What Seniors Need to Know About the COVID19 Vaccine

What Seniors Need to Know About the COVID19 Vaccine 

by: Melanie Farley  


Vaccines to prevent COVID19 are perhaps the best hope we have for ending the pandemic that has ravaged many of our communities, but it has hit our seniors especially hard. According to the CDC, 65% of COVID cases occurred in adults under the age of 50, but 95.4% of deaths occurred in adults over the age of 65. This staggering statistic shows us that while seniors aren’t as likely to contract the virus, it is far more likely to be deadly once they do.

So, we know it’s important to vaccinate our seniors quickly, but you likely still have questions. Read on to learn more about how the COVID vaccine works, what possible side effects to expect, and when the vaccine will be available for seniors.


How Does the COVID Vaccine Work?  

There are currently two vaccines approved for use in the U.S.: the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Both of these vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to give your cells instructions to create an S protein that mimics the structure of COVID, then your immune system will begin to recognize that the S protein doesn’t belong and will begin making antibodies to fight it. That way, if the real S protein from a COVID infection enters your body, your cells recognize it and have the tools to fight it.

Cool, right?

And, no, neither COVID vaccine can give you COVID because they do not use live forms of the virus in the formula.


Are the Side Effects More Severe for Seniors? 

Some have worried about the vaccine’s side effect for seniors, but experts agree that we have every reason to be confident in the vaccine’s safety. A large number of participants were included in the clinical trials for each vaccine, and many of them were seniors. The Moderna vaccine included 30,000 people, with 7,000 being seniors in their study, and the Pfizer vaccine had similar numbers.

So far, side effects have been mild for seniors, even for those with pre-existing conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Vaccines are given in 2-3 doses, depending on which vaccine you get. Side effects include some pain at the injection site after the first dose, and mild aches and pains with a possible fever after the second dose. Health officials suggest planning a lighter day after the second dose to rest and recover.


When Will the Vaccine Be Available for Seniors? 

In Pennsylvania, those who are 65+ and have an underlying health condition like heart disease or diabetes are eligible to receive the vaccine now.

For everyone else who is 65 or older, you will likely be prioritized in the next phase, and most health officials expect the vaccine to be available to you in the spring of 2021.

For more information on COVID vaccine eligibility in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health website. They include all the information you need to know about the roll out of the vaccine, and they even include an option to make an appointment to be vaccinated.


A Final Word . . .

Seniors are among the most vulnerable among us, largely due to the chronic health conditions that we develop as we age. That’s why it’s important to get our beloved seniors vaccinated quickly! The risk of COVID19 to a senior is far more severe than the mild side effects from getting vaccinated.

So, it’s worth it to stay up-to-date with the most updated information, and get your beloved senior vaccinated as soon as possible.