By Neha Sangani
Currently, around 15 million people in the US have received the vaccine for Covid-19. My mom is a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, so she got the Moderna Covid vaccine a couple weeks ago. I decided to ask her about some common misconceptions about the vaccine. Here is what she said!
Question 1: Which is better, the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine?
”Both vaccines are equally effective–close to 94-95%. So whichever one you can get is better. Even though the technology being used for this vaccine is new, both vaccines went through the same steps for approval they would have in normal times. It’s just that things moved faster without bureaucratic delays.”
Question 2: What were your symptoms / the most common ones people get?
“Many people have no symptoms or very mild symptoms after getting the vaccine, and these usually go away in a few days. The most common one is a sore arm at the site of the injection (just like with many other vaccines). Some other people have had mild fever, mild body aches or headache. Very few people in the United States (as of December 19, 2020, less than 000022%–6 people out of 272,001 people vaccinated ) had a severe reaction.”
“Once you get the vaccine, there is a reporting mechanism for any side effects or symptoms to the Centers for Disease Control so they can monitor the types and severity of reactions people are having to the vaccine. The companies that make the vaccines are also interested in learning about the side effects and are seeking feedback.”
Question 3: What do you think about the state and country’s distribution of the vaccines? Is it effective? How would you do it if you think it is not effective?
“I think there could have been better planning to get the vaccine out sooner to vulnerable populations such as nursing home residents and people in high risk jobs like healthcare workers and other front-line workers. We knew for months that the vaccines would be reviewed by the FDA for approval and there should have been better planning up front and coordination between the Federal government and state governments. I think state governments should have been advertising more on TV or newspapers, mailings about the timeline of when the vaccine will be provided and how to enroll for the vaccine.”
“Even though the distribution is getting better, many people who are offered the vaccine are not taking it due to the fact that it’s new, it got approved so quickly and other concerns such as the vaccine will affect their DNA (this a myth that is circulating).”
Question 4: How can people behave after they get the vaccine? What is appropriate and what isn’t?
“You require both doses of the vaccine to achieve 94-95% immunity–and these doses have to be given 21-28 days apart. So this means that you cannot go out after just getting one dose and assume you are protected. You need to keep wearing a mask, washing hands and maintaining social distance. Even after the 2nd dose, we do not know if you can be asymptomatic and pass on the virus to someone else–this was not studied in the trials. What we know is that you may have a milder case if you do get infected with SARS-CoV2.”
“The best way to slow or eliminate the spread of this virus, even after getting vaccinated is to continue to wear masks, wash hands and maintain distance. Getting the vaccine does not make it safe to have indoor gatherings, eat inside restaurants or get together in large crowds–yet but hopefully in the future. Some experts say that this may not be feasible until later in 2021.”
Question 5: What does this mean for the pandemic large-scale after many people get vaccinated?
“If 75% or more of the population can get vaccinated and have an effective immune response, it means the pandemic will really slow down, maybe even eventually come to an end. But in more crowded cities, like New York City, you may need more than 75% of people to have immunity, and in less populated places, like Montana, you may need less. We truly don’t know yet what the exact % of people needing a vaccine to slow the pandemic is, that’s why measures like washing hands, wearing masks and maintaining distance are important.”
My mom also found this website to be really informative in debunking common myths: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/8-common-covid-19-vaccine-myths-explained/
I hope that helped you learn a little bit more about the vaccine and some other ideas surrounding it!