The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as a measure against both contracting a potentially lethal virus and to prevent spreading the virus to others, including your loved ones. Many are understandably concerned about the safety profiles of the various vaccines, and some are especially wary due to the speed at which the vaccines were both developed and approved for use. These fears are normal, and the information below is meant to help you weigh the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated.
Firstly, are the vaccines safe?
Resoundingly, yes. The vaccines are only instructions provided to your immune system. Each of the currently authorized vaccinations in the US are safe, and cannot infect you with coronavirus or make you develop Covid. The vaccines do not carry the coronavirus in any form; therefore, cannot infect you. You can think of them as daily presidential briefings. The vaccine presents the latest intelligence on the virus, while also providing information on how to fight it. In the case of the first two authorized vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, this information is provided via mRNA, which functions as blueprints that allow the body itself to build proteins which teach the immune system how to identify and fight the real coronavirus. The mRNA in the vaccine does not alter your DNA, because it cannot enter the nucleus.
Reported Side Effects
Mild side effects are relatively common, but this is not a cause for worry. The side effects you experience after a vaccine are caused by your body’s own response to the information carried in the vaccine. The vaccine carries information about the shape of a coronavirus antigen, in this case, the spike (s) protein that exists on the surface of each viral coronavirus particle. The information carried in the vaccine allows your body to create proteins that are the same shape as the s protein, which effectively function as antigens. These antigens essentially act as wanted posters, and the “Sherriff” in town (your immune system) instructs your body go into high alert- it does this by raising your baseline temperature (fever), sending out deputies (inflammatory cytokines) to check out the site of the vaccines, leading to inflammation (pain and swelling). Commonly experienced side effects are simply a sign that your immune system is reacting to the vaccine the way it should. Does that mean something’s wrong if you didn’t have any side effects? No- everyone’s immune system is unique, and processes and reacts to information differently. Therefore, you shouldn’t be worried if you don’t experience side effects, as this does not mean that the vaccine hasn’t worked- this just means your immune system is learning and adapting to the new information provided by the vaccine in a less noticeable manner.
Who shouldn’t get the vaccine?
Anyone with a previous history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) should not get the vaccine. The vaccine could trigger an allergic reaction that could become life threatening. If you are concerned, please meet with your provider to discuss the best option for you.
Vaccination hubs have put safety protocols into place, and require those who become vaccinated to wait at the facility for 15-30 minutes, to ensure that care is provided immediately if an allergic reaction does occur. You also should not get the vaccine if you currently have Covid. The CDC advises people with Covid who have symptoms wait until they have recovered from the illness and meet vaccination criteria before getting vaccinated.
Benefits vs Risk of Vaccination
The CDC recommends vaccination to all adults who are able and have access. All of the currently authorized vaccines have been proven through rigorous testing to both reduce your risk of getting Covid and reduce the likelihood of developing severe disease. However, the benefits of developing immunity to the coronavirus and its variants far outweighs the risks posed by getting vaccinated. Developing Covid can lead to fatal outcomes, regardless of a patient’s previous health profile. By becoming vaccinated, you significantly decrease your risk of both getting or developing serious Covid, and also decrease the likelihood of spreading the virus to your loved ones.
We understand the decision is unique for each person, and our providers are always happy to discuss the best option for you.