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Here’s why getting the vaccine is the safe and smart thing to do.

With several COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S. and variant spread on the rise, we have a powerful tool to help us overcome the coronavirus pandemic.

But some people have concerns about being vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s where we come in.

Common concerns around the COVID-19 vaccine include safety, speed of vaccine development and potential long-term side effects.

“The FDA has certain criteria for vaccine development in place to make sure all vaccines are as safe as possible,” explains Dr. Amit Mehta, family medicine doctor at Geisinger Medical Clinic Lock Haven. “They didn’t compromise those criteria here. Experts also continue to study the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, but early research hasn’t shown cause for concern.”

Whether you’re at low or high risk of serious illness from COVID, getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid a severe or even fatal infection. And getting vaccinated — if you haven’t already — can help us end the pandemic.

Why getting the COVID-19 vaccine is smart

Still not sure about getting the vaccine — or need help convincing a loved one? Here are the main benefits that come with it:

1. It’s your best defense against COVID-19, including delta and other variants

Being sick with COVID-19 — whether it’s the original strain or one of the many variants, including the highly infectious delta strain — is no picnic. It can be serious or even life-threatening for some people. And there’s no way to know for sure how it may affect you. Besides, adds Dr. Mehta, “Even if you have a mild case of COVID, you can still spread it to a loved one who may get really sick. And COVID-19 is becoming more easily spread as it mutates.”

All COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. have been shown to be safe and highly effective at preventing illness from COVID-19. And based on early data, getting a vaccine helps keep you from getting seriously ill if you do get COVID-19 or its variants.

While it’s normal to have some side effects right after vaccination, like a fever, headache or body aches, these are all signs that your body is building immunity to the virus. “None of the vaccines can give you COVID-19,” says Dr. Mehta.

2. It’s a safer way to achieve immunity from COVID-19

Even if you’ve already had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated when you’re eligible — but wait 90 days before getting the vaccine if you were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma.

“While having COVID will leave you with naturally produced antibodies, we still don’t know the level of or how long this immunity lasts,” explains Dr. Mehta.

“We do know that it varies and decreases over time, and that studies have shown that the vaccine provides a strong boost in protection for those who have recovered from COVID-19.”

And again, it’s just not worth risking a serious or fatal COVID-19 infection.

3. It can help us end the pandemic

Now almost 2 years into the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were starting feel a sense of normalcy as we returned to pre-pandemic activities. However, lower vaccination rates and the spread of variants is causing masking mandates to come back into effect in some areas.

But the COVID vaccine is a safe and effective way to not only protect against COVID, but also help us stop the virus from mutating — and spreading.

“While masking, handwashing and physical distancing are proven to help reduce exposure to and the spread of COVID-19, they aren’t enough on their own to end the pandemic,” explains Dr. Mehta. “Vaccines will help us build up immunity to COVID-19, so our bodies can fight off the virus if we’re exposed.”

And per CDC guidelines, those who are fully vaccinated, meaning it’s been at least 2 weeks since the last required dose, can even return to some pre-pandemic activities.

“We’re still learning how the current vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19,” says Dr. Mehta. “Until we know more, everyone — vaccinated or not — should continue handwashing, physical distancing in public places and following their local guidelines on masking.”

Get reliable information on COVID-19 vaccines

There’s a lot of information out there about the COVID-19 vaccines — and some of it may be misleading.

“If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, your doctor is your best resource,” says Dr. Mehta. “They can give you advice that’s tailored to you and your medical history.”

And if you’d like to do some research on your own, the CDC is a trusted source for vaccine information that’s based on facts.

“Based on the data we have from the clinical trials and the millions of Americans now vaccinated, we feel confident that the available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective,” says Dr. Mehta. “I have personally received the COVID-19 vaccine and advise my patients and members of the community to do the same.”

Next steps:
Meet Dr. Amit Mehta
Here’s how you may feel after getting the COVID vaccine
Get the facts about COVID vaccines

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