[OPINION] It’s COVID-19 vaccine season. What are the options?

The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which have received emergency use authorization from the FDA. | Photos courtesy of Los Angeles County and Johnson&Johnson

YES! President Joe Biden has announced that by May 1, ALL adults in the United States will already be eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

This is made possible by the government’s expedited procurement of vaccines to help save lives and protect us as we safely move toward “normalcy” and build our life and our nation back better and stronger.

After Biden’s announcement, even more Americans feel empowered and hopeful that YES, WE CAN and YES, WE WILL defeat this virus as more people begin to understand how important it is to get vaccinated. In fact, individuals have been reaching out to their health care providers to know when we can be scheduled for our life-saving shots. I am one of them.

My husband is a doctor working on the front lines and so he is done with his two doses of shots of the Pfizer vaccine. Our psychologist daughter, who is a clinician therapist in direct patient care, has also completed her two doses of Moderna, another vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration with a 95% efficacy rate.

People who have already been vaccinated post their pictures on social media like a badge of honor because indeed, it is a humanitarian and patriotic act to get our shots, along with wearing masks, observing physical distance, avoiding crowds, washing hands often and practicing hygiene even after vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccines are important weapons in our war against the pandemic. They “teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus. That means it is possible a person could still get COVID-19 just after vaccination, because the vaccine has not had enough time to build immunity, covid19.ca.gov explains. I am sharing more information here.

Many people ask me if this is safe, including my own mother who has also been bombarded by anti-vaccine propaganda in the Philippines.

“COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA have been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials. These vaccines were authorized only after it was found that they make it substantially less likely you’ll get COVID-19.

The authorized vaccines are up to 95% effective against a person becoming ill with COVID-19.

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible.

Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, using both established and new safety monitoring systems. These vaccines cannot give you COVID-19.”

Many kababayans in the United States who are working on the frontlines, especially those in nursing homes, are reportedly hesitant to take advantage of their priority position to get the shots because they wanted to be sure they would not have fatal side effects if people they know who are vaccinated are still well and alive.

“After COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. These are normal signs that your body is building immunity. The most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. In addition, you may have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. They may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.”

Other than having a sore arm, my husband did not have any side effects after getting the two doses. My daughter, who is in the early 30s, had “flu-like symptoms,” like chills and a fever, after getting the second shot. She was aware of these side effects and just took Tylenol and a day or two after, she was back to normal. The younger ones are reporting more of these side effects after the second dose but then again, this only means they are building strong immunity against the virus.

My health care provider is Kaiser Permanente and before they schedule members for vaccination, they determine if it is right for you.

According to Kaiser Permanente:

“People who are allergic to most types of allergens (like animals, food, pollen, latex, or most medicines) are no more likely to have an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine than people who don’t have any allergies.

Allergic reactions to vaccines are very rare and typically occur immediately after receiving the vaccine. All vaccination sites have the appropriate medications and equipment to treat an allergic reaction.

You should NOT receive a vaccine that contains an ingredient to which you have had an allergic reaction. If you have had an allergic reaction to an ingredient of a particular vaccine, you may still be able to receive a different type of vaccine – if one is available – following a consult with a physician.

If you’ve had swelling, hives, trouble breathing, or anaphylaxis within 4 hours of receiving any previous vaccine or injectable medication, the risk of developing another severe allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is not fully known. Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, you can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You’ll be observed for 30 minutes afterward as a safeguard.

If you’re concerned about a severe allergic reaction, you may consider waiting to get the vaccine until more information is available. If you’d like to discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination further, please contact your doctor.”

Many of you also ask: “Can I choose which vaccine to have?”

Vaccine types and supplies are limited at this time as the government is still working with vaccine manufacturers to expedite production to meet the demand as soon as possible.
After Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the FDA has given emergency authorization to COVID-19 vaccines developed by Janssen (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson). Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine.

Some people are hesitant to have the J&J shots and would rather wait for Pfizer and Moderna. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains:

“The J&J/Janssen vaccine was 66.3% effective in clinical trials (efficacy) at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who had no evidence of prior infection 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine. People had the most protection 2 weeks after getting vaccinated.

The vaccine had high efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did get sick. No one who got COVID-19 at least 4 weeks after receiving the J&J/Janssen vaccine had to be hospitalized.

Early evidence suggests that the J&J/Janssen vaccine might provide protection against asymptomatic infection, which is when a person is infected by the virus that causes COVID-19 but does not get sick.”

BOTTOM LINE: The sooner we get vaccinated, the better are our chances to save our lives and the lives of others. Waiting for one brand to be available means time lost in helping you become immune from the virus which can be a life and death situation for you and those of others. These vaccines not only keep you safe from being infected. If in case you still get the virus even after the shots, they also mitigate the symptoms of the virus, which means you would not have to be hospitalized and would not have to be in the ICU. It’s still life-saving.

(To be continued…)

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at [email protected], or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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