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A Vision for the New Year – What to Expect from the COVID-19 Vaccine

Industry experts share insights – from health to beauty & skincare – to be the best you

By Robert Hopkins, Jr., M.D., UAMS

Many people have questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines. Unlike many vaccines, the two approved for emergency use in the U.S. (as of mid-January) do not include any kind of weakened virus. In fact, they contain no virus at all.

These vaccines work by using genetic material called messenger RNA to train your body to make the same specific protein the novel coronavirus uses to attack your body’s cells. When your immune system sees this protein, it quickly learns how to defend against it and, in doing so, learns how to fight the virus. The vaccines essentially turn the virus’s most potent weapon into a trigger for your body’s defenses.

In clinical trials, some people reported a sore arm, fatigue, headaches, nausea or fever after being vaccinated. These symptoms are not a sign of infection; they are a byproduct of your immune system being activated.

The vaccines are authorized and recommended for adults who have not been exposed to the virus and those who have recovered from COVID-19. They’re not recommended for people fighting an active infection. However, getting vaccinated won’t limit your treatments options if you do get sick.

While the vaccines appear to be highly effective, they’re not 100%, so it is critical to continue to wear masks and socially distance even after vaccination. Every prevented infection closes another avenue of virus spread, and that is how we beat COVID-19.

Robert H. Hopkins Jr., M.D., is the director of the General Internal Medicine Division and a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science.

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