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COVID-19 Vaccines: Frequently Asked Questions

Important Vaccine Information from Cameron Hospital
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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

As COVID-19 vaccines begin to become available to healthcare workers and other critical workforce members, many individuals in the Angola community and beyond have questions. Here, we have compiled a variety of frequently asked questions and answers to help the public understand crucial information regarding the vaccines’ distribution, safety, and risks.

All of the information on this page is dynamic and subject to change. For questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your healthcare provider or refer to the CDC or Indiana State Health Department. 

Are you eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine? Read the latest eligibility documents here.

The COVID-19 Vaccines

Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccines
Q. What are the different COVID-19 vaccines?

A. Right now, Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines available. In 2021, AstraZeneca are expected to make their vaccines available, followed by Novavax, which is about to start its research trial.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine has been approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Emergency use authorization, or EUA, means unapproved medical products can be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases, assuming safety and quality criteria have been met. The FDA is expediting the clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccines by working closely with vaccine makers. Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca all have a vaccine in Phase 3 clinical trials.

Q. Are the COVID-19 vaccines in development all made the same way?

A. No. Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines, and AstraZeneca are vector vaccines.

The mRNA vaccines contain material from the virus that causes COVID-19. When the vaccine is delivered into the body, it teaches the cells how to make a protein –or a piece of a protein – that triggers an immune response. The body recognizes that the protein should not be there and builds specialized white blood cells to destroy it. These cells then remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if the body is exposed or infected in the future.

Vector vaccines contain a weakened version of a live virus. This is a different virus from the one that causes COVID-19 but it contains a small amount of genetic material from the coronavirus. Once this virus, called a viral vector, is inside the body’s cells, the genetic material helps to make a protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. The body’s cells then make copies of this protein, which prompt the body to build specialized cells when exposed to the virus in the future.

Q. How was a vaccine for COVID-19 developed so quickly?

A. Scientists did not start from scratch. They built on many years of research into other respiratory viruses such as the viruses that cause SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). These are other coronaviruses in the same family as COVID-19. Researchers also were assured of immediate funding for vaccine development.

In addition, because COVID-19 was widespread in communities and spreading easily, research trials were speeded up, although no steps were skipped. If a virus is not common in the population, it can take years to develop and test a vaccine on people. Researchers often must wait for a certain number of people in studies to get sick and then compare the response of vaccinated groups with that of placebo groups. The COVID-19 vaccines were tested for safety and effectiveness in the same way that all vaccines are.

Q. How many doses will we need of a COVID-19 vaccine?

A. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses. These are given 21 days (Pfizer) and 28 days (Moderna) apart.  There is a four-day grace period for getting second doses between day 17 and 21. The goal is to schedule the first and second dose appointments for any COVID-19 vaccines that need two doses. 

Q. What is being done to ensure proper transport and storage of the COVID-19 vaccines?

A. For the COVID-19 vaccines that need it, ultra-low freezer storage has been secured. The shipping process will ensure the vaccines remain at the correct temperature until they arrive.

What should I do if I received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?

As of Wednesday, April 13, 2021, the FDA and CDC released a joint announcement recommending a pause on the distribution of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine after identifying six cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis among the 6.8 million recipients of the shot. Soon after, the Indiana Department of Health also recommended a pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. This halt on distribution is a routine part of the vaccination process, allowing healthcare experts to thoroughly review the rare instances of adverse effects to ensure the vaccine’s efficacy. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Key Facts About How and When the Vaccine Will Become Available
Q. How will I know if I am eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

A. All Hoosiers age 16 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note that children ages 16 and 17 will require consent from a legal guardian and are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

Safety & Clinical Trial Information Regarding COVID-19 Vaccines
Q. How do we know COVID-19 vaccines are safe?

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety and effectiveness are the main goals while federal partners work to make COVID-19 vaccines available.

Clinical trials are continuing to evaluate all COVID-19 vaccines in tens of thousands of study participants. Information from these trials will allow the Food and Drug Administration to decide how safe and effective they are, based on its set of standards. If the FDA decides a COVID-19 vaccine meets its standards for being safe and effective, it can make these vaccines available for use in the U.S. by approval or emergency use authorization.

