The Vaccine for COVID-19 and Why You Still Have To Wear a Mask
After a year of COVID-19, there is finally hope on the horizon. The promise of a vaccine for COVID-19 is fulfilled, as FDA has given the emergency authorization for 2 vaccines: Pfizer and Moderna.
Despite the excitement over the news however, health officials say that even after you get the COVID-19 vaccine, you will still have to follow the usual pandemic precautions for a while.
This means that we should continue avoiding crowded places, continue wearing KN95 masks that have become a part of our daily outfits, and also continue social distancing and frequent hand washing.
“But why do I have to continue with all these endless precautions if the solution to the problem has finally been found?” you may ask. The answer is simple: it takes time for the vaccine’s effectiveness to build up.
The vaccine for COVID-19 gives us a feeling of security making us believe that we no longer need masks. Unfortunately, this is false. A vaccine teaches our body to fight the virus without getting sick, but this is just an additional measure to decreasing exposure to the virus.
Explaining the Coronavirus Vaccines 2021: Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna
So, what are the two vaccines that the U.S. manufacturers have created to fight against the coronavirus? One of them is created by Moderna, Inc., a biotechnology company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The other one is produced by Pfizer, an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation in cooperation with a German biotechnology company, called BioNTech SE.
Both Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech are unapproved vaccines that may prevent COVID-19. There is no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The FDA has authorized the emergency use of both vaccines under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
The EUA is supported by a Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) declaration to justify the use of the vaccine in the current emergency circumstances. This means that the COVID-19 vaccines have not undergone the same type of review as an FDA-approved or cleared product.
What Are the COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects?
So, is it safe to get vaccinated against COVID-19? Relatively, yes. And what we mean is that like any other type of medication, there are COVID-19 vaccine side effects which may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe allergic reactions
- Swollen lymph nodes
What Are the Ingredients of the COVID-19 Vaccines?
The two vaccines have some ingredients in common. Yet, some of them are different.
Here are the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine ingredients:
- Potassium chloride
- Monobasic potassium phosphate
- Sodium chloride
- Dibasic sodium phosphate dehydrate
The Moderna vaccine ingredients include:
- Tromethamine hydrochloride
- Acetic acid
- Sodium acetate
According to the FDA Fact Sheet for Vaccine Recipient, before getting the vaccine, you should mention about any allergy to the vaccine ingredients as well as to notify your vaccination provider if you:
- have a fever
- have a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner
- are immunocompromised
- are on any medications that affect your immune system
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- have received another COVID-19 vaccine
Will the COVID Vaccine Be Mandatory?
Can the government force Americans to get vaccinated? Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the coronavirus task force in the White House, claimed it won’t happen.
“We don’t want to force anyone to take the vaccine. We’ve never done that. Certain groups of people, such as health workers, can be obliged to take the shots, but not the general public. It would be impossible and inappropriate to force people to get vaccinated”, said Fauci back in August.
It’s a whole different story for orders issued by a state, a city, or a business. However, even then the vaccine cannot be forced.
Why Do You Have to Wear a Mask?
With all said and done about the COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a face mask continues to be crucially important no matter if you do or do not decide to get the shot. Many states even have mask mandates. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. The Immune System Doesn’t Improve Instantly After Receiving a Vaccine
Sure, Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna vaccines work, but they require two doses of shots to provide a 95% protection against COVID-19 (94.1% in case of Moderna). It can take 4 to 6 weeks after the first shot for the body to achieve immunity and protection levels comparable to the clinical trials. It is still possible to contract COVID-19 during this time, especially when contactings other potentially infected people.
2. The Real World Is Different from the Clinical Trial Conditions
Clinical trials were conducted in a different environment, where healthy individuals with stable preexisting diseases were evaluated. But in a real world, such factors as how the vaccine is transported, stored, and administered as well as the health conditions of individuals who get vaccinated, determine the actual effectiveness of the vaccine.
3. The Duration of the Vaccine Coverage is Unknown
According to FDA, a median two months of safety and efficacy data following the completion of the vaccination regimen for emergency use authorization is required. The length of the vaccine for COVID-19 coverage is still unknown and to be determined as the vaccination campaigns roll out.
4. Clinical Trials Did Not Monitor If Participants Wore Masks
Despite having strict enrollment and monitoring criteria, it is still unknown whether the participants of the clinical trials wore masks after having given the vaccines. So, whether the vaccine was effective, or its efficacy was due to the participants adhering to public safety measures, remains unclear.
5. It Is Unclear If the Vaccine Prevents COVID-19 Transmission
The clinical trials of Pfizer and Moderna, the ability of the vaccine to decrease the transmission of the virus was never evaluated. In the future, researchers are planning to find out more about the impact of the vaccination on viral transmission and whether we will need to continue wearing the masks. But at this point the answer to the question “Does wearing a mask protect me?” remains positive.
Wear COVID-19 Masks
These are just the facts, and the decision on whether to get a vaccine for COVID-19 is totally up to you. But while the vaccine is not mandatory, COVID-19 masks continue to be.