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COVID-19 vaccines: Your questions answered

There is no doubt that, after a full year of the pandemic, most of us are experiencing COVID-19 fatigue and are anxiously awaiting a return to something that resembles normal. There is reason to be hopeful that the virus can be effectively controlled.

Vaccination efforts across Ashtabula County, Ohio and the United States are making great strides, yet many still have questions and haven't decided to get the vaccine. This article answers some of the most common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: What does the COVID-19 vaccine do?

A: The COVID-19 vaccine teaches our immune system to recognize and fight SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

A:The three vaccines being offered in the United States followed the same development protocols that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires of any vaccine. Manufacturers have to submit a study protocol, which is reviewed by a data monitoring and safety board before the clinical trials can begin. There are three phases of clinical trials, each with an increasing number of volunteers, that test and verify safety, tolerance and efficacy. FDA thoroughly reviewed data from each phase before granting emergency use authorization to the COVID-19 vaccines.

Larry Meckley, of Jefferson, was one of the first members of the public to receive a vaccination at ACMC.

The recent pause in using the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine doesn't mean it isn't safe. The pause, which was recommended after six women developed blood clots, was out of an abundance of caution. It is important to remember that, at the time of this article's printing, over 8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the United States, which means that the blood clots are exceptionally rare.

For most people, the risk associated with any vaccine—including the COVID-19 vaccine—is significantly less than the health risks that come from the virus or disease the vaccine protects against.

Q: Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

A: No—none of the three vaccines approved in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. You may experience symptoms of COVID-19 after you are vaccinated. This happens because the vaccine is teaching your body how to recognize the virus and build immunity.

Still unsure about getting the COVID-19 vaccine? Speak with your primary care provider. Your provider can help you weigh the pros and cons of vaccination.

Q: How did development of the COVID-19 vaccine happen so quickly?

A: Several factors came together to expedite COVID-19 vaccine development:

  • A head start. SARS-CoV-2 is a member of the coronavirus family. There are hundreds of coronaviruses, including those that cause the common cold and those behind the outbreaks of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2002 and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) in 2012.
  • Collaboration. As COVID-19 rapidly spread throughout the world, scientists shared their data with each other.
  • Funding. Developing a vaccine costs millions of dollars. The U.S. government, the European Commission and other governments throughout the world provided resources and assumed a substantial amount of the financial risk.
  • Time. The lower financial risk allowed the manufacturers to overlap clinical trial phases and manufacturing. This saved time without compromising safety.
  • Prior research on mRNA vaccines. Most of us were unaware of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines before COVID-19, but they have actually been studied for over 10 years. Messenger RNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a small piece of the virus to trigger an immune response.

ACMC Clinical Pharmacist Shelby Elliott, PharmD, checks a shipment of the Moderna vaccine before putting it into cold storage.

ACMC becomes a primary vaccine site

As a healthcare leader in Ashtabula County, ACMC eagerly offered to be a COVID-19 vaccine provider. Long before any of the vaccines obtained FDA emergency use authorization, ACMC invested in a special ultra-cold storage freezer to ensure the vaccine would remain viable. As of the end of May, ACMC has given more than 5,500 vaccines to community members and caregivers.

Categories: COVID-19

Get your shot

To register for the COVID-19 vaccine, please click the button below. Want to encourage others to get the vaccine? Take a selfie when you're done and share it on social media with the hashtag #thankyouacmcvax.

To find more locations administering the vaccine, visit the Ohio Department of Health's COVID-19 Vaccination Program.

Register now