Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation
While most are eagerly awaiting the COVID-19 vaccine, it may take months to get it widely distributed into the community. Currently health care workers are getting vaccinated. After only a week, Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) has provided first doses to more than 406 essential workers with no significant complications.
Pfizer and Moderna are the two primary vaccines being distributed in Nevada Country. It is not uncommon for vaccines to require more than one dose to be effective. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a technique known as mRNA, or messenger RNA. RNA (ribonucleic acid) is a single-stranded nucleic acid present in all living cells. Its primary role is to act as a messenger and send instructions from DNA as a carrier of genetic codes in some viruses. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “these vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the ‘spike protein’.” This protein is found on the surface of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
So why is a second COVID-19 vaccine shot needed? In studies, Pfizer’s vaccine was 52% effective after one shot and 95% after the second vaccine given 21 days later. Moderna’s two shots are spaced 28 days apart. Currently, there are approximately 230 COVID-19 vaccines being developed around the world. Some may require only one shot.
Often vaccines require two shots because it takes time for the body to recognize the virus and get the immune system ready for the second shot which then strengthens the immune system’s response. This prepares the body to fight infection.
It may take a couple of weeks for your body to develop the cells that will make you immune after the first shot. This means it is possible to get infected and sick between the first and second shot. That’s why it is essential to continue following your normal COVID-19 protocols.
Anyone with health concerns should speak to their physician before getting the vaccine, especially if you have severe allergies. However, for most there is little or no reaction. Side effects include injection site redness or swelling, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain. Slightly more severe reactions include fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Two important things to note about side effects. While some vaccine side effects may feel similar to symptoms of COVID-19, you cannot get the disease from the shot. Also, even if you experience mild side effects from the first dose, it is still important to get the second dose.
There are still a lot of questions regarding how long immunity will last. According to the CDC, experts still do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Until there is more data, there is also no strong evidence on how long vaccine immunity will last. That is why it is important to continue to mask, socially distance, sanitize, and wash hands.
For local vaccine information, please go to Nevada County’s website at htttps://www.mynevadacounty.com/3148/Get-Vaccine-Information.
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