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COVID 19 Vaccine: Facts Every Pinoy Should Know

It’s almost a year since the Covid-19 pandemic threatened our public health, and people hoped for a Covid 19 vaccine. The government immediately implemented Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). As a result, it locked most of us in our homes while the others were stranded, unable to go home. 

The race to make a vaccine started hoping to limit the cases. By the start of February  2021, the Department of Health’s Covid 19 Tracker reported the total number of cases became more than 530,000. 

doh covid 19 trackerCredit: COVID 19 Tracker Philippines

Before the end of 2020, there were talks about Covid 19 vaccines that would soon be available in the Philippines. However, doubts arose among Filipinos. 

In fact, according to Pulse Asia, only about a third of 2,400 citizens are willing for vaccinated. And 82% are unsure how the vaccine will work and if it is safe enough. 

Confidence in Covid 19 vaccines plummets despite the hope that this pandemic will soon end.

The big questions nowadays:

“Magpapavaccine ka ba Bes?”

“Safe na ba magpavaccine?”

“Mahal ba ang vaccine?”

Among these, we listed the Filipino’s most frequently asked questions for facts straight.

How Does COVID-19 Vaccine Work?

It is too straightforward to say that vaccines protect us from Covid 19. 

But there are different types of coronavirus vaccines. In fact, 62 vaccines are getting developed around the globe. We must first know how our immune system works. Also, identify the response to the Covid 19 infection to understand how they work fully.

When a disease-causing organism (medically called a pathogen) like a virus or bacteria enters our bodies, they multiply and invade rapidly. Our immune system, a team of white blood cells, triggers to fight the infection. 

They identify the harmful organism. Suppose it is the first time to meet this organism. The white blood cells store the information and how it should fight the pathogen. If the harmful organism returns, the white blood cells will secrete the existing antibodies to fight it off faster. In addition, it is more efficient than the first time.

Every time the body meets a new pathogen, a new specific antibody is created.vaccines-antibody

Credit: World Health Organization

The Covid 19 virus is new. Also, the body does not recognize it. As a result, it will take a longer time to kill it. If the immune system can eradicate the virus, the body will create a specific antibody against it.  

The vaccine is developed in different ways but categorized into three approaches.types of covid 19 vaccine

Credit: Coronavirus Update

Some vaccines have a sample of inactive pathogens. Meanwhile, others have just the part that triggers the creation of antibodies. On the other hand, the last type contains the virus’s genetic code called RNA.

This way, it can prepare our bodies by encouraging our immune system to create antibodies. When our bodies encounter the real virus, we are all ready.

Vaccine development usually takes years. But the rapid spread of Covid 19 made it clear that this complicated process must be done in mere months. Fortunately, it is possible with a massive amount of resources poured into it, plus the previous studies on SARS vaccines.

What is an mRNA Vaccine?

Now, we know that vaccines work by showing a small piece of the virus to the immune system. Therefore, we can easily understand how the mRNA Covid 19 Vaccine works.

Usually, the vaccine has a small piece of the virus – a protein. SARS-CoV-2 has a very distinct spike. 

These spikes are made of protein.

covid 19 virus

Credit: Coronavirus Disease

An mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine, like the one from Pfizer, does not contain that protein. 

The vaccine has the RNA that will trigger your body to produce the same distinct protein the virus has. You will not get infected with Covid 19, but it will trigger the creation of antibodies against it. Then, the antibodies will fight the proteins.

If you get infected, your body is ready to fight it off.

Note that the RNA from the vaccine will not affect your DNA in any way.  

RELATED ARTICLE: Things to Know About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What are the COVID-19 Vaccines available now?

The vaccine is part of disease control and prevention. Currently, two Covid 19 vaccines received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The approval is given after the companies have proven their vaccine safety through wide-scale clinical trials.

To guarantee safe and effective vaccines, ensure you get only the FDA-approved ones. 

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

Pfizer teamed up with BioNTech, a German biotechnology company, to manufacture an mRNA type of vaccine.

