Comenius University News

Vaccination against COVID-19

Vaccination has helped humanity to get over many diseases, now there is a possibility that it will help us return back to normal life after the pandemic of COVID-19.

Why should I get vaccinated?

Vaccination is the most reliable way of prevention from any infection or a severe illness. Vaccination protects the vaccinated person, their loved ones, colleagues, and classmates. It is a way how to build long-term immunity against COVID-19. The vaccine activates production of special antibodies in the body as well as cell immunity. The vaccine to a great extent protects vaccinated people from getting the virus and offers protection from a severe disease course or death up to 100%.

Covid pass will be used in the future to prove that its holder is safe for their surroundings in the educational process, but also in their personal and community life.

Is the vaccine safe? It was created very quickly, aren’t there any risks?

In Slovakia, we use vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna companies and these are based on mRNA technology. This technology is not new, it’s been used in medicine for several decades now and takes part in a very promising development of vaccines against some infectious diseases and cancer.

Once the mRNA information (part coding the S-protein of  SARS-CoV-2 virus) gets into a muscle cell via the vaccine, the cell starts producing copies of the S-protein of the virus, stimulating complex immunity (antibody and cell immunity and specific cytokine spectrum). Then the mRNA degrades (within a few hours) and is removed from the body.

Vector vaccines such as the ones from AstraZeneca, Johnsson&Johnsson and Sputnik V carry a genetic information about a spike protein of the virus SARS-CoV-2 via a vector, which is in fact a deactivated adenovirus. Once the vaccine is applied a process similar to the one with the mRNA vaccine starts and a complex immunity response is stimulated. Vector vaccines have been in use before as well, for example, the vaccine against ebola is vector-based.

Fast production of vaccines is a result of sped-up development and administrative registration process. Nothing was shortened or sped up in the 3 stages of clinical testing of safety and efficiency. More than 40 000 people participated in clinical testing of each vaccine.

Is one type of a vaccine better than the others? Which one should I choose?

To a standard person it does not matter which vaccine he/she gets because all vaccines are almost equally safe and efficient. One needs to be vaccinated by the vaccine that is available, by both doses with 2- dose vaccines.

What are side effects of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2?

Side effects are the same as with any other vaccine. The most common ones are headaches, muscle pain, pain and swelling in the place of the needle mark or increased body temperature; these will fade within a few hours, maximum two days. For more information, consult the website of State Institute for Drug Control of the Slovak Republic.

How long will the immunity gained by vaccination last?

Since the vaccine has been in use for a very short time, it cannot be said exactly for how long will the immunity last. Based on research, it should be effective for at least 10 months, but this also depends on the patient.

Should I get vaccinated even if I suffered from COVID-19?

Yes, we reccommend vaccination also to people who had COVID-19 because it is not yet clear how effective the immunity gained by the infection is and for how long it lasts.  It is reccommended to get vaccinated no earlier than 2 weeks after the illness (4 weeks after the start of the infection or symptoms or 4 weeks after the first positive PCR test for asymptomatic patients).

We thank Assoc. Prof. MUDr. Alexandra Bražinová, PhD., MPH and Assoc. Prof. MUDr. Peter Jackuliak, PhD., MPH from the Faculty of Medicine of the CU for the information.