• Jana Abulaban

The Latest on COVID-19 Vaccinations

Updated: Jan 13


The Pfizer-BioNTech is one of the two COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered throughout the U.S. (Lisa Ferdinando/U.S. Secretary of Defense/Flickr)


All of your questions answered in this comprehensive guide.


How many doses of COVID-19 vaccinations have been distributed and administered around the world?


As of February 23, 2021, according to data collected by Bloomberg, more than 213 million doses have been administered across 95 countries. The most recent rate was approximately 6.11 million doses per day.



How many doses of COVID-19 vaccinations have been distributed and administered in the United States?


In the U.S., more Americans have gotten at least one dose since the pandemic started than have tested positive for the virus. As of February 23, 2021, 65 million doses have been given. On average, 1.28 million doses per day have been administered in the past week. Across the U.S., for every 100 persons, 19.6 doses were given, and 79 percent of the shots distributed to states were administered.



Which vaccines are authorized for use for COVID-19?


Two vaccines are currently approved and recommended for COVID-19 prevention in the United States: the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.



How effective are COVID-19 vaccinations?


The Pfizer vaccine demonstrated 95 percent efficacy after two doses in preventing symptomatic coronavirus infection. Across age, racial, and ethnic groups, the vaccine tended to be more or less equally protective.

After the second dose, the Moderna vaccine was 94.1 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19.


Which vaccine is the most effective (best to take)?


Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine are very effective and their efficacy rates are extremely similar, so there’s no reason to take one over the other.



How many doses of COVID-19 vaccinations are needed?


In order to get the most protection, the vaccines that are currently approved to prevent COVID-19 in the United States require 2 shots:

  • Doses of Pfizer-BioNTech should be given three weeks (21 days) apart.

  • Moderna doses should be administered one month apart (28 days) apart.

The second shot should be taken as near as possible to the recommended period of three weeks or one month. For either vaccine, however, there is no overall time between the first and second doses. The second dose should not be taken earlier than the prescribed interval.



Who’s paying for the COVID-19 vaccinations?


The federal government is supplying all persons residing in the United States with the vaccine free of charge. Vaccination providers can be reimbursed by the patient's public or private insurance company for vaccine administration fees or, for uninsured patients, by the Provider Relief Fund of the Health Resources and Services Administration. No one can be refused a vaccine if they are unable to pay a vaccine administration charge.​



How do COVID-19 vaccinations work?


The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain virus material which provides guidance to our cells on how to produce a virus-specific harmless protein. The genetic material from the virus is destroyed after cells produce copies of the protein.



Who is able to take the COVID-19 vaccinations?


The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for use for people aged 16 and older. Moderna has been approved for use in adults 18 and older, but the company is currently testing the vaccine in people between 12 and 17 years of age.

The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine be taken by the following groups:

  • Important frontline employees such as firefighters, police officers, correctional officers, food and farm workers, postal service workers in the United States, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and others employed in the education sector (teachers, support staff, and daycare workers).

  • People aged 75 years and older are at high risk of COVID-19 hospitalization, sickness, and death.

  • People aged 65–74 years are at high risk of COVID-19 hospitalization, sickness, and death.

  • People aged 16–64 years with underlying medical conditions that raise the risk of severe complications from COVID-19 that are life-threatening.

  • Other essential employees, such as people employed in transport and logistics, food services, building and finance housing, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety and public health.


What are the most common short-term side effects of COVID-19 vaccinations?


The most common side effects are injection site pain, headache, exhaustion, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, and fever or chills. These symptoms usually occur in the first two days and are resolved within one week after vaccination.



What are the most common long-term side effects of COVID-19 vaccinations?


Since COVID-19 vaccines have only been administered since December 2020 in the United States, the long-term effects are currently uncertain.


While individuals have started obtaining these vaccines, research will continue well into the future to determine their protection and efficacy. The focus of these studies will also be on how long immunity lasts.



Is it necessary to wear a mask and maintain social distancing guidelines if you’ve taken the vaccine?


Yes. For anyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine, it can take time to get one. Even though the vaccine may protect you from getting sick, whether or not you can still carry and spread the virus to others is unknown at this time. Scientists have not yet found proof that the vaccinations provide mucosal immunity, meaning that the live SARS-CoV-2 virus can possibly be carried and transmitted to others by someone who has been vaccinated and has no disease symptoms. Thus, it will be important to continue with precautions such as mask-wearing and physical distancing before more is known about how well the vaccine works.



Is it still possible to catch COVID-19 after getting vaccinated?


Clinical trial results showed that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines were highly successful in disease prevention, but Dr. Bill Moss, a pediatrician and professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, noted that the virus was contracted by some individuals in the trials.



Will COVID-19 vaccinations still be effective for someone who has tested positive for coronavirus?


The CDC states that the COVID-19 vaccine can help people who have already had COVID-19 or tested positive. There is currently insufficient information to determine whether or for how long people are safe from COVID-19 after they have had it (natural immunity). Early evidence indicates that natural immunity from COVID-19 does not last very long, but to better understand this, further studies are needed.



When will the vaccine be available to me?


Since the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States is currently limited, the CDC provides federal, state, and local governments with guidelines on who should first be vaccinated. Each state has its own strategy to determine which groups of individuals should be prioritized in receiving vaccinations.

As soon as large amounts of vaccines are available, the aim is for everyone to be able to get a COVID-19 vaccination easily. If the availability of vaccines rises, more groups will be added to get vaccinations.


 

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