What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 6:43 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 18:44:01-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Dr. Thomas Russo is the Chief of Infectious Disease at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. He admits, he's an optimist. He said mid-summer could be the turning point of the coronavirus pandemic. But before that happens, a lot of people have to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Activities where we can get together without masks, even indoors, become once again a reality and we'll be getting back to normal," Dr. Russo said, "The vaccine is here, but it's not in everyone yet so it's going to take us time."

Who will get the vaccine first?

It comes down to who is most at risk.

"They're primarily older individuals in congregate living settings where the virus spreads particularly well," Dr. Russo said, "Likewise, health care workers. There may be some stratification. They come in contact, or many of them do, with patients that are infected placing them in a riskier situation as well than your average individual."

Dr. Russo said the end of the day each individual state will decide who gets the vaccine and when.

Why do you need two doses of the vaccine?

"If you only get one shot, the level of protection is going to be significantly less. It's estimated to be 50% instead of 95%," Dr. Russo said.

How long will the vaccine protect against COVID-19? Will it become like a yearly flu shot?

"The new coronavirus is much more stable and does not change genetically, as rapidly, as extensively as influenza viruses. Therefore the vaccine that we're developing now, we're hoping is going to be effective and durable, keeping our fingers crossed, for a couple of years," Dr. Russo said.

What are the side effects?

"It's almost to be expected when you get vaccinated...that you're going to have pain, swelling likely some redness at the site of injection. A minority of individuals are going to experience mild flu like symptoms perhaps a fever, fatigue, a headache," Dr. Russo said.

But Dr. Russo said those symptoms will pass within 12 to 24 hours.