Scientists from around the world have been working to find an effective and safe vaccine to help fight COVID-19, save lives and help people return to normal life. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun reviewing and authorizing vaccine options for adults as they receive requests for authorizations. Clinical trials have begun in adolescents and a vaccine will not be approved for teens or kids until 2021.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines work to prevent infections by creating an immune response in the body. The vaccine gets the immune system to produce antibodies, or the body’s “memory” of a past infection, without causing an actual infection. Antibodies protect the body if exposed to the germs in the future. Because the body thinks it’s fighting an infection, even with the safest vaccines, there can sometimes be responses such as low-grade fever after vaccination.
How did scientists create the COVID-19 vaccine so quickly?
The goal of a vaccine is to make sure the final product is safe, effective and easy to produce. Under normal circumstances, this process can take 10 or more years! However, as we’ve seen with the COVID-19 vaccine, the timing can sometimes be accelerated.
Scientists developing vaccines today have many advantages that weren’t available to scientists who developed past vaccines, like better computer technology and learning from past vaccine development. A similar virus (SARS-1) was discovered less than 20 years ago, and the knowledge gained from SARS-1 gave today’s scientists a head start on COVID-19 vaccine research, shortening the timeline to 12-18 months.
Is the vaccine a safe choice for me and my family?
Safety is the most important factor in vaccine development. Scientists and public health officials must be confident that a vaccine is safe before it is released to the general population. Overall, today’s vaccines for numerous diseases are given safely to hundreds of millions of people in the United States each year.
As with any medical decision, people should consult their doctor to discuss vaccines.
Once I receive the vaccine, can I stop wearing masks and social distancing?
No, not yet. It will take several months for the vaccine to be manufactured, distributed and administered to the general population, likely well into 2021. Continuing current safety efforts will continue to be important to protecting ourselves, our families and those we come into contact with.
Will my child’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital caregivers be vaccinated?
One of Nationwide Children’s core values is to always “Do the Right Thing” and that has helped drive all of the hospital’s decisions about the pandemic, including strategies to protect patients, their families and staff. Vaccines will be made available to all staff and the protections that have proven so successful will continue: universal masking, physical distancing, good hand hygiene and avoiding large groups. All precautions and protections working together will continue to help keep our patients and staff safe.
Will Nationwide Children’s patients be offered the COVID vaccine?
Yes. Pursuant to FDA authorization of one or more vaccines, these will be offered to our patients. However, timing and how the vaccine is delivered is still to be determined. There is new news about potential vaccines each day and we will continue to keep you updated.
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