What is the COVID-19 vaccine, and how does it work?

This post was paid for by KC CARE Health Center.

Old Woman With Face Mask Getting Vaccinated, Coronavirus, Covid 19 And Vaccination Concept.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to encourage your body to start an immune system response to COVID-19. Our bodies use mRNA every day to make different antibodies or other proteins.  

The ingredients used in the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are simple. They contain mRNA and lipids, which simply make sure the mRNA is delivered safely into your body to jump start your immune system.  

How can the vaccine be safe and effective when it was produced so quickly? 

It’s quite unusual to have so many scientists around the world working on the same problem at the same time. Instead of trying one solution at a time, scientists are able to test hundreds of solutions at the same time.  

No corners have been cut in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines that use mRNA are usually faster and easier to produce, which has helped accelerate the COVID-19 vaccine process. Scientists have had a jump on developing the vaccine, using their experience from previous coronavirus vaccine efforts (like the MERS and SARS viruses).  

Rather than delaying production until after the clinical trials are completed, COVID-19 vaccines have been in the final stages of clinical trials while they are being manufactured. If they didn’t pass the approval process, then the manufactured vaccines wouldn’t be used. The FDA approved both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines and determined them to be safe and effective.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine? 

The most common side effects are typically very mild and include pain or swelling at the injection site. Some clinical trial participants have reported experiencing fatigue, mild fever, and muscle aches, similar to  the flu shot side effects. These side effects usually only last for 24 hours.

2 Covid Vaccine Side Effects Final 121520 (1)

Who will get the COVID-19 vaccine and when? 

Medical workers and high-risk populations will receive vaccines first. Missouri is still determining what groups fall into the high-risk population. We will share that information with you as soon as it becomes available. After high-risk populations and medical workers have been vaccinated, all Missouri residents will be able to receive a vaccine.

KC CARE has been selected by the State of Missouri to help distribute the vaccine to our community.  Our clinical teams are working closely with Federal, State and local health departments and will follow the State of Missouri’s recommendations on vaccinating the community in coordinated phases.  Currently, KC CARE’s entire supply of vaccines is exclusively designated for Phase 1a, front-line healthcare workers and staff.  If you are a front-line healthcare worker and live or work in Missouri, you are eligible to receive the vaccine from KC CARE.  Please visit our website kccare.org/covidvaccine to register.  We will continue to update this page regularly for the most up-to-date information on vaccine distribution beyond Phase 1a.  

Do I need to quarantine after I get the vaccine? 

No. You will need to continue to social distance and wear your mask in public for our community to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these practices, in addition to the vaccine, are critical tools in the fight against COVID-19.  

You may need to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 even if you’ve gotten the vaccine, as it is possible to be an asymptomatic carrier after being vaccinated. Until most of the population has been vaccinated, it’s important that we take every precaution to protect our community.

For more information on what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit kccare.org/covidvaccine 

Craig DietzDr. Craig Dietz , DO, MPH, FACOI, AAHIVM, has been with KC CARE since 2004, beginning as a volunteer in 2003. Dr. Dietz is board-certified in both internal medicine and HIV medicine. At the health center, he oversees clinical outcomes of programs. Dr. Dietz provides direct patient care with an emphasis in Primary Care, HIV Medicine, LGBT Health Care, Hepatitis C, and HIV Prevention (PrEP). He serves as a clinical assistant professor of internal medicine for the KU Internal Medicine Residency program, KCUMB and UMKC School of Pharmacy. Dr. Dietz has been active in the area of research and has several published papers and is the principal investigator for all of the Clinical Trials conducted at KC CARE.

Dr. Dietz is from Pratt, Kansas and received a Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from Kansas State University. He received his Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Dietz developed an interest in HIV and Public Health during his residency training at one of the Michigan State University hospitals in inner city Detroit and he received a Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis on community health, underserved populations, and healthcare safety net and administration from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Dr. Dietz is an active member of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA).

Categories: Grownup-ish