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COVID-19 FAQ

GETTING VACCINATED

Who is eligible now for the vaccine in Nevada?

All Nevada residents 5 years or older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Can my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded its Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents 12-15 years old on May 12, 2021, and children 5-11 years old on October 29, 2021. So all Nevadans 5 years or older are now eligible.
To get a 12-17-year-old vaccinated: 

  • Make sure the vaccine location offers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
  • Have a parent or legal guardian accompany those 12-17

To get a 5-17-year old vaccinated:

  • Make sure the vaccine location offers the smaller children's dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
  • Have a parent or legal guardian accompany those 5-11

Why should my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 is a serious, dangerous disease:

  • 4,126,570 children have contracted COVID-19
  • With the Delta variant, COVID-19 cases in children are climbing again
  • Thousands of children in the U.S. have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and hundreds have died. This highly safe and effective vaccine brings life-saving protection to those who are vaccinated and also protects others.
  • Some kids who contract COVID-19 have symptoms similar to a cold, while others experience serious complications.
  • A severe and dangerous condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) can develop from COVID-19 infection, leading to life-threatening problems with the heart and other organs in the body.
  • Doctors still don’t know the long-term effects of COVID infection.
  • A vaccine can lower the chances of serious complications for all kids.
  • Kids, especially adolescents and teens, have more social contact and greater risk of spreading the virus.

The vaccine has been proven safe & effective: 

  • The Phase 3 clinical trial enrolled 2,260 adolescents 12 to 15 years old in the U.S.
  • In the trial, 18 cases of COVID-19 occurred in the placebo group, while none occurred in the group that received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine side effects were consistent with those seen in study participants aged 16 to 25 including pain or swelling/redness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever — all of which typically resolved within 24-48 hours. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, all reviewed the trial data and recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15.
  • In clinical trials for 5 to 11 years olds, a smaller dose vaccine (10 micrograms vs 30 micrograms for 12-17-year-olds) was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19.
  • The vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children age 5 through 11 who received the vaccine and no serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study.

 

Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

The CDC is making recommendations on when you should get a booster based on the COVID-19 vaccine you received and when you got it. Learn about who is eligible here.  

How much will the vaccine cost me?

All COVID-19 vaccines are free, with or without health insurance
With limited initial supplies, it will take some time for everyone to get access, but eventually, everyone will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine for free. The U.S. government invested in vaccine development and is purchasing and distributing the vaccine at no cost to both the insured and uninsured. However, vaccine providers (i.e. doctor's office, clinic) can get reimbursed for an office visit from health insurance or through the Provider Relief Fund when the patient is not insured. 

Earlier this year, the Nevada Division of Insurance passed regulations to ensure there would be no out-of-pocket costs to Nevadans covered by health insurance for COVID-19 vaccinations. This means consumers who have coverage with individual health plans, small group plans, large group plans, and catastrophic plans will be covered to receive the COVID-19 vaccine without any co-payment, co-insurance, or other form of cost-sharing, including the cost of administering the vaccine. Nevadans who are insured by entities not regulated by DOI may still be covered to receive the vaccine by federal law.

Additionally, the vaccine is free for Nevadans insured through Nevada Health Link plans, those enrolled in Nevada Medicaid Fee-for Service or Managed Care, and those without insurance can visit a Federally Qualified Health Center or a local public health clinic. 

How many doses of COVID-19 vaccine are needed?

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two shots to be fully effective. 
Dr. Jeffrey Murawsky, MD explains why these vaccines require two doses in this video

The Janssen (J&J) vaccine requires one dose to be fully effective. 

For reminders about your second dose, sign up for free VaxText messaging. By texting ENROLL to 1-833-VaxText (829-8398), vaccine recipients can opt-in to receive a weekly text reminder for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine or a reminder for when they are overdue for their second dose, in English or Spanish.

The provider who gives you your first vaccine will also give you paperwork with the follow-up date on it, and will notify you by phone, email, or text depending on their appointment system.

What do I need to know about my vaccine appointment?

Know your rights:

  • You do not have to have insurance.
  • You cannot be turned away without ID.
  • You do not need to share your immigration status.
  • Getting services will not impact your immigration status.
  • Your personal information is not shared with the government.

What to expect:

  • An insurance card, social security number or government ID may be requested, but is not required. ID is used to track who has received a vaccine and who still needs a 2nd dose.
  • No one should inquire about your immigration status. If they do, you can refuse to answer.
  • If you are uninsured and receive a bill related to COVID-19 testing or treatment, ask your provider to bill the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program instead of you.
  • If you receive and pay a bill for COVID-19 services, request a refund. If you don’t receive one, contact the HHS Office of Inspector General Hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or visit https://TIPS.HHS.GOV to file a complaint.

