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Frequently Asked Questions

How is the Regular Flu Different from COVID-19?

*William J. Bommer, MD, FACP, FACC,
YourVaccinationGuide.org Chief Medical Advisor

CAN I STILL GET VACCINATED?

Yes, in the United States, vaccination is available to everyone 12 and older. Check with your doctor, your health plan, or use Vaccines.gov to find out where you can be vaccinated now.

Where Do You Get the Vaccine?

The CDC refers people to the Vaccine Finder. All locations may not be listed. Be sure to ask your health plan or provider what might be closest. Pharmacies near you may also have vaccinations available (CDC). You can use this link to look up your local health office for more information. Most vaccination sites require you to make an appointment.

Will the Vaccines Protect You from the New Strains of COVID-19?

The vaccines will protect from a range of variants, including the Delta variant. If effectiveness at some point becomes too low, it will be possible to adjust the vaccine to protect against the variants. Therefore, changes or mutations in the virus should not make vaccines completely ineffective (WHO).

How Many COVID-19 Mutations (Variants) are There?

This is an issue that will change over time. According to the CDC, there are a number of variants currently in the United States.

  • B.1.1.7: First identified in the U.S. in December 2020. Initially detected in the UK in December 2020.
  • B.1.351: First identified in the U.S. at the end of January 2021. Initially detected in South Africa in December 2020.
  • P.1: First detected in the U.S. in January 2021. Initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January 2021.
  • B.1.427 and B.1.429: First identified in California in February 2021 and were classified as variants of COVID-19 in March 2021.
  • B.1.617.2 (Delta Variant): First detected in India in February 2021 but has since surfaced in more than 70 countries, including the United States (Healthline).

You can visit the CDC Variant Tracker to learn more about the variants in the United States.

These variants are being monitored by the CDC. To date, the vaccines continue to be effective against them.

What Happens When You Get Vaccinated?
The vaccination is a simple shot in the arm. Reactions are rare, but you could feel an ache where your received the shot or light flu symptoms. You can visit the CDC for more information about possible side effects. For more about the COVID-19 vaccines click here.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots. You will receive a vaccination card that tells you when you are due for your second shot. Be sure to make your appointment.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one dose. Continue to wear a face mask, socially distance, and follow all safety protocols as  your state and the CDC instruct (CDC).

If You Have Already Had COVID-19 and Recovered, Do You Still Need to Get Vaccinated?
“Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19” (CDC).
Do You Get One Shot or Two?
If you are getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, you must take two doses (two shots) of the vaccine approximately 21-28 days apart. When you get the first vaccination, make a date to come back for the second shot. If you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there is only one shot.
WILL YOU BE IMMUNE AFTER BEING VACCINATED?
You will not immediately be immune after being vaccinated. It takes at least two weeks after the second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before you are protected. Even after being fully vaccinated, you could get COVID-19 because the vaccines are not 100% effective. To learn more about the vaccines available, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine page on this website or visit the CDC.
IS THERE A NEW VACCINE CALLED COMIRNATY?

No, there is not a new vaccine. Comirnaty is the name given to the Pfizer/BioNtech Vaccine. This is the same Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine first given Emergency Use Authorization, and now fully authorized by the FDA.

