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Vaccination Is Safe and Critical to Fighting COVID-19
Qualities such as patience and perseverance are necessary for seniors. Seniors continue to make the best out of COVID-19 restrictions, which have required them to learn new ways of communicating and socializing, such as virtual visits. Mental health resources have expanded online as well. Quarantine and social distancing have cut off most seniors from human contact at a time when they need connection with others for their emotional health and immunity.
The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020 gave many people hope that returning to normalcy could be possible soon. Despite the promise of protection from the COVID-19 virus, new questions and concerns have developed. Primarily, seniors want to know about the vaccine’s safety, how it works, how they can get vaccinated, and how vaccinating their communities will impact their lives, whether they live in facilities or at home.
Can You Contract COVID-19 or Dangerous Symptoms from the Vaccine?
The vaccines cannot make you sick with the COVID-19 virus because none of the vaccines contain the live virus that causes the disease. All vaccines on the market work by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Your body may develop a fever or fatigue in response to receiving the vaccine, but these symptoms are actually signs that your body is building protection against the virus. Some worry about DNA harm, but because the COVID-19 vaccines work through a mechanism known as messenger RNA or mRNA vaccines, they teach your cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response working with your body’s natural defenses.
Will the Vaccine Work Right Away, and Do You Need to Get Vaccinated If You’ve Already Tested Positive for COVID-19?
It will take an average of a few weeks for your body to build an immunity to the virus after your second vaccination shot. If you were infected with COVID-19 recently before getting the shot, you could still manifest the disease. Because even the experts don’t know how long the disease’s natural immunity lasts, the CDC strongly recommends even those who had the disease receive the vaccine because re-infection is possible.
Vaccination protects seniors from getting COVID-19. That’s important because the virus affects everyone differently—no one knows if the virus will cause a mild illness or severe health effects, including death. In clinical trials, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were around 95% and 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19. These rates are considered highly effective compared with other vaccines such as the MMR vaccine, which has a 97% effectiveness rate. Residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs) and healthcare workers are in the first group to be vaccinated because of the communal nature of LTCFs and the older age and medical conditions among many in this population.
How Can Seniors Get the Vaccine?
Fortunately, there are many resources online to connect seniors with the vaccine. First, each state has government public health websites where seniors can register for the vaccine or call for more information. Since December, the COVID-19 vaccine has been available through hospitals and local health departments for their patients and residents. In addition, the federal government has worked with CVS and Walgreens to bring vaccination clinics into nursing homes and LTCFs across the U.S. Recently, the Biden administration announced a partnership whereby the federal government will send vaccines to several more pharmacy and grocery store chains. The CDC estimates that vaccinations will finally be more widely available by mid-2021.
How Will Getting Vaccinated Change Seniors’ Lives, Especially in LTCF Settings?
Gradually, group activities should begin to resume, but residents will still need to practice social distancing, wear masks, and practice regular hand washing for several months after vaccination efforts. Until more people are vaccinated and COVID-19-positive cases dramatically drop, it’s difficult for health experts to predict when or how life can begin to resemble what it did before the pandemic.