The effectiveness of vaccines
Vaccines protect from severe illnesses
The main objective of getting vaccinated is protecting yourself from severe illnesses. According to the Estonian data, depending on the age group, a vaccinated person needs hospitalization 3-10 times less likely than a non-vaccinated person.
Yes, there are people who are vaccinated and in a hospital. Even if a vaccinated person falls ill so severely that hospitalization is needed, their treatment is shorter and easier. The most severe cases, whose treatment is long and resourceful, are non-vaccinated elderly people.
The Estonian Health Insurance Fund has calculated that with severe COVID-19 cases or its complications, vaccinated people spend 11 days in the hospital and their treatment costs about, 3500 euros. For a non-vaccinated person, it’s more than twice of its length and costs almost three times more — 24 days and, 10000 euros.
There’s a comparison (in Estonian) about the mortality, hospitalization, and illness rates between vaccinated and not vaccinated people. You can find it here.
Vaccines decrease the spread
People who are vaccinated against COVID-19 catch the virus less likely. They also spread the virus less likely because the lifetime of the virus is remarkably shorter. It also depends on the time passed from the vaccination.
How does it work? When a virus enters into the body of a vaccinated person, it’s attacked immediately by antibodies that destroy or weaken the virus, if there’s too much of it. An immune-system of a non-vaccinated person will start producing antibodies at that moment, but it takes 1-3 weeks to have enough of antibodies. Because vaccinated people already have antibodies, the body can recovery from the virus faster with general symptoms (like fever, runny nose, cough) and with fewer complications.
Side effects of the vaccines
All reports of the side effects of the vaccines are checked thoroughly
The State Agency of Medicines collects all the data and makes an initial assessment, if these symptoms might be related to that particular medicine or these health problems might be caused by some other reasons. If the cases include severe reactions, the contact details of the doctor is also asked to have the medical confirmation to the situation.
Data gathered in Estonia will be forwarded to the European Medical Agency. The safety of the vaccine is assessed in their risk-assessment committee and human medicines’ committee, where Estonian experts are included as well. To assess the safety, a lot of data is processed, and all safety data is reviewed monthly.
The conclusion of the side effects data reported to the State Agency of Medicines is published weekly on the agency’s website .
The side effects of the vaccines appear during a short period of time after the vaccination. On the other hand, COVID-19 may affect a person’s health and the quality of life for a long time. By the data analysis of the Estonian Medical Agency, the risk to die because of COVID-19 is 58 times higher than because of the vaccination.
What are the most common side effects?
It’s possible with all COVID-19 vaccines that for a couple of days, there’s a side effect that is annoying, but not adverse. Common side effects appear from 1 in 10 people, uncommon side effects appear from 1 in 100 people.
Common and uncommon side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are:
- reactions in the injection area like soreness or redness,
- soreness of lymph nods (more often with mRNA vaccines),
- pain in joints (more often with the adenovirus vector-vaccines),
- changes on the sensitivity of the skin.
Vaccination of children
Vaccination is multiple times safer than the possible recovery, including for children
Even previously healthy children and youth have a risk to fall severely ill with COVID-19, develop an inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs, or even die. Children with other, chronic diseases have a higher risk for a severe COVID-19.
Even an illness that is called mild by doctors and statisticians, might not feel mild to a person who has it. In statistics, a mild disease is when you’re not hospitalized, at the same time, a person can feel very ill for weeks, and there are difficulties to leave the bed. Children might have severe cases like that, although not as often as adults.
Children are at risk of long COVID-19, too, and with current data, it means tiredness, exhaustion, problems with nervous system like depression, anxiety, brain fog and slower thinking, difficulties with attention and focus. The risk for myocarditis is six times higher when falling ill with COVID-19 than getting vaccinated.
Although post-COVID-19 syndrome is not as common in children as it is in adults, then by the current data, about 2-14% of children experience it, and even if they had asymptomatic COVID-19. The virus has been found from all the organs.
Isolating is affecting children’s mental health. During the pandemic, the mental health problems among youth at least doubled. It’s another good reason to get your children vaccinated.
Vaccination and fertility
Vaccination decreases COVID-19 risks during pregnancy
Catching COVID-19 during pregnancy is risky. If a Mum-to-be falls ill with COVID-19, it increases the risk of a premature birth, also the risk of a need for intensive care for the baby. Getting vaccinated minimizes these risks remarkably. COVID-19 vaccines protect from severe cases during pregnancy, too.
Pregnant women, who’ve contracted with the virus, have 5 times higher risk to be hospitalized compared to vaccinated pregnant women. Also, the risk to end up in an intensive care unit, where they’re given breathing support and ECMO treatment.
COVID-19 diagnosis during pregnancy increases the risk of death because of the virus three times. The severity of the illness is related to the age of the mother-to-be, higher BMI and chronic illnesses like high blood pressure or pre-pregnancy diabetes.
Vaccination doesn’t affect fertility
There’s no data whatsoever that the vaccination against COVID-19 affects fertility. There were no signs during animal testing and also in clinical researches, unwanted pregnancy occurred with the similar frequency.
Data collected during the use of COVID-19 vaccines (hundreds of millions of doses) doesn’t show any relationship between the vaccination and fertility.
Triin Laisk, the associate Professor in the genetics of female (in)fertility of Tartu University describes, how a wrong interpretation of research with rats made vaccination sceptics share an information that vaccination could impact fertility.
Impact to fertility is also described as the changes in a female period. If after the vaccination appears a strong immune response (fever) or over-the-counter medications (ibuprofen, paracetamol) are used to ease side effects, it may temporarily have an impact on a menstrual cycle because immune system also regulates menstrual cycles. It’s still a very short period side effect, and similar changes in a female period can be experienced after recovering from COVID-19, or some other severe infection, also as a side effect of widely common painkillers and some antidepressants.
Read more (in Estonian).
COVID-19 treatment and prevention
Strong men and women with a healthy immune system have had severe COVID-19 cases
Scientists and doctors say that if the immune system is reacting too actively with severe symptoms, then it might cause more harm than the virus itself. Strong immune system may cause over reaction and therefore be the cause of the illness. COVID-19 has caught many strong and healthy women and men, and made them severely ill.
Instead, your immune system needs to be smart and effective, recognize the cause of the illness and terminate it as soon as possible. This is what vaccination does — it helps the organism recognize the cause of the illness and to terminate it.
Currently, COVID-19 medications don’t substitute vaccination
To treat COVID-19, hospitals currently use multiple intravenous medications. Some medications are in the assessment process in the European Medical Agency, and the expectations are high. The Estonian government is among those who’ve decided to buy some of those medications.
European Medical Agency (EMA) has authorized Paxlovid, the COVID-19 treatment developed by Pfizer. Paxlovid is the first antiviral medicine to be given by mouth that is recommended in the EU for treating adults with COVID-19, and who are at increased risk of the disease becoming severe.
Although medications might be efficient, these are used to treat the consequences, and for the time being, they are only meant for risk group patients. To avoid hospitalization or falling severely ill, it’s the best to get vaccinated.