COVID-19 Vaccines Matter

By Dr. Shefali V. Parmar

COVID-19 vaccines are here. They are effective and safe. Having received my two doses, I can finally be assured that my seat belt is buckled while I continue to take care of my patients. Although I will still wear my mask, wash my hands carefully, and keep social distance, I know I am now protected against COVID infection and, most certainly against COVID related severe illness. So, when your turn for the COVID vaccine comes up, I strongly recommend you also get your COVID-19 vaccination.

Both of the approved COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna deliver powerful protection. They both were equally efficacious in preventing COVID infection and severe illness – 95 percent efficacy is remarkable and above the threshold we were hoping to achieve. The effectiveness was similar across age, gender and different ethnicities including Asians. COVID-19 vaccination will save lives, allow our kids to safely return to school, let businesses thrive again, and allow us to be with our loved ones near and far.

Even though the vaccines are very safe their safety was not sacrificed for speed. The current vaccines have undergone the most rigorous studies and intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Combined, over 70,000 participants were in the initial vaccine clinical trials; now, over 20 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated with at least one dose. More than a million people a day, on average, are receiving a shot to help protect them against Covid-19 in the U.S. Multiple established and newly built safety monitoring systems allow CDC and FDA to watch for safety issues are in place across the country.

These vaccines are being held to the highest safety standard by all pharmaceutical and medical regulatory boards. So far, we know that serious side effects including allergic reactions are rare. While some people don't have any side effects after getting their vaccine, many people will experience mild side effects like pain or swelling at the injection site, a headache, chills, mild muscle aches, fatigue, chills, or fever. These reactions are normal and are signs that the vaccine is working and your immune system is building protection.

CDC is making recommendations for who should get the vaccine first. At this time, we are prioritizing healthcare workers and all persons greater than age 65. Supplies are currently limited but vaccine availability will increase in the coming weeks and months. Do not pass up your shot! While you wait for your chance, continue to wear your mask, avoid crowds, wash your hands, and stay at home as much as possible.

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Dr. Parmar is a Duke trained Pediatrician at Cornerstone Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine in Cary, NC. Email: shefali.v.parmar@gmail.com