COVID-19 Vaccines FAQs

Vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases, before they come into resistance to specific infections and makes your immune system stronger. 

Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it is exposed to a disease. However, because vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease or put you at risk of its complications.

Most vaccines are given by an injection, but some are given orally (by mouth) or sprayed into the nose.

Vaccination is a safe and effective was to prevent disease and save lives – now more than ever. Today there are vaccines available to protect against at least 20 diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles. Collectively, these vaccines save the lives of up to 3 million people every year.

When we get vaccinated, we are not just protecting ourselves, but also those around us. Some people, like those who are seriously ill, are advised not to get certain vaccines – so they depend on the rest of us to get vaccinated and help reduce the spread of disease.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination continues to be critically important. The pandemic has caused a decline in the number of children receiving routine immunizations, which could lead to an increase in illness and death from preventable diseases. The World Health Organization has urged countries to ensure that essential immunization and health services continue, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Vaccines reduce risks of getting a disease by working with your body’s natural defenses to build protection. When you get a vaccine, your immune system responds. It:

  • Recognizes the invading germ, such as the virus or bacteria.
  • Produces antibodies. Antibodies are proteins produced naturally by the immune system to fight disease.
  • Remembers the disease and how to fight it. If you are then exposed to the germ in the future, your immune system can quickly destroy it before you become unwell.

he vaccine is therefore a safe and clever way to produce an immune response in the body, without causing illness.

Our immune systems are designed to remember. Once exposed to one or more doses of a vaccine, we typically remain protected against a disease for years, decades or even a lifetime. This is what makes vaccines so effective. Rather than treating a disease after it occurs, vaccines prevent us in the first instance from getting sick.

All the ingredients of a vaccine play an important rote in ensuring a vaccine is safe and effective. Some of these include:

  • The antigen. This is a killed or weakened form of a virus or bacteria, which trains our bodies to recognize and fight the disease if we encounter it in the future.
  • Adjuvants, which help to boost our immune response. This means they help vaccines to work better.
  • Preservatives, which ensure a vaccine stays effective.
  • Stabilizers, which protect the vaccine during storage and transportation

Vaccine ingredients can look unfamiliar when they are listed on a label. However, many of the components used in vaccines occur naturally in the body, in the environment, and in the foods we eat. All of the ingredients in vaccines – as well as the vaccines themselves – are thoroughly tested and monitored to ensure they are safe.

The most commonly used vaccines have been around for decades, with millions of people receiving them safely every year. As with all medicines, every vaccine must go through extensive and rigorous testing to ensure it is safe before it can be introduced in a country. An experimental vaccine is first tested in animals to evaluate its safety and potential to prevent disease. It is then tested in human clinical trials, in three phases:

  • In phase I, the vaccine is given to a small number of volunteers to assess its safety, confirm it generates an immune response, and determine the right dosage.
  • In phase II, the vaccine is usually given to hundreds of volunteers, who are closely monitored for any side effects, to further assess its ability to generate an immune response. In this phase, data are also collected whenever possible on disease outcomes, but usually not in large enough numbers to have a clear picture of the effect of the vaccine on disease. Participants in this phase have the same characteristics (such as age and sex) as the people for whom the vaccine is intended. In this phase, some volunteers receive the vaccine and others do not, which allows comparisons to be made and conclusions drawn about the vaccine.
  • In phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of volunteers – some of whom receive the investigational vaccine, and some of whom do not, just like in phase II trials. Data from both groups is carefully compared to see if the vaccine is safe and effective against the disease it is designed to protect against.

Once the results of clinical trials are available, a series of steps is
required, including reviews of efficacy, safety, and manufacturing for
regulatory and public health policy approvals, before a vaccine may
be introduced into a national immunization programme.

Following the introduction of a vaccine, close monitoring continues to
detect any unexpected adverse side effects and further assess effectiveness in the routine use setting among even larger numbers of people to continue assessing how best to use the vaccine for the
greatest protective impact.

Vaccination is safe and side effects from a vaccine are usually minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild fever. More serious side effects are possible, but extremely rare.

