Answering common questions about COVID-19 vaccines
With vaccine clinics happening at PMMA (Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America) campuses, it is important to understand the facts. Below are some common questions that are answered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the drug manufacturers.
Every person who receives the vaccine strengthens the protection for all PMMA residents, staff and the community at-large. PMMA strongly encourages our families, employees and residents to carefully consider obtaining a vaccine for themselves as well as their loved ones.
Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVId-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.
There are several different types of vaccines in development. All of them 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 protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about how the COVID-19 vaccines work.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) 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 still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?
No. Neither of the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can 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 – 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.
Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, which protects you from getting sick with COVID-19.
Being protected from getting sick is important. Even though many who have COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms, others may get a severe illness, have long-term health effects or even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you don’t have an increased risk of developing severe complications.
How much time can there be between the first and second vaccinations?
Those who receive the Pfizer/BIONTech vaccine should receive their second dose within 21 days, while those receiving the Moderna vaccine should receive their second dose within 28 days.
What are the most common side effects?
The most commonly reported side effects, which typically lasted several days, were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. Of note, more people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose, so it is important for vaccination providers and recipients to expect that there may be some side effects after either dose, but even more so after the second dose. Learn more.
Should someone with an active case of COVID-19 receive the vaccine?
No. Someone actively ill with COVID-19 should not get the vaccine because someone with active COVID needs to be in quarantine.
Should someone who previously had COVID-19 receive the vaccine?
Yes. Even if you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, you should still get the vaccine. At this time, it is believed that antibodies from a previous infection only provide protection from COVID-19 infection for a few months. Even if you previously tested positive, you should get the vaccine once you are considered recovered.
I have allergies. Should I get the vaccine?
The main allergy concern with the COVID-19 vaccine is for individuals who have had an anaphylaxis reaction to a vaccine or injection previously. Consult your primary care physician prior to seeking the vaccine. PMMA staff will consult with a resident’s primary care physician before administering the vaccine to anyone who fits this criteria.
Everyone who receives the vaccine will need a 15 to 30 minute observation period following the injection for any signs or symptoms of a reaction.
Once I get the vaccine, how soon am I protected?
Most of the vaccines require 2 doses, 3 to 4 weeks apart. You must get both doses of the same vaccine because they are different. Protection occurs 1 to 2 weeks following the second dose.
How long am I protected by the vaccine?
We do not know at this time how long protection lasts as COVID-19 is a new virus and this is a new vaccine. We will know more as time passes in the current research. It is possible that individuals will need to get the COVID-19 vaccine on a regular basis, just like the seasonal flu shot.
Are the vaccines safe?
Safety is the most important priority in vaccine approval. Most side effects occur within six weeks of vaccination. To be more cautious, the FDA requires 8 weeks of safety monitoring for COVID-19 vaccines. To assess safety, the FDA typically advises developers to include a minimum of 3,000 participants in a vaccine trial. The current COVID vaccine trials include 30,000 to 50,000 participants, well above the FDA requirement.
The FDA used the same strict standards that it has for decades in evaluating the COVID-19 vaccines. No steps are skipped.
The COVID-19 vaccines were developed so quickly due to a global effort with the world’s leading scientists focused on a single task – developing the COVID-19 vaccine. They had nearly unlimited resources at their disposal – money, knowledge, manpower and technology. And there was a large pool of diverse adult volunteer trial participants in the vaccine studies.
The COVID-19 vaccine is mRNA vaccine. What does that mean?
The mRNA technology is new in vaccine production, but it is already being used in cancer treatment and has been studied for more than 10 years. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece that looks like the “spike protein” found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. The virus is often pictured as a white ball with red spikes protruding from it.
Our bodies recognize that the protein should not be there, so they build antibodies that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future.
The mRNA vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 and it cannot change your DNA.
Will I need to continue 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.