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Dec 14, 2020 8:00:00 AM | 5 Min Read

What You Need to Know About Vaccine Safety for COVID-19

Posted By Vista Springs
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What You Need to Know About Vaccine Safety for COVID-19

The first vaccines designed to protect against COVID-19 are showing promising results. You may be wondering whether the vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect yourself during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what you need to know about vaccine safety and the development of a vaccine for COVID-19.

*Please note that information is changing daily, so you should check these primary sources for the most current information:

Eligible populations

According to the CDC, when the COVID-19 vaccine is first released, there will be a limited supply. This means that only certain people will have access to the first round of vaccines. The CDC is considering four separate groups who would qualify for early vaccination: those who work in healthcare; those who are in critical or essential industries; those at highest risk of severe COVID-19 illness; and those who are 65 years of age and older. We anticipate that many of our community members and staff at Vista Springs will be in a position to receive a vaccine.

Safety of the COVID-19 vaccine

As with all vaccinations, safety of the COVID-19 vaccination is being assessed through expedited clinical trials but will continue to be assessed after the immunization is approved. All vaccinations - including the COVID-19 vaccines - have to follow stringent guidelines to ensure safety. Some of those protections include:

  • Vaccines must go through a "rigorous, multi-stage" testing process including phase three trials, which involve thousands of patients (including patients who are deemed at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19).
  • If the testing/clinical trial process shows that a vaccine is both safe and effective, the vaccine must still go through a series of reviews for safety efficacy; these reviews are performed by regulatory bodies in the country of manufacturer.
  • Once these requirements are met, the World Health Organization assembles an external panel of experts to make recommendations and develop policies for administration; these policies help outline who will receive the vaccine and when.
  • Once the public begins to receive vaccinations, the CDC and FDA encourage those who have received the vaccine to report any suspected side effects through the VAERS, or Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. This will allow them to track and monitor safety long after the vaccine is approved.

It's important to remember that it's imperative to continue following social distancing and masking recommendations to stay safe and prevent serious illness from COVID-19. The same will remain true after initial vaccinations are received.

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Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines

Some of the most common questions asked about vaccination and the answers are below:

How fast will the vaccination provide herd immunity?

The FDA and CDC won't know yet how soon herd immunity will occur because the vaccine is still too new. For this reason, people should continue to mask and follow social distancing guidelines, even if they have received the vaccination.

Who will have access to the first round of vaccines?

This will depend on how many vaccines are available, but healthcare workers, essential workers, those over 65, and those at highest risk of severe COVID-19 illness will likely have access to vaccines first.

Will those living in retirement communities be required to receive the vaccine?

No. While it is recommended that those living in retirement communities over the age of 65 receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it will not be required. Each resident will have the opportunity to make decisions about their care just as they have in the past.

Will those who work in retirement communities be required to receive the vaccine?

No. The staff at retirement communities are encouraged to receive the vaccine and will be required to continue safety precautions like masking, hand washing, and social distancing. They may choose whether they would like to receive the vaccine or not. In future years, it's possible that the vaccine will be required much like an annual flu shot.

To learn more about how Vista Springs is keeping their community members and staff safe, please visit our COVID policy page.

Topics: COVID-19

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