A: Vaccination is one of the most important tools that we have against this pandemic. Pfizer and Moderna both reported efficacy of their vaccine being about 95%. Vaccination, along with wearing a mask, social distancing and washing your hands frequently (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html) gives you the best chance to avoid contracting the virus that causes COVID-19. It is important to remember that once you are vaccinated, you should continue to use these universal precautions that have helped slow transmission of COVID-19. Based on what we know about vaccines for other disease, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill, even if you do get COVID-19 (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html).
Vaccination is happening in area hospitals that are using the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is expected to arrive in North Dakota the week of December 21 and priority groups defined by the North Dakota Department of Health (https://www.health.nd.gov/sites/www/files/documents/COVID%20Vaccine%20Page/Vaccine_Prioritization_Phase_1A.pdf) are first in line for the vaccine. Nationally it is being communicated that the vaccine may be available for the general public in March. This date is still fluid however, and may change. The primary difference the general public will notice between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is the window in which individuals will need to get their second-round dose: Pfizer is 21 days, while Moderna is 28 days. It is important to know, though, that a COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for young children until more studies are completed (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html).
Once you are vaccinated, you may experience some side effects (pain or swelling on the arm where you got the shot, fever, chills, tiredness, headache) that will last a few days. For more information visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html. You may want to download the V-Safe app (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/vsafe.html), which uses text messaging and web surveys to provide health check-ins after you receive the COVID-19 vaccination.