Why it’s important to get your COVID-19 vaccine

A nurse talking to a patient about COVID-19 vaccines

Over the past 8 years, Stefanie Reeves, Pharm.D., a Humana Pharmacy® pharmacist, has dedicated her life to helping people like you learn how to take their medications safely at home. When the COVID-19 vaccines became available, she also made it her mission to educate the public on COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Currently, there’s a nationwide slow-down in the number of eligible people getting their COVID-19 vaccine. To provide additional support to our customers who may have outstanding questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, we’ve invited Stefanie to share why it’s important for everyone to get vaccinated.

And now, let’s hear from Stefanie:

The current COVID-19 status

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought difficult challenges worldwide for more than a year. As of June 22, 2021, there has been over 33 million cases and over 599,354 deaths in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1

COVID-19 continues to be a serious public health risk. For example, compared to the flu, it sends approximately 19% of known cases to the hospital versus 2% for the flu. The death rate for COVID-19 is estimated to be 1% to 3.4% versus 0.1% or less for the flu. Given these statistics, it’s important to weigh the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine versus the risks of contracting the illness to determine what’s best for you.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes, all 3 available COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson) are safe, effective and have at least 85% efficacy at preventing severe COVID-19 symptoms.2 They were authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have undergone—and will continue to undergo—some of the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.3

None of the vaccines contain a live virus, and they use your body’s immune system to make COVID-19 antibodies. Most people experience mild side effects like body aches, pain at the injection site or fever in the first 48 hours after getting vaccinated. However, many people are still hesitant about getting vaccinated because of something they’ve seen online, watched on the news or heard from a family member or friend. This is why it’s important to get up-to-date, science-based information on the COVID-19 vaccines. 

How common are vaccine complications?

Severe complications from getting a COVID-19 vaccine are rare. This is mostly because you’re observed by a medical professional for 15 to 30 minutes after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine—in case emergency medical treatment is needed. Complications include the following.

  • Anaphylaxis, a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that may result in a sudden drop in blood pressure, impaired breathing, a rapid, weak pulse and hives. The rate of anaphylaxis thus far has been 4.7 cases per million doses for Pfizer and 2.5 cases per million doses for Moderna. There have been no deaths to date related to anaphylaxis.
  • Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which has been seen with the J&J vaccine. With TTS, women younger than 50 are at increased risk, and may choose to receive a vaccine other than the J&J version. The risk of this adverse event includes a blood clot in the brain and a low platelet (cells that help the blood to clot) count that occurs at a rate of 7 per 1 million vaccinated women between 18 and 49 years old. For women over 50 and for men, it is even rarer. 

The benefits of getting vaccinated

The CDC recommends all U.S. adults and children 12 to 18 get a COVID-19 vaccine. This will help us reach the necessary 70% to 85% vaccination rate to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control in the U.S.4 As of June 21, 2021, 45% of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated.5

In closing, we’d like to remind you that your risk of experiencing severe complications or side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine is extremely low. By getting vaccinated, you not only protect yourself but also your loved ones and others around you, particularly those at increased risk for severe illness if they tested positive for COVID-19.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety, you can review our updated COVID-19 vaccines FAQ. You can also call us at 800-379-0092 (TTY: 711), Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., Eastern time, and a Humana Pharmacy pharmacist will be happy to talk to you about COVID-19 vaccines. 

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you.

About Stefanie:

Stefanie graduated from the University of Arizona in 2004. After graduation, she completed a Community Pharmacy Residency with Midwestern University and The Apothecary Shop. Stefanie has been with Humana Pharmacy for eight years and has 16 years of total experience in the field. Stefanie has worked in various settings, including retail (also delivering immunizations), independent, and long-term care settings before Humana Pharmacy. 

Sources:

1.      “COVID data tracker,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last accessed May 25, 2021, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home.

2.      “Ensuring COVID-19 vaccines work,” Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), last accessed May 25, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/effectiveness.html.

3.      “Vaccines FAQ,” Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, last accessed May 25, 2021, https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/vaccines/vaccines-faq.

4.      “How much of the population will need to be vaccinated until the pandemic is over?”, Cleveland Clinic, last accessed May 25, 2021, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-much-of-the-population-will-need-to-be-vaccinated-until-the-pandemic-is-over/.

5.      “How Is the COVID-19 vaccination campaign going in your state,” NPR, last accessed June 17, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/01/28/960901166/how-is-the-covid-19-vaccination-campaign-going-in-your-state.

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