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Everything You Need To Know About Vaccines: Types Of Vaccine, Effects & Application.

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June 15, 2021

After COVID-19 hit every country like a truck in 2020, researchers began looking for a solution to this pandemic. Unlike bacterias and bacterial infection, it is very difficult to find a drug that could treat and/or cure the virus and viral infection. The next best thing would be vaccination, which is tricky as well all together. However, thankfully, with the experience from past epidemics and pandemics, such as H1N1, SARS, and MERS, researchers can handle COVID-19 more efficiently in producing the COVID-19 vaccine.

 
But What Is A Vaccine?

A vaccine is a biological preparation that could help people activate their immune system to a particular infectious disease. A vaccine is laboratory synthesized and made containing an agent similar to the infectious disease microorganism. The agent found inside the vaccine is usually a weakened, inactivated part of the disease-causing microorganisms or toxins that could help our body build immunity towards microorganisms without actually getting infected. 

 

Figure 1 sourced from Vox- mRNA vaccines, explained

 
How Do Vaccines Work?

The 4 main types of vaccines are weakened virus (live-attenuated), dead virus (inactivated), inert toxins (toxoid), parts of virus (recombinant proteins). These types of vaccine would require a longer development timeline as they require work and are synthesized from live pathogens. The new types of vaccines introduced around 2020 are the mRNA vaccine and adenovirus (viral vector) vaccine.

You can watch the video from Vox If you are interested in learning more about the 4 main types of vaccine and 2 new types of vaccine.
Regardless of the type of vaccines, the core principle of how vaccines works are rather the same- introducing a form of the virus to our body to build immunity without infecting our body with the actual virus.

Brands/DeveloperTypes of vaccinesVaccine Research Information
PfizermRNA BNT162b2
ModernamRNAmRNA-1273
SinovacInactivatedCoronaVac
AstraZenecaAdenovirusChAdOx1-S
Johnson&JohnsonAdenovirusAd26.COV2.S
Sputnik VAdenovirusGam-COVID-Vac
Table 1. Brands and types of vaccines developed

 
Why Vaccines Need 2 Doses?

Most of the vaccines listed above require at least 2 doses, except for Johnson & Johnson. Why does the vaccine need 2 doses? That’s because our body recognizes the virus on the first dose for the short term only. When it is re-introduced again, it would make our body remember the virus for a longer period as it recognizes it as a dangerous and frequent threat. However, not all vaccines last the same period. Some are lifetime, but some only last up to 2 years, due to the nature of the virus.

 
Do Brands Of COVID-19 Vaccine Matter?

In short, brands do not matter at all. Below is a video by Vox explaining different brands of vaccines and why you can’t compare them, especially based on their efficacy.

We know Pfizer and Moderna reported having the highest efficacy because the research was conducted during a low social period, hence lower reported positive case hence higher efficacy, unlike AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson which were conducted during peak social period. Knowing that research time greatly impacts the efficacy percentage reported in research, it can be assumed that efficacy should not be the decisive factor for choosing vaccines. 

“Then which type of vaccine is better?”

Aside from how it helps you build immunity towards the COVID-19 virus, the type of vaccines only differs by the method the wCOVID-19 virus is introduced into your body to build immunity. You can watch a video about it in Figure 1 Vox- mRNA vaccines, explained

They may impose slightly different side effects for each type of vaccines but the general side effects can be found in Figure 1.

What Are The Side Effects Of The Vaccine?

Having side effects after getting vaccination is actually completely normal and as it should. This is a sign that your body is reacting to the vaccine and building immunity. There is no vaccine with the fewest side effects or no side effects. Those with a poorer immune system would experience more severe side effects. 

 

Figure 1. Side effects of various brands of vaccines

For those rarer symptoms found in vaccines such as blood clots, facial paralysis, different vaccines are compiled in the table below:

Long-term Side Effects

Due to the short development timeline of COVID-19 Vaccines, researchers are unable to detect any long-term side effects as it would require a longitudinal observation, in other words, recording the experience of a vaccinated individual after a few years. Regardless, CDC would update the long-term side effects when enough time and data has been collected.

 

Figure 2. Symptoms reported after vaccinations

Hence, side effects are not necessarily about the brand, but the type and method of the vaccine. But does this make one better or safer than the other? Not really. Because the percentage of actually being affected by severe side effects of these vaccines are very small. The risk of getting COVID-19 and the severe symptoms of COVID-19 are higher than vaccines. Reuter compiled the statistics of side effects and risk from various drugs in comparison with the vaccine. Do have a read on their blog.

