As the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus commonly known as COVID-19 continues to spread, vaccination against the COVID-19 virus has become even more important. We know that there is a lot of confusion, misinformation, and questions regarding the virus and the vaccine, so we want you to know facts About COVID-19 and the vaccines. We have compiled answers based on the available science. Plessen Healthcare encourages all persons aged 12 and older to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
Vaccines help to introduce a small piece of COVID-19’s material into our bodies. This allows our immune system to develop a fighting mechanism against the virus, antibodies. When your body has an immune response at the ready, it helps you fight off the virus when you may be exposed to it.
When more people in our community are vaccinated or have recovered from the virus, we begin to develop population immunity. This makes it harder for the disease to spread and can protect those who may not be able to get vaccinated, like young children and newborns or those allergic to a vaccine.
The federal government continues to provide the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status. Vaccines are available for free at our COVID-19 Vaccine Center in Sunny Isles on St Croix, US Virgin Islands.
Find a vaccine location near you https://www.vaccines.gov/
If you have questions or concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccination, have an underlying medical condition, or are taking medicines that weaken your immune system, we recommend that you reach out to your medical care provider. New and existing Plessen Healthcare patients are encouraged to call us at 340-715-7720 for an appointment or to set up a Telehealth visit via phone or video application.
- The Delta variant is currently the most predominant strain in the United States with more than 83% of cases confirmed as Delta.
- Delta has been confirmed in the United States Virgin Islands as of July 2021
- The Delta variant is as contagious as chicken pox, and far more contagious than the flu and colds
- Vaccinated and Unvaccinated individuals can both get the virus and transmit the virus.
- Unvaccinated person are 3 times more likely to catch the virus and 10 times more likely to have severe illness requiring hospitalization and possibly death.
- Vaccination remains the most important strategy to prevent severe illness and death.
- Masks should continue to be worn in indoor public settings and at large gatherings regardless of vaccination status to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
What is the Delta variant?
A variant is a mutation of the originally identified “wild” virus. Variants of the COVID-19 virus have been named using the Greek alphabet. The official designation of the Delta variant first identified in India is B.1.617.2 – Delta is much easier to say. The first variant of the COVID-19 virus, originally identified in the UK is known as Alpha.
From our understanding of the current data, the Delta variant is one of the most contagious known viruses. It is as contagious as measles and chickenpox and far more contagious than the flu or colds. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that unvaccinated individuals are ten times more likely to develop severe infections requiring hospitalization or resulting in death than vaccinated individuals.
The Delta variant is currently the most predominant strain in the United States with more than 83% of cases confirmed as Delta. It has been confirmed in the United States Virgin Islands as of July 2021.
Doesn’t EUA mean the FDA has not approved the vaccines?
Not exactly. The vaccines available in the United States, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen, are authorized for use by the Federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Emergency Use Authorization involves thorough evaluation and is only given when the product has shown through trial to be effective, and the potential benefits far outweigh the risks “as demonstrated by data from at least one well-designed Phase 3 clinical trial that demonstrates the vaccine’s safety and efficacy in a clear and compelling manner”, stated an FDA official.
This was the case with the COVID-19 global pandemic. Data shows that vaccines have been effective at slowing down the transmission of the virus where vaccines have been readily accessible, and they have been administered to high percentages of the population.
Why Hasn’t the FDA Approved the Vaccines Yet?
It typically takes at least 10 months for a vaccine or drug to be fully approved by the FDA. This entails a strict, thorough, and time-consuming process that involves submitting hundreds of pages of reports, including preclinical and clinical data, information about the manufacturing processes and facilities, vaccine safety reports, adverse reactions, side effects, and more. After all the required reports have been submitted, it takes an average of six months for FDA officials to review the documentation and data, inspect manufacturing plants, and then approve the drug.
While an EUA is not an FDA approval, the EUA status is only given by the FDA after thorough scientific evaluation. This assures the medical community that the vaccines meet rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.
On July 16, 2021, The FDA formally accepted the Biologics License Application (BLA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. Full FDA approval is anticipated for early Fall 2021 based on the request and a rolling approval process that began with the EUA in December 2020.
Learn more about The Path for a COVID-19 Vaccine from Research to EUA
How did they come up with the Vaccine so quickly?
The study of the COVID-19 virus is unique in that it caused a global pandemic shutting down countries around the world. This resulted in scientists worldwide focused on a common goal, combatting the virus, and sharing information. It also led to unprecedented funding for the research and development of the vaccine.
While mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases, the technology used in their development has been around for decades. Scientists at Moderna, BioNTech, and Pfizer have been studying RNA in relation to medicine and vaccines since 2005. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have been researching coronavirus biology and vaccine development since 2014. With the global outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, scientists were able to apply this existing research and technology to develop vaccines more quickly against the COVID-19 virus.
Janssen Pharmaceutica, a Belgium-based division of Johnson & Johnson, has been studying the use of Adenoviruses to deliver pieces of viral material for decades. They recently received approval for the general use of an Ebola vaccine using this technology. They are also running trials on other adenovirus-based vaccines against H.I.V. and Zika.
Learn more about Vaccine Development
Will the Vaccine Change My DNA?
No. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that contain genetic material contain mRNA. mRNA, or Messenger RNA, is a fragile genetic material that instructs your body to create various proteins.
In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, the mRNA comes from a piece of protein from one of the spikes on the coronavirus. The mRNA from the spike proteins causes an immune response in your body which results in your body producing antibodies. This is similar to what happens with natural infection. With these antibodies now present in your body, if you are exposed to the COVID-19 virus, your body can begin to fight off the virus immediately.
mRNA delivered by the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is stored. After your body uses the mRNA from the vaccine to create antibodies, your cells break down the mRNA and get rid of it.
Learn more about mRNA vaccines
Will the Vaccine Give me COVID-19?
No. While some vaccines include weakened versions of a virus to promote an immune response, the COVID-19 vaccines do not. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the COVID-19 virus. They contain only pieces of spike protein from the virus to activate an immune response. mRNA vaccines cannot give you the virus.
In the case of the Janssen vaccine, the gene for the spike protein is placed inside an Adenovirus (Adenovirus 26). Adenoviruses are common and infections typically result in colds or flu-like symptoms. The Janssen vaccine cannot give you the COVID-19 virus.
Is the Vaccine Safe for My Teen?
With the rise of the Delta variant on St Croix, we have seen that the COVID-19 virus can have severely affect children in the same way as adults. Currently, the only proven factor in reducing the transmission, severe illness, and death of the COVID-19 is through vaccination.
As of July 2021, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved in patients aged 12 and older. Plessen Healthcare recommends COVID-19 vaccination for teens. At this time, we have seen very few reactions in teens vaccinated at the Plessen COVID-19 Vaccine Center on St Croix.
At Plessen Healthcare, our multidisciplinary team is committed to providing the highest quality of care for our patients. We work to improve clinical outcomes through educating, empowering, and guiding every individual on their health care journey and providing an experience that improves the quality of life and well-being. We call this the “Plessen Way”. Sign Up for Plessen News & Healthcare Tips