By Shefali V. Parmar, MD, FAAP; Cornerstone Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine
COVID-19 vaccine is here, it is effective and safe. Having received my two doses, I can finally be assured that my seat belt is buckled while I continue to take care of my patients. Although I will still wear my mask, wash my hands carefully, and keep social distance, I know I am now protected against COVID infection, and most certainly against COVID-related severe illness. So, when your turn for the COVID vaccine comes up, I strongly recommend you get your COVID-19 vaccination too.
Both of the approved COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna deliver powerful protection. They both were equally efficacious in preventing COVID infection and severe illness – 95% efficacy is remarkable and above the threshold we were hoping to achieve. The effectiveness was similar across age, gender, ethnicities, and races including Asians. COVID-19 vaccination will save lives, allow our kids to safely return to school, let businesses thrive again, and allow us to be with our loved ones near and far.
COVID-19 vaccines are very safe. Safety was not sacrificed for speed. The current COVID-19 vaccines have undergone the most rigorous studies and intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Combined, over 70,000 participants were in the initial vaccine clinical trials; now, over 20 million people in the United States have been vaccinated with at least 1 dose. More than a million people a day, on average, are receiving a shot to help protect themselves against Covid-19 in the United States. Multiple established and newly-built safety monitoring systems that allow the CDC and FDA to watch for safety issues are in place across the entire country. These vaccines are being held to the highest safety standard by all pharmaceutical and medical regulatory boards. So far, we know that serious side effects including allergic reactions are rare. While some people don’t have any side effects after getting their COVID-19 vaccine, many people will experience mild side effects like pain or swelling at the injection site, a headache, chills, mild muscle aches, fatigue, chills, or fever. These reactions are normal and are signs that the vaccine is working and your immune system is building protection.
CDC is making recommendations for who should get the COVID-19 vaccine first. At this time, we are prioritizing healthcare workers and all persons greater than age 65. Supplies are currently limited but vaccine availability will increase in the coming weeks and months. Do not pass up your shot! While you wait for your chance, continue to wear your mask, avoid crowds, wash your hands, and stay at home as much as possible.
Editor’s note — Interested in learning more? Join NCAAT at one of our upcoming workshops to get more information on the health access landscape for Asian communities in North Carolina! Visit http://ncaatogether.org/health to sign up.
Learn more about how to get vaccinated at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines
About Dr. Shefali V. Parmar:
Dr. Shefali Parmar is a board-certified pediatrician and is licensed to practice in North Carolina. A native North Carolinian and Cary citizen, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from Duke University, completed her medical degree at the University of Virginia, and returned to Duke University for her Pediatrics residency. She has been in practice for 15 years and currently, she is a Partner Physician with Cornerstone Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in Cary.
Although a doctor by profession, Shefali’s heart also lies in the arts, particularly dancing, photography, and fashion. She studied classical Indian dancing (Bharata Natyam) for more than 15 years and is an avid photographer, having taken pictures for Special Olympics, AIDS education in India, and other diverse projects. Dr. Parmar also spent two months in rural India volunteering at a hospital focused on pediatric healthcare for local village children.
Dr. Parmar has a 13-year-old daughter and lives with her husband in Raleigh. As a family, they enjoy time together running, biking, reading, and traveling to National Parks and abroad. Their most recent favorite adventure was hiking in the Al Jabal Akhdar mountains in Oman (November 2019, before the pandemic).