/What we know about the vaccines and when we can get them
COVID-19 cell

What we know about the vaccines and when we can get them

By: Noah Wortham

On March 11, President Biden announced the administration’s goal to “make every adult in the U.S eligible for (COVID-19) vaccination no later than May 1.”  

The World Health Organization described vaccines as “a critical new tool in the battle against COVID-19” and that “it is hugely encouraging to see so many vaccines proving successful and going into development. Working as quickly as they can, scientists from across the world are collaborating and innovating to bring us tests, treatments and vaccines that will collectively save lives and end this pandemic.”     

As vaccines become increasingly available, an individual may want to consider how they work and the various types. 

According to the CDC, there are currently three main types of COVID-19 vaccines authorized:  mRNA vaccines, protein subunit vaccines and vector vaccines. 

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna distribute mRNA vaccines. They consist of two shots, with Pfizer’s being 21 days apart and Moderna’s 28 days apart.  

The CDC explained on their website that mRNA vaccines “contain material from the virus…that gives our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus. After our cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine.  

Our bodies recognize that the protein should not be there and build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes” which are types of defensive white blood cells “that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future.” 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine consists of a single shot and is a viral vector type which, according to the CDC, “contain a modified version of a different virus than the one that causes COVID-19. Inside the shell of the modified virus, there is material from the virus that causes COVID-19. This is called a ‘viral vector.’ 

Once the viral vector is inside our cells, the genetic material gives cells instructions to make a protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. Using these instructions, our cells make copies of the protein. This prompts our bodies to build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus if we are infected in the future.” 

The CDC also notes that, “If it has been less than two weeks since your shot, or if you still need to get your second shot, you are NOT fully protected.”  

They suggest to “keep taking all prevention steps until you are fully vaccinated.” 

Although the World Health Organization admits that, “Safe and effective vaccines will be a gamechanger,” they recognize that “for the foreseeable future we must continue wearing masks, physically distancing and avoiding crowds.”  

They argue that, “Being vaccinated does not mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk, particularly because it is still not clear the degree to which the vaccines can protect not only against disease but also against infection and transmission.” 

According to Shelby County’s website, The Alabama Department of Public Health has developed a plan for vaccinations that is “following a phased allocation approach.”  

On Monday, March 22, the current phase moved from 1b to 1c, meaning that “everyone 55 and older, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those who are ages 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions.” 

Eventually things will open up in Phase 2 to those that aren’t in 1a, 1b and 1c. 

 The vaccine is available at various clinics and pharmacies and there is a list of locations on Shelby County’s website alongside details of those eligible during the Phase allocation approach. 

According to their site, “every Tuesday at 9 a.m., Shelby County will post available vaccine appointments for the next two weeks from ADPH.  

At the University of Montevallo, student workers have had the opportunity to sign up for vaccinations on March 31. 

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Noah Wortham is the top Lifestyles reporter for the Alabamian. He is a fourth year English Major with a passion for music, video games and film.