Health Services

COVID-19 Vaccine

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do most vaccines work, and how is the COVID-19 vaccine different?

Vaccines are made from the same germs (or parts of them) that cause disease. Most vaccines are injections that contain weakened or inactivated germs. After you receive a vaccine injection, your body’s immune system is triggered to produce antibodies to fight the disease. Your body produces antibodies all the time to fight off different infections, and vaccines trigger your body to fight off infections when you are exposed to them later. But the COVID-19 vaccine is the first of its kind using what is known as “messenger RNA” (mRNA) technology. It works by giving the body instructions to produce a protein which is present on the surface of the coronavirus. If the COVID virus tries to enter your body and infect you, your immune system recognizes the COVID virus and fights against the entire virus to keep you from becoming sick.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine contain the COVID-19 virus?

No. Messenger RNA technology allows protection without the use of weakened or inactivated disease germs. Instead, this vaccine causes the body to develop the ability to recognize the COVID-19 and attack it without using a live virus to do so.

Can I get COVID-19 by taking the vaccine?

No; this is a common myth associated with vaccines. Often, an individual who receives a vaccine has already contracted the illness, but is not showing symptoms, so when they are given a vaccine around the same time, they believe they are sick because of the vaccine, but this is not true. Also, the triggering of your immune system by the vaccine can cause brief, mild symptoms that may resemble an infection, but this is very uncommon.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

: Like all vaccines, this vaccine will tell your body’s own defenses (antibodies) what the COVID-19 virus looks like and to attack it before it can infect you.

How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Pfizer vaccine, which is the first to be provided by Cherokee Nation Health Services, is 90 percent effective, meaning 9 out of 10 people who get the vaccine will be protected.

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Cherokee Nation has developed a multi-phased approach for issuing the vaccine. Frontline healthcare workers and elders will be among the first to receive the vaccine. This to protect health care staff and our most vulnerable Cherokee population, including first-language Cherokee speakers and those 65 and older who are most at risk for serious illness or a loss of life due to COVID.

What are the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Side effects are said to be uncommon, minimal, and can include soreness at the injection site. The Pfizer vaccine being administered by Cherokee Nation Health Services can cause short-term side-effects including pain at the injection site, fever, muscle aches and pains, headache and fatigue -- side-effects that are similarly experienced by those who receive the annual flu vaccination. The side-effects are usually mild, wear off after a couple of days at most, and can be alleviated with medications like ibuprofen.