By Megan Altmyer of Gardant Management Solutions

COVID-19 preventative measures have become a staple in our lives, and a vaccine is a welcome breakthrough. Residents and staff at Gardant-managed communities will be among the priority group of phase one with access to the COVID-19 vaccine. They will be in line with nursing homes and all other congregant care centers, like assisted living and veteran homes, lining up behind them. We do not get to pick our place in line, but we are towards the front.

The COVID-19 vaccination is approved for Emergency Use Authorization, EUA. While EUA is a shorter process, no steps are skipped in the safety evaluation process. The approval can take weeks, and the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, reevaluates the numbers and data to ensure calculations are correct.

It may seem as though the process for development and approval went fast, but the vaccine still passed through the required phases for vaccine development. Each phase has intensive safety criteria before advancing to the next phase. After phase 3, a vaccine has been tested in tens of thousands of people and is considered safe for use. Phase 4 is the continued monitoring and gathering of safety data over years, which is the normal process for vaccination development and use.

The FDA requires 50% efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccinations from Pfizer and Moderna are around 94-95% effective. The FDA also requires 8 weeks of safety data on the vaccine.

Most side effects happen in the first 6 weeks. Because of a few reports of allergic reactions, the FDA is encouraging people with allergies to speak with their healthcare provider to see if the vaccination is right for them.

How Do We Know It is Safe?

  • Safety is the most important requirement of the vaccination and is assessed by independent experts in the clinical trials.
  • Most side effects occur within 6 weeks.
  • Current Phase 3 trials have 30,000-50,000 participants.
  • Vaccinations are not new. They have been around for a number of years, and children follow a vaccination program from infancy.

Can I Get COVID-19 from the Vaccine?

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines cannot give you COVID-19. If you get COVID-19 after the vaccination, you may have contracted it prior to the vaccination and had not developed symptoms yet, or you might be exposed in the weeks required to build immunity to the virus.

What’s In the Vaccine?

According to the CDC, mRNA from a spike protein on the SARS-CoV2 virus that causes COVID-19 is used to make the vaccine. This specific protein gives our cells instructions on how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus. The protein cannot build a virus or cause infection. After the body makes the protein, the protein destroys the material from the vaccine. Our bodies recognize the protein should not be there and create antibodies that remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 in the future.

The vaccine is not derived from a live or dead virus. Rather, it is derived from a harmless protein.

Think of it like this… the COVID-19 virus is like a car. The spike protein is like a tire on the car. The tire allows the car to go, but it is not the car, itself. The vaccination, in effect, slashes the tire. If the tire is slashed, the car cannot go anywhere and is not useable. The immunity targets the spike protein on the COVID-19 virus, making it not able to replicate itself and making the virus unable to infect.

Why Should I Get Vaccinated?

  • It is important to get vaccinated to help slow or stop the spread of the virus.
  • Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available
  • Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.
  • Other steps, like wearing masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.
  • Together, the COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

Globally, over 72 million people have been infected with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2, and over 1,600,000 have died from Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) since December 2019.

In the United States, non-white persons have a higher prevalence of hospitalization and death. Persons over 50 years old have a higher rate of hospitalization and death than people between 18-29.

The CDC indicates many Americans will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021. It is important to get vaccinated to help slow or stop the spread of the virus. For more information about the vaccine, please visit the CDC website

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