Britain became the first country in the world to make the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 available, and vaccinations are being carried out in 50 hospitals in the first phase.
The National Health System (NHS) prioritizes the vaccination of people over the age of 80, front-line workers in the health sector as well as staff and food in nursing homes.
But what should those who have been vaccinated expect?
What happens when someone gets the vaccine?
The vaccine, which has been developed with the new “messenger RNA” technology, is given by injection into the arm. The immunization is done in two doses with a difference of three weeks, and as it has been shown in the tests, it protects up to 95% of those who have done it from getting COVID-19.
Pfizer has stated that the side effects of those who took part in the trial were mostly mild to moderate. The most serious side effects occurred after the second dose: fatigue in 3.8% of volunteers and headache in 2%. The older participants, however, seemed to report fewer and milder side effects of this kind.
What kind of protection does the vaccine provide?
The vaccine begins to prevent COVID-19 infection seven days after the second dose, which comes about a month after the first.
Clinical trials have not yet been designed to determine if an immunized person can transmit the virus to someone else. Some vaccines, such as hepatitis A vaccines, provide this kind of protection – also known as “sterile immunity” – while others do not.
During the trials, the manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines focused on whether the vaccine would prevent someone from getting sick.
It will also take even more months before it becomes clear how long the vaccine protects someone from getting infected.
“Until then, it is better to avoid bars, and other gatherings with a lot of people,” said Dr. Anita Set, infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Does vaccination mean a return to normal life?
Since there is no evidence that immunization inhibits the transmission of the virus and no vaccine is 100% effective, scientists are calling for constant vigilance using a mask, hand washing and keeping a distance.
“The vaccine, like all vaccines, may seem to work very well in some subcategories of patients, but not so much in others. Does this mean that we are free to travel by plane or to invite 30 people to our home? “Probably not,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, director of infection prevention at UC Health in Colorado.