Fighting for America’s health

Young African American woman getting flu shot during seasonal vaccination campaign. Doctor or nurse in medical face mask cleans skin on patient's arm before injecting modern Covid 19 antiviral vaccine

Fighting for America’s health
Why is it that in the 21st century you rarely hear about conditions that were once a threat to society—things like polio and diphtheria, and many other diseases that have impacted our communities? And why have deadly flu outbreaks been reduced to an occasional inconvenience for most? In a word: vaccines. Over the years vaccines have played a critical role in the prevention of countless diseases and saved millions of lives. Vaccines give your body the tools it needs to fight off disease, including the coronavirus, if you were to be exposed. 

An effective solution
With more and more North Dakotans getting immunized, we’re continuing to see the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines shine through. While trial studies had proven this point long before nationwide distribution of the vaccine, real-life application statistics continue to strengthen the argument for the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and the need for immunization to move us forward out of the pandemic.

Virus protection
COVID-19 vaccine technology delivers on decades of successful virology and immunology research. While the COVID-19 vaccines are new, the underlying science is not. Thanks to advanced science and expedited vaccine protocols, BCBSND Chief Medical Officer Dr. Greg Glasner says the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is on pace to have less of an impact on North Dakota than some previous pandemics.

Currently, three vaccines have received the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stamp of approval—Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. While each vaccine works a bit differently, all three are built upon safe and effective scientific foundations that have been studied for many years. The FDA reviewed studies for the three approved vaccines, a process that normally can take months or years, and has given emergency use authorization due to the urgent need for vaccines and data that shows the vaccines are safe and effective.

Vaccine efficacy varies based on which type is administered; however, all have been scientifically proven to be efficient in minimizing COVID-19 impacts.

  • The Pfizer vaccine has shown to be 95% effective.
  • The Moderna vaccine has shown to be 94.5% effective.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has shown to be 85.9% effective in the U.S. population.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your last dose of vaccine—for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, that’s after the second dose and for Johnson & Johnson, it’s two weeks after the single dose. The CDC has been forthright in its ongoing study of how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. They are also working to learn more about natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity.

COVID-19 vaccines have been tested across demographics. Clinical trials were comprised of diverse individuals with varying sex, race and ethnicities, as well as people with various underlying medical conditions.

Mild side effects are an indicator that the vaccine is working, so some sore muscles, fatigue or a mild fever are normal. Side effects are monitored by an FDA dashboard that measures adverse events to all COVID-19 immunizations.

Continued vigilance
While the vaccine will prevent most from getting sick, it’s unclear whether it prevents you from harboring and spreading coronavirus. Therefore, mask-wearing, social distancing and handwashing are still necessary. As a member of the health care community, having witnessed the impacts of COVID-19 and the efficacy of the vaccines first-hand, I highly encourage all North Dakotans to take their opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Schedule your vaccine appointment
To improve accessibility to the COVID-19 vaccine, BCBSND is eliminating member cost sharing/deductibles for those who get vaccinated. All North Dakotans are currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

To find a North Dakota vaccination location, visit vaccinefinder.org. If you have questions about whether you should receive the vaccine, talk to your physician.