What Exactly Is A Vaccine
A vaccine is something that helps a person build up immunity to an infectious disease. It works by intentionally introducing the body to an inactive form of a disease-causing germ, or something similar to it. This then stimulates the immune systems production of antibodies, the proteins that help to protect the person from a future infection if he ever comes across the real germ.
Think of it like a workout for your immune system: Youre sending it to the gym and preparing it to be able to do something when it encounters the real thing in the future, says Tony Moody, associate professor of pediatrics and immunology at Duke University School of Medicine and a principal investigator at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Essentially, what a vaccine is doing is teaching the immune system how to handle something before you actually encounter the real thing so that, hopefully, when you do encounter the real thing, youre able to deal with it quickly and get rid of it.
In the case of the new coronavirus, a vaccine makes a person resistant to an infection from the virus and the illness it causes COVID-19 or, at least, enables a person who becomes infected to have a shorter course or not as many complications, Moody adds.
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Vaccine Protection And Transmission
COVID-19 vaccines are crucial tools in the pandemic response and protect against severe disease and death. Vaccines provide at least some protection from infection and transmission, but not as much as the protection they provide against serious illness and death. More evidence is needed to determine exactly how well they stop infection and transmission.
After being vaccinated, individuals should continue taking simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Get tested if you are sick, even if youve been vaccinated. Check local advice where you live and work. Do it all!
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
In April 2021, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused while the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated a small number of cases of rare blood clots in people who had received that vaccine. Nearly all reports of this problem have been in adult women younger than age 50. After careful review, the FDA and CDC recommended that administration of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine could safely resume. Johns Hopkins Medicine followed these recommendations, temporarily pausing and then resuming use of the J&J vaccine.
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What Are The Side Effects
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, whereas pericarditis is inflammation of the two-layered sac surrounding the heart.
Reported symptoms included chest pain and difficulty breathing, which typically began within a week after vaccination. People also showed abnormal electrocardiogram and blood test results.
Dr. Pranav Patel, the chief of cardiology and an interventional cardiologist with UCI Health, said in an earlier interview that myocarditis and pericarditis can occur naturally due to viral and other infections .
But the rate seen after vaccines is slightly higher than would be expected for younger individuals, he said. This is what caused the CDC to look more closely into this.
Most cases reported to the CDC occurred in people under age 30 particularly men and after the second dose. Researchers do not know why.
However, this side effect of vaccination is uncommon.
In those 12 to 39 years old, heart inflammation occurred at a rate of 12.6 cases per million second doses given. The rate after the first dose was 4.4 cases per million doses administered.
Both rates were measured within 21 days after vaccination.
The rates were higher among people who received the Moderna-NIAID vaccine compared with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
data presented at a CDC meeting.
The Johnson & Johnson Covid
Theres little data that shows how effective the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine is at protecting against the Delta variant. The company is also reportedly researching whether a second shot would boost immunity against the variants.
A recent clinical trial suggested that the vaccine was 85 percent effective against severe disease and demonstrated strong, persistent protection against hospitalization and death.
It also showed that the J&J vaccine prompted neutralizing antibody activity, which stops the virus from infecting healthy cells, against the Delta variant at a higher level than it did for the beta variant.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines had shown a decline in effectiveness against the latter in another study.
Interim results from a study involving 20 people have shown that the J&J vaccine neutralized the Delta variant within 29 days of the first shot, and protection improved over time.
Current data for the eight months studied so far show that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generates a strong neutralizing antibody response that does not wane; rather, we observe an improvement over time. In addition, we observe a persistent and particularly robust, durable cellular immune response, said Dr. Mathai Mammen, the global head of Janssen Research & Development at Johnson & Johnson, in a July 1 press release.
The data has sparked discussions about a possible booster for the one-shot vaccine.
What We Know About Pfizer
- An analysis from Public Health England found the Pfizer vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic cases of delta and 96% effective against hospitalizations from delta.
- A study in the journal Nature said a single shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccines didnt provide really any protection. However, the study said people with two doses had 95% effectiveness against the delta variant.
- Meanwhile, a study in Israel the highest vaccinated country in the world found that the Pfizer vaccine did not offer high protection against delta.
Do I Still Have To Wear A Mask And Continue Covid
The CDC continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and makes recommendations for wearing face masks, both for those who are;fully vaccinated;as well as those who are not fully vaccinated.
The CDC also recommends that masks and physical distancing are required when going to the doctors office, hospitals or long-term care facilities, including all Johns Hopkins hospitals, care centers and offices.
