What Do I Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine?
When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster? According to the CDC, not immediately. The goal is for people to start receiving a COVID-19 booster shot beginning in the fall, with individuals being eligible starting 8 months after they received their second dose of an mRNA vaccine (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). This is subject to authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommendation by CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). FDA is conducting an independent evaluation to determine the safety and effectiveness of a booster dose of the mRNA vaccines. ACIP will decide whether to issue a booster dose recommendation based on a thorough review of the evidence.
Who will be the first to receive booster doses?
After booster shots are approved by the CDC, an additional dose can be administered at least 28 days after the second dose and is recommended only for people who are moderately and severely immunocompromised due to a health condition or medical treatment. This includes:
- Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
- Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
- Receipt of CAR-T-Cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatments with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, TNF blockers and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory
When will I have access to the COVID-19 vaccine? Kansas is currently in Phase 5 of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination prioritization plan. All individuals ages 16 and above are eligible for the vaccine regardless of health condition or workplace. No matter which phase you fit into, please sign up to receive the vaccine on the county-wide vaccine request form. This form is shared between the county health department, SCMH and Midwest Family Health to prioritize vaccine recipients. We will communicate via Facebook and through other means with updates as we know them.
What is the history of the COVID-19 vaccine? These vaccines have been in the pipeline for almost 20 years. While COVID-19 is new, the virus it comes from is not. Researchers have been working since the SARS outbreak in Asia in 2003 to develop the technology and treatment that makes this unique vaccine. Information gained from the Ebola outbreak in 2014 was also used to develop the technology for the immunization.
Are the vaccines effective? Yes. Both the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 95 percent effective. This means they are more effective than the flu shot and similar to the effectiveness of other immunizations such as MMR or hepatitis B. Both Pfizer and Moderna are companies that specialize in creating medication. They have some of the best researchers on staff working for medical solutions. The recently released Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine is a one-dose option that is 66 percent effective in clinical trials and very high efficacy in preventing hospitalization and death.
How do I know the vaccines are safe? Each of these vaccines was tested on a large sample of people and have as much data behind them as the most effective medications or treatment options we use in healthcare.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine? No. None of the authorized and recommended vaccines are live cultures and they are not made with the COVID-19 virus. Recipients are not injected with a strain of COVID-19 and should not get the virus as a result of getting the vaccine. Recipients will not test positive for COVID-19 as a result of getting the vaccine. The vaccine contains a piece of RNA information that tells cells to fight COVID-19. To learn more about this technology, read about how the vaccine works on the CDC website.
If I have other allergies, can I have an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine? People who have food allergies or environmental allergies such as dust or pollen should not be afraid to get the vaccine. Anyone with an allergy to medication may be monitored after administration of the vaccine, but will likely not be affected.
What side effects can I expect? The most significant side effects are pain at the site of the injection or a sore arm, muscle aches, chills or a slight fever. These are mild and similar to the side effects of many vaccines. Recipients may not feel any side effects at all.
We’ve heard several concerns about the vaccine causing infertility. Any statement about this is not based on science. There is no reason to suspect infertility as a side effect of the vaccine.