Answering Questions About the mRNA Vaccine

Part 2 of 2

Welcome back for part two of our series about the mRNA vaccine. Please check our blog at www.RVMC.org/the-rvmc-blog if you missed the first installment in this series.

How long does the mRNA vaccine’s protection last?

Different vaccines provide protection for different durations of time. For example, tetanus shots are good for ten years and measles vaccines are good for life, but flu vaccines only provide protection for a year. The exact duration of the coronavirus vaccines is currently unknown. Researchers hope that the vaccines will provide immunity for 2-3 years. However, it is likely that annual vaccinations will be needed.


Why is a second shot necessary?

It is not uncommon for vaccines to require multiple shots. The first shot alerts your body to recognize the virus and prepares your immune system. The second shot strengthens the immune system response. Pfizer’s clinical trials demonstrated that their vaccine was 52% effective after the first shot and 95% effective after the second shot. The Pfizer/Bio-N-Tech vaccine requires a second dose 21 days after the first injection. The Moderna vaccine requires a second dose 28 days after the first injection.


If you can’t get the second shot on schedule, get it as soon as possible. If you don’t get the second shot, you may be less likely to get Covid-19 but you won’t have 95% protection. Make sure that you get the second dose from the same manufacturer as your first dose.


Can I stop wearing a face mask after I’ve received the vaccine?

Because the mRNA vaccine development has been on a fast track, researchers only know that the vaccine is 95% effective in protecting the person who has been vaccinated from becoming ill with Covid-19. There is a possibility that a vaccinated person could carry the coronavirus and infect others. Until the pandemic is under control, continued precautions are strongly recommended. These precautions include wearing face masks in public places, social distancing and good hygiene.


What are the possible side-effects of vaccine?

Common side-effects from both the Moderna and Pfizer/Bio-N-Tech vaccine are –

  • Redness and swelling at the injection site

  • Tiredness

  • Headache

  • Muscle pain

  • Chills

  • Joint pain

  • Fever

These are typical side-effects and often occur with vaccines as the body generates an immune response. Don’t make any big plans for the two days following either vaccination. The reaction could be stronger after the second shot. There have been a few instances of severe allergic reactions to the vaccine and all the patients who had these reactions recovered. Recipients are asked to wait on-site for 15-30 minutes after receiving the injection to ensure that there is no allergic reaction.


Should you get the vaccine if you’ve already been infected with Covid-19?

It is rare for a person to be re-infected with Covid-19 but it has happened and natural immunity varies from person to person. Given the possibility of severe health risks from Covid-19, vaccination is recommended even if you’ve tested positive for the virus. If you received special treatments while infected with Covid-19, you should talk to your healthcare provider prior to being vaccinated.


Looking Forward

The results of the mRNA technology in developing the Covid-19 vaccine are very promising. Researchers are eager to continue work on mRNA vaccines to fight cancer, Ebola, and other life threatening diseases. mRNA vaccine technology will become the standard for future vaccine development.

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