DO YOU NEED TO WEAR A MASK AND SOCIAL DISTANCE AFTER GETTING VACCINATED?
Two weeks after receiving both doses of Pfizer or Moderna or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you are considered fully vaccinated. Your chances of getting COVID-19 are now very low. Continue precautions such as wearing a mask in public places or when you are with unvaccinated people from more than one household. The CDC has made recommendations that allow fully vaccinated people to relax these restrictions in private and outdoors. Visit the CDC for those recommendations.
HOW DO YOU TALK TO LOVED ONES WHO ARE VACCINATION HESITANT?
  1. Listen, be respectful, and ask polite questions to help you understand their concerns.
  2. Do not tell them they are wrong, suggest there may be new or additional information to consider.
  3. There are many credible healthcare sources available through the CDC, YourVaccinationGuide.org, or your local healthcare professional. It’s best to find the one that they trust the most.
  4. Share other upsides that may be important to them such as, being able to hug a grandchild, being able to hold a celebration, the ability to return to work and school, etc.
  5. Emphasize that:
      • The vaccines are safe and free.
      • Their chance of dying from or being hospitalized with COVID-19 drops significantly with the vaccine.
      • They are protecting themselves and the people around them.
      • As more people are vaccinated, schools and businesses can continue to safely reopen and stay opened.
      • Fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks as often. Additional suggestions from the CDC are available.
Why Were the Vaccines Available So Quickly?
Operation Warp Speed identified the most promising potential vaccines and provided government support to lessen the time required to receive FDA approval and prepare for production and delivery of the vaccine. While the COVID-19 vaccine trial process has been thorough, it has been faster than normal largely because the three trial phases and manufacturing and delivery preparation have been done in an overlapping sequence. Also, mRNA vaccines — the first two vaccines created and submitted to the FDA by Pfizer and Moderna — are generally faster to create, test, and market. All the vaccines approved by EUA continue to be monitored and research is ongoing.
Can People with Chronic Health Conditions Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Yes, people with chronic conditions can get the vaccine (CDC). It is important, however, to talk to your doctor to find out if you should get the vaccine particularly if you have a compromised immune system or had an earlier reaction to a vaccine. Check with your doctor regarding the specific vaccine you are scheduled to receive. Visit the California Chronic Care Coalition for more information related to chronic disease or My Patient Rights if you have trouble accessing care.
WERE THE COVID-19 VACCINES TESTED ON PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC CONDITIONS?
In the Moderna vaccine trial, 22.3 percent of participants had at least one high-risk condition, which included lung disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, or HIV infection. Four percent (4%) of participants had two or more high-risk conditions (CDC). The Pfizer vaccine trial included people with obesity (35.1%), diabetes (8.4%), and pulmonary disease (7.8%). “The J&J vaccine was also tested in more people who were 60 years or older and in those who had [chronic] conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes” (Duke Health).
Can Children Get Vaccinated for COVID-19?
Yes, Pfizer’s vaccine is approved for use for those 12 and over. The other available vaccines are for those 18 and over. Clinical trials are underway for children under 12 years. Watch for updates in available vaccines for children. Once they are approved, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Vaccines for Children program will provide coverage.
WHAT IS MULTISYSTEM INFLAMMATORY SYNDROME IN CHILDREN (MIS-C)?

CDC is investigating multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare but serious complication associated with COVID-19 (CDC).

Should you be concerned about side effects of the mRNA vaccine causing heart issues (Myocarditis) in your children?

In rare instances, cases of inflammation of the heart—called myocarditis and pericarditis–have been reported after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, appearing primarily in adolescents and young adults. The CDC is still investigating these reports.

Most cases have been reported:

  • in male adolescents and young adults age 16 years or older
  • after getting the second dose of one of the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines
  • within several days after COVID-19 vaccination, typically

Symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart.

Seek medical care if you or your child are experiencing any of these symptoms. Symptoms may appear within a week after having the COVID-19 vaccination (CDC). Patients can usually return to their normal daily activities after their symptoms improve. They should speak with their doctor about returning to exercise or sports. The CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 12 years of age and older, given the risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe, complications (CDC).

Is there Any Truth to the Rumor that there are Trackers in the Vaccinations (Shots)?
This is false. There is no truth to the rumor. We believe the rumor developed because of a misheard or misunderstood explanation of how the boxes holding the vaccines are tracked. There are no trackers in the actual vaccine or in you.
Are the Vaccines Made from Chicken Eggs?
The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain material from chicken eggs. For 70 years, growing viruses in chicken eggs was the way many vaccines were created. Several flu vaccine makers still use this process. In 2019, all the flu vaccines approved in the U.S. were cell-based, not egg-based, but we recommend that you continue to ask every time you get a vaccine if you are concerned or have been told not to take egg-based vaccines (CDC).
How Do You Know if You Have Antibodies and What Does it Mean?
Antibodies are proteins your body makes to fight illness. If you have antibodies for COVID-19 you have been exposed to the virus.

