Why the COVID-19 Vaccine Matters
As we move slowly away from the shelter in place days of the pandemic, the debate over the COVID-19 vaccine rages on. People have strong opinions about the vaccine, including whether they and those around them should receive the vaccine. Unfortunately, the significant amount of misinformation about the vaccine that is circulating includes misunderstandings about how it was developed and works. At UNC Lenoir Health Care, we support all eligible members of the community receiving this life-saving vaccine. Vaccination will save lives and help to lessen the long-haul symptoms many who have had Covid are experiencing.
There are currently three authorized, recommended vaccines for COVID-19 that are available in the US: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. Here is a little more about each of them:
- Pfizer-BioNTech - 2 shots, 21 days apart; does not contain eggs, preservatives, latex, metals; and recommended for people 12 years and older.
- Moderna - 2 shots, 28 days apart, does not contain eggs, preservatives, latex, metals, recommended for people aged 18 years and older.
- Johnson & Johnson/Janssen - 1 shot, does not contain eggs, preservatives, latex, metals, recommended for people 18 years and older.
With each vaccine, you are fully vaccinated two weeks after your final shot.
The best COVID-19 vaccine for you to get is the one you CAN get. You don’t need to postpone, hoping for a different brand. They are all currently recommended and are safe, effective, and have been proven to reduce your risk of severe, even life-threatening, illness.
It’s important to understand how the COVID-19 vaccines work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great explanation on their website: COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection. But with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future. It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection. Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building immunity.
Many people wonder why they should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. There are quite a few reasons to receive the vaccine. In addition to the following reasons, you can discuss any concerns you have about it with your healthcare provider.
- Authorized COVID-19 vaccines can help protect you from getting COVID-19. In addition, the vaccine reduces the risk of your being an asymptomatic carrier and spreading the disease to others since you‘re less likely to contract COVID-19 after being vaccinated.
- Once you are fully vaccinated, you may be able to start doing some things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. The CDC states that fully vaccinated people can resume normal activities without a mask or social distancing. However, if you feel more comfortable wearing a mask and/or social distancing, continue to do so.
- Reduced risk will allow more businesses to reopen at full capacity. When many people are vaccinated, businesses can safely assume that fewer of their customers are carriers and can then reopen without safety guidelines in place.
- Your vaccine helps protect those who are immunocompromised and cannot receive the vaccine. This happens via herd immunity. Herd immunity occurs when a majority of the population is immune to a virus, via vaccination or previous infection. Herd immunity makes it harder for a virus to spread, so even those who haven't been sick or vaccinated have some protection. Because COVID-19 is so contagious, it’s estimated that about 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated for herd immunity to occur.
- Vaccinations are now recommended for everyone 12 years and older (as of this writing, only the Pfizer-BioNTech is available to children 12 through 18). Although fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, there are benefits to children receiving the vaccine. Children who’ve had the vaccine are less likely to get COVID-19 and spread it to others, which reduces the risk to your child, your immediate family, and the community. To find a COVID-19 vaccination for your child, check your local pharmacy websites, your child’s healthcare provider, and your state or local health department.
To learn more about UNC Lenoir’s response to COVID-19, please visit their website. To schedule your vaccine in Lenoir County, please call 984.215.6819. The clinic is located at 204 Airport Road, in Kinston. Patients will NOT have any out-of-pocket costs for the COVID-19 vaccine. However, if you have insurance, please bring your insurance card. No photo ID is needed.
The CDC states on its website: “Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic. People who are fully vaccinated can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic.”