After the FDA makes its decision, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews available data. They then make vaccine recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Q. Will the findings of the COVID-19 vaccine trials be made public and reviewed by independent experts?
A. All Phase 3 clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidates are overseen by an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board. This board acts across all trials of all of the sponsors. The FDA and vaccine manufacturers are releasing data from their trials publicly.
Q. Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it first comes out, or should I wait to get it until the long-term effects are better understood?
Health experts recommend that most everyone get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you. Vaccines go through careful review by many groups to make sure they are safe and effective. If you have specific health concerns, please contact your healthcare provider.
Q. Are COVID-19 vaccinations safe for pregnant people?

The COVID-19 vaccine has not been tested for safety in pregnancy. Further clinical trials and data analysis will be required before the FDA and CDC can evaluate vaccines for these groups. Pregnant and lactating women can get the vaccine, but we recommend they speak with their healthcare provider first.

Q. What are the side effects of the new COVID-19 vaccines?
A. Though side effects vary for each vaccine, indications so far are that most are similar to those connected with an annual flu shot or other vaccination. The most commonly reported side effects in trials included pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. Those kind of side effects indicate a person’s immune system is responding to the vaccine.
Q. I am allergic to the flu vaccine. Do you think there will be a problem with getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
A. Unlike most flu vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines are not made using egg-based products. If you are allergic to any vaccines or you are concerned about other conditions that may influence your response to the COVID-19 vaccine, you should talk with your healthcare provider before signing up to receive one.
Q. Will the vaccine affect future fertility?

If one is eligible to receive the vaccine, it should not be withheld for concerns of adverse effects on fertility.

According to the American College of OB/GYN, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the CDC, studies for both Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines are encouraging and do not indicate any adverse effects on female reproduction, fetal/embryonal development, or breastfeeding.

COVID-19 Vaccine & Your Health

Current Information Regarding How COVID-19 Vaccines May Impact Your Health
Q. Once a person gets a COVID-19 vaccine, how long are they protected? Will yearly vaccinations be needed like the flu?
We do not know yet. But it is possible it will end up becoming a seasonal vaccine like the flu shot.
Q. How much will a COVID-19 vaccine reduce the risks or complications of COVID-19?

A. While this is hard to compare between each vaccine due to differences in the clinical trials, experts believe the vaccines may also help to keep you from getting very sick if you become infected. Getting vaccinated may also protect the people around you, especially those at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

To learn more about the effectiveness of all three vaccines and more, visit the CDC’s website.

Q. Is it safe to take the vaccine in conjunction with another vaccine such as the flu vaccine?
A. There is no data on this yet, so manufacturers recommend not to take the vaccine 14 days before or after another vaccine
Q. Should I receive the vaccine if I am ill on the date of administration?
A. If you are acutely ill, you should wait until you feel better to receive the vaccine.
Q. Is a COVID-19 vaccine safe for me? Could it interfere with any of my medications or medical conditions?
A. Any approved COVID-19 vaccine will have gone through clinical trials with tens of thousands of people. Trial volunteers include people with lots of different medical conditions, and their responses to the vaccine are collected to ensure safety and effectiveness across many people. If you have any concerns about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your doctor or healthcare provider.
Q. Who should not get the vaccine?

A. Do not get this vaccine if you experience a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine. You also should not get it if you have had a severe allergic reaction to any component of this vaccine.

Q. If I already had COVID-19 and have recovered from it, do I need to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
A. We don’t have enough information yet to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again; this is called natural immunity. Early data suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long. More studies are needed to better understand this.
Q. Do I need to still wear a mask after getting the vaccine?
Wearing masks and social distancing are still your best tools to help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Until the entire state has been vaccinated, getting the vaccine and following CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

Other COVID-19 Vaccine Questions

Additional Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for hospital workers?
A. While the vaccine is not mandatory, we are encouraging Cameron team members and the community to vaccinate to help protect themselves, our patients and our communities.
Q. Where can I find more information about the COVID-19 vaccine?

We will continue to share more information here as it becomes available. More about the COVID-19 vaccines also can be found on the CDC’s website or the state of Indiana’s.

Q. Should children get their routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. Routine vaccines are a vital preventive care service for children, adolescents and adults that should not be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you, your children or other family members missed or delayed any vaccines due to stay-at-home orders, please reach out to your pediatrician or primary care provider. You may also contact Cameron’s Immunization Clinic to schedule those vaccines. 

CDC Vaccine Information

 We are following recommendations from the federal and state governments, the CDC and our own medical ethics guidelines to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about the vaccine from resources provided by the CDC.

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