Any licensed vaccine is rigorously tested across multiple phases of trials before it is approved for use, and regularly reassessed once it is introduced. Scientists are also constantly monitoring information from several sources for any sign that a vaccine may cause health risks.

Remember, you are far more likely to be seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine. For example, tetanus can cause extreme pain, muscle spasms (lockjaw) and blood clots, measles can cause encephalitis (an infection of the brain) and blindness.

Many vaccine-preventable diseases can even result in death. The benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks, and many more illnesses and deaths would occur without vaccines.

Like any medicine, vaccines can cause mild side effects, such as a low-grade fever, or pain or redness at the injection site. Mild reactions go away within a few days on their own.

Severe or long-lasting side effects are extremely rare. Vaccines are continually monitored for safety, to detect rare adverse events.

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.

Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.

Scientists around the world are developing many potential vaccines for COVID-19. These vaccines are all designed to teach the bodys immune system to safely recognize and block the virus that causes COVID-19
Several different types of potential vaccines for COVID-19 are in development, including:

  • Inactivated or weakened virus vaccines, which use a fonn of the virus that has been inactivated or weakened so it doesn’t cause disease, but still generates an immune response.
  • Protein-based vaccines, which use harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that mimic the COVID-19 virus to safely generate an immune response.
  • Viral vector vaccines, which use a virus that has been genetically engineered so that it can’t cause disease, but produces coronavirus proteins to safely generate an immune response.
  • RNA and DNA vaccines, a cutting-edge approach that uses genetically engineered RNA or DNA to generate a protein that itself safely prompts an immune response.

Some people may experience pain and swelling on the arm where they received the shot. Fever, chills, tiredness and headache may also be experienced. If you receive the vaccine and think you are having an allergic reaction, seek medical care immediately.

Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defenses – the immune system- to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.

WHO is one of the leaders (with Gavi and CEPI) of a global effort known as COVAX, which is investing in the development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by pooling resources from many different countries. This includes the COVAX Facility, a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual COVID-19 vaccines. In addition to investing in vaccine research and development, COVAX is helping scale up vaccine manufacturing capabilities and committing to buy doses of safe and effective vaccines, with the goal of distributing 2 billion doses where they’re needed most, worldwide, by the end of 2021.

COVAX is the vaccine pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

In addition, WHO is setting up “Solidarity” clinical trials that will efficiently evaluate potential COVID-19 vaccines at sites across the globe.

WHO and its partners are committed to accelerating the development of COVID-19 vaccines while maintaining the highest standards on safety. ln the past, vaccines have been developed through a series of steps that can take many years. Now, given the urgent need for COVID-19 vaccines, unprecedented financial investments and scientific collaborations are changing how vaccines are developed. This means that some of the steps in the research and development process have been happening in parallel, while still maintaining strict clinical and safety standards. For example, some clinical trials are evaluating multiple vaccines at the same time. However, this does not make the studies any less rigorous.

COVAX is the vaccine pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

In addition, WHO is setting up “Solidarity” clinical trials that will efficiently evaluate potential COVID-19 vaccines at sites across the globe.

Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for some people, it can cause severe illness or death. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

The Government of The Bahamas has signed on to the COVAX facility and through this agreement, has made the AstraZeneca vaccine available. The Bahamas has also received a donation of the Pfizer vaccine from the Government of the United States. The Bahamas also has supplies of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.


The AstrazaZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are available to Bahamians and residents 18 years of age and older. 
The Pfizer vaccine is available to those 12 years of age and older.


Vaccine doses purchased and administered by the Government of The Bahamas will be given to the Bahamian people at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone.

If you have questions about vaccines be sure to talk to your healthcare provider. He or she can provide you with science-based advice about vaccination for you and your family, including the recommended vaccination schedule. You can also contact the Extended Program on Immunization (E.P.1.) at 341-1741 or 341-1743 for more information.

When looking online for information about vaccines, be sure to consult only trustworthy sources. To help you find them, WHO has reviewed and ·certified’ many websites across the world that provide only information based on reliable scientific evidence and independent reviews by leading technical experts. These websites are all members of the Vaccine Safety Net.

Sources: World Health Organization Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Bahamas Government

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Some residents who have already received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are experiencing difficulty making an appointment for the second dose. This is due in part to the

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