As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more available to Americans nationwide, I have heard a lot of speculation and restraint from members of the Boise State community. I think that it is important to provide everyone with as much accurate and helpful information as possible. Use this as your source of local information regarding the virus coming from our trusted and valued health officials.
Is the vaccine safe?
According to the St. Luke’s COVID-19 vaccine FAQ page, the technologies behind creating a vaccine are not new. The FAQ page went on to say, “When we compare the risks to those at the frontlines that are being exposed to the virus and those in our community who are at high-risk for severe disease and death, those risks greatly overshadow the unknown risks of the vaccine.”
To put it in other terms, the often incapacitating effects of COVID-19 are much worse than the possible risk of a fever or minor allergic reaction from the vaccination. There are always side effects for a vaccine, be it for a typical flu to the COVID-19 vaccine. But those side effects pale in comparison to the symptoms brought on from COVID-19, or the possibility of death.
How effective is the vaccine?
St. Luke’s states that the Pfizer vaccine has a 95% effectiveness in preventing infection seven days after the second shot, and the Moderna vaccine has a 94.5% effectiveness. Of course, more data is needed to understand how long the immunity produced by antibodies from the vaccine will last, but current research shows the antibodies lasting in adults for around four months.
When are students eligible to receive the vaccine?
As recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health care workers, residents of care facilities, essential workers and those 65 and older are among the first groups to have access to the vaccine.
The group prioritization, announced by Gov. Brad Little on Jan. 12, states that the general public, aged 16-64, are a part of group four. This group is expected to be open to vaccination in May, depending on availability. Variations exist in the groups for those with high-risk health conditions, but hopefully the majority of us can receive the vaccine by the time summer break begins.
What will the COVID-19 vaccine accomplish?
There are also questions surrounding what exactly the COVID-19 vaccines will do. Will it stop one from contracting the virus or just reduce symptoms? St. Luke’s states that the vaccine can actually do both stating that “more than 90% of the people in the phase 3 trials did not get COVID-19. Of those who did get it, only one person in the Pfizer study has a severe case, the rest of the participants in Pfizer had minor symptoms.”
However, it is important to keep in mind that even after one gets both doses of the vaccine, you may still be able to spread the virus, so continuing to partake in COVID-19 protocols, such as wearing a facial covering and social distancing, is key to stopping the spread of the virus.
If you still have questions, concerns or other worries about the vaccine, there are a number of local and national sources to keep yourself up to date on all the news and information regarding the vaccination. The Idaho COVID-19 website gives out the number of vaccinations administered and COVID-19 cases confirmed. Additionally, the Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee website shares information from all of their meetings.
For those looking for campus information, visit the Boise State Spring Semester COVID-19 Updates page.