We are pleased to announce our newest contributor to the Physical domain of Thrive in 5, Anna Mangimela MSN, RN, MSRN-BC. Anna is an assistant professor of nursing at Oklahoma Wesleyan University in the undergraduate BSN program. She has been a nurse for 12 years and has a clinical background in critical care, medical-surgical nursing, and community health. She has worked within the US and internationally. This is Anna’s first contribution and provides a timely look at some of the latest facts related to the COVID-19 vaccines.
COVID-19 Vaccine Facts
Pastors engage with people in all walks of life and often provide support during the worst times. The COVID-19 pandemic dominated the past year and brought many changes to life. Social distancing, masking and isolation have become unwelcome parts of the “new normal.” COVID-19 has presented many challenges for the church, but one of the most pressing concerns for many pastors and their families is how to keep safe in these unprecedented times while shepherding a flock that is experiencing many different facets of the pandemic from unemployment to isolation to death. The following five points are primarily taken from Calina et al’s article “Towards Effective COVID-19 vaccines: Updates, perspectives, and challenges (review)” from the International Journal of Molecular Medicine. Other trusted online sites were also utilized – see sources below.
- Vaccine development race. Vaccine development is a major public health priority due to the lack of effective therapy for severe cases and the negative effects of social distancing. Without a vaccine, “70% of the population – more than 200 million people – would have to recover from COVID 19 to halt the epidemic” (Mayo Clinic, Herd immunity and COVID-19 (coronavirus): What you need to know, “Natural infection,” para. 4). As soon as the viral framework for COVID-19 was released, scientist utilized previous research for vaccines for similar viruses (e.g., SARS and MERS) to speed up the development process. In December, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines received emergency use authorization from the FDA. Are the sources you are using to make decisions primarily scholarly (peer-reviewed), social media, or solely opinion-based?
- How mRNA vaccines work. Traditional vaccines typically introduce a weakened form of the germ into the body that triggers an immune response to create the antibodies needed to prevent an illness. However, the mRNA vaccine utilizes a protein with instructions to the cells to trigger the antibody production without introducing the weakened germ or the actual illness. The mRNA vaccine will be delivered in the arm muscle over two doses a few weeks apart. The effectiveness of current vaccines is determined by blood tests determining antibody levels comparable to those who have recovered from COVID19. It is unclear whether long-term protection can be achieved or if additional boosters will be needed. As the new COVID19 vaccine launches, what do pastors and other church leaders need to know?
- Possible side effects. Research is showing the most common side effects to be pain at the injection site, redness, and swelling. After the second injection, some people have experienced systemic effects such as fatigue, headache, muscle aches, or fever as the immune system responds to the vaccine. All reactions have been self-limiting and disappear within days. Immunity is believed to be achieved about a week after the second shot, but the exact duration of immunity (e.g., seasonal, lifelong, etc.) remains unknown. Have you ever had a severe reaction to vaccines before? Does your personal perception of the vaccine benefits outweigh the risk, or vice versa?
- Safety for women and children. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children are considered a vulnerable population that requires more in-depth research in testing. The exact outcome for these populations remains unknown and no data is currently available. However, further testing is underway. The current recommendation is for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and youths under 16 to not be vaccinated. Women of childbearing age who receive the vaccine are encouraged to avoid pregnancy for the two months following the vaccine. Currently, there is no scientific link between infertility in women and the mRNA vaccine. As more data is available, guidelines will be updated. Is it harder to accept the science or grapple with the unknown?
- Timeline for the vaccine. High risk people such as healthcare personnel and long-term care residents will be vaccinated first. The general population will have access to a vaccine in different phases within the next few months through local health departments. Masking, social distancing guidelines, and hand washing protocols will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Multiple components will determine removing restrictions, but a critical determinant will be sustained significant decrease in COVID19 cases in the specific community. Are you or a loved one at high risk for developing COVID-19? Are you willing to be vaccinated?
To learn more about COVID19 vaccine, see the following resources:
Food and Drug Administration. (2020). Fact-sheet-recipients-caregivers-Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.pdf
Food and Drug Administration. (2020). Pfizer-BioNTECH COVID-19 Vaccine EUA Fact sheet for Recipients revised 12-23-20.pdf
Kelen, G. D. & Maragakis, L. L. (2020). COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need to Know | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Mayo Clinic. (2020). COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine: Get the facts – Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic. (2020). Herd immunity and COVID-19 (coronavirus): What you need to know – Mayo Clinic
Physical contributor: Anna Mangimela, MSN, RN, MSRN-BC, Assistant Professor School of Nursing Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
Executive editor: Russ Gunsalus
Curator of content: Dave Higle