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Lindsey Bates, Colham Ferry Elementary School kindergarten teacher, poses with her sticker in Watkinsville, Georgia on Monday, March 8, 2021. The COVID-19 vaccine clinic located at Piedmont Athens Regional’s Oconee Health Campus vaccinated about 750 employees of Oconee County Schools on Monday. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach; taylormckenziephotography.com)

In this second story of the series, The Red & Black asked current readers what their most important questions about the COVID-19 vaccines were. Here are the answers from our health data reporter.

When will vaccine herd immunity be reached?

Herd immunity has been addressed more frequently in relation to COVID-19 for a variety of reasons. First, because this is a brand-new virus — no one had previously developed an immunity. Immunity to SARS-Co-V2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can be acquired in one of two ways: through disease or vaccination.

Never in history has any virus infection been eliminated because of immunity induced by natural infection.

We can expect herd immunity to occur once 70-85% of the people in the nation are vaccinated.

What is inside the vaccine?

The vaccines are made up of lipids (important bodily fats), salts and basic table sugar.

How long will vaccine immunity last?

We know that vaccine immunity is likely to last for at least a few months since the first vaccines were delivered in clinical trials that began in July 2020 and were approved based on data collected through early December 2020. However, scientists will continue to monitor these individuals in order to learn more about the longevity of immune responses to vaccination.

Once I get vaccinated, can I hang out with my friends?

To be considered fully vaccinated, two weeks must pass after receiving your second dose. Once you and your friend are fully vaccinated, you may gather indoors without a mask. The key thing to remember here is being fully vaccinated and making sure the people you are with are also fully vaccinated.

Does this vaccine protect me from the other COVID-19 variants being found?

New COVID variants are being closely studied by scientists. This involves studies to see if new variants may alter their protective properties of existing vaccines. Antibodies assembled via vaccination with currently approved vaccines appear to recognize new variants, according to experiments so far.

Do I have to get the second dose of the same vaccine brand?

Yes. Although there is no preference between the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, experts agree that the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are not interchangeable. Mixed vaccines' safety and efficacy have not been explored, and more research is required.

What is the difference between the first and second vaccine doses?

The process of building up protection begins with the first dose of the vaccine. The second dose works to further strengthen this defense. However, there is no actual difference in the composition of the first and second doses.

What do I do if I have an extreme allergic reaction to the vaccine?

Although unlikely, if you have a major allergic response after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, your vaccination providers can treat you right away and contact emergency medical help. Afterwards, for at least several hours, you should be observed in a medical facility.

Is the vaccine being studied on children?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccine trials on young children and infants have begun. Pfizer's mRNA vaccine was tested in 16 to 18-year-olds and was found to be safe for this age group. The age-related recommendations will be updated as more information becomes accessible to younger children and adolescents.

Where can I find more information on the vaccine?

More information can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia Department of Public Health websites. You can also email us at news@randb.com with any questions you may have.