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About the COVID-19 Vaccine

May 26, 2021 7835

The COVID-19 vaccine is a critical next step in combating the pandemic. Below are key questions and answers to help members understand the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available.

Why should I get the vaccine?

Vaccines only work in mass. You can help your loved ones feel comfortable getting vaccinated by sharing with them that you got vaccinated and why.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be provided at no cost and will help reopen the economy and relieve hospitals and communities that are severely impacted by the virus's spread.

How do I know that the vaccine is safe and doesn’t have any long-term effects?

While some aspects of the vaccine are new, it is similar enough to other vaccines to know what to expect. Scientists used years of research that was conducted for SARS and MERS, which are other coronaviruses, for COVID-19 vaccine development. This is similar to how annual flu vaccines are made.

Adverse events from the vaccine are far rarer and more treatable compared to the adverse events from full-blown infection of the novel coronavirus. In the overwhelming majority of cases, serious adverse effects happen within a few days of receiving the vaccine.

What data is there from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials?

Phase 3 trials have over six months of data from over 70,000 diverse participants with no serious adverse events documented. Trial participants from various countries were of various age, gender, and racial/ethnic groups and with various medical conditions.

What exactly does the vaccine do?

The intent of the vaccine trials was to see how effective vaccines were in eliminating symptoms of SARS-CoV-2. Based on the data from these trials, the vaccines have proven track records on the ability to limit or eliminate severe COVID-19 disease. However, over time the FDA and manufacturers will learn more about whether the vaccine prevents infection or spread (as opposed to masking symptoms) and how long the vaccine is effective for (whether boosters are needed).

What is mRNA?

mRNA, short for messenger RNA, is a “message” DNA makes to instruct our bodies on what proteins our cells should make.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work by providing these messages or instructions to our body to make proteins that are found on the outside of the coronavirus that causes COIVD-19 (the red spikes you see in images of the virus). This way, if we are exposed to the virus in the future, our immune system already knows how to respond — which antibodies to produce — and effectively manages or prevents the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

The vaccine does not alter our genes/DNA but helps your body to boost your natural immune response by giving your body system a heads-up of a potential threat in the future and how to combat it.

How should I prepare for the vaccine?

Verify your eligibility to be vaccinated through your healthcare provider or VaccineFinder. See if the vaccination is recommended for you right now and don’t schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at the same time as other vaccines. See the CDC website for more details.

Are there certain individuals or those with underlying medical conditions who may not be candidates for receiving COVID-19 vaccines?

The CDC does offer clinical recommendations for the use of COVID-19 vaccines, based on data submitted to the FDA. The considerations offered only apply to the vaccine products currently authorized in the U.S. A summary document for Interim Clinical Consideration provides a high-level overview.

Should pregnant or nursing individuals get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine agree that the new mRNA COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to pregnant and breastfeeding individuals who are eligible for vaccination. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends against using mRNA vaccines in pregnant women unless the benefit to an individual outweighs the potential vaccine risks. You can weigh the benefits and risks with your doctor.

Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to become pregnant soon or in the future?

According to the CDC, people who want to get pregnant in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Based on current knowledge, experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to a person trying to become pregnant in the short or long term. Scientists study every vaccine carefully for side effects immediately and for years afterward. The COVID-19 vaccines are being studied carefully now and will continue to be studied for many years, similar to other vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccine, like other vaccines, works by training our bodies to develop antibodies to fight against the virus that causes COVID-19, to prevent future illness. There is currently no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of ANY vaccine. People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.

If you are considering pregnancy soon, accepting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to you is a great way to ensure that you — and your pregnancy — are protected.

Is there any evidence to support whether individuals with Botox and dermal fillers are more susceptible to adverse reactions from the COVID vaccines?

Reactions from the COVID-19 vaccine that are related to dermal fillers are rare and can usually be addressed with the use of antihistamines or prednisone. These types of reactions can happen with many types of vaccines, not just COVID-19 vaccines. It is important to note that the use of antihistamines or steroids to treat any swelling as a result of vaccine administration should not affect the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. This study from the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology provides more information.

What side effects can patients or my employees expect after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?

Side effects are typical signs that your body is building protection from the COVID-19 vaccine. Most side effects will go away in a few days and some individuals don’t experience any side effects. Common side effects include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, along with tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea throughout the body.

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