At One Community Health in Sacramento, we understand just how difficult the pandemic has been for everyone—financially, socially, emotionally, and mentally. We want it to end just as much as you do. That is why we are so hopeful that the new COVID-19 vaccines will help us all get back to some semblance of normal, as well as save countless lives.
We understand that many of you have very real fears and concerns about the vaccine. We are here to assure you that we believe your doubts are valid and to answer all of your questions. We value patient autonomy. It is your body and you should take every precaution when it comes to deciding what to put into it. Educating you so that you can make an informed decision about your own health is our top priority.
We believe that the vaccine has been proven to be extremely safe and effective and we hope to put your mind at ease. We are not asking you to do something we ourselves are not willing to do. Our own team members and their families will be receiving the vaccine because we trust that it is in our own best interest—as well as yours, and our community’s.
At One Community Health, we believe that everyone deserves to be safe and healthy. We acknowledge that we must pay specific attention to the communities that have less access to healthcare and are at higher risk for COVID-19—Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander communities and other communities of color.
We are committed to understanding and dismantling the social, economic, and political systems that create these realities. We believe that ensuring these communities have access to the vaccine is one important step in supporting and protecting those who are disproportionately and inequitably affected by COVID.
There are currently two vaccines available for the protection against the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2. They are:
Both of these vaccines listed above work the same way. mRNA stands for “messenger ribonucleic acid.” It is genetic material—naturally present in all the cells of our bodies—that gives instructions for making proteins. Every function in the body needs proteins to be carried out effectively.
Viruses contain unique proteins. Synthetic mRNA in the vaccines enters our cells and gives them instructions to make the proteins specific to SARS-CoV-2, or the novel coronavirus. This “tricks” our bodies into thinking it is infected with the actual virus and our immune systems respond, building immunity to it. After the protein has been made, the mRNA from the vaccine is destroyed—it does not stay in the body.
Most vaccines contain actual weakened pathogens—either the whole pathogen or part of it. Our immune systems recognize the pathogen as an invader and build up immunity to it. The mRNA vaccines do not contain the virus or any part of it, rather they only contain synthetic mRNA. Our bodies cannot make the whole virus from the instructions given by the mRNA, therefore it is impossible for the vaccine to give you COVID-19.
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are given as a shot in the upper arm muscle.
The COVID-19 vaccines have been held to the exact same safety standards as all other vaccines in the US. None of the safety measures or protocols were skipped in the process of developing these vaccines.
Extra funding from the government and large corporations allowed the process to be sped up. But again, no steps were skipped. Most vaccines do not receive as much funding as quickly, so it takes longer to develop them safely.
Additionally, mRNA vaccines have actually been in the works for decades. While they may sound new to the general public, scientists have been studying this technology since the 1990s when the first animal was injected with an mRNA vaccine.
mRNA vaccines have been studied for other viruses such as the flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). mRNA technology has also been studied for the treatment of certain kinds of cancer.
Currently in California, healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and those over the age of 65 are eligible to receive the vaccine. As vaccine supplies increase, they will be available to the general public—public health officials hope by spring of 2021. Healthcare providers are contacting eligible patients.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is the number one way to save lives. It is estimated that approximately 70% of the population will need to get the vaccine in order to reach herd immunity. By getting vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself and your loved ones, you are also protecting your entire community.
No. The mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell, where your DNA, or genetic material, is stored. After the mRNA gives instructions to make the protein, it is destroyed by your body.
You may experience some soreness at the injection site, and you may have mild flu-like symptoms for a few days, including headache, fatigue, muscle soreness, chills, joint pain, or fever. However, this does not mean you have the virus. It is simply your immune system responding appropriately to the vaccine. You are more likely to experience these symptoms after the second dose.
Talk to your doctor if you have a history of severe, anaphylactic reactions. If you and your doctor decide you should receive the vaccine, you will be closely monitored for 30 minutes and appropriate life-saving medications will be available should they be needed. If you have a history of mild allergic reactions, the vaccine is safe for you. You will be monitored closely for 15 minutes following the vaccine.
The best way to save lives is to get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. Waiting until later will only delay the end of the pandemic.
No. The vaccine does not contain the virus that causes COVID-19, or any part of it. Our bodies cannot make the whole virus from the instructions given by the mRNA, therefore it is impossible for the vaccine to give you COVID-19.
However, you can still get COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine, before your body builds up immunity. If you experience symptoms during this period, you should still quarantine and get tested.
Currently, the vaccine has only been approved for people aged 16 and up. Studies for younger children will begin soon.
There is currently no safety data for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and are also in a high-risk group, to decide if the vaccine is appropriate for you.
After you get the first dose, you will need to wait 21-28 days to receive the second dose, depending on which vaccine you are given. You will not have full immunity until a few weeks after your second dose.
You will be notified by public health officials when you are eligible to receive the vaccine. Currently, healthcare workers, long-term care residents, and citizens over the age of 65 are eligible.
Yes. There is no evidence that having COVID-19 provides long-term immunity against the disease.
There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you should you get it. The vaccine not only greatly increases your chances of not getting sick, but should you happen to contract COVID-19, the vaccine will significantly lessen the severity of the disease and increase your chances of survival. Not only this, but getting vaccinated protects your family, and you will help the pandemic end sooner for everyone. The benefits of getting vaccinated far outweigh any possible risks. We can all do our part to save lives.
We encourage you to speak to one of our doctors about any lingering questions or concerns you may still have. We are not here to shame or lecture you, but we welcome the opportunity to discuss with you the wide range of complex thoughts and emotions that this vaccine may bring up.
We also know that you are probably being inundated with information about the vaccine and we want to thank you for taking the time to consider this data we have presented on behalf of your health and the health of our community.
When you are eligible, you can receive the vaccination for free at One Community Health. In the meantime, it is imperative to continue practicing physical distancing, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of COVID-19.