Other important reminders:

  • Vaccination may require two (2) doses. If you receive a two-dose vaccine, the second vaccination date will be 21 or 28 days later. The provider who gave you your first dose will give you information regarding your second dose. 
  • Any individuals who are currently sick or under isolation or quarantine for COVID-19 are not eligible to receive the vaccine until they are symptom-free and/or released based on CDC guidelines.   
  • It is best practice to wait for 15 minutes after your vaccination before leaving the vaccination site. 
  • Please wear clothing that allows quick and easy access to the upper arm.
  • You may need to wait to get your vaccine. Wait times vary. 

Why do we need a vaccine if physical distancing and wearing masks can help prevent coronavirus spread?

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 physical distancing, 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.

Can I still get sick from COVID-19 after I get vaccinated?

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.

Additionally, there is a chance you can still get infected from COVID-19 after becoming vaccinated but there is an extremely low chance, especially when compared to not being vaccinated. We know this from the clinical trials of the vaccines that looked at differences in the numbers of individuals who became infected with COVID-19 or seriously ill among those vaccinated compared to those that received the placebo (did not receive the vaccine). For example, in the Moderna vaccine trial, among the 15,210 who received the placebo vaccine, 185 (1.2%) developed COVID and 30 individuals became very ill. Among the 15,210 who received the vaccine, only 11 (0.07%) developed COVID and no individuals became very ill. 

These values were used to calculate the 94.1% efficacy of the Moderna vaccine and the 95% efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNTech. For example, in the Moderna vaccine the 94% efficacy is calculated by dividing 0.07% by 1.2%, which equals 6%, and then subtracting that from 100%. A similar process was used to calculate the 95% efficacy for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. 

The bottom line is that these vaccines are very effective at preventing both COVID-19 infections, especially severe cases needing hospitalization. 


Sources: 
Pfizer/BioNTech EUA
Moderna EUA
Baden LR, El Sahly HM, Essink B, et al. Efficacy and Safety of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2021;384(5):403-416. doi:10.1056/nejmoa2035389. 
 

Are part-time residents (like those who winter here) eligible to get vaccinated in Nevada?

Based on updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proof of residency is not required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC states, “to achieve the public health objectives of ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of all Americans, Nevada must distribute or administer vaccine without discriminating on non-public-health grounds within a prioritized group.”

Threfore, out-of-state residents cannot be denied vaccination based only on state or county residency status.

Can I get other vaccines, like the flu shot, at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, there is no need to wait after getting the COVID-19 vaccine before getting other immunizations or to wait after getting another vaccine (like shingles, flu or pneumonia) to get your COVID-19 vaccine.  

Based on their analysis of ongoing, real-life vaccine data, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) revised their initial recommendation of a 14-day buffer between the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines.

 

How do I find proof of my vaccination?

Three to four weeks after your vaccination, your record should be available in Nevada WebIZ. 
Nevada WebIZ is a confidential, online computer system used in the State of Nevada to keep track of immunization records. An official record obtained through Nevada WebIZ can be used as proof of immunization for school entry, summer camp, employment, etc.

Steps to finding a record through the WebIZ Public Access Portal:
 

  1. Visit the Public Access Portal  
    Enter the Last Name, First Name, Date of Birth, Gender of the person whose record you are searching for and click “Search.”
  2. Choose how you would like to receive a verification code — text or email. Enter the code when prompted. 
  3. If you receive an error message at this point, it could be because:
    1. there is no record in the registry for that person;
    2. your search criteria may have been typed incorrectly. Check your information, correct if needed & search again;
    3. the information in the registry may be stored incorrectly;

             The Help Desk listed below can assist you if you cannot find your record.

  1. Once a record is found, click “Print Official Immunization Record.”
  2. Print and/or save the Official Immunization Record (Adobe .pdf format).
     

For additional help, contact the Nevada WebIZ Help Desk.
(775) 684-5954
email

 

What is v-safe After Vaccination Health Checker?

When you get a COVID-19 vaccine, your healthcare provider will give you a v-safe information sheet. This sheet provides instructions on how to register and use v-safe. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And v-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one. 

V-safe is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and simplified Chinese. Find more information on the CDC website

VACCINE SAFETY

How do we know the vaccines are safe?

The COVID-19 vaccine approval process is the same as it is for every U.S. vaccine. It’s a very methodical process with numerous independent groups assessing clinical trial data and making recommendations.

  • Among the 80,000+ people who received a COVID-19 vaccine during clinical trials for now-authorized vaccines, no serious safety concerns were proven. It’s rare for a vaccine to have any side effects more than two weeks after getting it.
  • To reflect our population, clinical trial participants include more than a third from racial and ethnic minorities, people over 65, and those with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiac disease.
  • After clinical trials, the FDA evaluates the data to determine whether the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine has been demonstrated and whether the manufacturing and facility information assure product quality and consistency. A typical FDA team is comprised of: physicians, chemists, statisticians, pharmacologists/toxicologists, microbiologists, experts in postmarketing safety, clinical study site inspectors, manufacturing and facility inspectors, and labeling and communications experts.
  • Two of the biggest safeguards to vaccines are the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), both of which are made up of independent experts who are not employees of the FDA or the CDC and both of which hold open meetings available to the public. 
  • Vaccines were (and are) manufactured during clinical trials with the intention of throwing them away if they are not deemed safe and effective. Ineffective vaccines have been discarded during this process.

