This year has arguably been one of the worst in modern history, with death, disease, sadness and hatred running more rampant than many of us have seen before, but the end to this time of distress may be coming soon. The U.S. has approved the Pfizer vaccine for citizens and is working on approving other vaccines to combat COVID-19, which will likely reduce the amount of death and frustration we are seeing all over the world. We don’t know too much about this vaccine because it’s new and hailed as the greatest advancement in modern medicine because it was made so quickly. But here’s what we do know so far about this vaccine:
The Pfizer vaccine must be administered in two doses, meaning one shot in the arm and then, after a period of three to four weeks, the second shot in the arm will be given to complete the 95%-effective vaccine. About 10 days after the first shot, the patient will only have 52% efficacy, meaning the vaccine is not be fully effective at preventing the patient from getting infected with COVID-19 until a week after the second shot, according to the New York Times.
Before, after and during your time of receiving both shots, you still must wear a mask. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will not stop recommending mask-wearing quite yet, since there is still more research to be done as to whether a person who is vaccinated can still spread the virus, even if they are not getting infected. The CDC doesn’t yet know if a vaccinated person can still carry the virus in their nose and then sneeze and spread it to someone else.
It is recommended for those who have severe allergies and have experienced anaphylaxis in the past to consult their doctor before taking the Pfizer vaccine. In England, where the shot by Pfizer was first administered, two nurses who had severe allergies and experienced anaphylaxis after their first shot were treated and have since recovered. This has sparked some concern about those with severe allergies getting the shot. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it would require Pfizer to increase its monitoring for anaphylaxis and submit data on it once the vaccine comes into use, according to the New York Times. The New York Times also reported that telling people who have had anaphylaxis not to get the vaccine is premature, especially since anaphylaxis can be treated or prevented with medicine and severe reactions from a vaccine are rare.
After getting one or two shots of the Pfizer vaccine, you might experience some symptoms. The FDA says that, during the vaccine trial, some patients did report these common symptoms: injection site pain, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, injection site swelling, injection site redness, nausea, feeling unwell, or swollen lymph nodes. Severe allergic reaction symptoms were rare, but if they do occur, it will usually be within the first minutes to an hour of getting the vaccine, the FDA said in a fact sheet for recipients.
So, when will you be able to get the vaccine? Not until 2021 in February or April, if you are not a member of the long-term healthcare facility group or a healthcare worker. Gov. Ron Desantis said in a press conference on Dec. 14 that he expects Florida’s general population to be able to access the vaccine by February because the state wants to vaccinate healthcare workers and long-term care facility patients first and then move on to the elderly and those with severe pre-existing conditions. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, estimates those in the general population won’t be able to get vaccinated until April at the earliest, with most people getting the vaccine by May or June next year, according to the New York Times.
Can you get COVID-19 from the shot? No, the Pfizer vaccine does not have COVID-19 in it; therefore, the vaccine cannot give you the virus, the FDA said in a press release.
After receiving your first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, you will receive a vaccination card that tells you the date to come back and get the second shot, so make sure to bring it back with you to your second appointment, the FDA stated in a press release.
There are still more shots in the works around the world that are waiting to be approved or are finishing up studies. The more shots we have, the more people can get vaccinated and the faster we can return to a life that resembles more normalcy. While the CDC does not currently know the exact percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated in order to slow the virus’ spread, it is estimated that the majority of the population in the country needs to have been vaccinated for our normal lives to truly return.