Getting “back to normal” has never felt so close and, simultaneously, so far away. The country sits amid a COVID-19 vaccination effort with distribution processes varying state to state and even county to county.
At Tryon Medical Partners, our patients approach the doctors they trust with their most pressing concerns, questions and even a few myths they’ve heard about the COVID-19 vaccine. We know getting reliable, scientific-based information can unburden heavy hearts that simply want to make the best, safest choices for their family.
Through our experience at satellite clinics testing thousands for COVID-19, during vaccine trials and seeing patients for their ongoing medical issues, we have compiled the questions we hear most often, with answers from our expert physicians.
How do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?
Through the global vaccine trials, which Tryon participated in right here in Charlotte, hundreds of thousands of people were immunized. If there had been any serious side effects or safety concerns, the vaccines would not have been approved.
While it may seem like the vaccine was developed quickly, scientists had been focusing on viruses just like coronavirus for several years prior to the appearance of COVID-19. In addition to these years of research, vaccine trials were rapidly funded around the world, with large amounts of money invested in manufacturing vaccines at a rapid rate. No steps were skipped in the trials and these vaccines have been found to be highly effective against COVID-19.
Why have people who have gotten the vaccine felt cruddy after?
There are a variety of expected side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. Many people will experience low-grade fever, achiness and joint stiffness that persists for a day or several days. This does not mean you’re getting sick but that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and creating antibodies. Those antibodies will defend against COVID-19 if you are exposed. Similar to the flu shot, the COVID-19 vaccine can also cause a sore arm.
Does the vaccine protect against virus variants?
There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines will not protect against variants of COVID-19, like the one first detected in the United Kingdom in December, which has now made its way to Charlotte. While this variant may not cause a more severe illness, it is even more contagious, making it more important than ever to follow safety guidelines.
Should I get vaccinated?
Tryon physicians are strongly recommending you get vaccinated wherever and however you can, when it is your turn. The doctors at Tryon Medical Partners are also leading by example, getting the vaccine themselves.
After I get the vaccine, can I start seeing my family and friends again?
Physicians often hear this question from grandparents who haven’t seen their grandchildren since they are at higher risk for COVID-19, or from the sandwich generation who are making these decisions on behalf of their aging parents. Those concerns are warranted considering the CDC reports 80% of U.S. coronavirus deaths are those 65 and older.
Even though the vaccines are highly effective, it’s important to note that it takes both doses to be best protected. Before visiting, ensure it has been two weeks since your loved one received their second dose. Even still, vaccines are not 100% effective so there is still some risk. Additionally, researchers still don’t know if you can spread the virus after you’re vaccinated. For all these reasons, wearing masks and socially distancing remain important practices. Also, consider meeting outdoors and limiting contact like hugs.
For additional FAQs about the COVID-19 vaccine or to learn more about vaccine distribution, be sure to seek reliable, scientifically-based resources. Your trusted primary care physician who knows you best can answer any additional questions. Continue to take the precautions we have available to fight COVID-19: wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands. Together, we will continue weathering this fight.