2021 brings hope for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and some semblance of a return to normalcy. We understand many of you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and we would like to share with you the information we have available.
Tell Me About the Vaccines:
- Authorized for individuals aged 16 years and older.
- It is a two-dose series, with the second dose given 21 days after the initial dose.
- Authorized for use in adults 18 years and older.
- It is a two-dose series, with the second dose given 28 days after the initial dose.
What does emergency use authorization mean in relation to vaccines?
The FDA can grant Emergency use authorization of a vaccine with less data if the benefit shown outweighs the risk.
What is an mRNA vaccine?
A messenger RNA vaccine acts like a set of instructions that tells a cell to make a specific protein. Once this protein is made, it lives on the cells' surface and the body's immune cells become activated. When these cells become activated, they produce neutralizing antibodies. If the vaccinated person becomes infected with a virus, the neutralizing antibodies are ready to work and will attach to the virus, preventing it from causing disease.
It is important to know that the mRNA used in the vaccine does not enter the cell’s nucleus and has no interaction with a cell’s DNA. It is also not a full virus and cannot reproduce. The mRNA does not cause mutations or cellular defects, and has not been associated with infertility.
Can an mRNA vaccine cause COVID-19?
An mRNA vaccine is not a virus and can’t cause disease. Because the vaccine activates the immune system, it can cause mild symptoms in some people (e.g., fatigue, achiness, fever). Like the body's response to other vaccines, these symptoms are common and show the body is responding to the vaccine.
How long will I be immune after receiving the vaccine?
This is still unknown. At this point, it is unclear how long immunity lasts after being infected with COVID-19 and it is also unclear how long immunity lasts after receiving the vaccine. It is anticipated that the vaccine will have a longer immune response than being previously infected, but data is still being collected.
If I am vaccinated against COVID-19, can I still spread the virus to others?
The vaccines have shown a response rate of >94% in preventing the disease. However, researchers are still uncertain as to whether the vaccine will prevent transmission. It is important to continue to follow safety protocols even after vaccination (including wearing a mask, hand washing, social distancing).
Can I get the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
Yes. Under the Emergency Use Authorization, if you have previously been infected with COVID-19, you are eligible for receiving the vaccine as immunity after having the disease is still uncertain.
Who can’t get the vaccine?
Children and adolescents under age 5 are not eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
If you have had anaphylactic reactions to vaccines or if you have a known allergy to any of the vaccine components you should not be immunized.
If I have seasonal or food allergies, can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes! Seasonal allergies—even food allergies—do not exclude you from getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you are not excluded from getting the vaccine. We encourage you to speak with your physician about the pros and cons of being vaccinated.
What does it cost to get the vaccine?
There will be no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine itself. However, there is a charge for the administration of the vaccine. The charge will be submitted to the patient's health insurance if applicable. This is standard across all healthcare organizations.
• AAFP COVID-19 vaccine webpage: www.aafp.org/covidvaccine
• Familydoctor.org vaccine article: https://familydoctor.org/covid-19-vaccine/
• CDC COVID-19 vaccine webpage: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html -