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  • COVID-19 Vaccine 101
    Maybe you’re ready to be first in line or perhaps you’re skeptical of the safety of a new vaccine. Either way, it’s smart to do your homework and learn what you can before getting your arm pricked. Read >>
  • Unintentional Harm
    With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, you hear a lot these days about strengthening your immune system to fight off infection. You want a healthy immune system, but you may be weakening your immune system without knowing it. Here are six ways you may be harming your ability to fight off illness. Read >>
  • Kiss Your Cough Goodbye
    Your body uses coughs to remove mucus, bacteria, irritants, or foreign particles from your throat. Unfortunately, that annoying daytime cough can keep you from restful sleep at night. Find relief with simple home remedies. Read >>
  • When Sleep Slips through Your Fingers
    Being unable to fall asleep is a frustrating experience that many people have on a regular basis. In your quest for some Zs, there are many things that could sabotage your efforts. Have you considered them? Read >>
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COVID-19 Vaccine 101

The arrival of the COVID-19 virus sent scientists into overtime to discover and produce a safe and effective vaccine. After mere months of waiting, we have what we’ve been waiting for. Thanks to the vaccine and ongoing research, there is hope that this awful virus can be prevented and someday eradicated.

Maybe you’re ready to be first in line or perhaps you’re skeptical of the safety of a new vaccine. Either way, it’s smart to do your homework and learn what you can before getting your arm pricked.

Here’s what you should know about the COVID-19 vaccines.

What Is a Vaccine?

A vaccine, shot, or immunization is a substance injected into your body to stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies. Antibodies are blood proteins that help fight off foreign invaders like viruses. The available vaccines for COVID-19 don’t contain live viruses so they can’t make you sick. Rather, they contain harmless material of the virus. When injected into your body, this teaches your immune system how to produce antibodies in case it must defend itself against a possible future infection.

Why Get a Vaccine?

COVID-19 is unpredictable. Initially, it seemed to only affect elderly people and those with compromised immune systems. Since then, a number of healthy, young people have died from it, while many older, sick people quickly recover. Getting a vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from getting sick. If you get vaccinated and still get infected with COVID, the vaccine should keep you from severe illness. While more studies are needed, it is hopeful that the vaccine should also prevent you from spreading the virus to others so the pandemic can end.

How Effective Are They?

Two vaccines are currently being distributed in the United States. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has an effective rate of 95 percent a week after the second dose. Studies of the Moderna vaccine show a 94.1-percent effectiveness rate. Two doses of either vaccine are required, given between 21 and 28 days apart. Don’t want the second vaccine? You may want to think again. Research has determined that if you only get the first vaccine, you cut your benefit by 50 percent. Currently, it’s recommended you receive the same type of vaccine for both doses.

Are There Side Effects?

As with most vaccines, there is the possibility of side effects, though most are mild. After the first or second dose, you may experience pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site. You may also develop slight COVID-like symptoms including fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, or joint pain. Side effects typically last one to two days. Call your doctor if your symptoms last longer than two days or if they begin more than three days after getting the shot.

How Do I Get the Vaccine?

In the United States, vaccine distribution is being handled by the individual states. Due to a shortage of vaccines and logistical issues, distribution is moving slowly. The first in line are first responders and those 75 years old and older. Next in line are those age 65 and older and those with a high risk of severe infection due to an underlying medical condition. Contact your local health department to find out when and where you’re able to receive a vaccine.

What if You’ve Already Had COVID-19?

A previous COVID-19 infection may provide you with some immunity for a short period of time, but it is possible to be re-infected. Therefore, it’s recommended that you get the vaccine if it’s been 90 days or longer since your infection.