COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ: Your Questions Answered

Updated: 12/21/2020

With the first waves of COVID-19 vaccines getting approved and distributed, you probably have a few questions about the vaccines, including availability, their effectiveness, and their safety. Below we have provided some of the most commonly asked questions. Since we are still in the early days of the vaccine deployment, this blog may be updated frequently as more information becomes available.

What Vaccines Have Been Approved?
As of this writing, only two vaccines has been approved for emergency use by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for distribution in the United States. The Pfizer and BioNTech developed vaccine was approved on December 11th, 2020. A vaccine developed by Moderna was approved for emergency use on December 18th, 2020.

Are the Vaccines Safe?
All vaccines go through numerous clinical trials to determine how well they prevent an infectious disease and what side effects may occur after receiving the vaccine. The FDA has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use and they, along with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal partners, will continue to monitor how people respond to the vaccine. From the current data, the vaccine appears to be safe and effective, but more study and time is needed to know long-term effects. For more about how the COVID-19 vaccines are tested and approved, check out the CDC website.

Who Will Receive the Vaccine First?
Due to limited supply and availability, the vaccine is only being given to front-line healthcare workers in hospitals and similar medical facilities. Residents and staff of long-term care facilities are also included in the first wave. The CDC provides guidelines but the state will finalize the allocation and distribution of the vaccine.

When Will the Vaccines be Widely Available?
Right now, we do not know when the supply of vaccine will become large enough that it can be distributed to the public at large.

What are Possible Side Effects of the Vaccine?
According to the CDC, possible side effects that you may experience include pain at the injection site, muscle aches, joint pain, fever, chills, headaches, and tiredness. These side effects are normal while your body builds up protection and will go away in a day or so.

Does the Vaccine Give Me COVID?
The vaccine itself does not give you COVID but instead teaches your body’s immune system how to fight Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Do I Need a Vaccine if I Have Recovered from COVID?
We currently do not know how long someone is immune to reinfection after recovering from the virus. There has been evidence of people becoming reinfected with COVID-19 after they had made a full recovery. For this reason, the CDC recommends that you get the vaccine when it becomes widely available even if you have recovered from the virus.

Is it True the Vaccine Alters DNA?
No, this is false. The messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) present in the vaccine simply teaches your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus more effectively. This is what gives you added protection. mRNA is not able to change (or even interact with) anyone’s DNA.

Is the Vaccine a One-Time Thing?
As of this writing, it is not known whether you will need to get the vaccine annually as we do with flu shots to protect against influenza. Currently, the vaccines that have been approved and are in trial require you to get two doses a few weeks apart. Full immunity is expected one to two weeks after you receive that second dose.

Will I Still Have to Wear a Mask and be Socially Distant After Receiving the Vaccine?
Even if you have been vaccinated you should still take precautions to protect yourself and others from spreading the virus. This is important as it may take a couple of weeks for your body to fully build immunity after receiving the vaccination. Even after vaccination, the CDC recommends following their guidelines (social distancing, masks, etc.) when appropriate as we do not know if the vaccine will prevent low-grade infections or if we could still spread the virus.

Are there Age Limitations?
As of this writing, vaccine clinical trials have not yet been conducted on children younger than 16 depending on the specific trial.

Will Twin Rivers Urgent Care be Distributing the Vaccine?
We are currently evaluating the distribution requirements and recommendations and will make an updated announcement when the scope of the vaccine’s public availability is more widely known.

What is the Cost of the Vaccine?
Any vaccines purchased with taxpayer dollars will be distributed to the public at no cost. There will be an administration fee and a possible visit fee associated with the vaccination. Administration fees appear to be covered by Medicare/Medicaid and likely most other insurance companies, but final determinations have not been announced.


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