Questions about COVID Vaccination? - Here are some of the answers to the most frequently asked questions
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers from the American Academy of Family Physicians
What is the difference between emergency use authorization (EUA) and approval by the FDA?
- FDA emergency use authorization is used for a medicine or vaccine when limited long-term data is available, but the benefits have been shown to outweigh the risks. EUAs can only be used during a public health emergency. Vaccines authorized with a EUA will continued to be studied; safety monitoring and education are also required.
Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
- Clinical trials for both vaccines showed they were over 94% effective at preventing COVID-19. By receiving the vaccine, you are reducing your risk of disease, hospitalization, severe complications, and even death.
How much does it cost to get the vaccine?
- The federal government is providing the COVID-19 vaccine to the public free of charge. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, Advantage plans, group or individual health plans, high deductible plans, and people who do not have health insurance. There will be no co-pay or deductibles or co-insurance charges for the patient.
How many doses are needed?
- Both Pfizer and Moderna require two (2) doses delivered via injection. The shots are scheduled 3-4 weeks apart (Pfizer 21 days, Moderna 28 days), depending on which vaccine you receive. Although the vaccines are similar, you should get the same vaccine both times.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
- The most common reactions are pain at the injection site, fever, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. These side effects are common with other vaccines as well, including the flu shot, and are a signal your body is responding appropriately to the vaccine.
- Clinical trials show no serious safety or health concerns. There are a small number of people who have had a severe allergic reaction, but this is rare, and the appropriate medication will be available during all vaccination clinics. All people receiving the vaccine will be monitored for any reaction immediately following the administration of the vaccine. In addition, screening for prior reactions will be completed before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Do I still need to wear a mask and social distance if I get the vaccine?
- Yes !! The vaccine protects you from getting sick by keeping COVID-19 from entering your cells and causing illness. But the vaccine does NOT keep you from getting the virus and possibly spreading it to others who aren’t protected. It takes a few weeks after the second dose of vaccine to develop protection.
- Everyone will still need to wear a mask and social distance until enough people have been vaccinated and develop immunity. This may not be until late 2021. Even then, more data will be needed to see how long immunity lasts. Additional rounds of COVID-19 vaccinations may be needed.
Who can’t get the vaccine?
- Children and adolescents under the age of 16 were not included in the first round of vaccine studies. For this reason, only people 16 and older will be able to get the Pfizer vaccine. Only adults aged 18 and older can get the Moderna vaccine right now.
- Some people should talk with their family doctor before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes people who have severe reactions to injected medicines, people who are immunocompromised, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- As with other vaccines, people who have an allergy to any part of the vaccine should not get the shot. If a person is ill, has a fever or other symptoms, he/she may not be able to get the vaccine until they’re better.
What is the difference between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?
- The biggest concern is for hospitals and pharmacies distributing the vaccine: temperature. Pfizer requires ultra-cold storage and Moderna can be stored at regular freezer temperatures. "They're formulated similarly, they're both mRNA vaccines, they should both work exactly the same way," said Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist at USF Health.
- Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are two-part doses. Pfizer requires two doses 21 days apart, Moderna requires two doses 28 days apart. Both have similar efficacy rates of about 95 percent (Nguyen, T., 2021).
Will the vaccines protect against variant (other strains) of COVID-19 cases?
- So far, research has only been done on Pfizer’s vaccine when it comes to COVID-19 variants. Researchers believe it will protect against variants, which is promising for other vaccines as well (Nguyen, T., 2021).