As of April 8, nearly one in three Americans and over 40 percent of adults have had at least one shot, and nearly one in four adults are fully vaccinated.
After what has been the most, for lack of a better term, interesting year in recent memory, a weary United States has good news concerning this COVID-19 pandemic. In the United States, there have been 118 million doses of vaccines administered so far (which is remarkable in a country of 330 million people!) Over the past week, the average number of vaccinations has skyrocketed to 3 million doses per day. Over 40 percent of all American adults have gotten at least one shot while a quarter of the adult population are now fully vaccinated. Thankfully, seniors boast a larger percentage as 75% have received their first shot while a little more than half of the senior population are now fully vaccinated.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions concerning the COVID-19 vaccines:
I am still waiting for eligibility; is there a vaccine shortage in America?
The short answer is no. The truth is that the vaccine shortage has quickly become a vaccine surplus as the American government has secured enough doses to vaccinate 400 million Americans with promises of more in the future for a total of 1 billion doses (or enough to vaccinate 650 million people). The US has a population of approximately 330 million people. So why is it so intensely competitive to get a vaccination appointment? It has everything to do with the fact that most of America’s healthcare infrastructure simply cannot handle this much demand. America has adapted, however, and vaccination sites have sprung up across the country: in parking lots, pharmacies, community centers and even stadiums - such as the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The bottom line: get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible and try expanding the range of clinics you are searching for to a larger radius.
Why are two doses needed for some of the vaccines?
Two doses are needed for the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and AstraZeneca vaccines. This is because of a mRNA vaccine’s mechanism of action (for more information, please read our article: What is a Messenger (mRNA) Vaccine? The New COVID-19 Vaccines Explained). In a nutshell, mRNA vaccines are encoded with spike glycoprotein (a unique marker for the SARS-CoV-2 virus). Your body’s B-cells will eventually recognize this foreign antigen and build a defense to it in the form of antibodies. There is a catch though: one B-cell type, the memory B cells, must be boosted in order to produce antibodies against COVID-19. Thus, a second dose is required to properly build up immunity for COVID-19.
Why is the vaccination administered in the muscle?
The short answer is that our muscles have a busy and constant network of arteries and veins coursing through the fiber. This is essential in making sure the vaccine is distributed throughout our body efficiently. On top of this, wherever there is blood flow, there is also a slew of immune cells needed to respond to the vaccine. As mentioned in the previous answer, the vaccine must be acknowledged by our immune cells in order to build substantial immunity.
Can you still become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus if you are vaccinated?
Yes, but the body of knowledge we have for this is constantly being updated. In recent news, Argentina’s President, Alberto Fernandez, recently tested positive for the coronavirus despite being vaccinated in January 2021 (via the Sputnik V vaccine), becoming the first world leader to contract the virus after being fully vaccinated. However, being vaccinated also meant that Mr. Fernandez’s recovery was quick and the symptoms were mild. This holds true for mostly all fully vaccinated people - becoming vaccinated will significantly reduce the severe health risks posed by testing positive. This means that the once severe symptoms will most likely be reduced to mild symptoms (in the case of Mr. Fernandez, it was a slight headache.) Vaccinated people are also “less likely to have asymptomatic infection and potentially less likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2,” according to the CDC. The caveats to the positives to the vaccine are that new strains are being discovered and the vaccine’s effectiveness against them are still being observed; however, “preliminary evidence suggests that [the vaccine] may provide some protection against a variety of strains.”
The bottom line is, please get vaccinated and continue to wear your face mask until this whole pandemic is definitively in our rear-view mirror. The world has aggressively fought this pandemic back and it seems as if we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Continue wearing face masks and usinghand sanitizer, and get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. Stay safe, we are almost there.