COVID-19 Vaccination and You

Nancy Olumekor

March 1, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

People have questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine. While this article provides a few of the most commonly asked questions and answers, the CDC website provides more details as well as a complete list of facts and myths about the COVID-19 vaccines:

Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?

Both of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States as this issue goes to press are shown to prevent at least 90 percent of infections. For those who do still contract COVID-19 after getting the vaccine, data shows a strong decrease in severity of symptoms.

The COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, protecting you from getting sick with COVID-19. Being protected from getting sick is important because even though many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness, have long-term health effects, or even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you don’t have an increased risk of developing severe complications. How long does protection from a COVID-19 vaccine last?

It is unknown how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. What is known is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a way to protect yourself and limit the spread of the virus. Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity. The CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have gotten two doses of the vaccine?

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser for COVID-19, said in recent interviews that Americans may still be wearing masks outside their homes a year from now, even as he predicted the country would return to “a significant degree of normality” by fall. “When it goes way down and the overwhelming majority of people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable saying...we don’t need to have masks.”

To protect yourself and others, follow these recommendations:

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Wash your hands often.

If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?

You should talk to your medical provider to receive advice on what could be the best choice for you.

Experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again.

Those treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, are recommended to wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

If I have an underlying condition, can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC writes that people with underlying medical conditions can receive the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.

Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

UPDATE: After the print version of this article was published, the FDA approved a third COVID-19 vaccine that is now being administered.

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