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Here’s What You Need To Know About The COVID-19 Vaccines

(Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Hanna Panreck Contributor
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As healthcare workers, frontline employees and government officials begin to get one of the several coronavirus vaccines now available, many members of the general public have questioned the safety of the vaccination and others wondered when they might be able to receive their first dose.

There are also multiple vaccines being distributed or pending approval, two of which have been formally authorized and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — namely, those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. There are three additional vaccines in phase three trials from AstraZeneca, Janssen and Novavax according to the CDC website.

WASHINGTON, DC – DEC. 18: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence receives a COVID-19 vaccine to promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine at the White House on Dec., 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

The CDC says that the COVID-19 vaccine will help prevent you from getting the disease, but they also recommend getting it to protect others that are at high risk for the disease. They recommend two doses, depending on the vaccine. (RELATED: Biden Takes Coronavirus Vaccine On Camera — Says Trump ‘Deserves Some Credit’ For Vaccine, But That ‘This Is Just The Beginning’)

“Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed,” the CDC says.

Despite the current limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, there will be more in the coming months, the CDC says. Public officials hope that 70% of the population will get the vaccine so that the country can achieve herd immunity, according to the Washington Post.

White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci has been stating that between 60-70% of the population would need to be vaccinated in order to achieve “herd immunity.” However, he recently said in a New York Times interview that the number was artificially low and that more like 90% of the population would need to be vaccinated. The precise figure remains ambiguous.

Statistics aside, both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines passed rigorous tests and reviews by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pfizer’s vaccine is recommended to those over the age of 16.

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the vaccine on Dec. 11 and a week later, the Moderna vaccine was authorized as well. Officials hope to have 100 million people in the U.S. vaccinated by February of 2021, NPR reported.

A 53-page analysis by the FDA about the Pfizer vaccine said that some of the 44,000 people involved in the clinical trial experienced “unpleasant but tolerable” side effects, the Washington Post reported. These side effects should go away after a few days.

These side effects included fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, fever and chills. However, researchers that after a two-month follow up, 38,000 of the participants showed proof of “a favorable safety profile, with no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude issuance of an [emergency authorization],” the Washington Post reported.

The FDA approved the Moderna vaccine for people 18 or older, according to the Washington Post. Based on a clinical trial of 30,000 people, researchers found that this vaccine had similar side effects.

“Side effects may feel like flu and even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days,” the CDC website says.

A picture shows the company logo at the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer plant in Puurs, northeast Belgium, on Dec. 23, 2020, on the day trucks carrying the first batches of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) vaccines for EU citizens left the plant, ahead of a rollout across the 27-nation bloc. – Member states are set to start issuing the Pfizer-BioNTech inoculations from Dec. 27 after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Union’s medicines regulator gave the green light on Dec. 21. (Photo by JONAS ROOSENS/BELGA/AFP via Getty Images)

The CDC also says that the vaccines are one of the the most important tools to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often.”

The CDC recommends that healthcare workers and residents at long-term care facilities should be the first to get the coronavirus vaccine, but it is ultimately up to the state.

Fauci estimated in November that the vaccine would hit the general public sometime between April and July, according to The Washington Post.

“I would say starting in April, May, June, July — as we get into the late spring and early summer — that people in the so-called general population, who do not have underlying conditions or other designations that would make them priority, could get them,” he said.

The CDC also offers a smartphone tool called “V-Safe” that uses surveys and texting to provide health check-ins following the administering of a COVID-19 vaccine. With V-Safe, people can tell the CDC if they are experiencing side effects. Depending on the messages, a member of the CDC may call to check up on people. V-Safe will also remind people about their second doses, according to the website.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed over 300,000 people in the U.S. so far.