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Published By Rosaleen Doherty on January 06, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine | How it Works & What to Expect

Understanding the COVID-19 vaccination can be difficult. But it doesn't have to be.

Right at Home Boston and North has put together some valuable information based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to answer all of your questions surrounding the vaccine.

Learn how the vaccine can help you develop immunity to the coronavirus, distribution protocols, and other factual information regarding the vaccine.

How it Works

To understand how the vaccination works, it's important to know how the body's immune system works.

When germs, such as the coronavirus, invade the body, they take over the body's cells and multiply. Also called an infection, this is what causes illness. The immune system consists of different types of white blood cells that fight infection:

  • Macrophages – are large white blood cells that engulf pathogens and digest them. The macrophage then spits out the remaining particles that are known as antigens. These antigens then stimulate the immune system to send antibodies to attack the multiplying pathogens.
  • B-lymphocytes – these white blood cells fight infection by producing antibodies that are specific to each pathogen and binds to it. This alerts the immune system to destruct the invading pathogen.
  • T-lymphocytes – these defensive cells attack human cells that have already been infected.

When COVID-19 enters the body, it may take weeks for this immune response to fight off the infection. But afterward, the body will remember exactly what it takes to fight this coronavirus.

Here is where the vaccination comes into play:

When a totally dead coronavirus is injected into the body, the virus is introduced to your immune system. The body then gathers all of the 'weapons' required to fight off this infection should it invade the body in the future. Essentially, the COVID vaccine surpasses the 'getting sick' part and activates the immune process to defend against COVID-19. The vaccine acts as the "remembering" part, so the body already knows how to fight off this specific infection.

This defense mechanism is precisely why vaccinations are one of the most effective strategies to happen in medicine.

Distributing the COVID Vaccine

With new safety techniques underway, the CDC ensures all vaccines are safe for administration. Because of a limited supply, 21 million healthcare workers and 3 million residents of long-term care facilities will be the first to receive the vaccine.

According to The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, almost everyone over the age of 16 is safe to receive the vaccine. Health experts report only extremely rare cases of adverse reactions. Dr. Purvi Parikh, a clinical assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine, recommends 'most people should absolutely get it.' Dr. Parikh is also a co-investigator on several trials held for the COVID-19 vaccine.

As for the state of Massachusetts, it plans to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine safely and effectively. The vaccine will be distributed in 3 phases:

  • Phase One. December – February
    • All healthcare workers
    • Police, fire, and emergency medical services
    • Residents of long term care facilities
  • Phase Two. February – April
    • Adults 65 and over
    • Individuals with 2+ comorbidities
    • Education systems, grocery, utility, food, and agriculture.
  • Phase Three. April – June
    • General public

How Do I Get the Vaccine?

Talk with your doctor about the COVID-19 vaccine. You may qualify to receive it sooner than you think. Right at Home Boston and North is here for any questions or concerns you may have.

The vaccination will be free of charge to the American public. It can sometimes cause soreness at the injection site or feelings of malaise for a day or two.

For more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccination, visit the CDC, or visit for specific statewide details in Massachusetts.


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