• Sloane Sivewright

Is the Covid-19 vaccine safe? - What you need to know

Updated: Jan 26

Photo: Unsplash

By Sloane Sivewright

For The Southwestern

The race is on. Completion of a coronavirus vaccine has been looming during what feels like the longest year ever. COVID-19 vaccinations have been in production for months as the global pandemic continues to wreak havoc.

The rush to produce a vaccine has been unprecedented. Dr. Erin Callen, professor of Health-System Pharmacy, detailed on just how fast-tracked the production was.

“The fastest vaccine developed to date was for mumps, which took four years,” she said.

According to historyofvaccines.org, the mumps vaccine was introduced in 1967. With that, over five decades have come and gone until COVID-19 forced an unparalleled vaccine conception.

The urgency has prompted the government to create Operation Warp Speed. OWS was put in action to assemble a swift, adequate vaccine process.

“The speed of COVID-19 vaccine development (dubbed “Operation Warp Speed”) has caused some people to have concerns regarding vaccine safety,” Callen said.

Maintaining the typical standards to make a vaccine have been in question, but experts insist high standards are still being upheld.

“Scientists and medical professionals have emphasized that although manufacturing and regulatory steps are being streamlined, the usual safeguards in vaccine production are not being sacrificed,” she said.

Moderna and Pfizer, the first vaccines to enter phase three trials, have shown similar side effects to a flu shot. These include fatigue, headache, injection site pain, and muscle and joint pain.

“Some of the patients in the Moderna trials reported fatigue (9.7%), muscle pain (8.9%), joint pain (5.2%), and headache (4.5%). For Pfizer, the numbers were lower: fatigue (3.8%) and headache (2%),” Callen said.

Side effects aside, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have proven strong effectiveness through their trials. Once approved, the vaccines will be given in two separate doses. Once one dose is administered, the second dose is given weeks later.

From an Operation Warp Speed document obtained Tuesday, Dec. 1, the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine was delivered on Dec. 15, according to www.CNN.com.

Lauren Mascarenhas and Kristen Holmes of CNN commented, “The document, provided to governors ahead of a call with the Vice President Monday, also estimated the first shipment of Moderna's vaccine will be delivered on Dec. 22.”

The authorization of each vaccine is still on going with hopes of being approved by the FDA for emergency use.

For those who have had COVID-19, more research is needed on how effective the vaccine would be. When an individual contracts the virus, an immunity is developed, but it is unclear how long the immunity lasts.

“After a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will make recommendations to the CDC on whether people who had COVID-19 should get a COVID-19 vaccine,” Callen said.

Individuals who are eligible for the first vaccine phase appear to be healthcare workers and those at risk.

“Until enough doses are available, the vaccine(s) will most likely roll out in stages, starting with people who are most vulnerable or at highest risk of being exposed to COVID-19 — health care professionals and other front line workers, the elderly (especially nursing home patients), and patients that are immunocompromised,” she said.

Individuals who have a health insurance plan can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at no charge.

“The CARES Act requires that employer-sponsored and individual health plans cover coronavirus vaccine without cost,” Callen said.

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