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
(Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 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 CHOP’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.

Katelyn Jetelina (aka Your Local Epidemiologist), provides the best overview of all the available vax data there is.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.
Yes, breakthrough infections happen.
But even then, the vaccines offer protection.
(UW Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness, 05.17.2021)

Even if you’re unlucky enough to become one of the very small percentage of people who get infected with COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, think positive. You’re much more likely to have a mild case – or even to have no symptoms.

Important reminder – the more people who are vaccinated, the higher the percentage of hospitalized people who are vaccinated. That doesn’t mean the vaccines aren’t working, it’s just how the math works. This article from Inside Medicine has a great animation that explains it visually. Want it in charts, instead? Read this post from COVID-19 Data Science. (Great for teaching a statistics class, BTW.)

The latest version of the COVID virus.
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay.
Vaccines and Variants

All of the currently available vaccines still provide strong protection against getting sick with Delta.

Why did we end up with a variant as transmissible as Delta, and how will vaccination affect future variants? This article from STAT News provides a terrific overview.

A heart made of fire. Image by Gloria Williams from Pixabay.
Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine In Teens And Myocarditis:
What You Need To Know

(NPR, 06.23.2021)

“‘Take a stadium full of 100,000 people between the ages of 16 and 39. . . . Vaccinate all of them, and two might get myocarditis.’ But if you don’t vaccinate any of the 100,000, . . . about 1,300 would eventually get COVID-19.”

Myocarditis = heart inflammation. It affects thousands of people each year, and can be caused by the body’s response to viruses, toxins, or allergies. Often it’s so mild people don’t even know they have it. All documented vaccine-related cases have responded nicely to anti-inflammatory drugs. And oh by the way, COVID-19 can cause myocarditis, too. (Want more details and follow-up data? Here you go – from Katelyn Jetelina, Your Local Epidemiologist.)

Take-home: Get yourself (or your kid) vaccinated.

The case for continuing to test vaccinated people
(The Atlantic, 05.27.21)

This disease hasn’t existed for very long, and it’s killed an awful lot of people. The more we know about it – and about how well the vaccines work against it – the better.

2021, the year of the COVID vaccine.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Six months of COVID vaccines: what 1.7 billion doses have taught scientists
(Nature, 06.04.2021)

The vaccines work better than anyone ever imagined they would. They’re doing well against variants so far – scientists are crossing their fingers and hoping that luck holds. The vaxs’ safety record is also great. But with so much press about every side effect, it’s much too easy for people to lose confidence in a vaccine whose benefits still vastly outweigh its risks.

Vaccine Guidance for Parents
(Your Local Epidemiologist, 05.28.21)

The answers to the top seven concerns that parents have about the vaccines.
Available in Spanish and English.

Kids will be protected by vaccination.
Image by Alexandra Koch, from Pixabay.
FAQ: What You Need To Know
About Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine

And Adolescents
(NPR, 05.11.2021)

The kids can get vaccinated! Well, those age 12 and up, anyway.

Image by Gustavo Ferreira Gustavo from Pixabay.
Can schools require COVID-19 vaccines for students?
(The Conversation, 05.12.2021)

Typically, vaccination requirements are issued by the state, but two large school districts (Los Angeles and Baltimore) are planning to require the vaccine for in-person learning with or without the blessing of the state.

Three kids in masks.
Image by Paula Wood from Pixabay.
The Urgency of Vaccinating Kids
(The Atlantic, 04.05.2021)

“The fact that many adults are still refusing the vaccine makes immunizing children even more important.” In addition, though “a kid’s chances of dying from COVID-19 are indeed much lower than an adult’s. . . . hundreds of children have died of a preventable disease, and thousands have become seriously ill.”

Vials and vials of vaccine.
Image by hakan german from Pixabay.
Why you should get a COVID-19 vaccine – even if you’ve already had the coronavirus
(The Conversation, 03.25.2021 and 07.13.21)

There’s a really simple answer: “COVID–19 vaccines offer safer and more reliable immunity than natural infection.” Including against the Delta variant.

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. The Juntos Podemos campaign, from the Naleo Education Fund, has great resources and graphics about the vaccines and other COVID prevention measures in Spanish.

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.”

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