How will I know if a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective?
In order to be declared safe and effective, vaccines must pass certain tests and standards. Several organizations such as the National Institutes for Health, National Academy of Sciences and the United States Food and Drug Administration review scientific data from research to help decide about the safety and efficacy prior to vaccines becoming available to the public. At this time, the medical company Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID- 19 vaccination has been approved by the FDA and is beginning to be distributed. Within the next day or so Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccination is also slated to be approved by the FDA.
You cannot get COVID-19 from these vaccines. These vaccines contain material which causes the body to produce an immune response to the coronavirus, not the coronavirus itself. The clinical trials to determine the safety and efficacy of these vaccinations were conducted to include many different types of people including underrepresented minorities, elderly patients and those with chronic diseases. Pregnant women and children were not included in these initial studies but, ongoing studies are being conducted on these populations.
Are there side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine?
Vaccine developers report side effects that are similar to other vaccinations which include pain at the injection site, fever, muscle aches, fatigue and headaches which usually last a day or so. Recently, it also appears that patients who have a history of severe allergies or anaphylaxis should not get the vaccination at this time.
Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
An individualized decision should be made between you and your doctor. Please ask your doctor if it is recommended that you receive the vaccination based on your medical history. In general, considering the impact of lives, hospitalizations and deaths and low risk of this vaccination, we recommend most people be vaccinated. This recommendation includes patients with inflammatory bowel disease on immunosuppression medications, cirrhosis and other chronic gastrointestinal diseases.