COVID-19 Vaccination - What Do We Know About VaccinesArticle
22. 02. 2021
The global coronavirus pandemic, which has been plaguing our world since the beginning of last year, there has been a race to produce an effective and most importantly safe vaccine. Of course, anti-pandemic measures play an important role, but it is already clear that we will not be able to return to normal, pre-pandemic life without a vaccination. The recent development of diverse vaccines has given us a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. In this article we will summarise what we know about the vaccines so far and what the plans for vaccination in the Czech Republic are.
VACCINATION AGAINST COVID-19 AT CANADIAN MEDICAL
Vaccination against COVID-19 is being carried out at Canadian Medical in accordance with prioritisation and all methodologies established by the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic (MHCR).
We only vaccinate citizens who have Czech public health insurance.
From 14 April 2021, persons over the age of 65+ can register for vaccination via the MHCR portal at https://registrace.mzcr.cz. Alternatively, you can wait to speak by telephone with an employee of the vaccination centre, who will contact Canadian Medical clients and assist them with registering in the MHCR system.
If for any reason you are unable to complete your registration in the MHCR’s Central Reservation System, please call 1221.
Vaccination of Canadian Medical clients against COVID-19 is being carried out only at the vaccination centre, which you can find in Prague at Evropská 859/115a (AFI building), ground floor, entrance A.
Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca will be administered.
Approved types of COVID-19 vaccines
Throughout December 2020, inactivated vaccines (so far from Chinese producers), live adenoviral vector vaccines and genetic mRNA vaccines were regionally approved for vaccination against COVID-19. In early January 2021, one of the genetic vaccines was also approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), which helped launch the start to worldwide vaccination against COVID-19.
Vaccination against coronavirus in the Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, we have had one vaccine-variant available since the end of 2020 - a genetic mRNA vaccine called Comirnaty, manufactured by Pfizer. It is a different vaccine than we have been used to, which may raise unwarranted doubts about its safety
There is a lot of false information being spread about Covid-19 vaccines, so we strongly recommend that you try to get your information verified and trusted sources. The most controversial topic is whether the administration of this vaccine may affect human DNA or RNA. The explanation is simple - a property of messenger RNAs (messenger RNA or mRNA) in a vaccine is their short-term survival in host cells, usually they break down in the cell within 4 to 6 days. Therefore, there is really no need to worry about their ability to change the original human genetic code in any way. Learn more about the mRNA vaccine, its effects on the body and its function below.
How and when has vaccination in the Czech Republic been taking place?
Widespread vaccination in the Czech Republic is taking place in several phases. The individual phases are given by a regulation of the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic.
Development of mRNA vaccines
MRNA technology is new, but not unfamiliar - scientists have been developing it for over 30 years. This approach has previously been used to develop vaccines against various viruses (influenza, Zika virus, rabies and cytomegalovirus, even against some types of tumours). Although unstable at the beginning of clinical trials, technological advances have led to stability, safety and efficacy over time. On a slight side note, mRNA vaccination is commonly used in oncology.
How does coronavirus mRNA vaccine work?
The gene vaccine serves to prevent SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) disease in people over 16 years of age. Vaccination prepares the body to be able to defend itself against coronavirus. The vaccine contains only one molecule known as mRNA - it contains “instructions” for making a so-called spike protein. It is a protein on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that the virus needs in order to be able to enter our cells.
When the vaccine is administered, some of the human cells will receive instructions from the coronavirus mRNA and will temporarily form a spike protein on the cell surface. The vaccinated immune system then recognizes this protein as foreign, makes antibodies against it, and activates T-cells (white blood cells) to defend the body.
Upon encountering the real SARS-CoV-2 virus, the vaccinated person’s immune system recognises the virus. Their body will therefore be ready to defend itself effectively against it. But beware, the mRNA from the vaccine does not remain in the vaccinated body - it decomposes shortly after vaccination. The vaccine does not contain the virus itself, so it cannot cause COVID-19. The vaccination is given in 2 doses, with a minimum interval of 21 days (usually into the muscle in the upper arm).
What is the effectiveness of the coronavirus mRNA vaccine?
