ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala --There has been a lot of talk about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 lately. And you are probably overwhelmed and uncertain about all the vaccine news, some good and some bad. Perhaps that news has you on the fence about whether or not to take the vaccine. To vaccinate or not vaccinate? That is the question. I hope by the time you get to the end of this article, you will choose wisely. So here are some facts about the vaccines to aid you in making that right choice:

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COVID vaccines are safe and effective

According to the Center for Disease Control, COVID vaccines are safe & effective. The benefits of taking the vaccine far outweigh the risk. However, you should certainly consult your health care provider to determine your individual need.

If you are fully vaccinated, then there are some things you will be able to do that you may have stopped because of the pandemic.

People who are fully vaccinated; 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series such as Pfizer or Moderna will be able to:

  • Visit a home or private setting without a mask with other people who are fully vaccinated.
  • Visit a home or private setting without a mask with one household of unvaccinated people who are not at risk for severe illness
  • Travel domestically without a pre or post-travel test
  • Travel domestically without quarantining after travel
  • Travel internationally without a pre-travel test depending on your destination
  • Travel internationally without quarantining after travel

Some people have side effects. For a complete list, visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/safety-of-vaccines.html. Most, however, do not. Millions of people in the United States have received the vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.

We are not out of the woods yet

This does not imply, however, that the pandemic is over. You must continue to take certain precautions to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic; such as practice social distancing from others who are not your immediate family (staying at least 6 feet away), avoid large crowds, wear a mask; wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer. And you must still follow the guidance in the workplace.

We now know that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death. We are still learning how effective the vaccines are against the variants of the virus that also causes the disease. There is data that suggests the available vaccines may work against some variants but could be less effective against others. We know that the other preventive measure does help to stop the spread and are important even as the vaccines are becoming more widely distributed.

To summarize, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the CDC recommends you get a vaccination as soon as you are eligible.