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COVID Vaccines 101

Updated: Feb 14, 2021

Over the past year, the COVID pandemic has brought the whole world to a stand still, while simultaneously leaving us scrambling for answers. New treatments offered some relief, as we held out hope for a vaccine. Now that vaccines are available in the United States, it is understandable that some people have concerns about getting vaccinated. By understanding the facts regarding the COVID vaccine we can make an educated decision to protect ourselves and halt the spread of the coronavirus.

COVID Vaccine Comparison

Currently there are two COVID-19 vaccines that are commercially available in the US, from ​​​​Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both of these vaccine options are Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work by giving instructions for our cells to make the “spike protein" which is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. This triggers an immune response which signals the production of antibodies, and in turn protects us from getting infected if the COVID virus enters our bodies. Both vaccines require an initial dose with a second shot a few weeks later, and maximal immunity is achieved 2-3 weeks after the second dose.

Below is a comparison chart highlighting the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine options.

Benefits of the COVID Vaccine

According to the CDC, there are many benefits to vaccinating against the COVID-19 virus:

  • The COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S are highly effective at preventing COVID-19, exhibiting 94-95% effectiveness after the completion of the vaccination schedule.

  • Data from clinical trials lead experts to believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may also help prevent you from getting seriously ill if you do get COVID-19.

  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

To discover more of the benefits and also bust some myths surrounding the COVID vaccines, visit the CDC website.

Vaccine Roll Out in Georgia

The vaccine roll in the United states is decided on a state by state basis. Currently, the Georgia Department of Public Health is administering COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1a+ which includes:

  • Healthcare workers (physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, EMS personnel, environmental services, etc.)

  • Residents and staff of long-term care facilities

  • Adults aged 65+ and their caregivers

  • Law enforcement, firefighters, first responders

If you fall in any of these categories you are eligible to get vaccinated. Check out the full list of vaccination sites in Georgia to get your vaccine appointment scheduled. Vaccine supply is very limited and most providers are scheduling vaccines by appointment only.

Bolstering the Immune Response

The immune system is complex and vaccines are just one part of the overall approach for healthy immunity. There are several factors that can impede vaccine response, as well as steps you can take that may help boost vaccine effectiveness.

  • Exercise has recently been examined as a potential enhancement to vaccination showing that high frequency and intensity of training enhance vaccine-responses in athletes.

  • Sleep optimization plays an important role in the regulation of the immune system. A lack of sleep, may have detrimental effects on the immune system that are integral to vaccine response, while adequate sleep levels help optimize vaccine response.

  • Stress negatively impacts all aspects of health including immune health. Vaccine recipients who were under stress developed a considerably weaker immune response than did vaccine recipients who were not under stress.

  • Nutrition optimization is important to help mount a strong response to vaccination. Focus on increasing foods high in antioxidants like fruits and vegetables, and consider adding a high potency multivitamin.

As you can see, many of the same things that help build a strong immune system to help you fight off infections, also help you mount a powerful vaccine immune response.

Focus on the actions you can take to care for your body and support immunity, while arming yourself with the latest information on vaccination. Together we will make it through this pandemic, stronger than ever.

Rabia Vaughns, MMS, PA-C is a certified physician assistant who specializes in helping people overcome chronic illness using a functional medicine approach to healing the mind, body, spirit. She is a co-owner of Elevate Functional Medicine.

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