Vaccines work, they just take time
Posted on 01/19/2021
Vaccines work, they just take time

You've probably heard the experts claiming the COVID-19 vaccines are up to 95% effective, a fact that has been documented in trials. However, simply getting the shot isn't going to lead to immediate immunity at that level. There is a pathway to immunity that is important to getting the most out of your vaccination

A vaccine is basically a training session for the immune system. Vaccines teach the body to look for key features, like the protein structure of a virus, so when a virus does invade the body, your immune system army is ready to fight it off.

The vaccine provides an opportunity for your body to make a plan to recognize each specific virus. Since all viruses have a different structure, we need different vaccines for each. Once the vaccine is introduced into the body, it stimulates the immune system to start making antibodies or fighter cells.

The battle is possible because your immune system can’t tell the difference between the actual virus and the similar components within the vaccine. Antibodies stay in your blood as protection in case the virus tries to invade, however, antibodies created by each vaccination have different timelines where they remain high enough in the blood to provide protection. When vaccine series are completed at the right age, and when required boosters are done at the correct time, you get a level of immunity against the disease without having to get sick first.

The science shows there are a few steps leading up to a fully-functioning vaccine.

  1. It starts with getting your first vaccination. Right now there are two vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorization through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with both only available as an injection. 
    The Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is different than an FDA approval or clearance. Under an EUA, in an emergency, the FDA makes a product available to the public based on the best available evidence, without waiting for all the evidence that would be needed for FDA approval or clearance. 

  2. After your initial dose, you'll need to wait about 21 days for the vaccine booster from Pfizer-BioNTech or about 28 days for Moderna. During this time you'll need to keep wearing a mask, washing your hands and keeping your distance.

  3. After the wait, it's time for the booster. Both vaccines currently require a booster shot before you're able to receive the most benefit from the vaccine.

  4. Remember: most people have some side effects to vaccines and those side-effects vary. Some people report feeling a little rundown after getting the shot. This is usually a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine, kicking into full gear. Some of the side-effects might look like the virus itself though it really depends on the person: different immune systems kick into gear at different rates. The CDC knows about these side effects and considers them normal. 

Clinical data concluded the Pfizer vaccine is up to 95% effective in people about seven days after the second shot. Similar studies show the Moderna vaccine is 94.1% effective, measured starting 14 days after its second dose. 

Because the booster dose is necessary, studies show we’re still susceptible to the virus until our germ-fighters identify, attack and destroy the intruder. That is why it’s possible to catch COVID-19 even after you receive your first vaccine while you are waiting for your second.
For example, if you get the Pfizer vaccine on Feb. 1, you will not fully respond to the vaccine until 2-3 weeks after your last shot, even longer with the Moderna vaccine. 

Our goal in vaccine distribution is no different for COVID-19 than for any other vaccine-preventable disease. Your public health professionals want you and your family to be protected from serious disease or death from highly contagious and dangerous infections. The goal is herd immunity. Herd immunity means community immunity. When enough of the people in our community have antibodies to fight off a virus through the protective process provided by vaccinations, the virus has nowhere to go. That slows the spread, protecting our vulnerable, protecting our community’s healthcare providers and providing a safe community for all of us.
When the majority of us get the vaccine we're able to stop the spread quicker and get a little closer to ending this pandemic. Vaccines save lives, they just take time.