With two COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. (Pfizer and Moderna) and more potentially to come, now’s the time to think about what you will do when your primary care provider, local pharmacy or employer offers one to you. Will you take it?
You may have a lot of questions you would like answered before you get vaccinated. Below are answers to some of the more frequently asked questions we've received at The Christ Hospital.
Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Wearing masks and social distancing reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. But these actions aren’t enough. Vaccination is needed to eradicate this disease.
How will a COVID-19 vaccine make me immune to COVID-19?
Like other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine works with your natural immune system to make antibodies (proteins that stick to and fight off foreign substances like viruses and bacteria). If you’re exposed to SARS-CoV-2 after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, these antibodies will resist the virus and protect you from getting seriously ill.
Can’t I just get natural immunity by getting COVID-19?
It’s true that our immune systems naturally make COVID-19 antibodies from exposure to SARS-CoV-2. However, the COVID-19 vaccine will allow you to make these antibodies without the risk of getting seriously ill.
I’ve already had COVID-19. Do I need to get the vaccine?
Yes, you should receive the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve already had the illness. We’re still not exactly sure how long natural immunity lasts or how effective natural immunity is at protecting us from reinfection.
What does “FDA approval for emergency use” mean?
In the U.S., new vaccines must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they can be given to the general public. The FDA strictly regulates the development and use of new vaccines through a careful scientific process that ensures safety, effectiveness and quality. This process includes the completion of three phases of clinical trials before a vaccine can be approved for use.
In a public health emergency, the FDA allows vaccine manufacturers to submit a request for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) before completing phase 3 testing. The FDA and other external scientific and public health experts review the EUA. If strict safety criteria are met, they give the go-ahead for the vaccine to be used before formal approval has been given.
It’s important to note that the COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for emergency use had to reach a certain stage in phase 3 testing before they could even be considered for an EUA. And they still must complete phase 3 testing and pursue formal approval from the FDA.
What is in COVID-19 mRNA vaccines?
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines don’t contain a weakened or an inactivated form of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Instead, they contain genetic material from the virus called mRNA. The mRNA sends a message to your cells that tells them how to make a protein piece that is unique to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Your cells make copies of the protein, and this triggers an immune system response that produces antibodies to the virus.
Once your cells have read the message from the mRNA, they break it down and remove it. The mRNA never interacts with or changes your DNA. In addition, no fetal tissue or stem cells are used in COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.
How have COVID-19 mRNA vaccines been developed so quickly?
The vaccination technology used for COVID-19 mRNA vaccines is not new. It’s been in development for over 30 years. This fact, plus the seriousness of the pandemic, helped governments, medical and scientific experts, and private investors come together to accelerate the development of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. The nature of mRNA vaccines also makes them quicker to manufacture than traditional vaccines.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for everyone?
COVID-19 vaccine trials have been conducted worldwide with tens of thousands of individuals from all ethnic backgrounds and ages. In these trials, 80% of participants received the vaccine and 20% of participants received a placebo. Of those who contracted COVID-19, 90% to 95% were in the placebo group. No serious adverse effects have been reported.
Although these clinical results are short-term, the COVID-19 vaccines are shown to be highly effective and safe.
Do COVID-19 vaccines have any side effects?
Side effects may include soreness at the site of injection, fatigue, headache and mild fever. These reactions are almost always a normal sign that your body’s immune response is working as it should. Younger people may be more prone to side effects – probably because they have a more robust immune system.
What is the COVID-19 vaccination distribution process?
Right now, we anticipate receiving a version of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine that requires two doses given either 21 or 28 days apart, depending on vaccine. It’s extremely important to get the second dose – you can only gain the full benefits with both shots.
Immunity does not begin right away. According to the studies, some immunity starts 10 to 14 days after the first dose, but full immunity appears seven to 14 days after the second dose.
Where and when can I get the vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the goal is for everyone to be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as a large enough supply is available. While the supply is limited, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, like most states, are taking a phased approach recommended by the CDC. The first phase prioritizes vaccinations to those at highest risk for getting the virus, such as healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients and nursing home residents and staff. To stay up-to-date on The Christ Hospital's vaccine plans, visit our the COVID-19 vaccine
section of our website.
Learn more about what to expect after getting the vaccine. Vaccination is a tremendously important part in the fight against COVID-19. Please consider getting a vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you. It is safe. If you have more questions or concerns, check out our COVID-19 vaccine page or contact your primary care provider. Don't have a primary care provider? Schedule an appointment online with one near you today.