Source: usatoday.com

By: Maler Suresh 

What vaccines are currently being distributed?

  • The Moderna vaccine (the second vaccine to be approved in the U.S.) will be ready to be administered to patients Sunday 12/20
  • 2.9 million doses of the previously-approved Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered over the last week to every state

What is the difference between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine?

  • Moderna’s vaccine can be kept in a conventional freezer at -4 degrees, while Pfizer’s requires a special freezer to maintain a -94 degree environment.
  • Both have two-dose timelines, but Moderna’s is slightly longer at a 28-day schedule between shots, and Pfizer’s is 21 days.
  • Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 years old and up, while Moderna’s emergency use authorization includes people 18 and older

What Does it Mean if the COVID-19 Vaccine Has Been Given “Emergency Use Authorization”?

 The FDA may issue an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) to allow unapproved medical products to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent COVID-19 when there are no approved alternatives 

So is the vaccine still safe?

Yes

  • The FDA can assure the public and medical community that it has conducted a thorough evaluation of the available safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality information
  • Both vaccines have been shown to be more than 94% effective in protecting against COVID-19 across race, gender and underlying medical conditions.
  • All COVID-19 vaccines that are in development  or being distributed are being carefully evaluated in clinical trials and will be authorized or approved only if they make it substantially less likely you’ll get COVID-19.
  • The EUA requires that fact sheets that provide important information, including dosing instructions, and information about the benefits and risks of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, be made available to vaccination providers and vaccine recipients
  • The FDA expects manufacturers whose COVID-19 vaccines are authorized under an EUA to continue their clinical trials to obtain additional safety and effectiveness information and pursue true approval

What is the CDC’s role?

 CDC does not have a role in developing COVID-19 vaccines, but CDC has been working closely with health departments and partners to develop vaccination plans for when a vaccine is available.

  • All vaccines will be ordered through CDC, and vaccine providers will receive vaccines from CDC’s centralized distributor or directly from a vaccine manufacturer.
  •  there will be 7.9 million doses delivered across 3,700-plus locations, including hospitals, doctor offices and pharmacies.

Who will be given the vaccine 1st?

  • Healthcare personnel
  • Workers in essential and critical industries
  • People at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions
  • People 65 years and older

What is the timeline we can expect for when we will be vaccinated?

When a vaccine is authorized or approved in the United States, there may not be enough doses available for all adults to be vaccinated right away. 

  • Supplies will increase over time, and all adults should be able to get vaccinated later in 2021 (probably the spring)
  • a COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for young children until more studies are completed.

How does the vaccine work?

  • The vaccine contains a small piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s mRNA (messenger RNA) that instructs cells in the body to make the virus’s distinctive “spike” protein
  • After a person receives this vaccine, their body produces copies of the spike protein, which does not cause disease, but triggers the immune system to learn to react defensively, producing an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.   

Will getting the COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID-19?

No. 

  • None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. 

Will getting the vaccine cause you to test positive on tests?

  • Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.
  • If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests (Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus) 

What are the symptoms of the vaccine?

  • The most commonly reported side effects are pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection, nausea and vomiting, and fever.
  •  Symptoms typically last several days 
  • More people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose

How much will the vaccine cost?

Vaccinations will be free but…

  • Vaccination providers (the people actually giving you the vaccine) will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone
  • This fee is mostly likely covered by your public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

If I already had COVID-19 should I get the vaccine?

Yes

  • There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again, and early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long

Can I be forced to get the COVID-19 vaccine for work?

Yes

  • Employers can require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine and bar them from the workplace if they refuse, according to guidelines issued by the Federal government 
  • According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, requiring employees to be tested for the coronavirus doesn’t break the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 because, if a vaccine is administered to an employee for protection against contracting COVID-19, the employer is not seeking information about an individual’s impairments or current health status

Will things go back to normal after the vaccine (no more masks and social distancing)?

No

  • Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Why?- Studies of the COVID-19 vaccines only measured whether vaccinated people developed symptoms, not whether they got infected. We know that you can become infected with the coronavirus and be asymptomatic, and asymptomatic people can still spread COVID-19 to others. So we don’t know whether a vaccine prevents asymptomatic infections 

So, when will things go back to normal?

Experts estimate that around 70% of the population — more than 200 million people — in the U.S. would need to gain immunity, either from coronavirus infection or a vaccine, for the pandemic to end

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