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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Answers based on information found on CDC, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson web sites.

Why do we need a COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccine itself helps people build up their own antibodies to fend off debilitating or life-threatening symptoms of the virus. The more people who get vaccinated, the less hospitalizations and deaths will occur.

Does the COVID vaccine have side effects?

They can. Typical side effects include swelling or pain in the injection site, fatigue, fever, headache, or muscular and joint pain. A very small number of people have had a serious allergic reaction, which was treated immediately. There are no deaths attributed to the vaccine. 

Will it cause any reactions with my other medication?

Steroids and anti-inflammatory medications could cause the vaccine to be less effective.

Will the COVID vaccine be mandatory?

No. It is not mandatory but is essential to lowering hospitalizations and death rates. It is important to note that employers do reserve the right to make this a requirement for their employees if deemed critical. And some transportation agencies such as trains, planes, or ships may require a vaccine passport to board.

How was the Coronavirus vaccine developed so fast?

There are hundreds of coronaviruses and scientists have studied them for over 50 years. This research discovered the protein in the virus that allows it to attach, fuse, and gain entry to your system, which then lead to the development of vaccines and therapies to keep this from happening. Most vaccines do take longer in development and approval for general use, but mostly because of a lack of funding and resources. With the COVID-19 vaccines, money and worldwide scientific cooperation streamlined development with no steps skipped in the process.

What are the vaccine ingredients?

The Pfizer vaccine includes: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

The Moderna vaccine includes: mRNA, lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine includes: Each 0.5 mL dose of Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is formulated to contain 5×1010 virus particles (VP) and the following inactive ingredients: citric acid monohydrate (0.14 mg), trisodium citrate dihydrate (2.02 mg), ethanol (2.04 mg), 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD) (25.50 mg), polysorbate-80 (0.16 mg), sodium chloride (2.19 mg). Each dose may also contain residual amounts of host cell proteins (≤0.15 mcg) and/or host cell DNA (≤3 ng).

What companies are working on the COVID vaccine?

Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca PLC, GlaxoSmithKline, CanSine Biologics, Sinovac, and Novavax.

Which Coronavirus vaccines are authorized for emergency use?

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are authorized for emergency use (unless you are between the ages of 12-17, in which case, you will receive Pfizer). Pfizer has received full approval from the FDA

Which Coronavirus vaccine is most effective?

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are similarly effective, with around a 95% efficacy rate 14 days after the second dose. Johnson & Johnson is showing 72% (U.S) efficacy 28 days after its single dose in preventing severe symptoms, hospitalization, or death.

Can you share details on the COVID vaccine trials?

For the Pfizer vaccine, 44,000+ volunteers participated. Half received the vaccine, and the other half were given a placebo. 162 of the placebo recipients contracted the coronavirus, while only 8 tested positive in the vaccine group. Of the 162, 9 became severely ill with symptoms, while only 1 of the 8 required medical attention.

For Moderna, 30,000 participants were also submitted to the 1:1 ratio testing. Of the placebo group, 196 contracted COVID-19 with 30 cases being severe. Only 11 contracted the virus in the vaccine group with 0 showing severe symptoms.

Both of these trials included participants ranging in ages from 18-71+ and from diverse communities including Hispanic, LatinX, Black or African American, Asian American, Multiracial, and Caucasian.

Johnson & Johnson had 45,000 global participants in its phase 3 of their trials. The vaccine shows a 72% efficacy rate in the U.S. in preventing moderate to severe form of COVID-19 28 days after the single dose, and full protection when it comes to preventing hospitalization or death.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine phase 3 clinical trials started last summer, when transmission of the coronavirus was lower than it is now. The Johnson & Johnson phase 3 trials started 2 months later when viral transmission was increasing. It’s possible that the real difference between all the vaccine’s effectiveness, particularly with hospitalization or death, is closer than reported. So, whatever vaccine that is available to you, take it!

How long will immunity last?

Because this is a new virus, we will not know the average length of immunity until we gather more data based on the trial participants and tracking any virus mutations. We also require more data to determine if it is a yearly shot or requires boosters.

Will I get to choose which vaccine I get?

We normally have all brands available at our community vaccination clinics, but we cannot guarantee which brand of vaccine you will receive at your appointment; brand availability at each site varies and may change regularly.

Can I get the COVID vaccine if pregnant?

Based on how mRNA vaccines work, experts believe it is unlikely for the vaccine to cause risk to a fetus, however proven risks are currently unknown as vaccines have not been trial-tested on pregnant women. Current trials being done on lab rats have shown no side-effects, and pregnant women who were in the first tier and chose to receive the vaccine are being heavily monitored. Pregnant or nursing mothers should consult with their medical provider before getting vaccinated.

Will underserved and vulnerable populations such as minorities, disabled, homeless, or undocumented have equal access?

Absolutely. Once the vaccine is available to the public, everyone can receive it regardless of age, race, health, economic status, living situation, or citizenship.

Can I get the vaccine without worry of being deported?

Yes. Public health and safety in eradicating this virus is the top goal. No personal or insurance information is required to receive the vaccine, and basic information is not shared with any organization beyond the health department. The information you give is only used to register an appointment, track the number of inoculations given to determine future supplies, and to send you reminders and appointment details for the second shot.

Should I get the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?

Because there are cases of reinfection, it is recommended to get the vaccine to prevent it happening again.

Can I buy the Coronavirus vaccine?

No. The vaccine is free and will eventually be available to everyone.

Will the Coronavirus vaccine be required for travel?

Because of international travel and multiple global government guidelines, airlines may begin requiring travelers to be immunized and prove it with digital documentation called a vaccine passport.

Could the pandemic end without a vaccination?

Not likely. Countries such as China, New Zealand, and Rwanda have achieved low case levels, not because of a vaccine, but because of strict lockdowns and mass adoption of precautionary tactics like social distancing, no large gatherings, mask wearing, and hand washing. Because there currently are no stringent laws or guidelines in Utah to mandate these measures, the vaccine is currently our only shot at alleviating the pandemic.

Can herd immunity to COVID-19 be achieved without vaccination?

No. In most cases, herd immunity cannot be achieved without an effective vaccine. For COVID-19, 70-90% of the population would have to be infected and this is only on the assumption that immunity would then be lasting. We would experience mass casualties and no medical resources if we reached those rates.

When will herd immunity be achieved?

If ~70% of the population receives the vaccine, it is estimated we will reach normalcy by the end of fall 2021.

Do flu vaccines prevent the Coronavirus disease?

No. Flu vaccines help fight 4 strains of influenza. However, it is possible to contract the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, so it is important to get a flu shot to help prevent this double-event from happening.

Does the vaccine work on other COVID variants like the UK strain?

The current, approved COVID-19 vaccines are believed to be effective against other virus variants.

Can I only get the vaccine in my home county?

No. If you can get an appointment in another Utah county, you may take it. However, you must get your second dose in the same county that you received the first.

Does Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine contain fetal cells?

Fetal cell lines were used in the development and testing process, but the vaccines themselves DO NOT contain any fetal cells.

Is it against religious beliefs to get vaccinated?

No major religion has explicit, doctrinal objections to vaccinations. Only two religious groups―Christian Scientists and the Dutch Reformed Church―have demonstrated a precedent of widely rejecting vaccinations, but even these are not explicitly laid out in their doctrine.

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