Benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine
We understand that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated now that COVID-19 vaccines are available in the United States. Vaccinations will be key to ending the pandemic. Below are some of the important reasons to get vaccinated:
- All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. Learn more about the different COVID-19 vaccines.
- In the rare case that you do still get COVID-19, the vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill or dying.
- Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- COVID-19 vaccination is a safer way to help build immunity. Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. The vaccine eliminates nearly all chances of life-threatening COVID-19 reactions including death.
- A growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to be infected without showing symptoms (called an asymptomatic infection) and potentially less likely to spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others.
Variants of COVID-19 and what they mean for vaccinations
Since the start of the pandemic, multiple variants of COVID-19 have appeared. Most do not have significant health impacts, but some may affect COVID-19 transmission, disease severity, testing, treatment or vaccine effectiveness.
On May 25, 2021, the CDC published an analysis from January through April using variant sequencing and vaccination data from around the country. This study found that there was no variant that was overrepresented among the 5% of fully vaccinated cases that were sequenced, meaning that to date, variants do not appear to decrease the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.
Vaccine effectiveness and variants continue to be monitored and studied nationally and globally. For information on vaccinations in Sonoma County please visit socoemergency.org/vaccine.
Following CDC classifications and definitions, the term variant of interest is used to describe a new variant that is being monitored to learn more about its impact on health. The term variant of concern is used to describe a variant that has already been found to have a significant impact on health, such as being more contagious, more likely to cause severe illness, or less responsive to vaccines or treatment.
As the CDC and others discover and designate new variants, they will be added to this dashboard. As more information becomes known about particular variants, their designations as variants of interest or concern may change.
Planning for a Vaccine
Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19 in the United States. To help guide decisions about how to distribute limited initial supplies of COVID-19 vaccine, CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have published recommendations for which groups should be vaccinated first. The California Department of Public Health also has its own list of priorities. It is understandable how concerning this would be for people, especially for those who are at increased risk for serious illness from this virus and for their loved ones.
That is why, early in the response, the federal government began investing in select vaccine manufacturers to help them increase their ability to quickly make and distribute a large amount of COVID-19 vaccine. This will allow the United States to start with as much vaccine as possible and continually increase the supply in the weeks and months to follow. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. Several thousand vaccination providers will be available, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals and federally qualified health centers.
The federal government will oversee a centralized system to order, distribute, and track COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccines will be ordered through CDC. Vaccine providers will receive vaccines from CDC’s centralized distributor or directly from a vaccine manufacturer.
Three vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19 in the United States, other COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in development, and clinical trials are being conducted at the same time with large-scale manufacturing. With first doses now available, planning and preparing for a COVID-19 vaccination program is very important.
Planning efforts have focused on every step and detail of the process, including:
- Establishing and testing logistics plans with manufacturers and commercial partners that are part of CDC’s centralized COVID-19 vaccine delivery system
- Coordinating the first distribution of vaccines and needed supplies from centralized locations
- Ordering processes for additional doses of the vaccine after the first supply has been shipped
- Receiving, storing, and handling vaccines properly at very specific temperatures
- Deciding who should receive a vaccine first, based on national and state recommendations, if there are not enough doses of the vaccine for everyone
- Giving the vaccines in a safe way during an ongoing pandemic
- Reporting on vaccine inventory, administration, and safety using a variety of new and enhanced data systems
- Expanding safety surveillance through new systems and additional information sources, as well as scaling up existing safety monitoring systems
- Developing plans to assess vaccine effectiveness, which means how well the vaccines protect against COVID-19 under real-life conditions
- Making sure timely, credible, and clear communication is provided to the public and stakeholders around all aspects of the vaccination program
This situation continues to change, and planning will progress as more information about any authorized or approved vaccines becomes available. A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a critical component of the U.S. strategy to reduce COVID-19-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths and to help society function as it did before COVID-19. The goal of the U.S. government is to have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for all people in the United States who choose to be vaccinated.
Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19 in the United States. Supplies will increase over time. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. However, a COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for young children until more studies are completed.
Has there been a coronavirus vaccine developed before? What is known about it and can it be helpful today in working toward a COVID-19 vaccine?
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.