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  • Summer Adamson, reporter

Covid-19 Vaccines

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized two Covid-19 vaccines for emergency use: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is administered in two doses 21 days apart. This vaccine is available for people 16 years and older. BioNTech is a German biotechnology company that collaborated with the American company, Pfizer, to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.

Hospitals administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine need to follow specific guidelines. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine must be kept in specialty freezers between -112 and -76 degrees Fahrenheit; these freezers are not common in most hospitals.

The vaccine can be kept in a refrigerator at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit for up to five days. In addition to being kept extremely cold, the vaccine is mixed with a special diluent before it is administered.

The Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses 28 days apart. This vaccine is for people 18 years or older. The Monderna vaccine is named after the Massachusetts based company that developed it.

It is much easier to distribute the Moderna vaccine because it can be stored in a standard freezer between -13 and five degrees Fahrenheit and in a refrigerator at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 days. This vaccine doesn’t require a diluent.

According to the FDA, common side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines may include pain, redness, and swelling around the injection site, fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, chills, and joint pain. People are usually monitored for 15 minutes after getting a Covid-19 vaccine to see if they have an immediate reaction. Most side effects are seen within the first few days.

There is not sufficient research to know how long the vaccine will protect against Covid-19 once it is administered. It is encouraging that both vaccines, which were developed completely independently of each other, show similar results. Both are equally effective at 95 percent in a controlled environment.

The first wave of Covid-19 vaccines is already underway, with healthcare workers and nursing home residents receiving the vaccine. Next to receive the vaccine will be seniors over age 75 and essential workers, followed by people ages 65 to 74.

Both Covid-19 vaccines are unique in the way that they are developed. They are the first FDA approved vaccines to use mRNA. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine use mRNA to deliver instructions to the body’s cells on how to make harmless proteins that mimic the proteins unique to the coronavirus. The body fights back against these harmless proteins and creates immunity against the coronavirus without the risk of contracting the coronavirus from the Covid-19 vaccine.

The current Covid-19 vaccines do not guarantee complete immunity because it takes time for the body to build up immunity and the vaccines are only 95 percent effective. So everyone should still take safety precautions: wear masks, stay six feet apart, and stay away from large gatherings.

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