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COVID-19 Vaccine

Desert Valley Hospital recommends that you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it's available to you.

The COVID-19 vaccine is helping us transition back to normal, but it does not mark the end of the pandemic. The CDC guidelines reinforce the need for continued physical distancing, avoiding contact with those who have been exposed or are confirmed positive of COVID-19, wearing face masks in public and practicing hand hygiene, after vaccination, to help slow and stop the spread of COVID-19.

The desired level of herd immunity, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, is to have at least 75% vaccinated by the end of May 2021. There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine is given in two shots, 21 days apart, and is authorized for use in people 16 years of age and older. The Moderna vaccine is given in two shots, 28 days apart, and is authorized for use in people 18 and older.

Please visit the California Department of Public Health website for updated vaccine distribution information.


How does an mRNA vaccine work?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2. All viruses like SARS-CoV-2, have a unique genetic code. Scientists took part of the virus's code, called the messenger RNA (mRNA) which tells our cells to make copies of a specific part of a protein unique to the spikes on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. This protein fragment is what is injected into you. The messenger RNA enters the cell, but does not go into the nucleus of the cell where your own genetic material is kept. There is no mixing of the mRNA with your genes, and the mRNA itself is destroyed by the cell after the copies of spike protein are made. The immune system produces antibodies and activates T-cells, over the course of several days, to fight off what it thinks is an infection. If you are exposed to the virus in the future, your immune system will recognize those spike proteins and it will rapidly produce antibodies and deploy “memory T-cells” to destroy the virus. (Source: MDHHS How mRNA vaccines work)

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

The U.S. FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, which have been shown to be safe and effective in large clinical trials. While vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized for use. The CDC continues to monitor adverse events through safety monitoring systems. Click here for more information on the CDC and safety monitoring. (Source: CDC, Ensuring the Safety of Vaccines & Benefits of Getting Vaccinated)

Will the vaccine give me COVID-19?

No. According to the CDC, none of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the U.D. contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.

(Source: CDC, Facts about Vaccination)

Who should not get the vaccine?

You should not get the COVID-19 vaccine if you:

  • had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of the vaccine or have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredients of the vaccine.
  • had an immediate allergic reaction, even if it was not severe, to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
  • have had an allergic reaction to PEG (polyethylene glycol) or polysorbate. Polysorbate is not in the vaccines but is closely related to PEG, which is included.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The most commonly reported side effects of the vaccines include:

  • Injection site pain and swelling
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fever

What you can do to stay healthy?

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent illness is to do the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol hand sanitizers are also effective.
  • At home, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Outside your home, put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick (except to get medical care). Keep sick children home from school.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you use a tissue, wash your hands afterward.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • See additional guidance from the CDC or visit your local health department website.