COVID-19 Vaccine: Trust the FACTS

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our world in immeasurable ways, but especially in long-term care facilities.  We are now entering a new phase in the fight against COVID-19 with the release of the COVID-19 vaccine.  The process for approving this vaccine has moved quickly, but as always, the scientists and physicians involved have remained committed to patient safety throughout the process.  Long term care residents and staff have been prioritized in the CDC’s Phase 1A roll out plan because of the risks associated with COVID-19 in congregate living settings.

In collaboration with our pharmacy partner, Pharmscript, Legacy Health Services will be making the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine available to residents and employees beginning the third week in December.  We have gathered the information below on the vaccine from credible sources, like the CDC and FDA websites.  If you have specific questions about your ability to receive the vaccine because of a specific medical condition, please consult your primary care physician.

We must continue the FULL COURT PRESS against COVID-19!  Check out this message from a Cleveland LEGEND- #22- let’s do WHATEVER IT TAKES to win against COVID-19!

COVID-19 FACTS

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19
None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral 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. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

FACT: People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated
Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.  We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.  Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

FACT: Getting vaccinated can help prevent getting sick with COVID-19
While many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness or they may even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. If you get sick, you also may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you while you are sick. There are also some long-term side effects from the virus that may affect people after they recover from COVID-19.  COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

FACT: Receiving an mRNA vaccine will not alter your DNA
mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and can most easily be described as instructions for how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work. ​

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits/facts.html

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Vaccine Development & Availability

What is operation Warp Speed’s role with COVID-19 vaccines?

Operation Warp Speed is a partnership among components of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense to help develop, make, and distribute millions of vaccine doses for COVID-19 as quickly as possible while ensuring that the vaccines are safe and that they work. Learn more about Operation Warp Speed:

Will there be enough vaccine available for everyone?

When FDA first authorizes or approves the use of one or more COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, there may be a limited supply. This would mean that not everyone will be able to be vaccinated right away. It is understandable how concerning this would be for people, especially for those who are at increased risk for serious illness from this virus and for their loved ones.
That is why, early in the response, the federal government began investing in select vaccine manufacturers external icon to help them increase their ability to quickly make and distribute a large amount of COVID-19 vaccine. This will allow the United States to start with as much vaccine as possible and continually increase the supply in the weeks and months to follow. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. Several thousand vaccination providers will be available, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.

Has there been a coronavirus vaccine developed before? What’s know about it, and can it be helpful today in working with a COVID-19 vaccine?

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) are two diseases caused by coronaviruses that are closely related to the virus that causes COVID-19. Researchers began working on developing vaccines for these diseases after they were discovered in 2003 and 2012, respectively. None of the SARS vaccines ever made it past the first stages of development and testing, in large part due to lack of interest because the virus disappeared. One MERS vaccine (MVA-MERS-S) successfully completed a phase 1 clinical trial in 2019. Lessons learned from this earlier vaccine research have been used to inform strategies for developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Why would a vaccine be needed if we can do other things, like social distancing and wearing masks, to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading?

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

What to Expect 

Will the vaccine cost me anything?

You will not have any out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine, regardless of your insurance coverage.  Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

What side effects might I experience if I receive the vaccine?

The vaccines currently being tested in clinical trials can cause short-term discomfort (such as
headache, muscle pains, fatigue, chills, fever, and pain at injection site) in a percentage of the
people who receive them. This is the effect of your body developing immunity. Clinical trial
participants reported that the discomfort went away after a day, sometimes sooner. When you
receive the second dose of the vaccine, the discomfort can be more pronounced. This is a normal reaction, so be prepared.
▪ If you experience discomfort after the first dose of the vaccine, it is very important that you still
receive the second dose a few weeks later for the vaccine to be effective.
▪ This does not mean that the vaccine has given you COVID-19. Rather, this means that the
vaccine is causing your body’s immune system to react and create antibodies to fight off the virus. In other words, if you feel some discomfort, then the vaccine is doing its job!
▪ In some cases, a person may already be infected with COVID-19 when they get the vaccine but are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. If they later have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for it, it does not mean they got COVID-19 from the vaccine.

(Source: Questions and Answers about the COVID-19 Vaccine for PALTC Staff, Patients,
Residents and Family Members, AMDA, 12/1/20)

Will I have to get two shots? What if I am not working or living in a Legacy Health Services facility when my second shot is due?

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses, which are given 21 days apart.  YOU MUST GET THE SECOND DOSE because the vaccine will not protect you if only get one dose.  It is important to get the SAME VACCINE as the first dose.  Everyone vaccinated will receive information on when the second dose is due.  If you are no longer employed by or residing at a Legacy Health Services facility at that time, you will still be able to receive the second dose.  CVS and Walgreens will have access to all vaccine records through a statewide database and can administer second doses if necessary.

(Source: Questions and Answers about the COVID-19 Vaccine for PALTC Staff, Patients,
Residents and Family Members, AMDA, 12/1/20)

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?

There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again; this is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. Until we have a vaccine available and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices makes recommendations to CDC on how to best use COVID-19 vaccines, CDC cannot comment on whether people who had COVID-19 should get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I be vaccinated if have an active COVID-19 infection?

At this time, vaccination for individuals with an active COVID-19 infection is not recommended.  

Next Steps

When can I stop wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others after I have been vaccinated?

There is not enough information currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

What can I do now to help protect myself from getting COVID-19 until I am vaccinated?

You should cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often. Get more information about these and other steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have received 2 doses of the vaccine?

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. 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. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

How do I know which sources of COVID-19 vaccine information are accurate?

It can be difficult to know which sources of information you can trust. Learn more about finding credible vaccine information.

Source unless otherwise noted:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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