FAQs about the COVID-19 Vaccine
IS THERE A VACCINE FOR COVID-19?
Yes. On December 10, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer/BioNTech (Pfizer) vaccine. There are other pharmaceutical companies who have developed vaccines that are in various stages of approval, including Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.
WHAT IS A VACCINE?
In short, having a vaccine decreases your chances of contracting an infectious disease, like COVID-19 or the flu. It is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins.
WHO WILL GET A VACCINE FIRST?
Per the State of Idaho’s distribution plan, frontline healthcare workers active in hospital care and long-term skilled nursing residents will receive the first shipments. Bingham Healthcare anticipates the supply chain for vaccines to be adequate to provide one for everyone who wants it in 2021.
As of January 7, 2021, here is the timeline when all Idahoans will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
HOW MANY SHOTS OF THE COVID-19 VACCINE WILL BE NEEDED?
The Pfizer Vaccine will require 2 doses; the 2nd must be 21 days after the first.
Nearly all COVID-19 vaccines being studied in the United States require two shots. The first shot starts building protection, but everyone has to come back a few weeks later for the second one to get the most protection the vaccine can offer.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF VACCINES?
Vaccines can cause side effects like a sore arm, low-grade fever, muscle aches and pains. However, they usually go away after a day or two. It is important for patients to understand the following:
- People will not get COVID-19 from receiving a vaccine.
- Side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working.
- Not everyone experiences side effects, but the following have been reported during COVID-19 studies: pain at injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle soreness, chills, joint pain and fever.
- The side effects will not last long; it is anticipated they will resolve within a week.
WHY DO WE NEED A COVID-19 VACCINE?
Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like wearing masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.
WHAT IS NATURAL IMMUNITY OF VACCINE?
Patients may think because many people have mild symptoms, it is better to get COVID-19 rather than receiving a vaccine. Consider that while some individuals experience mild symptoms, others have had significant illness and even those with mild symptoms have had some long-term effects from their illness. The risk of spreading the disease to friends and loved ones is far greater without the vaccine. Also, it is too early to fully understand the short- or long-term immunity of someone who has recovered from COVID-19.
IS THE COVID-19 VACCINE SAFE?
We understand that there may be concern over the safety and efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine. At Bingham Healthcare, our teams have closely examined the FDA’s process for overseeing the many different vaccine trials. The FDA is required to make decisions that are guided by science and data regarding authorization or approval of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Pfizer vaccine was created using technology based on the molecular structure of the virus. This vaccine will be free from materials of animal origin and synthesized by an efficient, cell-free process without preservatives. It has been studied in approximately 43,000 people.
To receive emergency use authorization, the biopharmaceutical manufacturer must have followed at least half of the study participants for at least two months after completing the vaccination series, and the vaccine must be proven safe and effective in that population. In addition to the safety review by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also independently evaluated the safety data from the clinical trial. The safety of COVID-19 vaccine is being closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CAN I GET COVID-19 FROM THE VACCINE?
No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
HOW DO WE KNOW THAT THESE VACCINES ARE SAFE WHEN THEY ARE SO NEW? COULDN’T THEY CAUSE PROBLEMS THAT WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YET? WHAT ABOUT LONG-TERM PROBLEMS?
COVID-19 vaccines are being tested in large clinical trials to assess their safety. However, it does take time, and more people getting vaccinated before we learn about very rare or long-term side effects. That is why safety monitoring will continue. CDC has an independent group of experts that reviews all the safety data as it comes in and provides regular safety updates. If a safety issue is detected, immediate action will take place to determine if the issue is related to the COVID-19 vaccine and determine the best course of action.
WILL THE COVID-19 VACCINE BE FREE?
Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine will be free. However, vaccine administration charges will be billed to insurance with no out-of-pocket costs incurred by patients or staff. Patients and staff will need to bring their insurance card when they receive the vaccine.
CAN PEOPLE WITH AN EGG ALLERGY RECEIVE THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
Neither the Pfizer/BioNTech nor the Moderna Inc. vaccine contain egg.
CAN I TAKE THE COVID-19 VACCINE IF I HAVE UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS OR A COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM?
A lot of people have been asking if they can take the vaccine if they have underlying health issues or a compromised immune system. To summarize, yes it is safe and highly recommended that you do take the vaccine if you fall into this category. The reason why it’s okay is best described by how the vaccine works.
- The first available vaccine will be a new type: the messenger RNA type (mRNA).
- mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.
- The process that cells use to make proteins is utilized by mRNA vaccines in order to trigger an immune response and build immunity.
- mRNA vaccines do not contain live virus and do not carry the risk of causing disease in a vaccinated person.
The vaccines can be taken by people with weakened immunity like HIV patients or other immunosuppressed conditions. They may not get the same effective response as someone without immune compromise. Persons with recent bone marrow transplantation are advised to wait until after 6 months of bone marrow transplantation to allow their immune system to recover from it.
IF I TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19, DO I STILL NEED TO GET THE VACCINE?
Yes, you should still get a vaccine, however, if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, you may deter your vaccine to allow vaccination of other healthcare workers who remain susceptible to infection as current evidence suggest reinfection is uncommon during the 90 days after initial infection.
AM I REQUIRED TO BE VACCINATED WITH THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
It’s important to note that when you’re able to be vaccinated for COVID-19, it’s up to you to decide if you want to take it or not. No vaccine in the United States is required, even though it’s highly recommended that as many people as possible get vaccinated. The FDA has gone through every possible safety check that they can.
DO YOU HAVE MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COVID-19 OR THE VACCINE THAT YOU WERE UNABLE TO FIND HERE?
For additional information you may have about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html
WHAT DOES COVID-19 STAND FOR?
In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”. There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses.
Our content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.