Johns Hopkins Medicines current mask safety guidelines have not changed, and we still require all individuals to wear masks inside all of our facilities.
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What Is The Delta Variant
The delta variant is a version of the coronavirus that has been found in more than 80 countries since it first was detected in India. The delta variant is now potentially responsible for over 90 percent of all new cases in the United Kingdom, according to data from Public Health England.
In the United States, the variant is believed to be responsible for roughly 25 percent of all new cases, but that percentage is quickly growing.
Do They Have Side Effects
The main side effects from vaccines are immediately post vaccination and include tenderness, swelling and/or redness at the injection site, headache, muscle ache, fatigue and fever.;
However, there have been concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine after several European countries reported a link between it and a rare, but serious, kind of blood clot. Several European countries, like Norway, have since suspended their use of the shot. Others, like the UK, have weighed up the risks and recommend that people aged under-40 get a different jab where possible.;
Overall, both the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the European Medicines Agency , the British and European regulators, agree the vaccine is “safe and effective” and its benefits outweigh the risks, but recommend that the clots should be listed as a “very rare” side effect.;
The UK regulator;says anyone who experiences a headache for more than four days after having the; jab should seek medical attention. People should also get help if they have bruising somewhere other than the injection site after a few days, it added.
There is a similar issue over the rare clots and the J&J vaccine, first discovered in the US, where it is more widely used. However, the EMA says the benefits of this vaccine also continue to outweigh the very rare side effect risk.;
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The Link Between Myocarditis And Covid
Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, became a trending topic this spring when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that it is monitoring;a small number of cases of heart inflammation that have arisen in young adults not long after mRNA;COVID-19 vaccination. The side effect is considered important but uncommonarising in about 12.6 cases per million second doses administered. And now the Food and Drug Administration has announced it will place a warning on the mRNA vaccines. Its important to note that the vaccination is still recommended for everyone who is eligible.
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All 10 of the people who developed anaphylaxis were given epinephrine, the drug in EpiPens that is used to combat severe allergic reactions. The CDC has said that those administering Covid vaccines need to be equipped to treat anaphylaxis, including having epinephrine injections on hand.
Anaphylaxis occurred quickly in the people affected, with the median time to the start of symptoms being 7.5 minutes. People who receive Covid-19 vaccines are supposed to be monitored for 15 minutes after the injection, with that period extended to 30 minutes for people with a history of severe allergies or anaphylaxis.
Nine of the 10 people had a history of allergies and five of them had previously experienced an anaphylactic reaction.
This story has been updated with additional data and comment from the CDC.;
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Getting Your Second Dose Of The Covid Vaccine Here’s What You Should Know
Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna shots, the J&J vaccine uses a cold virus, called an adenovirus, to carry the spike gene into the body. J&J uses a human adenovirus to create its vaccine while a similar vaccine not yet approved in the U.S., AstraZeneca, uses a chimpanzee version.
J&Js shot uses a cold virus like a Trojan horse to carry the spike gene into the body, where cells make harmless copies of the protein to prime the immune system in case the real virus comes along. Its the same technology the company used in making an Ebola vaccine.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were also required to be kept frozen, while the J&J shot can last three months in the refrigerator, making it easier to handle.
Moderna;said last month, however, that new data showed its vaccine could remain stable at temperatures found in refrigerators for up to three months. A change in the storage guidelines would require authorization from the FDA.
Pfizer’s vaccine is also currently the only vaccine authorized for emergency use in children as young as 12. Both Moderna and J&J’s vaccines can only be used on people 18 and older.
Pfizer isnt the only company seeking to lower the age limit for its vaccine. Results also are expected by the middle of this year from a U.S. study of Modernas vaccine in 12-to -17-year-olds. Pfizer is currently authorized for use on people ages 16 and up, while Moderna is authorized for people 18 and older.
How Well The Vaccine Works
- The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine was 66.3% effective in clinical trials at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in people who received the vaccine and had no evidence of being previously infected. People had the most protection 2 weeks after getting vaccinated.
- In the clinical trials, the vaccine had high efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did get sick. No one who got COVID-19 at least 4 weeks after receiving the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine had to be hospitalized.
- CDC will continue to provide updates as we learn more about how well the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine works in real-world conditions.
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Low Vaccine Uptake Driving Up Infections
The unvaccinated population is at high risk for infection. If this variant continues to move quickly, especially in areas of low vaccination rates, the U.S. could see a surge in SARS-CoV-2 infection, said Dr. Miriam Smith, chief of infectious disease at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Teaching Hospital in Queens, New York City.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky issued a warning on this potential surge earlier this month.