That being said, those with chronic or acute illness may require consultation with a doctor before getting a vaccination. This is to ensure there is no interaction between the vaccine and your medications, treatments, or health condition.

According to MOH Malaysia’s COVID-19 Vaccine survey, out of 212,025 respondents, 67% of them said they are confident about the vaccine and are going to take them whereas the rest are unsure and do not want to take them. This proves that many Malaysian’s are still unsure of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

 

Figure 3. Malaysian’s acceptance of COVID-19 Vaccinations by MOH (2020)

How Long Does Vaccine Effect Last?
As mentioned previously, efficacy may not be the best measurement of how effective vaccines are due to the timeline and method of research conducted, but rest assured, all vaccines will protect you from COVID-19, even though they have lower efficacy reported in their research.

The hypothesis states that the duration of the vaccine may last up to 2 years and each vaccine may vary; however, there is no definitive duration of immunity released from vaccine manufacturer, researchers, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as of now. 

Who Is Suitable To Take The Vaccination?

As of now, there are no vaccines for babies and children. After the completion of the Vaccine for adults, further research will be prompted for children and infants and other groups of people. Only Pfizer is suitable for adolescent of age 12 and above to be vaccinated. Vaccines for the elderly are any of the brands below with no adjustment of dose as well. Below is the compiled information for brands of vaccine and their doses and suitability.

Vaccine BrandsWho can get the vaccineHow many shots you’ll needWhen are you fully vaccinated
Pfizer-BioNTechPeople 12 years and older2 doses given 3 weeks (21 days) apart2 weeks after your last dose of vaccine
ModernaPeople 18 years and older2 doses given 4 weeks (28 days) apart2 weeks after your last dose of vaccine
Johnson & Johnson’s JanssenPeople 18 years and older1 dose2 weeks after your last dose of vaccine
AstraZenecaPeople 18 years and older2 doses given as 0.5 mL IM, 8 to 12 weeks apart.2 weeks after your last dose of vaccine
SinoVac (CoronaVac)People 18 years and older2 doses given as 0.5 mL IM, 8 to 14-28 days apart.2 weeks after your last dose of vaccine
Table 2. Brands of vaccine and their doses and suitability

How To Make a Vaccine Appointment?

There are a few methods to register or get an appointment for vaccination.

  1. MySejahtera App Appointment
    1. Download and register via the MySejahtera application
    2. Download/Open your MySejahtera application.
    3. Click on the “COVID-19 Vaccination” icon.
    4. Click on “Vaccines for…” and follow the instructions to update your details to register.
    5. Please wait for your vaccination appointment notification. You will be notified via SMS when there is a confirmation or check vaccine appointment on the app.
  2. Register on vaksincovid.gov.my
    1. Click “Register Now”
    2. Fill in your information.
    3. Click “Submit”.
    4. Wait for your vaccination appointment notification. You will be notified via SMS when there is a confirmation or check vaccine appointment on the app.
  3. Register through Hotline
    1. Call 1800-888-828.
    2. Please provide the requested information to the officer on duty.
    3. If you have queries or require further clarification, please ask the officer on the line.
    4. Please wait for your vaccination appointment notification. You will be notified via SMS when there is a confirmation or check vaccine appointment on the app.

 

Key Takeaway Message

  • Vaccines are a biological preparation that contains parts/forms of the virus to introduce into your body to build immunity towards that virus.
  • There are different types of vaccines, but they all have the ultimate goal: to allow your body to recognize the actual virus without infecting the host to build immunity to fight back.
  • Like any other vaccines (chickenpox, HPV, Hep-B), brands do not matter as they ultimately achieve the same goal.
  • Most vaccines require 2 doses with a certain period apart to build immunity
  • Having side effects is a good sign of the vaccine working, which means you’re body is building immunity to the virus.
  • Severe side effects are rare, if you are concerned, do consult your doctor before your vaccination. Especially if you have any comorbidities.
  • The duration of immunity is still being observed. CDC would announce when there is enough data from research.
  • Get vaccinated if you can, to eradicate this infection once and for all.
 

Recommended Reads:

 

Reference

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/safety-of-vaccines.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3odScka55A&t=27s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvA9gs5gxNY

https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/VACCINE-EFFECTS/xegvbglkrpq/

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Melvin T

Melvin T

Graduated from UCSI University with BSc (Hons) in Nutrition with Wellness, Melvin decided to venture into research & development with past experiences in clinical setting, food service, and retail pharmacy. His goal is to formulate health products that are scientifically driven and culturally acceptable.

Furthermore, he is passionate in the science and art of preventing diseases and health education. Hence, he took the role as community nutritionist to advocate primary health care to the community.

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