What to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Don’t fall prey to the misinformation.

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The United States has been experiencing a pandemic since March of 2020. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Many companies are being granted emergency approval for their COVID-19 vaccine. With an abundance of misinformation out in the world, it is important to inform ourselves with trusted, credible data.

What to Expect When Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine might help prevent infection entirely, or at least prevent symptoms and complications. People who have active symptoms of COVID-19 tend to shed more virus particles. As a result, preventing symptomatic COVID-19 can help slow the spread. (Learn more about the benefits of getting the vaccine here.)

Some normal side effects might occur (like arm soreness), but only for a few days. Your immune system is reacting to the vaccine, which means it’s working. At the same time, if you don’t have side effects, that doesn’t mean it’s not working. It affects people differently.

As you probably already know, the COVID-19 vaccines are available for different groups in phases. Because of limited supplies, people with higher exposure to the virus (like healthcare workers) or higher risk of complications (like people over 75) have priority. You can find out when it’s your turn to get the vaccine by checking your local or state health department website.

When it’s your turn to receive the vaccine, you will probably be able to get it at the following sites:

  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacies
  • Vaccine “supersites,” such as parking lots or football stadiums that have been equipped to administer vaccines for large groups of people

The Development Process

Some people have raised concerns about how quickly the vaccine was developed. You might wonder, “Did we really test it enough to ensure it’s safe?”

Rest assured that the COVID-19 vaccines went through all the required phases of testing. Vaccine safety and effectiveness is paramount.

So how did it get approval in such a short time? One reason the vaccine was developed so quickly was because scientists got a head start, in a way. The virus that causes COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2. Scientists were already familiar with the genetic makeup of a similar variant of the virus, SARS-CoV-1. Because they were familiar with the virus—and had even studied potential vaccines for SARS-CoV-1—they were able to make a vaccine for this new virus more quickly.

If you have more questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, the best person to talk to is your doctor. They know you the best and can give you reliable information about what you can expect.