FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- With coronavirus vaccinations in full swing here in Allen County for front line workers and people 70 and older, lots of people still have questions about how safe it is to get the two shots.
Parkview's coronavirus vaccination clinic has adminstered nearly 16,000 first doses and nearly six thousand second doses of the Pfizer shots so far.
But many people still question whether the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are even safe to take.
"The vaccines are both safe and very effective," said Parkview's coronavirus expert Dr. Jeffrey Boord.
He says the extensive testing and trial process showed the two vaccines approved for use in America are 95% effective and use mRNA technology to do it.
But he says getting the vaccine will not alter your DNA.
He explains that mRNA gives cells in your body a simple set of instructions to make what's known as a piece of protein which is like the spike protein on the outside of the virus.
He says scientists have understood how that works for decades, and have used it to develop other vaccines in the past ten years.
"Messenger RNA never goes into the cell nucleus where your body's DNA resides, and so it is impossible for it to interact with your DNA in any way or to alter your genetic makeup," he said.
Boord says Parkview's clinic has not seen any patient have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.
He says the most common side effects are usually at the injection site, or can be more robust like body and headaches, fatigue, and even fever.
And he says having those symptoms for 48 to 72 hours means your body is doing what it's supposed to do.
"Although they can be unpleasant for a period of time, they are actually a direct result of your own immune system. Your natural immunity that's responding to an antigen, in this case, a piece of that spike protein that is stimulated through the action of the vaccine, so that your body is building antibodies so that you can then be protected from COVID-19 infection," he said.
If you've already had the coronavirus, why do you need to get a vaccine for it afterwards?
He says research shows that your antibodies from the actual virus decline over a few months, so they're not as durable as the ones you get from the vaccine.
"There is evidence that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is rare in about the first 90 days after one recovers from COVID-19 illness. However reinfections after that period have been reported and have occurred in multiple countries," Boord said.
Dr. Boord says because scientists don't know enough yet about how the vaccine works on asymptomatic patients, and because they're responsible for up to 40% of infections, you need to continue to wear a mask for your safety and others' even after you've had your two doses of the shot.
If you are 70 or older, you can register to get your free coronavirus vaccine by calling 211 or going to this website.