The biggest benefit of getting the vaccine is that it greatly lowers your chances of getting sick with COVID-19. All three COVID-19 vaccines also prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. Another benefit is that vaccination protects everyone around you. More people getting vaccinated means COVID-19 will not infect as many people and may slow the emergence of additional variants. It is important to get vaccinated so that COVID-19 will not spread and infect people who are at higher risk of serious illness. People who have a higher risk of serious sickness can include older adults, people with medical conditions and pregnant women.
Research into COVID-19 is continually ongoing and the virus is changing over time. The changes in the virus lead to different versions that are called variants. Variants are appearing all over the world. At this time, all FDA approved vaccines appear to be effective against the known variants spreading in the U.S.
Some of the changes to the virus do not pose a threat. Others, such as the Delta variant, are more worrying. The Delta variant is more infectious and may also be more dangerous than the original strain of the virus. The COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. offer protection against severe disease and death from the Delta variant. If someone who is vaccinated gets infected by the Delta variant, it is considered a “breakthrough case”. In breakthrough cases symptoms are usually milder.
Other changes to the virus are happening quickly and in many places. These changes cause new variants to appear. Scientists continue to study and monitor if the current vaccines provide protection against these new variants.
The continuing emergence of new variants is another good reason for you and others to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The current vaccines will protect you from the original COVID strain and provide some protection against severe disease and death from the variants. It is also important to continue to wear masks, stay physically distanced, and wash your hands.
If you and others around you get the vaccines, it will also help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your community. It means you will have less risk of exposure to someone with the virus. And with less of the virus in your community, it will also help reduce the possibility of future variants.
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Everyone 12 years of age and older is now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in the U.S. Some states require pre-registration for a vaccine appointment. Maryland does not. While many mass vaccination sites have closed, there are still three in the state. Many vaccination sites including pharmacies now allow walk-ins.
On May 10, the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in children in ages 12 and up. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to get vaccinated.
The Pfizer vaccine is now approved for use in children ages 12 and up.
Moderna and Pfizer began clinical trials for children age 6 months to 11 years old in March 2021. Results from these trials are expected this fall, and authorization will likely follow this winter (late 2021, early 2022). The vaccine will likely first be authorized for children age 5-11. Authorization for younger children is expected later.
There are ways we can protect the health and safety of everyone while we wait for vaccines to be approved for children of all ages. It is important to continue to wear masks, avoid large gatherings and crowds, and wash our hands.
The CDC now recommends for vaccinated people living in areas with high rates of COVID transmission to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Vaccinated individuals living with vulnerable children should also wear masks indoors and in public spaces. Vulnerable children include young children and those who are immunocompromised. This change from the May 2021 recommendation is due to the prevalence of the Delta variant. The Delta variant is more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain.
Yes, there are a number of “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 among people who are fully vaccinated. Most of these cases involve no symptoms or mild symptoms. However, even people who do not have symptoms can infect others.
New research shows that even if vaccinated people do not get sick from the Delta variant of COVID-19, they can still spread it to others. Masking lowers this risk and protects both you and others. Even after you are vaccinated, masking is especially important indoors and in crowded spaces.
New research shows that immunity from COVID-19 vaccines decreases over time and some new variants are more infectious. Booster shots help to increase the immune response to the virus. A booster shot will likely be recommended for everyone sometime soon. Boosters have not yet been authorized by the FDA for the general public. Immunocompromised people with certain medical conditions are now eligible for a booster. You may be immunocompromised if you have a transplant or are undergoing cancer treatment, for instance.
A few cases of myocarditis were reported in teens and young adults after COVID-19 vaccination. Myocarditis is the medical term for heart inflammation. There have been only 1,000 cases of heart inflammation out of the millions of doses of vaccine given. The majority of the reported cases were mild. Myocarditis is often the result of infections or inflammations caused by viruses. Myocarditis is also a complication of COVID-19 infection. Myocarditis risk is much higher from COVID-19 infection than from vaccination. The best protection against COVID-19 and other complications for young adults is to get vaccinated.
The FDA initially granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for three types of COVID-19 vaccines. Emergency use authorization requires evidence of safety and efficacy. This evidence comes from clinical trials that are conducted with tens of thousands of patients. We also now have extensive safety and efficacy data for all the vaccines because they have been given to millions of people. Full approval requires at least 6-9 months of follow-up data to document efficacy over time. Full approval also requires review and approval of every aspect of the vaccine manufacturing. The FDA has now grated full approval for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Full approval of the others is expected in the coming months.