By Michael Bald
Managing and Design Editor
Graphic by Michael Bald
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved two new vaccines for COVID-19: the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Vaccines will be distributed by the UT Health North Campus Tyler, 11937 U.S. Highway 271. Appointments are available for people at high risk and are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments must also be made ahead of time; walk-in vaccinations are not available.
The Pfizer vaccine is one of the options recommended by the CDC.
“Old vaccines relied on actual virus or pieces of the dead virus to cause the immune system to ‘recognize’ the virus and attack it,” said Dr. Anthony Davis, MD, a founding member of the Davis Medical Group in Lindale.
According to the CDC, the vaccines consist of an mRNA virus. “What is new is that the mRNA virus causes the actual human cells to create a small piece of the coronavirus on its surface thus causing the immune system to have a new and strange structure to then recognize as an invader and create antibodies,” Davis said.
Moderna created the second vaccine for COVID. The Moderna vaccine is “a competing vaccine using the same new technology,” Davis said. “It’s a tiny piece of genetic code that causes a cell to produce a small protein, which in this case is the coronavirus spike protein.”
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are taken in two stages. According to Davis, either vaccine is enough to fight COVID, but it is important to stick with one brand.
“Either is effective,” Davis said, “but if you start with Pfizer, the second one needs to be Pfizer or if you start with Moderna, the second one needs to be Moderna.”
The vaccines should be free and at anyone’s disposal. “Most of the costs are covered by the federal government,” Davis said. “You may be charged for medical care to get it or for an administration fee.”
According to KLTV, the first phase in which the vaccines will be administered is to “healthcare workers, first and last responders and residents of long-term care facilities.” The second phase will be for “those 65 and older and those 18 and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.”
The vaccines are said to have side effects once taken. “Most vaccines and even viral infections cause the body to feel bad because of an immune reaction,” Davis said. “For these vaccines, they are pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, rarely fever. These are usually short-lived and mild about a day.”
According to Davis, the first shot provides some initial protection, but two shots are required to reach full efficacy.
“In the research, after a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine the immunity reached 50%,” Davis said, “and after the second shot, it reached close to 95% protection, so the decision was made to give two shots.”
As for people who already had COVID-19, Davis says it is best to get a vaccine anyway. “According to the studies published thus far, it appears natural immunity for most people goes away after 2-4 months, so you could catch the virus again. Whereas with the vaccine lasting immunity is still being reported at 95% or so,” Davis said. “The studies are still ongoing as this is brand new technology and the data is being collected in real-time.”