This vaccine requires 2 shots to maximize its effectiveness. There is 21-day interval. Also, expect to receive this vaccine through an injection in the muscle of the upper arm.

Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine

Also, ModernaTX, Inc has an mRNA vaccine that requires two shots. There is one month or 28 days between two shots. Like the Pfizer-BionTech Vaccine, the shots are given via muscle injection on the upper arm.

RELATED VIDEO: How Vaccines Work Against Covid-19?

Why is the Covid 19 vaccine 2 doses?

Moderna and Pfizer Covid 19 vaccines require two shots. There is news that some pharmaceutical is developing just one-shot vaccines. But still, most vaccines require more than one. The intervals vary from 3 to 4 weeks. 

The first shot triggers the production of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid 19 virus). Meanwhile, the second batch is to boost the immune system for long-term protection further.

The spacing between the shots is vital to its effectiveness. If you receive the first shot, make sure that you ask about the specific day when you can take the 2nd one.

If you only get the first shot, the effectivity of Covid 19 vaccine is as effective as it should be. Still, you will receive low immunity against the virus.

This is why The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly encourage people to complete the second dose. The intervals should not be beyond the time suggested by the manufacturers to ensure the high effectiveness of the vaccines.

Moreover, you can take the second dose earlier but no more than 4 days in advance. 

What Are The Side Effects of The Vaccine?

People who get the vaccine usually experience tenderness on the injection site for one to two days. There is a rare case of people getting allergic reactions such as hives and redness a few hours after the vaccine. If this happens, you should not get the second dose. In addition, some people may experience a slight fever as their body’s immune system adjusts to the vaccine. But this reaction should only take a day or two.

Can You Still Get Covid After The Vaccine?

As discussed earlier, the vaccines need time to boost your immunity against Covid 19. Even after your first shot, you still do not have enough antibodies to fight off the virus. 

Continue to wear a mask, frequently wash your hands, and keep a healthy diet. Vaccines are not magic drops that will make us suddenly immune to the virus. It takes weeks. Also, a second dose makes it more effective.

Latest COVID-19 Vaccine Update

covid 19 vaccine candidate

Credit: WHO

More than 60 Covid-19 vaccine candidates are undergoing clinical tests and development. WHO continuously works with health organizations, businesses, and scientists to ensure vaccines are safe and undergo the proper due process.

The first phase is to ensure the vaccine’s safety. The dosages and their potential side effects will be identified in a small number of people. Phase 2 is when the vaccines are really to be tested on a larger number of people. Here’ more evident side effects might surface and thus will no longer go to phase 3 if deemed unsafe.

Phase 3 is the final stage in the vaccine’s development. Needless to say, only a handful of vaccines reach this level. This stage will involve thousands of people in a clinical trial. This will confirm and assess the effectiveness of the vaccines. Also, this will give an insight if there are any rare side effects not seen in the previous tests. 

Who Can Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

First on the list are the health workers who directly care for the Covid infected patients. Next in line are the most susceptible to the infection, especially the elderly. According to the fact sheet, the elderly are the most vulnerable and needs immunization as soon as possible. Since there is a shortage in the supply of vaccines, the list of priorities is vital. 

Preventing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19)

Over the past year, the Department of Health has been actively teaching the community to prevent the further spread of Covid 19. Now that there is some news of the new strand of the virus found in various places in the country, you must always be vigilant. Follow the precautions even after getting the first dose of the Covid 19 vaccines. Always sneeze in your handkerchief or tissue. Also, maintain social distancing, and eat healthy food. The key is strengthening your immune system with enough rest and balanced nutrition. An immuno-compromised individual must avoid going outside her home.

If you are living with a Covid-19 patient, make sure to avoid unnecessary contact. In addition,  make sure that they are in a room separate from yours. Also, it is important to know the local government’s guideline should there is a Covid-19 positive case in the household. There is still a long way to go to eradicate this pandemic. But it calls for everyone’s cooperation. Whether you will take the vaccines now or are still unsure, you need to take your part in preventing the spread of this disease. 

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