Everyone is talking about the COVID-19 vaccine. Now that the FDA approved its emergency distribution, people are asking themselves all sorts of questions for the moment we’ve been awaiting since the start of the pandemic.
While we know that the COVID-19 vaccine has gone through a human trial phase and is safe to use, there are dozens of questions we all have. While not all of them have answers, here are 5 of the most important COVID-19 questions experts have answers for.
How does the vaccine work?
The COVID-19 vaccine is different than previous vaccines that have been distributed in the United States. These shots will feel like your average flu shot, but you’ll have to get two shots instead of one, getting the first shot and then, about 3 weeks later, the second one. Some pharmacies are recommending that people download an app that will notify them when they need to get their second shot, that way they get the necessary dosage for immunization and their efforts aren’t lost.
How long does immunity last?
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One of the main questions people have is how long the protection of the vaccine will last. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been pretty clear with their answer, explaining that it’s too early to know and that more time and research is necessary in order to provide an accurate response. “However, it’s encouraging that available data suggest that most people who recover from COVID-19 develop an immune response that provides at least some period of protection against reinfection — although we’re still learning how strong this protection is, and how long it lasts,” explained WHO.
What happens after you get the vaccine?
Once you get the vaccine, is the pandemic over? Will you be able to hang out with friends and not wear your mask in crowded spaces?
According to experts, if a large percentage of the population takes the vaccine then by mid 2021 people could be more lax with their distancing guidelines and precautionary measures. In the meantime, since no vaccines are 100% effective, people will still have to take care of themselves and each other until experts have a firm belief that we’ve acquired herd immunity.
Can you spread the coronavirus after you get your shot?
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While you’d think that a vaccine against a disease would prevent you from catching it and thus spreading it, the issue is a bit more complicated. While the vaccine should prevent the appearance of strong symptoms of COVID-19, there’s still no data out there that confirms that the disease can’t still be spread by those with their vaccinations, which is why it’s likely that people will continue to use masks and follow social distancing guidelines for a bit more than necessary.
Will you need another COVID-19 vaccine in the future?
It’s not known how long immunizations last, which means that there’s no way of knowing how often we’ll need shots.
“If we can come through the huge challenge of efficient, mass distribution and vaccination with a high level of uptake ― and none of these is a sure thing ― the next question will be some large scale monitoring to understand stability of immunity,” professor of immunology Daniel Altman told the Huffington Post. “This won’t be a simple one-size-fits-all answer. Durability may be different with: age, obesity, prior infection, genetics. So we need to keep checking. We’ll then know if we need to re-immunize at one year, two years, etc.”