It’s almost a year since the Covid-19 pandemic has threatened our public health and people hoped for a covid 19 vaccine. The government immediately implemented Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), which locked most of us in our homes while the others are 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 a total number of cases has reached more than 530,000.
Before the end of 2020, there were talks about Covid 19 vaccines that will 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 would willingly get vaccinated. And 82% are unsure how the vaccine will work and if it is safe enough.
The 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 to get the 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 vaccine. In fact, 62 vaccines are getting developed around the globe. To fully understand how they work, we must first know how our immune system works and respond to the Covid 19 infection.
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, is triggered 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 comes back, the white blood cells will secrete the existing antibodies to fight it off faster and more efficiently than the first time.
Every time the body meets a new pathogen, a new specific antibody is created.
Since the Covid 19 virus is new, and the body does not recognize it, it will take a longer time to kill it off. 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 they can be categorized into three approaches.
Some vaccines have a sample of inactive pathogens. Others have just the part that triggers the creation of antibodies and the last type contains the genetic code of the virus 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 prepared.
Vaccine development usually takes years, but the rapid spread of Covid 19 made it clear that this complicated process has to be done in mere months. It is made possible with a massive amount of resources poured into it, plus the previous studies on SARS vaccines.
What is an mRNA Vaccine?
Now that we know that vaccines work by showing a small piece of the virus to the immune system, we can easily understand how the mRNA Covid 19 Vaccine works.
Usually, the vaccine has a small piece of the virus – a protein. The SARS-CoV-2 has a very distinct spike.
These spikes are made of protein.
An mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine, like the one from Pfizer, does not have 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.
In case you got infected, your body is now ready to fight it off.
Take note that the RNA from the vaccine will not affect your DNA in whatsoever way.
What are the COVID-19 Vaccines available now?
The vaccine is part of disease control and prevention. Currently, there are two Covid 19 vaccines approved by 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, make sure that 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 will be 21 days apart. Expect to receive this vaccine through an injection in the muscle of the upper arm.
Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine
ModernaTX, Inc also has an mRNA vaccine that requires two shots. There is one month or 28 days in between two shots. Like the Pfizer-BionTech Vaccine, the shots are given via muscle injection on the upper arm.
Why is the Covid 19 vaccine 2 doses?
Moderna and Pfizer Covid 19 vaccines both have two shots. There are news that some pharmaceuticals are developing just one shot vaccines. But still, most of the vaccines require more than one. The intervals vary from 3 to 4 weeks.
The first shot is to trigger the production of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid 19 virus). The second batch is to further boost the immune system for long-term protection.
The spacing between the shots is vital to its effectiveness. If you get the first shot, make sure that you ask the specific day when you can take the 2nd one.
If you only get the first shot, the Covid 19 vaccine will be as effective as it should be. You will still receive low immunity against the virus.
This is the reason 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.
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 got the vaccine will 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. Some people may have 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 we have 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 and a second dose for it to be more effective.
Latest COVID-19 Vaccine Update
There are more than 60 covid-19 vaccine candidates undergoing clinical tests and development. WHO continuously works with health organizations, businesses, and scientists to make sure that 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 in 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. This will also 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 are directly taking care of 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 there must be immunized as soon as possible. Since there is a shortage of 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 19vaccines. Always sneeze in your handkerchief or tissue. maintain social distancing and eat healthy food. The key is in making your immune system strong with enough rest and balanced nutrition. If you know that you are immuno-compromised, be sure to avoid going outside your home.
If you are living with a Covid-19 patient, make sure to avoid unnecessary contact and make sure that they are in a room separate from yours. It is also 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 you are still unsure, you need to take your part in preventing the spread of this disease.