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None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development or in use in the United States, contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever and fatigue. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for authorizing a vaccine for emergency use. Learn how they do this at https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines/emergency-use-authorization-vaccines-explained.
Vaccines work by triggering an immune response from our body. Different types of vaccines can produce this response. Learn the details of how our bodies do this and the different vaccine types from the Center for Disease Control’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/how-they-work.html.
The current COVID-19 vaccine candidates that are authorized for emergency use in the United States were developed using mRNA technology, which is different from vaccines the U.S. has previously used. The Center for Disease Control’s website explains more about what these are and how they work: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html?fbclid=IwAR0iMyaBDSeoXHRK4hgZvJkGpx-j-FsX8a5Fid2zJbA6D6tQ7TmXxd7ZnpI
Health officials recommend still getting vaccinated even if you already had COVID-19. As of now, research indicates natural immunity from COVID-19 lasts approximately 90 days, while immunity in those who have been vaccinated is so far at approximately 9 months (length of longest study). As clinical trials continue, we may see this immunity lasting longer.
Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.
The FDA regulates vaccine development and approval in the U.S. through a strict process. Read more on the steps between research and development to approval at https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/development-approval-process-cber/vaccine-development-101.
Read more on Illinois’ vaccine preparedness on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s FAQ website at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/vaccine-faq.