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3 benefits to getting COVID vaccine

With several COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S., we have a powerful tool to help us overcome the coronavirus pandemic.

But some people have concerns about being vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s where we come in.

Common concerns around the COVID-19 vaccine include safety, speed of vaccine development and potential long-term side effects.

The FDA has certain criteria for vaccine development in place to make sure all vaccines are as safe as possible. They didn’t compromise those criteria here. Experts also continue to study the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, but early research hasn’t shown cause for concern.

Whether you’re at low or high risk of serious illness from COVID, getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid a severe or even fatal infection.

Why getting the COVID-19 vaccine is smart

Still not sure about getting the vaccine — or need help convincing a loved one? Here are the main benefits that come with it:

1. It’s your best defense against COVID-19

Illness from COVID-19 can be serious and life-threatening for some people. And there’s no way to know for sure how it may affect you. Even if you have a mild case of COVID, you can still spread it to a loved one who may get really sick.

All COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. have been shown to be highly effective at preventing illness from COVID-19. And based on early data, getting a vaccine helps keep you from getting seriously ill if you do get COVID-19.

While it’s normal to experience some side effects right after receiving the vaccine — like a fever, headache or body aches — these are all signs that your body is building immunity to the virus. None of the vaccines can give you COVID-19.

2. It’s a safer way to achieve immunity from COVID-19

Even if you’ve already had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated — but be sure to wait at least 10 days after your symptoms started and 20 days if you were hospitalized from COVID-19.

While having COVID will leave you with naturally produced antibodies, we still don’t know the level of or how long this immunity lasts. We do know that it varies and decreases over time, and that getting a COVID-19 vaccine will likely give you additional immunity.

And again, it’s just not worth risking a serious or fatal COVID-19 infection.

3. It can help us end the pandemic

Now over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are ready to leave our homes without masks, spend time with friends and loved ones and maybe even travel.

The COVID-19 vaccine can help us get there.

While masking, handwashing and physical distancing are proven to help reduce exposure to and the spread of COVID-19, they aren’t enough to end the pandemic. Vaccines will help us build up immunity to COVID-19, so our bodies can fight off the virus if we’re exposed.

And per CDC guidelines, those who are fully vaccinated, meaning it’s been at least 2 weeks since the last required dose, can even return to some pre-pandemic activities.

We’re still learning how the current vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. Until we know more, everyone — vaccinated or not — should continue masking, handwashing and physical distancing in public places.

Eventually, as more people are vaccinated, we can loosen preventive measures as federal and state guidelines allow.

Get reliable information on COVID-19 vaccines

There’s a lot of information out there about the COVID-19 vaccines — and some of it may be misleading.

If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, your doctor is your best resource. They can give you advice that’s tailored to you and your medical history.

If you’d like to do some research on your own, the CDC is a trusted source for vaccine information that’s based on facts.

Based on the data we have from Phase 3 clinical trials and the millions of Americans now vaccinated, we feel confident that the available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. I have personally received the COVID-19 vaccine and advise my patients and members of the community to do the same.

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Dr. Amit Mehta is a Geisinger primary care physician.

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