Currently there are vaccines for 24 infectious diseases, some of which we receive early in our lives while others are given later on in life, due to age, travelling plans, or during a pandemic such as with the COVID-19 vaccines.
With the introduction of the new SARS-CoV-2 vaccines across Ireland and the world, there has been widespread lack of confidence when it comes to the safety of immunisation and vaccine jabs. Whilst each of us are our own best advocates for our health, we need to take the advice of medical professionals and scientists around the world into account, before making vital health decisions.
With so much information online, on social media, and spreading through word of mouth, it can be difficult to know exactly what to believe.
We have answered a few frequent queries around the safety of vaccines, so you'll be able to make a more educated decision when it comes to having a flu vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine you may be offered.
Do vaccines work?
YES vaccines do work! Vaccines are heroic in protecting the population from mass disease. Immunisation through vaccines prevents millions of deaths every year, from diseases like measles and influenza (flu). We can see that vaccinations perform well in eradicating diseases by looking at both past and present evidence.
Before the 1963 implementation of the measles vaccine, significant epidemics occurred every 2 to 3 years, resulting in about 2.6 million deaths a year. worldwide. Since the measles vaccine was launched, the disease has been decreased by 99.9%. Measles vaccination has avoided an estimated 23.2 million deaths between 2000 and 2019, a figure that would be much higher if universal vaccination were accessible.
Following the rollout, we can already see that the COVID 19 vaccines are working, as shown by a decline in people contracting the virus, as well as people needing hospitalisation and dying from the disease.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines operate by injecting a killed, inactivated, damaged, or partial form of the pathogen into your body to prime your immune system for potential contact with the disease. When you get a vaccine, the immune system is stimulated, which recognises the agent as foreign substance and produces antibodies to kill it. The immune system has a ‘memory,' which helps the body to recognise the disease more quickly.
Can vaccines give you the disease that it is supposed to prevent?
Vaccines contain inactivated, dead, or weakened forms of the pathogen that aren't powerful or abundant enough to make you sick, but are enough for your body to produce antibodies to combat it. If a live pathogen enters the body in the future, the immune system will be able to detect the disease. It is unlikely to develop the disease after obtaining a vaccine.
Are vaccines safe, and are vaccines tested enough before offered to the public?
All vaccines that are made available to the general public are carefully tested and trialed to ensure that they do not cause harm. It can take years for a vaccine to make it through all stages of a trial and be approved.
In certain cases, such as with the coronavirus, the vaccine is prioritised for faster development, testing, and approval. This has sparked fears that the vaccine process is being rushed. Due to the current pandemic's urgent clinical need, many researchers working on other vaccine projects and clinical trials have refocused their time and resources to work solely on the COVID 19 vaccine. This does not indicate that the shorter time period was achieved at the cost of protection or quality; it was extensively and successfully tested, and it followed the clinical trail requirements.
What are the short term side effects of the vaccines?
Vaccine side effects, if any, are typically slight and much less severe than the disease to which the vaccine is targeting. A sore arm for a few days is the most common side effect of a vaccine, although some may feel unwell or develop a high fever for 1 or 2 days. Some people complain of getting a headache or being tired.
The short and long term consequences of catching and becoming ill with the diseases are incomparable to the possible effects of the authorised coronavirus vaccines and the flu vaccine jab.
A vaccine can cause an allergic reaction in a very small percentage of people. If this does occur, it normally occurs shortly after obtaining the vaccine. The medical professional who administrates the vaccine will be prepared to deal with these reactions and will be able to treat the person right away. The medical professional will ask you to stay in the vicinity of them for 15 minutes after the vaccine has been administered.
What are the long term side effects of the vaccines?
Many people are concerned about vaccine side effects in the long run. The vaccine has been authorised by health experts, meaning that it is safe and unlikely to cause any long-term side effects. However, if you are not vaccinated, you can catch the disease, which can have long-term consequences.
While data on the long-term risks of the coronavirus is still being collected, some complications that we are aware of include:
Difficulty with thinking and concentration (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
More serious long-term complications appear to be less common but have been reported. These have been noted to affect different organ systems in the body. These include:
Cardiovascular: inflammation of the heart muscle
Respiratory: lung function abnormalities
Renal: acute kidney injury
Dermatologic: rash, hair loss
Neurological: smell and taste problems, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, memory problems
Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, changes in mood
Do I still need the annual flu vaccine if I have had the coronavirus vaccine?
Since the pathogens in the flu vaccine and the pathogens in the coronavirus vaccine are not the same, having one or the other will not protect you from both illnesses.
Getting the flu vaccine is now more important than ever. It is possible to develop both illnesses at the same time, and the results can be catastrophic. In addition, a major flu outbreak on top of the pandemic would overwhelm hospitals and place a strain on medical staff.
Flu vaccinations with Precision Health
Precision Health provides a corporate flu vaccine program that ensures that you and your staff are vaccinated safely and professionally in the comfort of your own workplace. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone our wellness team on 01 9104024 if you would like to learn more about our flu vaccination service or receive a free, no-obligation quote on how much our flu vaccination service costs.
Here is a short video that we like to explain the types of vaccines that are being used for Covid 19