Vaccines: Key to protecting your health
We’ve heard a lot about the COVID-19 vaccine in the past year — several companies developing the vaccine, distributors shipping vaccines across the country and health care organizations vaccinating millions of Americans in recent months. The COVID-19 vaccine is a critical step in controlling the pandemic and getting back to normal life.
If you haven’t gotten a COVID-19 vaccine yet, you can get information from your state’s department of health or your health care clinic.
How vaccines work
In the U.S. and across the globe, vaccination has drastically reduced serious illness and complications from many infectious diseases.
Vaccinations work by stimulating your body’s immune system to make antibodies that fight specific types of bacteria and viruses. They help protect us from diseases like COVID-19, flu, measles and more.
Herd immunity from vaccination happens when enough people in a community are immune to a disease to stop it from spreading. This protects those who can’t get vaccinated for a particular disease, including newborns, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.
Before they are approved, vaccines go through an extensive review process by scientists, doctors and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make sure they’re safe and effective.
Some people are concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines because they didn’t go through the normal review process. The FDA shortened the approval process, but vaccine makers must provide detailed evidence of a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness before the FDA authorizes it for emergency use. And vaccines are being monitored for safety while in use.
Most vaccine side effects are minor. You may experience muscle soreness at the injection site or a fever. More serious reactions are rare. The benefit of getting vaccinated far outweighs the risk of having a serious reaction to a vaccine.
Keep your guard up
During the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to follow your regular vaccination schedule for yourself and your loved ones.
Keeping up with wellness visits and routine vaccination protects children and adults against serious diseases like measles, whooping cough, flu and shingles.
Staying healthy helps ensure that seriously ill people with COVID-19 and other conditions, such as heart attack or stroke, can get the hospital care they need.
Protect yourself, protect your community
Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and other vaccine-preventable illnesses. To learn more about steps we’re taking to protect residents and staff at Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina visit www.prescommunities.org.
Carry on with COVID-19 precautions
Even after you get your COVID-19 vaccination, it’s important to protect yourself and others by continuing safety precautions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you:
• Wear masks that cover your mouth and nose. Masks should have two or more layers of washable fabric and fit snugly against the sides of your face.
• Avoid crowded areas and indoor spaces that don’t circulate fresh air.
• Wash hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Keep at least two arm lengths (6 feet) away from people who don’t live with you.
You can find the latest COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations at cdc.gov.