here’s what they can confirm: you will not test positive on a COVID-19 viral test after receiving the vaccine, your DNA is not affected in any way, it is safe for those looking to get pregnant and most importantly, even if you have had COVID-19 in the past, you can still opt to get the vaccine.
“Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible,” their website notes, “vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection.”
The CDC has also created a guide of “Key Things to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine” which can be read here. The article affirms what they do and do not know about the vaccine. Importantly, while they know the vaccine can prevent the person receiving it from getting ill, there still may be a risk in spreading it to others as a carrier. Their website notes, “Scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not get sick.”
For live updates on COVID-19 news from around the world, bookmark these pages and check back frequently.
For general facts, FAQs and helpful resources: Mayo Clinic
Massachusetts residents: mass.gov
New Hampshire residents: nh.gov
Moderna, Pfizer, What’s the Difference?
If you are someone who kept hearing the words “Moderna” and “Pfizer” and had no idea what they meant, you’re not alone. Essentially, each are vaccines developed by different companies and labs who have the same goal in mind. Before reading further, check out this video that explains how vaccines work and how they work to protect us from viral infections.
Now back to our friends Pfizer and Moderna. This article comparing the various vaccines states that:
“The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made using messenger RNA, or mRNA, a technology that delivers a bit of genetic code to cells — in effect, a recipe to make the surface protein (known as spike) on the SARS-2 virus. The proteins made with the mRNA instructions activate the immune system, teaching it to see the spike protein as foreign and develop antibodies and other immunity weapons with which to fight it.”
So far, the Pfizer vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95%, while Moderna’s vaccine is 94.1%. Both vaccines require two doses; for the former 21 days and for the latter, 28 days between shots. Pfizer contains 30 micrograms of the vaccine while Moderna contains 100 micrograms. Interestingly, this article mentions is that while the Moderna vaccine uses a “little more than three times as much vaccine per person as Pfizer is,” they aren’t seeing better results than Pfizer.
There are notable side effects with each vaccine. So far, the most commonly reported side effects are injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint discomfort and fever. For more detailed comparisons, read the rest of the article here.
Now that the vaccinations have begun in Massachusetts, many members of my family who are first responders have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. I asked each of them about their experiences with post vaccination symptoms with the hopes of providing insight into what can be expected if one opts to receive the vaccine. Here’s what they had to say:
Robert, 51, firefighter: “I received the Moderna vaccine. During the first shot, I only had a sore arm. After the second shot, I experienced muscle aches, a slight fever, chills and a headache for approximately 12 hours.”
Bobby, 27, firefighter: “I had the Moderna vaccine. I experienced extreme body aches for 36 hours post-shot after both doses, but it was definitely worse after the second vaccine. I also felt very cold after the second shot.”
Victoria, 28, oncology nurse: (Victoria is currently is over three months pregnant.) “At my second OB (obstetrics) appointment, I was informed that the OB committee was in agreement for pregnant women to get the shot because it doesn’t go through the placenta, possibly harming the baby. That was my only concern so when I knew that, I was all in! I received the Pfizer vaccine and after the first shot, I experienced a headache and fatigue, but it was hard to tell if it was because of the vaccine or because of the pregnancy. My second shot was tougher, I was tired and had a headache, aches and chills until the next day.”
Emma, 24, MedSurge RN: “I got the Moderna vaccine. A few hours into the second dose I had pretty intense muscle pain at the injection site and was feeling fatigued. These symptoms lasted for about two to three days. I got the vaccine at 9 a.m. and spiked a fever of 102 at 1 a.m., then again at 1 p.m. the following day. All the symptoms were lessened with rotating ibuprofen and acetaminophen.”
Jessica, 21, nursing student: “I got the Pfizer. After the first dose I only had arm soreness, but after my second dose I experienced body aches, a low-grade fever and slight nausea. The symptoms started exactly 12 hours after I got the shot and lasted only about 24 hours.”
Lauren, 21, nursing student: “With my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, I felt no significant symptoms other than soreness in my arm. The second dose was a bit more intense as I woke up the next morning with chills, fatigue, and body aches. I felt totally fine after one day and definitely think everyone should get the vaccine if they are able to.”
Whatever your decision, make it the most educated one possible.
Breaking (vaccine) News: DiZoglio Vaccine Pre-Registration Bill Gets Boost After Federal Lawmakers Call on Governor to Establish System
Massachusetts’ federal legislative delegation is calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to launch a pre-registration system for the COVID-19 vaccine, a push that comes on the heels of State Senator Diana DiZoglio’s filing of SD709, an act relative to COVID-19 vaccination pre-registration.
In a letter penned by U.S. Representative Katherine Clark and co-signed by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Representatives Lori Trahan, Seth Moulton, Ayanna Pressley, Jim McGovern, Stephen Lynch, Bill Keating and Jake Auchincloss, the lawmakers express their concerns over the state’s vaccine rollout and lack of the sort of pre-registration system that has been launched in other U.S. states, such as Florida, New Jersey and West Virginia.
“We remain deeply concerned that the absence of a centralized pre-registration system for vaccine appointments has contributed to a slow and inequitable deployment of vaccines in Massachusetts, a trend that will only be exacerbated by increased demand as appointments open up to future eligibility groups,” wrote the lawmakers. “We therefore implore you to act with the requisite urgency to develop and implement a centralized, accessible system for all Massachusetts residents to pre-register for COVID-19 vaccinations, confirm eligibility details, and receive notification when an appointment becomes available at a convenient location.”
This week, our good reads are great companions to the vaccine read above. So if you’re still worried, still quarantined and still hoping for normalcy someday, ease your mind here.
Have you or a loved received the vaccine? Check out this article which details the safety precautions that are still recommended even after you or someone in your bubble has been vaccinated.
Yay Immunity! In a recent study detailed here, researchers have found that the immune system mounts a lasting defense after recovering from COVID-19, specifically “at least six months, and likely much longer.”
Don’t Dispose of Your PPE. A recent survey from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that “a majority of people in the United States indicated they will continue COVID-19 safety protocols, such as wearing masks and keeping physical distance, even after the pandemic eases” because, really, while everyone’s experience is different, we’re all in this together.