Medical contributor for Yahoo, Dr. Dara Kass, shares everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.
DARA KASS: It's really important that we don't let intentional misinformation and disinformation distract people from what we know. This is both a safe and effective vaccine, and the science isn't actually new. We just didn't have the moment to bring it to prime time.
We know that this vaccine has side effects similar to any time your immune system kicks up-- fatigue, headache, the muscle aches. What the side effects are not are a micro-infection of the coronavirus, because the vaccine itself doesn't give you the coronavirus. The Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines both use mRNA technology.
What that means is that you get injected with a blueprint of what a protein that's on the outside of the coronavirus would look like. And your body takes that blueprint and immediately translates it to make a protein. That blueprint then goes away. Your immune system sees this foreign protein and says, hey, it's not supposed to be here. It mounts an immune response to that protein, and that immune response is what happens after you're vaccinated.
Both vaccines have a booster, meaning that you have to have a second shot after the first shot. For the Pfizer vaccine, it's three weeks. And for the Moderna vaccine, it's two weeks. And so the idea is that after your body sees this foreign protein and makes its antibody response, now the next time you get the vaccine, you have a good, sustained immune response to the coronavirus.
The data we have shows that both vaccinations are 95% effective in preventing sickness and death from this virus. Thousands and thousands of patients got each of these vaccines to prove that they are both safe and effective and ready for prime time to be given to people like me and you.
The best data we have on the efficacy of the vaccine says that 10 days after the second vaccination is when you can consider yourself truly protected, which means that every patient that goes in for their first vaccine should have a very clear plan for when they're going back to get their second dose.
Right now, the recommendation is that everybody in a risk group should get vaccinated, regardless of previous infection with COVID-19. We know that health care workers, along with people who live in nursing homes and other congregate care facilities will be vaccinated first. After that, it will be a state-by-state decision.
There is no evidence that this vaccine should serve as a get-out-of-jail-free card for anybody right now. We know it protects the person that was vaccinated from getting sick and dying, but it does not yet prove whether or not you can give this virus to somebody else. Be smart, wear a mask, and stay home as best you can until enough people are vaccinated that we can consider ourselves to have herd immunity.
This finally feels like a chance for us to actually find ourselves into a new normal. Stay with trusted scientists and advisors. And just listen to the data that we're giving you, because, together, we can do this.