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Benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine

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Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer, more reliable way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without you having to experience potentially severe illness or post-COVID conditions.

COVID-19 vaccines build safe, reliable protection

Becoming infected with COVID-19 can have serious consequences. According to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Getting sick with COVID-19 can cause severe illness or death, even in children, and we can’t reliably predict who will have mild or severe illness.
  • You may have long-term health issues after having COVID-19. Even people who do not have symptoms when they are first infected can have these ongoing health problems, also known as long COVID or post-COVID conditions.

While people can get some protection from having COVID-19, the level and length of that protection varies:

  • Immunity (protection) from infection can vary depending on how mild or severe someone’s illness was and their age.
  • Immunity from infection decreases over time.
  • Importantly, there is still no antibody test available that can reliably determine if a person is protected from further infection.

Vaccines are recommended for those ages 6 months and older

The CDC recommends everyone ages 6 months and older stay up to date with their vaccines, which includes everyone 5 years of age and older getting boosters if eligible, for the best protection against COVID-19. People who have certain medical conditions or who are taking medications that weaken their immune system are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness and death. Additionally, their immune response to COVID-19 vaccination may not be as strong as in people who are not immunocompromised. People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have specific recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters. Visit our COVID-19 vaccine eligibility page for more detailed information.

Variants

Like many viruses, the virus that causes COVID-19 is constantly changing. These changes occur over time and have led to the emergence of variants that have new characteristics. Despite these changes, vaccines continue to be the safest, most reliable protection you can have from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying. Visit the CDC’s What You Need to Know About Variants.  The County of Sonoma also posts local information about variants on its Sonoma County Genotyping Results page.

 

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe for Children and Adults

The quick formulation of COVID-19 vaccines was only possible because the science used in their development has been around for decades. The safety of these vaccines can be demonstrated by the hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. under intensive monitoring.  For more information about the intensive steps taken to ensure safety and efficacy to make COVID-19 vaccines available to the public, visit the CDC’s Developing COVID-19 Vaccines.

  • Before COVID-19 vaccines were recommended, scientists conducted clinical trials with thousands of children and adults and found no serious safety concerns.
  • Hundreds of millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intensive safety monitoring program in U.S. history.
  • Serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem are rare following any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination.
  • The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks.
  • More information on why children and teens should get vaccinated against COVID-19.

For local information on vaccinations, visit Sonoma County COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Information.

Planning for a Vaccine

Vaccines are currently widely available throughout Sonoma County. For local information on how, where and when to get vaccinated against COVID-19, visit Sonoma County’s Vaccine clinics page.

There are three main governmental levels where the planning and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines occurs, national, state and local:

  • The U.S. strategy is to provide immunization with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to reduce COVID-19-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths to restore normal living so you can participate in many of the activities you did prior to the pandemic. The goal of the U.S. government is to have enough COVID-19 vaccine for all people in the United States who wish to be vaccinated. For information, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Planning and Partnerships.
  • California’s plan for the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines is guided by ensuring that vaccines meet safety requirements, those who need the vaccine most receive equitable distribution and administration,  and transparency by collaborating with community stakeholders. The state is leveraging its well-established existing immunization framework and emergency response infrastructure to coordinate efforts between state, local, and territorial authorities. Read more about it on CDPH’s California’s Vaccination Plan.
  • Sonoma County’s role in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines is logistics and outreach. The county ensures vaccines are distributed equitably and efficiently to where they are most needed now that there is plenty of vaccine supply and less demand. Hospitals, health care systems, community clinics, pharmacies and community groups are administering vaccines in compliance with federal, state and county requirements. For more information, visit Sonoma County’s COVID-19 Vaccine Key Facts.

For the latest CDC data on national, state and county vaccine distribution, visit the CDC’s Vaccination Distribution & Coverage data tracker. For the latest local Sonoma County information on how many vaccines have been distributed, visit Sonoma County’s Vaccinate data tracker.

Vaccine Development

Currently, four vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:

For more information about the intensive steps taken to ensure safety and efficacy, visit the CDC’s Developing COVID-19 Vaccines.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) are two diseases caused by coronaviruses that are closely related to the virus that causes COVID-19. Researchers began working on developing vaccines for these diseases after they were discovered in 2003 and 2012, respectively. None of the SARS vaccines ever made it past the first stages of development and testing, in large part due to lack of interest because the virus disappeared. One MERS vaccine (MVA-MERS-S) successfully completed a phase 1 clinical trial in 2019. Lessons learned from this earlier vaccine research have been used to inform strategies for developing a COVID-19 vaccine.