In a press briefing, she said preliminary data suggested that 99.5 percent of the people who died from COVID-19 since January were unvaccinated.
We know that the Delta variant is currently surging in pockets of the country with low vaccination rates, she said.
In Missouri, which has a vaccination rate of nearly 43 percent, confirmed coronavirus infections surged in July.
In contrast, Vermont reported only 94 cases for the past day and currently has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country at 69 percent.
This echoes findings from a U.K. study that found the Delta variant twice as likely to lead to hospitalization, and both the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines being effective in reducing this risk.
We also know that our authorized vaccines prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death from the Delta variant, Walensky said.
Dr. Theodore Strange, the interim chair of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, said the data supports this.
Vaccine Protection And Variants
When cases increase and transmission accelerates, its more likely that new dangerous and more transmissible variants emerge, which can spread more easily or cause more severe illness.
Based on what we know so far, vaccines are proving effective against existing variants, especially at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death. However, some variants are having a slight impact on the ability of vaccines to guard against mild disease and infection.
Vaccines are likely staying effective against variants because of the broad immune response they cause, which means that virus changes or mutations are unlikely to make vaccines completely ineffective.
WHO continues to constantly review the evidence and will update its guidance as we find out more. For the latest updates on what we know about the COVID-19 variants, read our latest weekly epidemiological updates and our explainer on the effects of virus variants on COVID-19 vaccines.
One of the best ways of guarding against new variants is to continue applying tried-and-tested public health measures and rolling out vaccines. All COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use listing by WHO have been thoroughly tested and proven to provide a high degree of protection against serious illness and death. As stronger virus variants emerge, its important to take your vaccine when its your turn.
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Safety For Those Who Are Pregnant Or Lactating
None of the vaccines has been tested in these two groups, although Pfizer recently began a Phase 2/3 trial to test the safety and efficacy of its vaccine during pregnancy. Van Hoof said J&J will begin a similar trial in late March or early April.
Moderna has completed animal studies the FDA demanded of manufacturers; these studies look for evidence that the vaccine might harm the pregnancy or the developing fetus. The company said it saw no such signals.
The CDC;recommends;until those studies are conducted, the choice of whether to get vaccinated should rest with the person who is pregnant or lactating. This is a more permissive stance than has been taken in some countries, which have said people who are pregnant should not be vaccinated with these vaccines.
Are The Vaccines Safe
Every vaccine that is approved in the United States, even if under emergency use authorization, undergoes stringent safety testing, and the CDC continues to collect data on any side effects or adverse outcomes that could be related to the vaccine over time.
People who receive vaccines may experience a number of side effects, such as a sore arm, fever, fatigue, chills, nausea, and body aches especially after the second dose of one of the two-dose regimens. This is a sign that the immune system is reacting and is not a cause for concern. The CDC recommends taking a painkiller after getting the shot and exercising the arm to avoid soreness.
The side effects are generally more intense after the second shot, as the immune system reacts to the known spike protein. The CDC also reports that 80% of those who reported experiencing side effects were women, which may be related to sex hormones role in the immune response, according to a New York Times article.;
There are some rare serious side effects, such as anaphylaxis a life-threatening, but treatable, allergic reaction. In the United States, this reaction has occurred in about two to five people per million vaccinated and has not resulted in any deaths.
The CDC requires that vaccinated people stay at the vaccination site for observation for at least 15 minutes after getting the shot in case they do have a negative reaction.
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Do The Vaccines Protect Against The Variants
The optimism that came with the approval of COVID-19 vaccines in late 2020 was tempered by the emergence of several coronavirus variants that had mutated to be more contagious, deadlier, and potentially able to evade the vaccines.
But the data so far suggest that currently available vaccines work well against the variants.
Chen says that those who are vaccinated and later infected with one of the concerning variants are still unlikely to be hospitalized. Though there is little real-world data on how the vaccines work against the B.1.351 variant a particularly concerning one first detected in South Africa one small clinical trial for the AstraZeneca vaccine was halted after it showed only 22% efficacy against the variant. Notably, none of the vaccinated people, who were generally low-risk for severe COVID-19 to begin with, were hospitalized or died.
The World Health Organization says that the vaccines are likely to provide at least some protection against each of the variants because they prompt a broad immune response beyond just targeting the spike protein that is the focus of the vaccines.
Pfizer and Moderna have begun testing third booster shots of the vaccines to see if the extra dose could provide further protection against the variants. They are also developing variant-specific vaccines targeting the B.1.351 variant.
Edwards would not be surprised if it turns out that people need to continue to get COVID-19 booster shots as additional variants emerge.