With the COVID vaccine rollout coming right along, depending on your job, age, and health history, your place in line might be approaching quickly. To help you on your journey to improved immunity, then, we wanted to spend some time today breaking down everything you need to know about the available COVID vaccines—including what’s true, what a total myth, and how you can best support your body for success.
Read on, and get ready to roll up your sleeve with confidence and clarity!
COVID Vaccine Basics:
Types of COVID-Vaccines
As of this writing, there are three types of COVID vaccines that have been approved for use in preventing COVID-19, two of which require two shots spaced a few weeks apart in order to get the highest level of protection:
- Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine
- Requires a second shot 3 weeks (or 21 days) after your first
- Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine
- Requires a second shot 4 weeks (or 28 days) after your first
- Johnson & Johnson / Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine
- Requires only one dose
How do the COVID vaccines work?
COVID vaccines essentially leave our body with a “memory” (in the form of T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes, two types of defensive white blood cells)—so it can remember how to fight the virus if we’re infected in the future. While getting a vaccine doesn’t provide you immunity, it does help you better fight the virus—and therefore lessen the symptoms—if you get sick.
I’ve heard experts use the term “messenger RNA vaccines”. What does that mean?
That’s a great question! While some types of vaccines use a weakened form of the germ at-hand to get our bodies to recognize and respond, that’s not the case with COVID vaccines; they don’t contain COVID-19 at all. Instead, they’re what’s considered a “messenger RNA”—or mRNA—vaccine. These types of vaccines work by teaching our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Here’s how it works, according to the CDC:
- You receive the vaccination in your arm.
- The “instructions” (mRNA) then head to your immune cells and teach them to make a harmless type of protein called a “spike protein”. (This protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.)
- The cell then displays this protein piece on its surface.
- Your body then recognizes there’s a protein that doesn’t belong on a cell’s surface, and it responds by building an immune response and making antibodies.
- This teaches your body to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein on it. Your body now has developed a “memory” for how to fight the COVID-19 virus, should you ever become infected with it in the future.
COVID Vaccine Myths:
Now that you understand a bit about how the vaccine works, it’s time to debunk some common myths and misconceptions!
MYTH: The COVID vaccine gives you COVID-19.
TRUTH: None of the approved COVID vaccines contain the COVID-19 virus. Instead, they teach your body to recognize and remember how to fight the virus (via that neat mRNA method we broke down above!). This process can cause symptoms of illness (like a fever)—but these symptoms are completely normal and are a sign that your body is building protection, which is a positive thing! If you find you’re feeling any of these after your vaccination, it’s important to rest, hydrate, eat healthy, and give your body a chance to recover.
MYTH: I don’t need to get vaccinated if I’ve already had COVID-19.
TRUTH: The CDC recommends individuals who have previously had the COVID-19 virus still get the COVID vaccination when they’re able. That’s because experts aren’t quite sure yet how long you have protection (in the form of antibodies) after having had the virus. It is possible that you can contract the virus again after having already recovered from it in the past, which is why getting vaccinated is still important.
MYTH: The COVID vaccine alters my DNA
TRUTH: The Covid vaccines do not interact with or alter your DNA in any way, as the mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell.
MYTH: I should not get a COVID vaccine if I am planning on becoming pregnant one day.
TRUTH: There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations cause problems with the development of the placenta or future fertility. The CDC states, “Based on current knowledge, experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to a person trying to become pregnant in the short or long term.”
MYTH: Researchers rushed the COVID vaccine, so I shouldn’t trust it.
TRUTH: The COVID vaccines were developed using a method (mRNA) that’s been in development for almost two decades—and no testing steps were skipped. There were a handful of factors that allowed these vaccines to be developed faster than vaccines for previous viruses society has encountered, including China sharing genetic information about COVID-19, which allowed researchers to start working on vaccines promptly—and social media companies helping to find and engage volunteers quickly.
COVID Vaccine Preparation:
Alright, so you have a basic understanding of how it works—and you know what’s true and what isn’t—but, how, exactly, should you prepare for your COVID vaccine? That’s a great question! Let’s dig in…
What to Expect from your COVID Vaccine:
After receiving your vaccine, you might experience some side effects as a sign your body is building protection. Don’t panic—these are completely normal and should subside within a few days. They can include:
- Pain or swelling at the injection site
How to logistically prepare for your COVID Vaccine appointment:
Start by finding out if you’re eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Your individual state likely has its own resource or website for finding out if you’re on the current eligibility list and/or for scheduling your appointment—but a great nationwide resource is NBC’s Plan Your Vaccine tool.
Once you have an appointment, you may need to bring a printout, QR code, and/or paycheck stub (to confirm your occupation).
Regardless of the specific item(s) you need to confirm your appointment—which can vary by state and vaccination location—everyone will need to wear a face mask and remain six feet apart from others while waiting in line for your appointment.
How to prepare your body for your COVID Vaccine:
As is the case with nearly anything we put our bodies through in life, the stronger you enter the situation, the stronger you’re likely to recover from it. There are a few things you can do, then, to ensure your body is in prime condition for receiving your COVID vaccine and beginning to build that long-awaited immunity!
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Make sure you’re getting plenty of fluids both before and after your vaccination appointment(s). This is especially important if you start to feel a little “flu-y” after receiving your vaccine. (We break down why staying hydrated is so important for a healthy immune system here!) CF(Rehydrate)® is a great option for staying on top of your fluid intake, as it’s free from artificial colors, flavors, and sugars and delivers the electrolytes and clinical hydration your body needs, without the harmful additives found in sports drinks and other hydration products.
- Plan to avoid strenuous activity: Don’t plan a marathon, gym session, or rock climb for the day after your COVID vaccine appointment. Even if you’re not feeling any other side effects, your upper arm is likely to be pretty sore. It’s best to give your body at least a day to refuel and recharge before putting it through any taxing activities.
- If you’re feeling under the weather, try following a BRAT diet for a day: “BRAT” stands for: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. It’s a diet that was once commonly recommended by pediatricians for children who were experiencing nausea and vomiting, as it’s one your system can easily handle and digest, even when you’re not feeling up for eating much.
- Get in extra nutrients and vitamins: Upping your vitamin and nutrient intake is always a good idea—and this is especially true for anyone who’s feeling a little sick after receiving a COVID vaccine. CF(Rehydrate)® Immunity+ is a natural electrolyte drink chock-full of medical-grade hydration and immune-boosting ingredients—helping promote enhanced immunity and all-around wellness when you body needs it most.
Whew—that covers pretty much everything you need to know about the COVID vaccines! As always, browse the rest of the CF Nutrition blog for more empowering health, wellness, and lifestyle tips. And don’t forget to give your body the best chance at a healthy 2021 by hydrating with the clean, clinical replenishment of CF(Rehyrdate)® and nourishing with the powerful plant-based protein in CF(protein)®, our fan-favorite immunonutrition drink.