Now that vaccines are available to fight the COVID-19 virus and are now being distributed to health care workers and at-risk adults, many seniors will soon be able to be vaccinated. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet and social media regarding vaccines for elderly people and others.
There are good reasons for older people to get vaccinated. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk for severe illness with COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk. Although 65.1% of COVID-19 cases occurred in people under the age of 49, 95.3% of deaths occurred in people ages 50 and older, the CDC says.
Here are some things you need to know about the vaccines, why you should be vaccinated, and why some of the things you’ve been hearing about the vaccines are wrong.
*While we at Senior Lifestyle recommend receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, we understand that this is a personal decision and should be talked about with family and caregivers prior to making the decision.
What You Need to Know About the COVID Vaccines
There are two main vaccines available right now, from Pfizer and Moderna. According to Kaiser Health News, both vaccines were 94% to 95% effective in clinical trials, taken in two injections about three to four weeks apart.
Facts About the COVID Vaccines
Both Pfizer and Moderna have said that 50 million doses of their vaccines became available in January, followed by 60 million doses in both February and March. That is enough vaccine for about 85 million people and should be a sufficient amount of vaccines for older adults along with other at-risk individuals, KHN says.
For the entire year, WebMD says, Pfizer expects to have 1.3 billion doses available, while Moderna expects 80 million doses to be available.
Here are some more facts about the vaccines, from WebMD:
Facts About Distribution of COVID Vaccines
As the vaccines are being distributed, one of the main challenges will be temperature.
Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius (94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit), calling for specialized equipment. Moderna’s vaccine needs long-term storage at minus 20 degrees Celsius (4 below zero).
Another challenge will be getting the vaccine itself. Long-term care facilities, hospitals and local health departments are in the front line for distributing the vaccine, according to AARP. As more vaccine doses are shipped, more opportunities to receive it will be made available.
For now, the CDC estimates that 21 million health care workers and 3 million people in settings such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities will need to be vaccinated. Millions of these people have already received at least their first dose of vaccine.
AARP is keeping a list of vaccine availability state by state. Go here to find out more.
11 Misconceptions About the COVID Vaccines
Many misconceptions about the vaccines have arisen, everything from suspicion over their rapid development to what is contained in them. These myths may be preventing people from getting vaccinated.
1. The Vaccines Are Unsafe Because They Were Developed and Tested Too Rapidly
Two factors led to the rapid development of the vaccines: The nature of the pandemic and the deployment of new technology.
The emergency nature of the COVID-19 pandemic led pharmaceutical companies to find a rapid solution. The U.S. government also prioritized finding a vaccine quickly, employing Operation Warp Speed to help accelerate development while maintaining standards for safety and efficacy.
The vaccines use a new technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA. Although this is the first time it’s being widely used in a vaccine for the public, researchers have actually been working on this vaccine strategy for more than three decades.
2. The Vaccines Will Give People COVID-19
These vaccines enable your immune system to recognize and fight off a disease, but they don’t actually infect you.
The vaccines introduce mRNA into your cells, which instructs them to make a piece of the protein that’s present on the COVID-19 virus. Those protein pieces trigger your immune system to mount a response to fight the virus, but they don’t harm your body.
3. We Don’t Know What’s in These Vaccines
Ingredient lists have been published for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. In addition to mRNA, both vaccines use lipids, or fats, to deliver the mRNA into cells, plus a few other common ingredients that help maintain the vaccine’s stability. Conspiracy theories circulated on social media say they contain microchips or tracking devices, but they do not.
4. These Vaccines Will Alter People’s DNA
The vaccines use mRNA to launch an immune response to the COVID-19 virus. Once the mRNA does that, the body’s cells break it down and get rid of it.
5. People Who Have Had COVID-19 and Recovered Don’t Need a Vaccine
There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. This is called natural immunity. However, some evidence indicates that natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last long.
Experts advise that it is appropriate to be vaccinated even if you’ve had COVID-19.
6. The Vaccines Cause Severe Side Effects
Short-term mild or moderate reactions have been reported, but they go away without complication or injury. Chills, fatigue, fever, headache, injection site pain and muscle pain have been reported in some people. These COVID vaccine side effects are actually an indication that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and are common when receiving vaccines.
7. There Is No Need to Wear a Mask After Getting Vaccinated
It may take time for everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccination to get one. When you get your first shot, you don’t become immediately immune. Also, while the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown at this time if you can still carry and transmit the virus to others.
Until more is understood about how well the vaccine works, continuing with precautions such as mask-wearing and physical distancing will be important.
8. Since COVID-19’s Survival Rate Is So High, a Vaccine Is Unneeded
While it’s true that most people who have gotten COVID-19 have recovered, it’s also true that around 2 million people worldwide have died from the virus. Because the disease can damage the lungs, heart and brain, it may also cause long-term health problems that experts are still working to understand.
The vaccine also protects those around you, since many infections appear to be spread by people who are not sick but are carrying the virus. Widespread vaccination protects populations, including those who are most at risk and those who can’t be vaccinated. It will be important for ending the pandemic.
9. The Vaccine Has a Microchip to Control the General Population
There is no microchip in the vaccine, and it will not track people or gather personal information into a database.
10. The Vaccines Were Developed Using Fetal Tissue
Fetal cells were not used in either the development or production of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
11. The Vaccines Must Be Stored at Low Temperatures Because of Preservatives
Both Pfizer and Moderna have reported that their vaccines contain no preservatives.
If you have more questions about the vaccine, talk with your trusted health care provider or look to reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization.