Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Oregon Youth Authority
What is the vaccine and what does it do?
Two drug companies have made vaccines to help protect people against getting sick from COVID-19. The companies are Moderna and Pfizer.
The companies did a lot of tests to make sure the vaccines were safe and that they work. The vaccines were effective about 95% of the time at keeping people from getting sick with COVID-19.
It’s still possible you could get the virus even if you get the vaccine. But if you do get the virus, the vaccine keeps you from getting really sick. This is important because a lot of people in the community of all ages, races, genders, and backgrounds are getting very sick from the virus. Thousands of people have died.
You have to get two doses of the vaccine in order to fully protect yourself from the virus. That means you would get one shot, and then you would get a second shot a few weeks later.
Who can get the vaccine?
If you are 16 or older, and you haven’t had major allergic reactions to other vaccines, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccines have not been tested on anyone younger than 16, so people younger than 16 are not able to get them yet.
Vaccines will be available very soon for the youth who live in OYA correctional facilities, transition facilities, and residential programs. We’ll let our youth know if they are able to get one and when that can happen.
Will it make me sick with COVID-19? Are there side effects?
No, you will not get COVID-19 if you get the vaccine. None of the vaccines being used right now have live COVID-19 virus in them.
Some people have side effects, but not everyone. The most common side effects are tiredness, muscle aches, and headaches. A lot of people have a sore arm. Usually, these effects only last a few days. Some people have no effects at all.
Is the vaccine safe?
Both vaccines were tested on between 30,000 and 60,000 volunteers to make sure they were safe and that they worked.
The volunteers included healthy people and those who are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19. They also included people of different races, genders, and ages. None of these volunteers had serious side effects.
I already had COVID-19. Should I still get the vaccine?
Yes, it would be a good idea. It’s still possible you could get COVID-19 again. Scientists don’t know yet how long you are protected from getting the virus again after you have gotten better. We do know that the vaccine will definitely protect you from getting sick again.
What if I don’t want to get the vaccine? What if my family doesn’t want me to?
It’s your decision about whether you get it or not. No one will be forcing you to do it. It’s a good idea to talk about the decision with your family or other adults who you trust.
However, the decision is yours. Anyone in Oregon age 15 or older is able to make their own decisions about medical procedures, and parent permission is not required.
If I get the vaccine, can I stop wearing masks? Can I start gathering with others?
No. We know that the vaccine will keep you from getting sick. But we don’t know yet if it keeps people from giving the virus to each other.
That means there’s still a chance you could have the virus and then make other people sick, even if you have had the vaccine. Masks and staying distant from others are still very important.
Maybe I should just take my chances with getting COVID-19.
That is an option. However, it’s not one that doctors recommend. Getting the vaccine is a much safer way to protect yourself.
COVID-19 can have very serious health effects, and thousands of people have died from it. This includes people of all ages, genders, races, and backgrounds. People who already have certain health conditions, including asthma or diabetes, are at a higher risk of getting COVID.
Latino, Black, and Indigenous people are getting COVID-19 way more often than white people. Also, they are having more severe illness and many more deaths.
This is happening partly because of a history of racism that has made it harder for many people of color to get good health care or to follow COVID safety guidelines. Many people of color have had to continue working on the front lines during the pandemic.
There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. And if you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you.
It’s much safer to get the vaccine than to take your chances on getting the virus.
OYA distributed these fliers to our youth in custody this week. They may be helpful to you as well.