Extensive clinical trials have shown that the mRNA vaccine is indeed effective in preventing COVID 19 in people over the age of 16 - it has been shown to be 95% effective. In addition, it is approximately 95% efficacy in vaccinated people who are at increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease, including patients with asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high body mass index.
It has not yet been established how long the protection provided by the vaccine will last. Likewise, the effect of vaccination on the community spread of SARS-CoV-2 has not been documented. So as of yet, it is unknown exactly how many vaccinated people can continue to transmit the virus. The same efficacy of the mRNA vaccine was demonstrated in both sexes and all racial and ethnic groups (approximately 95%).
Who can(not) be vaccinated with the mRNA vaccine?
- People who have already had COVID-19 - although there are not enough data yet, the vaccine is expected to be effective in these cases as well. At present, the methodology applies that individuals who have undergone COVID-19 are not vaccinated for 90 days from the onset of the disease.
- Children - the vaccine is not yet recommended for children under the age of 16 years. However, there is a plan for the clinical evaluation of the suitability of the vaccine for children at a later stage.
- The immune-compromised - evidence is limited, but there are no special concerns about these individuals yet. They can therefore be vaccinated despite their condition – especially as they may be at higher risk of developing the more severe form of COVID-19.
- Pregnant and lactating women - studies have not shown any dangerous side effects during pregnancy, but the evidence is very limited. No risk is expected in lactating women, although no specific studies exist.
- People with allergies - people who are allergic to any of the components of the vaccine should not receive the vaccine. Allergic reactions have been documented, as well as a very low number of cases of anaphylaxis. Therefore, the vaccine may need to be given under medical supervision - just like any other vaccine.
People with acute infectious diseases - vaccination cannot be administered, must be postponed for 2 (preferably 4) weeks after recovery.
- People with a rare genetic disease - these individuals should be excluded from vaccination due to lack of knowledge of possible interference or side effects caused by the mRNA vaccine.
Benefits of mRNA vaccine vs. side effects and risks
The vaccine has been proven to be highly effective in protecting against COVID-19, which is crucial at the moment The main clinical trial showed that it was 95% effective, with most of the side effects being the same as with other vaccines and subsiding within a few days. The most common side effects include pain and swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and raised temperature, and occasionally fever. Less common side effects include redness at the injection site and feeling nauseous (vomiting). Rare side effects include itching at the injection site, pain in the limb, enlarged nodules, difficulty sleeping, malaise, or really rarely acute peripheral paralysis of the facial nerve.
Allergic reactions have also occurred, including a very low number of cases having severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). The vaccine should, of course, be administered under the supervision of a physician, as with any vaccine. The benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks and have therefore been conditionally authorized for use in the EU. Over time, further information and evidence on this product will be updated.
What is an adenovirus vaccine and how does it work?
Another type of vaccine that is in the approval process is the adenovirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University. It is currently approved for use in the UK. Its main advantage is that it can be stored more conveniently. It can be stored at 2-8 ° C. The gene vaccine produced by Pfizer/BioNtech needs to be stored at a very low temperature of -70 ° C for a long time and can only be stored at a higher temperature of 2-8 ° C for 5 days prior to vaccination. The MODERNA vaccine can be stored at -20 ° C and be placed into 2-8 ° C for approximately 30 days.
AstraZeneca uses an adenovirus as a carrier of spike protein information into a human cell. Information for the spike protein, which forms on the surface when it penetrates the cell, is inserted into the genetically modified adenovirus. The immunological response is then the same as with the mRNA vaccine.
To vaccinate or to not vaccinate?
Coronavirus vaccination is not mandatory. It is therefore the free choice of each adult whether to choose for him or not., with the obvious exceptions of the mentioned groups of people for whom vaccination is not yet possible.
Nonetheless, the most important thing is the fact that the vaccine exists and in the future it will be possible to get vaccinated with a vaccine working on a different principle. Therefore, we have a choice. And most importantly - it is not advisable to forget that vaccination is the only thing that can change the current situation. By our own vaccination, we will increase the percentage of the population that is protected and therefore creating a herd immunity and creating protection for those that do not have the opportunity to get vaccinated.
For more information about the covid-19 vaccine, follow the link below:
If you are presenting with some of the symptoms of COVID-19, you can consult with one of our doctors online in our 24/7 Virtual Clinic - no need for a face-to-face appointment.