COVID-19 VACCINE FAQ
*Adapted from COVID Vaccine FAQ for Healthcare Personnel UWH 2021123
- When will the FDA approve the various vaccines?
Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of some COVID-19 vaccines has been granted and others will be approved once they are deemed safe. The FDA grants EUAs in emergency situations to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening conditions when there are no adequate, approved, and/or available alternatives. Although EUAs is being granted for COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccines have still undergone rigorous testing.
Who should get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Everyone who is able to get a vaccine should get one when it’s made available to them. The COVID-19 vaccines are being made available in phases to assure the highest benefit to the community. Phase 1A will focus primarily on frontline health care workers, long term care facilities and other emergency responders who are at high risk of getting COVID-19. This initial phase will expand to include other essential workers and people at very high risk for hospitalization or death from COVID-19. It is anticipated that supplies of the vaccine(s) could be sufficient to provide to the general population in the late Spring or early Summer of 2021.
What are the known immediate side effects of the vaccines?
Side effects may be common after both doses of the vaccine. Mild or moderate side effects include fatigue, nausea, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and headache. Individuals may need time away from work or other normal activities after receiving the vaccine to manage potential side effects.
If you have side effects from the vaccine you should contact your primary care provider. If the reaction is severe, call 9-1-1.
Are there long term risks associated with getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and the risk of any vaccine causing serious harm is very rare. However, because the COVID-19 vaccines are new some effects may not yet be known.
Can those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant get the vaccine?
Those who are pregnant or those trying to become pregnant and those who are breastfeeding were not included in vaccine trials and the risk to the baby is unknown. Discussing the risks and benefits of the vaccine should be considered with your healthcare provider.
If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated? How long does natural immunity last?
Yes, everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine should get it, regardless of previous infection status. We’re still learning about COVID-19 immunity and it’s unclear how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. In some instances, individuals have gotten COVID-19 more than once.
How long after receiving the vaccine will I develop immunity?
Immunity should be developed within a couple weeks of receiving the second dose. It's important that individuals continue to wear a mask, wash their hands, and physical distance after receiving the vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus.
How long is the COVID-19 vaccine effective?
We will not know how long immunity lasts until we have followed recipients for a longer period of time. It has also not been determined if a booster will be needed.
Once I have been vaccinated for COVID-19, do I still need to wear a mask and physical distance?
Yes, it will be important to continue to wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, and physical distance after receiving the vaccine. These measures will need to be in place until most of the population is vaccinated and experts better understand the protection the vaccine provides. We’re also not sure if the vaccine prevents you some spreading COVID-19
Will those who are vaccinated test positive for COVID following vaccination?
No. After you have the vaccine, you will test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, but not test positive for COVID-19.
What is herd immunity? What percentage of the population needs to get vaccinated to have herd immunity to COVID-19?
Herd immunity (or community immunity) is a term to describe when enough individuals have protection – either from previous infection or vaccination – that there are so few susceptible people in a community that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can continue to spread widely and infect others. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people do not have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. At this time, experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19, but current estimates are that at least 75% of people within a community will need to have immunity to begin controlling the pandemic.
MHD DISTRIBUTION PLANS
What is the Health Department’s plan for distributing vaccines?
The MHD is planning to open vaccine clinics throughout the city. These clinics will open when the MHD receives approval from the federal government and State to start vaccinating members of the general public for the vaccine.
Individuals will also be able to receive the vaccine at their primary care provider or pharmacies.
How will the MHD determine who receives a vaccine?
The MHD will follow federal and state guidelines on who should receive the vaccine in each phase. The vaccine will be distributed to health care workers and residents of long term care facilities first. It’s expected that the general public will be eligible to receive the vaccine during the Summer of 2021.
Which vaccine(s) will we receive, and can I choose which manufacturer of the vaccine I receive?
We do not know which vaccines, or how much of each, we will receive. Because there are limited quantities of the vaccine, you will not be able to select which vaccine you receive. You will need to receive the 2nd dose from the same manufacturer once you start with a particular vaccine. Limited requests for a specific vaccine may be considered only if there is a clinical reason for the request.