The COVID-19 Vaccine & More

PHOTOGRAPHS BY (vaccine) & (dad & daughter) Akarawut

When COVID-19 launched a state of emergency last spring, most of us didn’t imagine we’d still be battling a global pandemic one year later. But as of mid-March 2021, the World Health Organization had documented 122 million cases of the respiratory virus, with more than 536,000 deaths in the U.S. While the vaccine rollout has begun to level the playing field, medical experts continue to stress vigorous hand-washing, social distancing and mask wearing, especially as new, more contagious variants of the virus emerge. Let’s take a closer look at the latest COVID-19 developments:

• The approved COVID-19 vaccines utilize a unique sort of infectious disease protection that researchers have studied for decades. Unlike traditional vaccines that introduce weakened germs to the body, mRNA vaccines teach our cells to make a viral surface protein in order to trigger an immune response. “If you’re eligible and don’t have an allergy, you should get the vaccine,” says Dr. Robert Oliverio, Chief Medical Officer of Ambulatory Care and Population Health at Roper St. Francis Healthcare.

•Viruses constantly change through mutations. New variants of the COVID-19 virus act differently than the respiratory infection we’ve come to know, notably causing more serious disease and spreading more easily and quickly. Scientists are working to determine whether the currently approved vaccines will protect against these variants—so far, studies suggest that they do.

• When it comes to wearing a mask, a snug fit ensures respiratory droplets don’t sneak in and out around the face.
To tighten a disposable mask, knot the ear loops at the mask’s edge, then tuck excess fabric into the sides. To boost fit and filtration, layer a cloth mask over a disposable mask. Do not layer two disposable masks. A KN95 mask should also not be combined with another mask.