The vaccines have finally been approved for emergency use after being fast tracked in terms of funding and paperwork. Data from the clinical trials are impressive. For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the efficacy is about 95% and 94% successful in preventing covid-19 infection, respectively. More trials for other vaccines are in the process, and some of these appear promising as well.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work through messenger RNA (mRNA). The covid-19 virus contains spiky “S-proteins” on its surface. The mRNA vaccines instruct your cells to start making these same types of protein spikes, but ones that are not harmful. When your own immune system detects these spiky cells, it starts reacting defensively and produces antibodies in response, which will then protect you against the dangerous covid-19. (While the data on safety seem good, I still personally feel some trepidation about long term side effects, given that these drugs are so new. But after weighing the pros and cons of vaccination versus living with these restrictions and jeopardizing health, I am receiving it without hesitation.)
Each state has different rules and regulations about eligibility. Right now, the following groups are allowed to receive the vaccine in NY State: medical/healthcare personnel, nursing home residents, certain kinds of essential workers (including police, teachers and some grocery workers), and anyone age 65 and older.
For more information, see:
Getting an Appointment
The vaccine rollout has been painfully slow. Getting an appointment requires diligence, persistence, and a lot of patience. The vaccine must be stored at extremely cold temperatures, then thawed and used up within a short window of time, which means if there are remaining doses in a given batch that aren’t used up, they are THROWN AWAY. Some people have shown up at smaller facilities to inquire if there are any leftover doses available for use. If so, they serendipitously and spontaneously get their first dose on the spot! You MUST receive a second dose in order to have full immunity and your next appointment is scheduled before you leave the facility. If you receive the Pfizer vax, the second dose is given three weeks to the day later; Moderna is four weeks after the first dose. You cannot undergo the vaccine if you have active covid. It is important to know that even after you are vaccinated, you must still be vigilant and continue to wash hands, wear a mask, and socially distance. It takes one or two weeks after the second dose to fully build immunity, and there is no data available on whether vaccinated individuals can carry or spread the virus, even though they won’t become ill themselves. Here are some websites that might be useful to schedule an appointment, if you qualify:
City vaccine hotline: 877-829-4692
My Experience, 1st Dose
After many failed attempts including lack of response to online registration and appointment requests, websites crashing, etc., I finally made an appointment via the NY State Covid-19 Vaccination Hotline number at833-697-4829. A live rep answered, screened me for eligibility and scheduled a time at the Javits Center.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by many friendly people, all willing to explain the process and direct me where to go and what to expect. I was again screened, had to provide my proof of employment as a healthcare professional, and sign a consent form; then, directed to the injection area where I was briefed on side effects and told to wait at least 15 minutes afterwards to ensure no allergic reactions before exiting the facility.
The injection itself felt like a flu shot, and my personal side effects included fatigue and some muscle aches, and my arm was sore for two days. No need for Tylenol. Everyone reacts differently, however. Most people I know had zero side effects, while one or two felt flu-like symptoms.
It takes a couple of weeks to develop immunity, even after the second dose (so, about 6 weeks total). Remember, the vaccines are not 100% effective, therefore 1 in 20 vaccinated people will remain vulnerable to the virus. Also, there is still a lot we don’t know about transmission and these new variants that are proving to be more contagious. Take good care and stay safe!