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COVID-19 Vaccine Series Part I: How will the vaccine protect my family from getting COVID-19?

Learn how the COVID-19 vaccine can protect you.
5 min read
January 12, 2021
Dr. Jill Lundstrom
Board-Certified Pediatrician
Dr. Jill earned her MD at the University of Massachusetts. She believes that all children deserve access to quality healthcare to learn and thrive.

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Our care team has collected all of the questions families have asked over the last few weeks, and we will be sharing weekly updates and inviting families to bring their questions to online chats with our care team. 

This week we’re focusing on helping families understand how the vaccine protects you from getting COVID-19 and why it is important for people 16 and older to get a vaccine. Be sure to read part two of our COVID-19 Vaccine Series: How does the vaccine work and is it safe?

1. Question: What vaccines are available for my family?

Answer: Currently, there are two approved COVID-19 vaccines in the US- Pfizer and Moderna. Both shots are shown to be very safe and both are 94 to 95% effective in preventing COVID-19.

2. Question: What about vaccinating children or teens in my family?

Answer: Pfizer’s vaccine is approved for teens ages 16 and up, while Moderna’s vaccine is currently approved for teens ages 18 and up.
Teenagers aren’t typically at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, so even teens who are old enough to get the Pfizer vaccine will likely be in the last group to get it.

Both Pfizer and Moderna recently began new vaccine trials that include children as young as 12. The data will need to go through the FDA review before this age group can get the vaccine.

3. Question: Why should members of my family get the vaccine?

Answer: Getting the shot will help protect your family members from getting sick from COVID-19. Even if a member of your family does get sick from COVID-19, the vaccine will help prevent them from developing serious COVID-19 symptoms.

When enough people get the vaccine, we will reach herd immunity. Herd immunity will help protect everyone from COVID-19.

4. Question: What is “herd immunity”?

Answer: Herd immunity is when most of the population (the “herd”) is vaccinated. When enough people are immune from vaccination, the virus cannot spread. With nowhere to go, the virus dies out.

Herd immunity is not the idea that most of the population gets sick with COVID-19 and then recovers. Herd immunity only applies to the vaccine.

Usually, about 70% of people must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. Because these vaccines will take time to reach everyone, we will need to be patient because it will take many months to get to herd immunity with COVID-19.

Before we reach that point, we will still need to keep doing all the things we were already doing to protect ourselves (wash hands frequently, social distance, and wear masks).

5. Question: Is it better to get “natural immunity” to COVID-19 rather than immunity from a vaccine?

Answer: No.
While you may have some short-term protection from antibodies after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection lasts, or if it is stronger or more effective than a vaccine.

As we have seen, COVID-19 is unpredictable, and it is very risky trying to “catch it” in order to get natural immunity. It can cause serious illness and death, no matter the age or the health of the person. 

Remember, the vaccine is not an “unnatural immunity”. It is your own body naturally  making antibodies to protect you.

6. Question: If I get the vaccine, will I be less at risk for getting COVID-19?

Answer: Yes! These vaccines are effective and have been shown to reduce your risk for getting sick with COVID-19. Regardless of sex, race, or weight, the risk decreases very quickly. (Results from the Pfizer shot have shown a decrease within 10 days of the first shot.)

7. Question: If I get the vaccine and still get COVID-19, will I get less sick?

Answer: Yes. The vaccine has been shown to decrease severe symptoms if someone does get COVID-19. 

This is very important, because we know when people are very sick with COVID-19 it can cause a lot of long-term damage. Being vaccinated helps keep people with COVID-19 out of hospitals, which protects our health care institutions for everyone.

8. Question: Is the vaccine effective if I only get one shot instead of both?

Answer: The first dose is only 52% effective on its own. That’s why you need to get that second dose to get to the 95% effectiveness. After getting both shots, you will still need to be careful for a while longer. Your family can stay safe by continuing to wear a mask, social distance, and wash their hands.

If you have questions about getting the vaccine for your family, ask your doctor. 

Be sure to join our weekly online Ask a Doctor chat to hear more about the COVID-19 vaccine, and read the next blog in our series: How does the vaccine work and is it safe?

The information in this blog is considered true and correct at the date of publication. Changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information.

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Parent Story
A father was concerned when his son was showing COVID-19 symptoms. His school uses Hazel, so he was able to contact a Hazel doctor from home.

The Hazel provider recommended he get a COVID-19 test and shared resources to help find a testing center in their area. The father was eager to help his son feel better and appreciated being able to quickly get answers and advice.
Nurse Story
A student came into the nurse's office with a sprained ankle. After icing her foot, she still was in pain, so the nurse called Hazel. Thankfully, her family had provided consent for over-the-counter pain relief because she was able to take some medicine and return to class feeling better.

After the visit, the Hazel provider reached out to the school nurse to check on the student’s injury. The nurse shared that the student’s ankle was improving, and she appreciated the follow-up.
Parent Story
A mother noticed her son was getting low on his asthma medication. She tried to schedule a visit with his doctor to refill his prescription, but no appointments were available. She didn’t want her son to run out of medicine, so she reached out to Hazel.

The provider was able to send the refill to a local pharmacy within one day. The mother was happy that her son would have the medicine he needed. She was also amazed at how easy and fast the entire process was.
Student Story
A student was coughing and sneezing a lot, but her family wasn’t sure if she was sick or had allergies. Thankfully, her school used Hazel, and they could get an answer.

After talking with the school nurse and the Hazel provider about her symptoms and medical history, the student was happy to find out it was likely allergies. She got some medicine and returned to class feeling better.
Student Story
During the pandemic, a high school student was having a hard time coping. She was sad about COVID-19 impacting her senior year, and she was worried about the state of the world. The student was also struggling with some personal conflicts, and she felt she didn't have the right support at home. After discussing her feelings, a Hazel doctor connected her with resources that she described as “life-changing.” She was very grateful and shared that she didn't know where to go for help before Hazel.
Parent Story
Shortly after COVID-19 began, a student began to develop tics. Her parents took her to a neurologist, but they wanted to get her into counseling as well. The student’s mother was having a hard time finding answers to her questions and didn’t know where to start the process, so she turned to Hazel.

The Hazel doctor listened as the mother shared her concerns and frustrations. Hazel reassured her that they would find the right services for her child. After the initial visit, the Hazel doctor partnered with the school counselor and the student’s mother to identify resources and counseling services that are a good fit.
Student Story
A student came into the nurse’s office because his vision went blurry. The Hazel doctor looked at his eyes, but he did not see any injury. As he asked him questions about his symptoms, he started to sense that he was down about something. After a few minutes, the student shared that he was really sad because his mom was recently diagnosed with cancer. He explained that he feels worried, and it’s hard for him to focus.

Hazel called home, and the student’s mother confirmed her diagnosis. They discussed how to help manage the child’s stress, and Hazel offered to connect the child with counseling resources through the school. The mother was very grateful for the guidance and was eager to get her child help during a stressful time.
Counselor Story
Hazel Health has been integral this year in getting our students the mental health services needed to help them live healthy lives.  The staff has been attentive, prompt, and resourceful. There is an evident sense of caring for the work they do and the students they serve. It has been a pleasure partnering with Hazel Health in providing mental wellness for our Garland ISD families.