COVID-19 Vaccines

The importance of the vaccine:

Immunization is a simple, safe, and effective process to protect against diseases, as it pushes the body to resist certain infections and strengthen the immune system by training the immune system to form antibodies. Given the speed and ease of spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) and its infection of the majority of the world’s population, the importance of this vaccine lies in protecting against the Coronavirus through allowing the body to safely develop an immune response that provides protection for the body by preventing or controlling infection. The vaccine will also allow the lifting of the travel bans in countries, and the reduction of social distancing and thus the return of normal life gradually.

 

How do vaccines work?

Generally, vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defense for protection to safely develop. When a vaccination is given, the immune system responds by:

1. Recognizing the virus as soon as it enters the body.

2. It produces antibodies (proteins that the immune system naturally produces to fight disease).

3. Remembers the disease and how to fight it.

Therefore, the vaccine is a safe and smart way, since as soon as the body takes one or more doses of the vaccine, it produces an immune response without causing the disease, so instead of treating the disease after its occurrence, the vaccine will prevent the disease in the first place.

Why should the vaccine be taken?

There are two main reasons for taking the vaccine:

1. Protecting ourselves.

2. Protecting those around us.

Without vaccinations we will always be at risk of contracting Covid-19 infection, which can be life threatening.

Targeted Population:

The Kingdom’s aim is to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to all citizens and residents within the coming months, based on a phased strategic plan to limit the impact the COVID-19 virus on our community and our critical infrastructure. To that end, the targeted population for each phase of the roll-out have been identified based on specific criteria selected by the MOH and the Saudi CDC. The targeted population is identified as following: 

The targeted group in the first phase:

  • Citizens and residents who are over 65 years of age + those with professions most vulnerable to infection
  • People who are obese and have a BMI over 40
  • Those with an immune deficiency such as an organ transplant or taking immunosuppressive drugs
  • Those with two or more of the following chronic diseases: asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney diseases, chronic heart diseases including coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and those with a history of a previous stroke.

 

 The targeted group in the second phase:

  • Citizens and residents over 50 years old + other health practitioners
  • Those who have one of the following chronic diseases: asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney diseases, chronic heart diseases including coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, active cancer, and those with obesity have a BMI between 30-40

 

 The targeted group in the third phase:

  • All citizens and residents that want to take the vaccine

How safe and effective is the vaccine?

This vaccine is considered safe; due to the effective passage of the vaccine testing stages, its strong immune response and persistent antibodies. The side effects of the vaccine are mostly minor and temporary (such as: injection site reaction, mild fever, or headache).

Any licensed vaccine is rigorously tested through multiple stages of trials before it is approved for use, and it is regularly re-evaluated. Scientists also constantly monitor information from multiple sources for any sign that the vaccine may pose health risks.

Always remember that it is better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it has occurred.

Are there side effects of the vaccine?

Like any other vaccine, this vaccine can cause mild side effects (such as: a mild fever, pain, or redness at the injection site) and mild reactions disappear within a few days on their own.

Paracetamol, a medication used to treat pain and fever, can be taken after getting vaccinated to reduce the severity of the mild side effects. Severe or long-term side effects have not yet been monitored; however, the vaccine is constantly monitored to ensure its safety as well as the strength of the body’s immunity response to it.

 

Common side effects:

1. Feeling tired and having a headache.

2. Injection site reaction whether pain or redness.

3. Muscle pain and general feeling of illness.

4. High temperature and body tremors.

How to deal with these symptoms to relieve them:

1. Taking paracetamol to relieve headaches, muscle pain, high temperature, and feeling of illness.

2. Putting cold compresses on the injection site to reduce pain, redness and swelling, if any.

3. Monitoring the side effects and when any cause of concern occurs, you should contact the health care provider.

Tips before getting vaccinated:

1. Inform the doctor when feeling any illness condition before receiving the vaccine (such as: high temperature) or any other symptoms to determine the possibility of taking the vaccine with this condition.

2. Inform the doctor in detail about the medical history and whether the patient suffers from a chronic disease (such as: diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma), the extent of its control, and the treatment plan that the patient is receiving at the present time.

3. Inform the doctor about the occurrence of any allergic reaction with any of the vaccinations that the patient has received before.

Method of taking the vaccine and the number of its doses:

The vaccine is given by injection into a muscle, where two doses of the vaccine are received three to four weeks apart.

The importance of taking the seasonal flu vaccine this year:

1. Influenza viruses are active in the fall and winter seasons, and the new Coronavirus may also be active at this time.

2. If a person is more prone to infection with the Coronavirus, then he is also more likely to get influenza.

3. If a person has been infected with the Coronavirus previously, it is safe to take the influenza vaccine, as it will be effective in helping to prevent the flu.

4. Reducing the risk of contracting influenza, being hospitalizes and death.

5. Getting the flu vaccine leads to the provision of healthcare resources to take care of patients with COVID-19.

Time period between receiving the seasonal flu vaccine and the Coronavirus vaccine:

There is no contradiction if the two vaccines are received at the same time, but they can be separated by 3 weeks to facilitate monitoring the side effects of each vaccine separately and not to confuse them.

After getting vaccinated:

1. Monitor the emergence of side effects very closely and record them upon their appearance for a period of 7 days upon receiving the vaccine.

2. Monitor the patient himself about the occurrence of illness or any other health condition for 3 weeks after receiving the vaccine.

3. Refrain from pregnancy.

4. Avoid donating blood.

5. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and avoiding anxiety and stress to enhance immunity, such as eating healthy food and drinking enough fluids, the most important of which is water and sleeping for enough hours.

* Until enough information is available on the vaccine durability (duration of protection), and until enough people are vaccinated, it is very important keep up with the MOH recommendations and the preventative and precautionary measures to protect yourself and others. 

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The wonderful integration between all government agencies throughout this crisis was lead by a distinguished leader who works tirelessly. He created a team that works with the highest measures of synchrony and quality, keeping the citizen their main priority.
Tawfiq Al Rabiah
Minister of Health

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