COVID-19 vaccines weren’t developed in only a year, experts say

Today’s successes are the result of many years of coronavirus research

Keep These Do's andDon'ts in Mind After GettingYour COVID-19 Vaccine.If you recently had or are set to receive a dose ofthe COVID-19 vaccine, you probably have a few questions. .Here are five importantdo's and don'ts to keep in mind following yourvaccine appointment. .1. DON’T panic aboutpossible side effects, Side effects following the vaccineare normal and actually a sign thatyour immune system is doing its job. .On the flip side, don’t worry if you aren’t experiencingside effects — the vaccine is still working.2. DO stay rested,hydrated and (ifneeded) medicated, Getting enough sleep andwater will help your immunesystem function properly. .If you’re experiencing more severe side effects, it’sperfectly fine to take over-the-counter medicine for relief.3. DO keep usingyour vaccine arm, Muscle soreness on yourvaccine arm is commonand keeping it active will help.The CDC recommends applying a “clean, cool, wetwashcloth” to your injection site to mitigate any pain.4. DON’T post yourvaccination card onsocial media, This makes it easier forscammers to forge cards or steal your identity.You should also consider not laminating your card, asyou may need to update it later with other information. .5. DON’T stopwearing your maskin public spaces, Being fully vaccinated certainlymeans more freedom, but youstill need to be mindful of others. .There is still not enough known about whethervaccinated people are able to spread COVID-19 to others

Some people may be hesitant to be vaccinated for COVID-19 because they think COVID-19 vaccines were developed too quickly. But today’s successes are the result of many years of coronavirus research.

“To say that these messenger RNA vaccines were only developed in the past year would be erroneous,” says Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. “I know some people are hesitant, and they might be fearful over some of the headlines they see, but vaccines using mRNA technology have had 30 to 50 years of development.”

Poland says researchers had figured out by 1990 how to stabilize the mRNA molecule and decrease the reactogenicity, or rate of side effects, caused by these vaccines. “Then along comes the 2002 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak,” he says. “Through containment procedures and much more, it was controlled and disappeared. So that vaccine research went on the shelf, so to speak.”

Next, in 2012, another coronavirus, Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, appeared and vaccine development ramped up, once again. But because MERS didn’t become a pandemic, he says the research was put back on the shelf.

“And then of course in 2019-2020, we learn about a new coronavirus that became SARS-CoV-2 or (the virus that causes) COVID-19.”

While scientists worked intensely on the coronavirus vaccine “building blocks,” Poland says other efforts in 2020 involved establishing contracts, incentivizing manufacturers to make hundreds of millions to billions of vaccine doses, and being thorough with ethical approvals for phase 3 clinical trials.

These clinical trials were huge, with 30,000 to 40,000 subjects each, and they were conducted worldwide. Data from these trials gave researchers confidence that the vaccines were safe and effective in the context of a worldwide pandemic.

“There’s an ongoing public health push to help people get past their fears and concerns,” says Poland. “That means explaining things like the COVID-19 vaccines not being developed overnight. I also encourage folks to seek information from knowledgeable and credible sources.”

He says he has received many letters from Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast listeners who were once hesitant, but after listening to the podcasts, they were vaccinated for COVID-19. “They’ve told us how thankful they are that they did it,” adds Poland. “These are life-saving vaccines, so let’s be done with this. We can conquer this.”

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