Contributed by Brandi Fitch
Now that we are in a new year, a new feeling of hope is on the horizon with the most recent release of COVID-19 vaccines. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine on December 11th, and vaccines are currently being distributed throughout the United States. Since the supply of the vaccine is expected to be initially limited in the country, healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities will receive the first doses. According to the CDC, as vaccine availability increases, vaccination recommendations will continue to include more groups.
Here are some important things that the CDC would like the public to know about the vaccine:
- The COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. You will need two doses of the vaccine. A second shot 3 weeks after your first shot is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer against the virus.
- After COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection. The side effects from COVID-19 vaccination may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.
- Cost is not an obstacle to getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccine doses will be provided at no cost. However, vaccination providers may be able to charge administration fees for giving the shot to individuals.
- Remember that it takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines that require 2 shots may not protect you until a week or two after your second shot. Find more information here about what to expect after receiving the vaccine.
Common side effects from the vaccine can include pain and swelling on the arm where you received the shot, as well as fever, tiredness, chills, and headaches. To reduce any pain or discomfort where you received the shot, you can try exercising the arm or applying a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19, as none of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine will not cause you to test positive for COVID-19. Individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated since re-infection is possible. Find more information here.
As many in the country are skeptical of the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC has, and still is, conducting clinical trials for the vaccine in thousands of study participants while also safely monitoring any side effects. More information on their clinical trials and monitoring systems can be found here.
While the vaccine is beginning to be distributed to the first recipients throughout the country, COVID-19 tests continue to be available locally. A list of COVID-19 testing sites in Chambersburg can be found here and in Spanish here.
WellSpan Health also encourages community members to learn more about the vaccine so they can make an informed decision when the opportunity for vaccination is available to them. Click here for more information. It’s also important to remember that vaccination is just one tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We must all continue to wash our hands, wear masks, social distance, cover coughs and sneezes, clean and disinfect areas and monitor our health.
Additionally, the PA Department of Health has a website with more information about the phased approach and which providers (and when) are scheduled to receive vaccine. You can call the PA Health Hotline at 1-877-724-3258 for more information.