COVID-19 took the world by storm in late 2019. And, by January 2020, the first reported cases in the United States began appearing. At the time, the best way to protect yourself from exposure was through social distancing, frequent hand washing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated areas. While these recommendations still hold true, there’s an additional option: getting vaccinated.
Vaccinations work by kickstarting your immune system, which prevents you from getting sick. This, in turn, can help stop the spread of contagious diseases in communities, cities, states, and even countries.
At American River Urgent Care in Orangevale, California, our team offers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, a two-dose vaccination with a 94.1% effectiveness rate at preventing illness. Here’s what you need to know about this highly effective vaccine.
How the Moderna vaccine works
When you think of a vaccine, it’s normal to assume it contains an inactive pathogen. This is how many vaccinations work. Most vaccines contain an inactive form of a bacteria or virus, and your immune system responds by building immunity to it. However, this isn’t the case with Moderna.
The Moderna vaccine doesn’t contain an inactive form of the coronavirus — specifically SARS-CoV-2 — that causes COVID-19. Instead, the vaccine contains information about the virus. This information then activates your immune system, which then produces the antibodies needed to fight off infection. This type of vaccination is known as an mRNA vaccine.
Each of your cells contains messenger RNA, or “mRNA.” These molecules carry the blueprints on how to make various proteins. When enzymes within a cell receive this information, they translate it and make the proteins.
When used to create a vaccine, mRNA molecules provide the information your body needs to make the proteins to protect you from infection. And, the genetic agent used degrades as soon as the proteins get made, so it doesn’t change any of your genetic information in the process.
So, when you get the Moderna vaccine, it provides the blueprint for your body’s cells to build a defense against the coronavirus, but since it doesn’t include the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself, it can’t cause COVID-19.
What to expect from the Moderna vaccine
We administer Moderna vaccinations by appointment. You need two doses, and we inject them in your upper arm muscle 28 days apart.
In most cases, people getting a Moderna vaccine have mild to moderate symptoms, and they’re more common after receiving the second dose. However, they typically fade within a few days.
The most common side effects seen with the Moderna vaccine include:
- Pain or tenderness at the injection site
- Muscle or joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Less often, people have severe symptoms that impact their ability to perform daily activities.
It’s important to note that it takes two weeks for your body to reach full immunity after getting your second Moderna dose.
Candidates for the Moderna vaccine
Moderna has approval for use in 45 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. At this time, it’s safe and effective for most adults age 18 and older.
However, we may not recommend Moderna if you have an allergy to any ingredients in the vaccine, such as polyethylene glycol. Furthermore, we may not recommend that you get the second dose if the following occurs after you get the first dose:
- You have an allergic reaction within four hours of getting it, such as wheezing, swelling, or hives
- You have a severe allergic reaction that requires hospitalization, epinephrine, or EpiPen©
We can make recommendations on a case-by-case basis to ensure you receive COVID-19 protection safely.
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations or to schedule an appointment, book an appointment online or over the phone with American River Urgent Care today.