COVID Vaccine Q&A

The COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to decrease the severity of illness in people who catch this virus. Having a significant portion of Ohioans vaccinated will help us prevent serious hospitalizations and death.

WHEN WILL OUR OFFICE GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
We have been approved to receive them through the state.  They are doing the best they can to distribute them to the highest risk population first.  We hope to get them soon and will make them immediately available prioritizing with our staff in direct patient care and then to patients as our supplies increase.

WHY SHOULD I GET THE VACCINE?
It’s true that most people who get COVID-19 are able to recover. Some develop severe complications. Because the disease can damage the lungs, heart and brain, it may also cause long-term health problems that experts are still working on.  Another reason to get it is that it protects those around you.  Even if COVID-19 doesn’t make you very sick, you could pass it on to someone else who might be more severely affected.  Widespread vaccination is important to end the pandemic.

WHAT IS THE COVID-19 VACCINE EFFECTIVENESS?
Evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work to prevent COVID-19. Of the first two vaccines to be granted FDA emergency use authorization, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine was 94% effective in phase 3 clinical trials with more than 70,000 participants between the two studies. Although the COVID-19 vaccines have been developed recently, the technology used in mRNA vaccines, like those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, has been studied for decades.

WILL I HAVE TO GET THE VACCINE YEARLY LIKE THE FLU?
While research to determine how long the immune response will last with the vaccine is still under way, studies have shown they believe it could be effective up to 12 months.

WILL THERE BE A COMBINATION FLU AND COVID VACCINE?
Currently there is not a combination vaccine but research is in the works for a combined influenza/COVID-19 vaccine.

WILL THE VACCINE GIVE ME COVID-19?
Vaccines prime your immune system to recognize and fight off the disease, but they don’t cause an infection.  When the genetic material mRNA enters your cells, it instructs them to make a piece of the “spike” protein that’s present on the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Those protein pieces don’t harm your body, but instead trigger your immune system to mount a response to fight them off.

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
Side effects are minimal. The most common side effects include fatigue, headache, soreness or redness at the injection site, and muscle or joint pain, and should not prevent you from getting a vaccine that can prevent you from catching or spreading this deadly virus.

WHAT IS THE AGE LIMIT TO RECEIVE THE VACCINE?
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently recommended for patients age 16 and up, and the Moderna vaccine is currently recommended for patients age 18 and up. As more information becomes available on children and COVID-19 vaccines from the FDA, CDC, and vaccine manufacturers, it will be made available at coronavirus.ohio.gov/vaccine.

HOW MANY DOSES WILL BE NEEDED?
Both Pfizer and Moderna require TWO from the same manufacturer. Pfizer second dose is 21 days after the first. Moderna second dose is 28 days after the first. These are recommended intervals with a 4-day grace period.

WHAT IF I ALREADY HAD COVID – DO I STILL NEED THE VACCINE?
Yes, COVID-19 vaccination will be offered to you regardless of whether or not you already had COVID- 19. You will not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated. However, anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation.

Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired.

WILL THE VACCINE PROTECT AGAINST THE NEW COVID-19 VARIANT (COVID-20)?
Viruses frequently change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic. Most variants do not change how the virus behaves, and many disappear. There is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death. Rapid spread of a new COVID-19 variant was first recognized in the United Kingdom in mid- December, and cases have been confirmed in the United States. According to the CDC, scientists are working to learn more about how easily this variant and other variants might spread, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against them. Experts anticipate little to no impact on vaccine efficacy. Studies are pending to assess whether the immune response to infection with other variants or current vaccines will work effectively with this strain. Public health officials are also studying if variants are detected by currently available viral tests, and if they respond to medicines being used to treat COVID-19 patients.

The CDC’s recommendations for slowing the spread remains — wearing masks, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds, ventilating indoor spaces, and washing hands often — will also help prevent the spread of this variant.

CAN WE TRUST THE VACCINES SINCE IT WAS RUSHED?
The first vaccines for COVID-19 do involve new technology, and they were developed in record time. But it’s not because there were shortcuts in the process. The new technology is called messenger RNA, or mRNA. While this is the first time it’s being widely used in a vaccine for the public, researchers have actually been working on this vaccine strategy for more than three decades.

The companies put their vaccines through rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of volunteers.  The FDA follows the volunteers for up to two years after receiving the vaccines to make sure they are safe and effective.  Because it was put out so fast, data was closely scrutinized from those trial to ensure efficacy.

CAN OTHER VACCINES PROTECT ME FROM COVID?
Other vaccines, such as those for flu, measles, or other diseases, will not protect you from COVID-19. Only the vaccines designed specifically to protect you from COVID-19, once approved for use by the FDA, can prevent COVID-19. While a flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID-19, it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. Because the flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading during this time, getting a flu vaccine will be more crucial than ever.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION (EUA) AND APPROVAL FROM FDA?
An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) authorizes the use of an unapproved medical product, or unapproved use of an approved medical product, for use during a public health emergency if the benefits of its use outweigh any known or potential risks. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID- 19 vaccines have been granted EUA following rigorous review. The EUAs are valid until the pandemic is over, the FDA revokes the EUAs, or the products are approved for traditional licensure by the FDA. The FDA closely monitors each vaccine for safety after the EUA is issued. Drug manufacturers are encouraged to obtain traditional FDA licensed vaccine approval as soon as possible.

WILL I HAVE TO PAY FOR THE VACCINE?
If you choose to get a COVID-19 vaccine, you will not have to pay. Vaccine doses purchased with taxpayer dollars will be given to Ohioans who choose to receive them at no out-of-pocket cost. Vaccine providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone.

WHEN CAN I STOP WEARING A MASK AND AVOIDING CLOSE CONTACT?
There is not enough information currently available to say if or when the CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

DOES IMMUNITY AFTER GETTING COVID-19 LAST LONGER THAN PROTECTION FROM COVID-19 VACCINES??
The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection.

Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

CAN I RECEIVE THE VACCINE IF I AM BREASTFEEDING?
There is no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or on the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion. mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. People who are breastfeeding and are part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, such as healthcare personnel, may choose to be vaccinated.

Update as of 1/7/2021