There is a great deal of information coming out about the new COVID-19 vaccines. With a lot of information comes a lot of questions. Some of these questions can be answered by health authorities and some simply don’t have answers right now. Two major concerns we would like to talk about are safety and when everybody will get the vaccine.
Many people are wondering about the safety of the vaccine. How are COVID-19 vaccines being produced faster than previous vaccines? Since this is a global pandemic, scientists from all over the world have made this vaccine a priority and have been working together to share information so everybody can benefit from each other’s research. Also, instead of testing and making the vaccine in two different phases, vaccines are being tested and made at the same time. This means that if the vaccine is approved, there is stock ready to be sent out to the public.
The current vaccines are going through the same safety trials as all other vaccines we use. First the vaccine is tested on a small group of volunteers, then hundreds, then thousands. Not all COVID-19 vaccine versions that go through clinical trials will make it to the final stages of testing and approval. Produced vaccines that do not pass will be destroyed. But for those that do make it past clinical trials, a team of medical experts will examine test results and possible side effects. If the vaccine works and it’s safe, it gets approved.
The vaccine has shown some side effects, but that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. Some people have reported side effects after the second dose such as fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and headache, among other symptoms. These reactions have lasted only 24-48 hours after injection. This is not a bad thing! It may feel bad, but it means your immune system is responding to the vaccine and preparing your body to fight the virus. This does not mean you have COVID-19. The vaccine does not contain the virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
There are currently two vaccines that have been given emergency use authorization (by the time you read this there could be more). We are constantly working with the Washington State Department of Health to make sure we are following guidance about how and when everybody will get vaccinated. Unfortunately, there is not enough vaccine at first to offer it to everyone. More vaccine is on its way, but it will be a while before it’s broadly available. At first, it’s just going to high-risk workers in health care settings, people who live or work in long-term care and high-risk Emergency Responders. The Department of Health will announce when we move into future phases. You can review the current phase 1a eligibility at the Department of Health website. Also, the Department of Health will soon launch a tool that allows someone to know what phase they’re in. SRHD will be sharing information about this tool as soon as it is available.
If you have more questions about the vaccine, please visit the Washington State Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine web page or call their helpline at 800.525.0127.