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The COVID-19 Vaccine: Is It Safe for Elderly Adults?

The past year has been one unlike any we’ve seen before. With the authorization of the COVID-19 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), we may now be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. But for many, the vaccine poses simply another stressful decision to make: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

Is the Vaccine Safe for Me or My Elderly Loved One?

One of the main concerns surrounding the vaccine is the simple question: is it safe? Many are concerned about what side effects they or their loved one may experience after receiving the vaccine. The question of whether or not the vaccine has been rushed through trials without waiting to see the full scope of the side effects has been raised. However, studies have shown that the side-effects are generally mild for older adults and occur mostly during the time in which the vaccine is being administered.

What are the Symptoms?

Studies were done at St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Queens and the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that common symptoms after the vaccine are arm soreness, headache, and fatigue. These symptoms are also common in many vaccines, such as the common flu shot. Studies have also shown that elderly adults typically report experiencing fewer side-effects than younger people who receive the vaccine.

Why Do I Need Two Doses?

You may be wondering why two doses are administered for the COVID-19 vaccine. The administration of two doses of the vaccine ensures the strongest immunity to COVID-19, which is extremely important for older adults with weaker immune systems. The second dose is usually administered three to four weeks after the initial dose, and symptoms are reported to occur more after the second dose than the first.

Which Vaccine Is Best?: Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J?

If you are looking to get the vaccine, you may be wondering which vaccine is best for you and your loved ones.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain mRNA which delivers genetic code to cells which ultimately leads to the body registering the SARS-2 virus protein as foreign, which leads to the creation of antibodies against the virus. Just recently, Johnson & Johnson have released their own vaccine that they will distribute in a singular dose. J&J’s vaccine is what is known as a viral vectored vaccine, which uses an adenovirus to achieve the same goal as Pfizer and Moderna. All these different types of vaccines have been approved for people 18 years and older, so the vaccine will not be distributed to children and teens at this time.

Pfizer and Moderna both have shown nearly identical rates of success, with Pfizer showing a 95% rate of efficacy and Moderna 94.1%. This means that these vaccines are extremely likely to prevent symptomatic Covid-19 after the second dose. Moderna has shown a slight decrease in efficacy for adults over the age of 65, while Pfizer has not shown this decrease. Therefore, Pfizer may be the best option if you or your loved one are over the age of 65.

Due to the nature of the vaccine and how recent the development of the vaccine has been, the J&J vaccine cannot truly be compared to the Big Two as of right now.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the COVID-19 vaccine has been proven safe and effective for most adults. Side effects may include those typical in a normal vaccine such as headache, muscle pain, and fatigue. Pfizer has been proven to be more effective when it comes to adults over 65, and so this vaccine may be your best bet for keeping you and your loved one safe as we (hopefully) reach the end of the pandemic.

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