Many of us are reflecting back to this time last year.
So much changed and it all changed so quickly.
Global Pandemic, Coronavirus, travel restrictions, toilet paper shortages, and stay at home orders are just a few of the words we were hearing and experiencing for the first time.
Fear, doubt, conspiracy talk, and politics also got thrown into the mix.
And here we are — a year later — with vaccines, talk of herd immunity, and questions about what comes next.
So let’s break it down.
Currently there are two vaccines that have been issued as emergency use authorization from the FDA. Generally, when something receives FDA approval it means that the FDA finds that the benefits outweigh the risks of the intended use of the product.
With the Emergency Use Approval (EUA), it means that the FDA is able to grant an expedited approval due to a state of emergency.
The approvals are still based on scientific findings and information that what is being used is the best option for the public health crisis.
Moderna and Pfizer Vaccines
The two main vaccines are based on mRNA — messenger RNA technology. This means that they do not have any form of a virus in them. They inject a protein that shows the cells in your body how to build a defense against the virus. That way if your body comes into contact with the virus, it knows to fight them.
Here is a great video from the University of California San Francisco that explains how mRNA technology works. https://youtu.be/3-5NBwIOXNE
Johnson & Johnson also released a vaccine. Their vaccine used different technology. In the Johnson & Johnson vaccine the genetic material is delivered to the body through an adenovirus. This is a virus like the common cold or flu but it has been changed so that it can not make you sick. This is the trojan horse that brings the genetic information to your cells so that your body knows when it comes in contact with the virus it needs to fight it.
The major difference is that genetic material in the mRNA is RNA. The genetic material in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is DNA that changes the RNA it forms. If you would like more information regarding this process, you can read about it here.
As you probably have heard, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been paused by the FDA and CDC. They are pausing this vaccine until they can research the symptoms it is causing further.
If you had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and have any questions, please contact your primary care physician.
Moderna and Pfizer are both based in the United States. Moderna was founded in 2010 and Pfizer was founded in the 1800’s.
Moderna solely works with mRNA technology. Their vaccine requires two shots 28 days apart. The shots are administered in the upper part of the arm and the Moderna vaccine is shown to have a 94% effectiveness rate.
The Pfizer vaccine is based on the mRNA technology as well. It requires two shots 21 days apart. The shot is administered in the upper part of the arm. It is shown to have a 95% effectiveness rate.
It is recommended that if you have not gotten your vaccine that you still proceed and get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.
There has been so much talk about herd immunity. So what exactly is it? Herd Immunity occurs when a large percentage of the population (the herd) becomes immune to a disease or virus.
So in this case, it will happen when approximately 80-90% of the population receives the vaccine and/or becomes immune and the virus can no longer spread.
That is why experts are urging people to get vaccinated. They know it is the quickest way to achieve herd immunity, stop the deaths, and get life back to “normal”.
Who Should Get the Vaccine?
If you are over the age of 16 and have no known allergies to the ingredients of the vaccine(s) it is recommended that you receive the vaccine.
Some believe that it is better to get the virus so the immune system can form its own defense against it. We have learned over the past year why this may not be the best route of immunity.
First and foremost, we know that with this method of defense there is a greater chance of severe illness and/or death.
Second, you will be open to the chance of getting long term COVID, often referred to as “long haulers”. Long Haulers can have symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue, joint pain, difficulty sleeping, for weeks or months — yet test negative for the virus. Since the virus is so new, it is not fully understood why this happens with some people.
Third, it will take a very long time to reach herd immunity. Therefore, we will have to continue to wear masks, socially distance, and limit social gatherings. After this past year, many of us are ready to be able to hug and visit with loved ones in person, maskless.
Vaccinated — Now What?
As the CDC is learning more, they are changing guidelines for those who are vaccinated. As of March 2021 the CDC is stating that if you have been fully vaccinated you may gather indoors with others that have been fully vaccinated without wearing a mask. You may gather indoors with those from one other household if they have not been vaccinated. And if you have been around someone with COVID you do not have to quarantine or get tested — unless you have symptoms.
When in public and social outings, vaccinated or not, it is recommended to wear a mask and socially distance.
As time goes on the CDC will be monitoring and releasing new guidelines based on the information learned.
If you choose not to get vaccinated it is recommended that you wear a mask, socially distance, and not gather with persons outside of your home. If you are not concerned about yourself, then it’s important to remember you adhering to these guidelines for those around you — not just yourself.
Still Have Questions?
With all of the information out there it’s always nice to be able to talk to a professional. To ask questions. You may have a health concern like an autoimmune disease and wonder if you should get the vaccine. Or you may have specific questions that you have not been able to find the answers to. And instead of making an appointment, paying a copay, and going into the office to talk with your doctor you have chosen not to get vaccinated.
If that is the case — Direct Primary Care is for you. With Direct Primary Care you have access to your doctor to have conversations, ask questions, and make informed decisions.
As our healthcare world evolves, shouldn’t the way healthcare is delivered evolve too?
Well, it is — through Direct Primary Care. You pay a low monthly fee to have direct access to your primary care physician when you need them. No copays, no waiting at the doctor’s office — your doctor can answer your questions when you have them.