Answers to commonly asked questions about Covid-19 Vaccines and Recommendations
What’s an EUA and is it something new?
Emergency Use Authorization was created post 9/11. For vaccines to get EUA, it has to show 50% effectiveness and be proven safe in trials. The Covid-19 vaccine is well over 90% effective after the second dose.
What is mRNA?
The new vaccine uses m-RNA technology. This technology has been around for 10 years. It was studied in cancer vaccines. The new Covid-19 vaccine uses mRNA technology that carries gene information of the virus to create an immune response and create antibodies. This is similar effect of getting the disease without the severe symptoms of the actual disease and results in better immunity.
The Covid-19 vaccine development seemed rushed?
The Covid-19 vaccine development was faster than other medication developments for several reasons.
-Scientists used known technology; the vaccine uses mRNA technology
-Heavy government funding made it possible for scientists to focus on this work without distraction.
-Large number of participants were available and willing partners to study the vaccine
What are some common side-effects of the vaccines?
In the first 2 days after vaccination, mild-flu like symptoms were reported: fatigue, chills, muscle aches, joint pain and headaches.
Occasional injection site reactions: redness, soreness and discomfort.
These side effects are common and normal to the body’s immune response and only last two days.
Are the Covid-19 vaccines safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding moms? Do I need a pregnancy test before I get vaccinated?
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) supports the Covid vaccine for those who are eligible because pregnancy is a risk factor for SEVERE covid illness.
They recommend speaking to your health care provider about your level of risk of Covid infections against the risks to the mother and fetus BUT your clinician's approval is not a condition to get the vaccine if you chose to get vaccinated..
Pregnancy testing is not needed to get the vaccine. The vaccine with mRNA does not enter the host cells and cause genetic changes.
I am trying to conceive or will be planning to get pregnant, is it safe? Should I avoid the vaccine?
ACOG supports it and said there is no need to delay conception plans after vaccination. Covid-19 vaccines do not cause COVID-19. It does not use a live virus and its technology doesn’t enter the nucleus of the host cells and won’t change genetic makeup. Also, the vaccine degrades after 20 days through normal cellular processes.
Do I still need to wear my mask and practice safety precautions after I am fully vaccinated?
YES, transmission of the virus has to do with the spreading of the virus. It is important for us to continue to wear our masks and continue infection controls until it’s authorities say it is safe to not do so.
I heard Bell’s Palsy was reported in the trials. What happened there and how common is it to experience this?
Four out of thousands of study participants experienced Bell Palsy and these incidents were found to be unrelated to the new vaccine. It is the same rate of occurrence in the general public.
Are there any post monitoring for side effects?
As part of the EUA approval, the approval outlined lots of requirements that the manufacturer needs to report and comply.
Here’s the EUA for the Pfizer’s product: https://www.fda.gov/media/144412/download
Here’s the EUA for the Moderna product: https://www.fda.gov/media/144636/download
Who should not get the vaccine?
The benefit of the Covid-19 vaccine outweighs the risks associated with the illnesses from Covid-19.
The CDC recommends anyone eligible should get vaccinated unless you have a known allergic reaction to its ingredients.
For those with allergic reactions to anything else, it’s recommended that these people be observed for a period of time after vaccination to ensure prompt treatment.
Medical treatment would be given for symptoms of allergic reaction.
How is the vaccine given?
The vaccines is a TWO doses. The second dose can be given within a 4 day grace period (day 17-21).
If the vaccine isn’t available on the day it’s scheduled, take the second dose immediately when available.
The immunity is effective SEVEN days (for Pfizer product) or FOURTEEN days (for Moderna) after the second dose.
It is at least 94% effective in preventing Covid-19 illnesses.
If I have aches, pain or fever, can I take analgesics like Tylenol or Motrin?
Yes, you can use fever reducing or pain medicine.
If your aches, pain or fever is 3 days AFTER your vaccination, it is likely NOT due to the vaccine.
If I had Covid-19, do I still need the vaccine?
Antibody from vaccination is higher compared to people who recovered from Covid-19.
This suggests better and longer immunity.
I was recently tested positive for Covid, can I still get the vaccine?
Yes. Immunity in a person who recovered from Covid-19 is short term, just 90 days. Vaccinated individuals have longer immunity. In this case, vaccination is delayed until isolation/recovery period ends, but before the 90 days.
I am immunocompromised, should I still get the vaccine?
CDC recommended that even those who are immunocompromised or taking immunosuppressive medications/therapies get vaccinated.
The risks of severe illness with Covid-19 infections is too high in these groups.
Do the vaccines cost me anything?
No. The vaccine is free and provided by the Federal government and through your medical insurance.
In fact, many drug companies provide vaccines without profit and donate doses to those in need during epidemics and pandemics.
What if I only get one out of the two doses of the vaccine? Am I protected?
You are NOT fully protected without the 2nd dose.
The newly approved vaccine delivers immunity within 14 days AFTER the 2nd dose.
How long will the immunity last after vaccination?
This is still unknown. The antibodies levels are higher in vaccinated people, meaning better protection. Participants in trials still show antibodies.
What are risks for Covid-19?
According to the FDA:
Individuals with these conditions are at increased risk of SEVERE illness from Covid-19:
-Chronic Kidney Disease
-Heart conditions (HF, CAD, caridomyopathies)
-Solid transplant recipients
-Obesity and severe Obesity (BMI more than 30)
-Sickle Cell Anemia
-Type 2 Diabetes
Individuals with these conditions might be at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19:
-Blood-bone marrow transplant recipients
-Individuals who use corticosteroids or immune weakening medicine
-Neurologic conditions (dementia)
-Overweight (BMI 25-30)
-Type 1 Diabetes
Why does one vaccine need extreme cold storage while others do not?
Most vaccines need cold storage to prevent degradation.
Scientists study this during development to make sure you get an effective dose.