A serology (antibody) test determines if you have those antibodies. You can get a test in your area, or if you are a blood donor, the American Red Cross is testing all donor blood for COVID-19 antibodies. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 may be able to give convalescent plasma to help someone else who is infected. Visit the American Red Cross website to learn more about the process.

Can You Get COVID-19 More than Once?
This is still being studied. The CDC says that based on their experience with other viruses some reinfection could be expected (CDC).
What does the term "Long Haulers" mean?
“Approximately 80% of those with COVID-19 end up having a mild reaction and most of those cases resolve in about two weeks. For people who have a severe response to the virus, it can take between three and six weeks to recover”(Cleveland Clinic). Long Haulers have symptoms or related effects months later. Anyone can end up a Long Hauler.
How Accurate is the Testing for COVID-19?
There are two types of tests related to COVID-19 — a diagnostic test and an antibody test.

Diagnostic tests can show if you have an infection now. There are two types of diagnostic tests: a molecular test, which detects the virus’s genetic material, and an antigen test, which detects specific proteins from the virus.

There is only one type of antibody test, which looks for antibodies made by your body’s immune system in response to a specific virus. Antibodies can help fight infections. They can take several days or weeks to develop after you have an infection and may stay in your blood for several weeks or more after recovery. Antibody tests don’t tell if you have COVID-19 now, unlike a diagnostic test would, just if you had it at one time. More information can be found on the FDA website.

 

Can You Get One Pfizer and One Moderna Vaccine?

No. Although they are both mRNA vaccines, they are different from each other. Your first, second and third doses must be the same type.

What is Herd Immunity?

“Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune.

“What percentage of a community needs to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity? It varies from disease to disease. The more contagious a disease is, the greater the proportion of the population that needs to be immune to the disease to stop its spread. For example, the measles is a highly contagious illness. It’s estimated that 94% of the population must be immune to interrupt the chain of transmission” (Mayo Clinic).

If You Have Allergies, Should You Get the Vaccine?
Generally, seasonal allergies do not prevent you from getting a COVID-19 vaccine and in no way suggest that the vaccine would lead to an adverse reaction. However, if you have had a severe allergic reaction or an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—to any ingredient in a vaccine you should not get the COVID-19 vaccine without a discussion with your doctor.

If you aren’t able to get one type of COVID-19 vaccine because you are allergic to an ingredient in that vaccine, ask your doctor if you should get a different type of COVID-19 vaccine. Learn about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for people with allergies.

Can the Vaccine Cause People to Develop COVID-19?

No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not use the live virus and cannot give you the virus. It is possible a few of those vaccinated could still get COVID-19 because the vaccines are not 100% effective, but the vaccine will not give it to you.

What if You Think it is Unsafe to Return to Work, but Your Employer is Calling You In?
First, be reassured that most employers are taking safety very seriously and are adhering to pandemic safety guidelines in the office. If you believe there is an unsafe work environment that your employer refuses to address you can contact Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to report it.

If you have a reason to be concerned about returning to work such as you or your family member have health issues that put you at higher risk to COVID-19, talk to your employer. You can review the Family First Coronavirus Response Act to see if its provisions will help you. You can also seek out the advice of an employment law attorney.

If you are on unemployment and you refuse to work, your employer is required to report your refusal (U.S. Department of Labor).

Will Employers be Able to Force Employees to Take Vaccines or Come to the Office to Work?

Employers may be able to insist you get the vaccine if it is available to you, with exceptions for health and other reasons (CDC). Visit the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission for more specific information about what employers can require, but generally based on information from their website, employers may ask to take your temperature, insist on masks and other CDC or local health official direction or recommendation on the pandemic including taking a screening test under specific circumstances. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) continues to oversee workplace safety and provide worker rights in relation to reporting safety issues. Visit their site for more information: www.osha.gov/coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Labor oversees OSHA and may have more information for employers and employees. The National Governors Association (NGA) has a state-by-state breakdown of return-to-work plans.