The COVID-19 Vaccine: Making Life Normal Again
By: Juee Deshmukh, Edited by Shoffana Sundaramoorthy & Kavya Gurunath, Layout by Sahithi Lingampalli, Art by Sharon Pan, Blogged by Shrawani Pradhan
From the end of 2019 to the present day, the world has drastically changed. Today, people might be used to taking virtual tours or Zoom classes. Though, this habitual lifestyle is about to transition back to before, all because of a vaccine.
What is a Vaccine?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a vaccine stimulates the immune system “to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease” (CDC). Unlike the actual disease, a vaccine enables one to develop immunity against the illness, making it a vital and powerful medicine. The COVID-19 vaccination makes humans immune to, well, COVID-19.
There are several different COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC recommends the following authorized vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. Though some might prefer one over the other, all are safe and effective in reducing the risk of attaining the virus. One will want to receive the first brand of vaccine that is available to them. Both authorized brands provide two shots, taken twenty-one and twenty-eight days apart, respectively. According to the CDC, one is fully vaccinated two weeks after the second shot.
How a Vaccine Yields Immunity
A vaccine contains “weakened or inactive parts of a particular organism,” or antigen, that triggers an immune response within the body (WHO, 2020). The weakened antigen evokes the immune system to respond to the antigen without actually giving a person the disease. However, not everyone can become vaccinated due to accessibility or underlying health conditions. That is when herd immunity comes into play. The term herd immunity refers to when “enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely” (Harvard, 2021). People unable to receive a vaccine can live amongst immune neighbors to reduce the susceptibility of acquiring a disease. Getting vaccinated protects more than just a singular person. It saves the lives of others.
The treatment can keep one from obtaining the illness and prevent it amongst peers. It is a safe and effective method to protect someone from COVID-19'’s life-threatening complications. The vaccine also serves as a crucial tool to terminate the pandemic. Social distancing and wearing masks are safety measures but can only do so much. However, one who is vaccinated will be able to roam around and undertake more activities.
What is the Catch?
Like most medications and treatments, this vaccine has side effects. According to the CDC, side effects include pain, redness and swelling on the arm, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea throughout the body. Each person has varying side effects depending on the strength of his or her immune system. While the accompanying reactions can hinder the ability to complete daily activities, these should disappear in a few days. The CDC recommends drinking fluids, dressing lightly and applying a wet washcloth over the arm where one was injected to reduce pain and discomfort. Though the aftermath of receiving the shot can be uneasy, the discomfort is only a sign that the body is building immunity.
Can I Get it?
Moderna’s vaccine has an 18 or older age requirement. Pfizer has an age requirement of 16 or older. People 15 years old or below are not eligible to get vaccinated. However, on April 9, Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech requested the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand the age range. According to Healthline, “a clinical trial showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for younger adolescents” (Radcliffe, 2021). If the FDA approves vaccination for adolescents, it is only a matter of time before children get back into classrooms and meet up with friends.
A Final Note:
The benefits of attaining the COVID-19 shot outweigh the side effects. An authorized vaccine and herd immunity lowers the chance of acquiring the virus. A simple one or two shots will pave the way to re-opening in stores, schools, traveling, and other activities and places that the past year of quarantine disabled. In public, people will follow safety measures and be more cautious and sanitary. Although daily life may never shift back to normal, the vaccine is a step towards living normally. So, if the online school feels natural now, be prepared for a significant reversal soon.
Basics of Vaccines. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/vpd-vac-basics.html
Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html
Different COVID-19 Vaccines. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html
How do vaccines work? (2020, December 8). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/how-do-vaccines-work
Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html
Preventing the spread of the coronavirus. (2021, April 9). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/preventing-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus
Originally published at https://issuu.com.