For nearly two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a whirlwind of chaos and uncertainty, sickness and death. It’s not surprising that even the solution to the disease is plagued by controversy.
If you have questions and concerns, we understand. At Millenium Park Medical Associates, Dr. Farah Khan and our team talk to folks every day who are trying to figure out what’s best, what’s safe, and what’s trustworthy concerning the COVID-19 vaccine.
Here, we outline the facts to help you make an informed decision. And if you choose to get the vaccine, we have two convenient offices in the Loop and the Lakeview neighborhoods of Chicago, Illinois, where you can ask more questions and get your shot when you’re ready.
Vaccines have been around for hundreds of years. The earliest recorded use was in the year 1000, when China developed a smallpox inoculation. But widespread vaccinations didn’t kick in until the late 1700s. Finally, in 1885, Louis Pasteur made a breakthrough discovery with his rabies vaccination, which triggered a rapid succession of vaccines against multiple dangerous diseases.
The concept behind vaccines is simple and based on the knowledge that once your body is exposed to a specific virus or bacterium, it develops antibodies against it and becomes immune to it in the future.
A vaccine contains a tiny amount of either a live, weakened, or dead virus. Once injected into your bloodstream, your immune system mounts an attack and develops those essential antibodies.
It doesn’t make you sick, it makes you strong.
Understanding the COVID-19 vaccine
If you’re like many people still on the fence about the COVID-19 vaccine, you have real concerns about its safety and efficacy. Here, Dr. Khan addresses the most common questions about the vaccine from her expert professional experience.
1. Does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
Yes. The vaccine enables your immune system to recognize the virus and shut it down before it can make you sick. If you’re unvaccinated and come into contact with the virus, you’ll suffer through the illness and risk complications or death. If you’re vaccinated, you won’t.
2. Is it safe?
Yes. You may be skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine because it was developed so quickly. Your instinct to question whether the rush means that scientists skipped steps as they raced to create the vaccine is valid. You should always ask hard questions and demand honest answers when it comes to your health.
The truth is that the pharmaceutical companies that created the COVID-19 vaccines did not cut any corners. They followed the time-honored, meticulous vaccine-development process that has been in place for many years.
But the rapidly spreading pandemic created a worldwide emergency that brought all hands on deck, which enabled an accelerated timeline, but still included every critical aspect of vaccine development, including diverse clinical trials.
3. Will the vaccine make me sick?
No and maybe. It’s logical to assume that an injection of a virus will make you sick, but rest assured, the COVID-19 vaccine does not cause COVID-19. These vaccines don’t contain any live viral material, so you can’t get infected by them.
You may, however, feel some negative side effects. Some, but not all, people who receive the COVID-19 vaccination report flu-like symptoms for a day or two, but this just means their body is learning to fight the COVID-19 virus and building up a defense.
4. Is the vaccine safe for pregnant or nursing women?
Probably. To date, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine will cause any harm to your unborn baby. However, research in this area is ongoing. Most experts agree that pregnant and recently pregnant women are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill if they get COVID-19, which can put the baby at risk for preterm birth. Therefore, they recommend that all pregnant women should get the vaccine.
There’s also no evidence that the vaccines affect breastfeeding mothers or their babies, and no evidence that it causes fertility problems. However, the lack of evidence is because there have been no trials that include these groups. That said, from what we know about vaccines in general, most experts recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for all these groups.
5. Can I be forced to take the vaccine?
It depends. The federal government can’t make you get the vaccine against your will. In fact, no one, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is legally authorized to monitor your medical records, which includes your proof of vaccination. But if you choose not to be vaccinated, you may not be able to work for the federal government.
Each state and local government, however, has specific mandates. Illinois Gov. J.B. Prtizker just announced that some state employees will be required to get the vaccine by this fall.
We’ve covered the five most common COVID-19 vaccine questions we get, but you may have others. Dr. Khan would love to talk with you about your concerns and invites you to schedule an appointment so you can learn more about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. And should you choose to get it, we’re ready when you are. Call us today or book your appointment online.