Vaccination and What Comes After

What you need to know about the light at the end of the tunnel.

Lotsa question marks. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.
Every COVID-19 Vaccine Question You’ll Ever Have, Answered
(Medium, updated periodically)

Every. Single. One. If you don’t want to have to scroll through their whole list, check below to see if the answer is here. If it isn’t, dive in to Medium’s list and you’ll find it eventually.

Vaccine illustration image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay.
The Vaccines

Who can get them, what the most common side effects are, how well they work, and more. Only covers the vaccines available or about to be available in the US.

Some people have questions about the vaccines.
Image by John Hain from Pixabay.
Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy

This website, part of the It’s Up to You campaign from the Ad Council and the COVID Collaborative, has the answers to a multitude of vaccine questions in several languages.

If you need to speak to vaccine-hesitant teachers, staff members, and families in person, read this article from STAT News first. Written in pre-COVID times about parents of newborns, it has critical advice:

  • Listen. Don’t judge.
  • Answer questions clearly and honestly. Don’t judge.
  • Leave the decision up to them.
  • Don’t judge.

If you find that you need to address misinformation about vaccines, here are facts about the most common myths.

Vaccine and SARS-CoV-2 virus particle.
Image by pearson0612 from Pixabay.
How do vaccines affect transmission of the coronavirus? (Science, 02.16.21)

This article goes over a lot more than that, but here’s the reason why it’s on this page: it’s looking like the vaccines will decrease transmission of the virus by about half. What that means for schools: vaccinated teachers will be protected from serious illness or death (yay!) but they can still carry and transmit the virus (boo!).

But wait – why make a vaccine that doesn’t prevent transmission of the virus?

  • Because it takes longer to prove that a vaccine prevents transmission. We needed vaccines that kept people from dying and kept hospitals from being overwhelmed, and we needed them ASAP. That’s what these vaccines do.
  • Because it turns out that you can actually beat an epidemic even with a vaccine that doesn’t prevent transmission. The Salk polio vaccine did it.
Syringe illustration. Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay.
When You’re Talking About Vaccines, Efficacy and Effectiveness Are Not
The Same Thing.

(Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance)

Efficacy = In clinical trials, how much better the vaccine performed compared to the placebo group.

Effectiveness = how well the vaccine performs in the real world. 

Important! When you say a COVID vaccine has “95% efficacy,” that doesn’t mean it prevents 95% of COVID cases. It means something even better: It means that in clinical trials, folks who were vaccinated were 95% less likely to get COVID than folks who weren’t vaccinated. In the Pfizer and Moderna trials, only about 0.04% of vaccinated people got the coronavirus.

Graphic explanation of herd immunity, aka community immunity.
Image by TKarcher from Wikimedia Commons,
based on a graphic from the National Institutes of Health.
What is herd immunity?
(Mayo Clinic)

Also known as community immunity, “herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected —
not just those who are immune.” This article by Professor Pedro Mendes of the University of Connecticut goes into more detail on how it works, and this simulation from NPR shows how things like a more-infectious variant can affect it.

Epidemiologist Kaetlyn Jetelina explains here that we need a minimum of 70% of the population to be vaccinated in order to reach that coveted point. Unfortunately, as Sarah Zhang reported in The Atlantic, since the vaccines don’t prevent transmission of disease, we may not get to herd immunity after all.

Immune Cartoons logo.
Immune Cartoons

Absolutely adorable and crisply eloquent cartoons explaining how the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects the body, and how the vaccines work. Narration in both English and Spanish.

Child after vaccination. Photo by Linda Mynhardt on Unsplash
When can children get the COVID-19 vaccine?
(NY Times, 02.12.21)

“Not before late summer.” Pfizer and Moderna are hoping to have data from their trials on kids 12 and up by the summer. A vaccine for kids under 12 won’t be available until early 2022. NB: The Pfizer vaccine can be used in kids ages 16 and 17.

Vaccine versus COVID.
Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay.
The Why and When of Vaccinating Kids for COVID
(The Atlantic, 01.21.21)

We’ve got to vaccinate the kids to get to herd immunity. But since kids react to vaccines differently than adults – and younger kids react differently than older ones – the vaccine needs to be studied separately in them before it can be used.

Multicolor US map. Image by fajarbudi86 from Pixabay.
State-by-State Guide to
Getting Vaccinated

(Web MD, 01.11.21)

Links to the vaccine information pages for all the state departments of health. Each state is rolling out the vaccine separately. Find your state to see where you are in line and how to sign up to get vaccinated.

Masked person in classroom.
Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay.
What You Can Do Post-Vaccine, And When (NY Times, 12.21.20)

Teachers should be in the second round of vaccinations. But until at least 70% of the overall population has been vaccinated, they shouldn’t change their COVID precautions.

“Immunity is not an on/off switch; it’s a dial. . . . If you’re below herd immunity, the virus is still happily circulating in the population and there’s always a chance the vaccine isn’t working for you.”

Vaccine vial and needle. Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay.
What the Vaccine’s Side Effects Feel Like
(The Atlantic, 12.18.20)

“The COVID-19 vaccine will make some people feel sick. But they’re not—that’s the immune system doing its job.”

Image by David Mark from Pixabay
Next up in hunt for COVID-19 vaccine: Testing shots in kids
(AP, 10.21.20)

The global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine for kids is only just beginning — a lagging start that has some U.S. pediatricians worried they may not know if any shots work for young children in time for the next school year.


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