Early data indicates that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective. Of course, this is early data, but even if it drops some, it sounds like it will be above the 50% minimum for approval.
Russia claims their Sputnik-9 vaccine is 92% effective, although this is Russia.
It looks like COVID-19 may well be very vulnerable to vaccines. From the start, we have followed the narrative that vaccination is how we move forward from this pandemic.
But here are some things we all need to know and understand before we roll up our sleeves.
Takeup is Vital
First of all, no vaccine is useful if people won’t take it. Thankfully, Pfizer’s results were announced after the election…an announcement right before could have made a lot of people not trust it.
We need to get vaccinated. Some people can’t, and some of those people are those most likely to die if they do catch COVID-19.
Get yourself vaccinated to protect yourself and those around you.
But also think about these.
It Might Hurt
Look, all vaccines have side effects. The flu shot has side effects. The last time I had TDaP I was miserable for two days.
Looking at the Pfizer vaccine specifically, the known side effects include:
- Redness and swelling at the injection site
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
These side effects weren’t that common, but were worse than the flu shot. The good news is that fewer people reported side effects after the second dose (Sadly, this is a two-dose vaccine, although if annual boosters are needed that will likely be a second dose) so even if you feel lousy after the first one, you might be less affected by the second.
Plan, if possible, to get the vaccine when you don’t have anything hugely important to do for a couple of days, just in case. And people should push employers to grant a few days paid sick leave to help encourage people to get vaccinated. Vaccinations will most likely be pushed first to healthcare workers and “essential” workers…many of whom don’t get paid sick leave.
But the side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working.
Pfizer has reported no serious side effects so far.
It Doesn’t Work Right Away
This is really, really important.
When you get vaccinated, you aren’t instantly protected from the virus within five minutes. Your immune system needs a bit of time to get ramped up. With the seasonal flu shot, this is about two weeks.
We aren’t one hundred percent sure on the COVID vaccines yet; it may vary by manufacturer or vaccine type, but the data will be released when the vaccine is authorized.
However, it’s reasonable to assume that you will not be protected from COVID until probably two to four weeks after the second dose. Don’t stop social distancing. You don’t want to get it right before you’re protected.
It’s Not Going to be 100%
Even if the 90% thing bears out, then no vaccine offers 100% protection. While the pandemic is still raging, don’t throw away your masks even if you got vaccinated.
Keep them until the numbers go down to something we can all live with. And then still keep them, and consider masking up when you have a cold.
An effective vaccine will help us get back to normal, but for it to work we have to get it and we have to understand how vaccines work so we know when and how much we are, in fact, protected.