Watch Cindy M. P. Duke, M.D., Ph.D., FACOG discuss vaccine safety 

How are we continuing to monitor safety of the vaccines and what is the most recent update?

Beyond the initial vaccine clinical trials, scientists are continuing to monitor the safety of the vaccines as they are being administered to the public. These monitoring systems include V-Safe, established specifically for the COVID-19 vaccines, and VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), an existing national monitoring system for reporting adverse events to vaccines. Together, these systems enable scientists to track the safety and side effects of vaccines as they are being distributed.

The CDC has analyzed the information gathered from these systems and published a report reassuring the safety profiles of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Inc vaccines. No new concerning issues were identified among the 13.8 million vaccine doses administered between December 14, 2020 to January 13, 2021 in the United States. 

Among the data, reports of local (at the site of injection) and systematic (involving the whole body) reactions were common. Reports of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction requiring medical attention) were rare and the occurrence was within the normal range of other vaccines. The occurrence of anaphylaxis from the COVID-19 vaccines was 4.5 cases per million doses. This is similar to other vaccines including inactivated influenza vaccine (1.4 per million), pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (2.5 per million), and live attenuated herpes zoster vaccine (9.6 per million). Importantly, effective treatments for anaphylaxis exist and medical personnel at vaccination distributing sites are prepared. Lastly, the data showed that no deaths have been attributed to the vaccines. 

You can access the report from the CDC here
Source: Gee J, Marquez P, Su J, et al. First Month of COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Monitoring — United States, December 14, 2020–January 13, 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:283–288. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7008e3. 
 

How was the vaccine made & delivered so quickly when it usually takes years?

Because COVID-19 is so widespread, contagious and deadly, tremendous resources have been committed to vaccine development. These are the components that have led to the COVID-19 vaccine development:

  • Coordinated effort in the U.S. between the CDC, the National Institute of Health, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and the Department of Defense to accelerate development of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine
  • Intensive vaccine research and development by multiple pharmaceutical companies simultaneously
  • Use of mRNA vaccine technology, a new approach that offers scientists an easier and faster way to produce vaccines compared to traditional vaccines, enabling them to do in months what previously took years to accomplish
  • Widespread and diverse participation in vaccine clinical trials
  • Aggressive funding from government ($10B) and private sources toward vaccine development
  • Availability of Emergency Use Authorization, put in place post-9/11 to allow treatments or vaccines to be available earlier than would normally be done under the approval process
  • In order to speed up the distribution process, vaccines are being manufactured while in clinical trials with the intention of discarding them if the vaccine is not deemed safe and effective by FDA and other authorities.

Why are pharmaceutical companies exempt from being sued over COVID-19?

The United States has a law called the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness, or PREP Act, which is intended to exclude lawsuits seeking financial award from products that help control a public health crisis. The pandemic is such a health crisis, and government leaders believe it is in our national interest to assume any future risk from a vaccine in order to advance development.  

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Side effects tell you the vaccine is working. The fever you feel is your body's mechanism to attack the virus and not the virus attacking you.
  • According to the CDC, you should expect side effects on the arm you received the shot and some side effects throughout the rest of your body. On the arm where you received the shot, you may experience some pain, redness,  and swelling. To reduce pain and discomfort on the arm, it is recommended to apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area and to move/exercise the arm. Throughout the rest of your body, you may experience tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. To reduce discomfort from a fever, it is recommended to drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.
  • Not everyone experiences side effects. For those who experience side effects, they may last for a few days (2-3) but can last up to 11 days in some cases. 
  • In clinical trials (Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTec trials), no serious safety concerns have been proven. Some participants reported transient side effects including: sore arm, fever, muscle pain and fatigue that resolved in 24 hours. Older adults reported fewer and milder side effects. In a small percentage of cases these side effects were severe — defined as preventing daily activities.

  • There were no Grade 4 reactions during clinical trials, requiring an emergency room visit or hospitalization. 

Sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html
https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/946832

Watch this video to learn more.

What should I do if I experience side effects?

According to the CDC, side effects should be reported to the V Safe system. V-safe is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and simplified Chinese. Find more information on the CDC website

It is recommended that you contact your doctor/ healthcare provider if the redness or tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours or if your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days. If you are not established with a primary care doctor, you can reach out to urgent care if you develop concerning side effects.

If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911.

Sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/vsafe.html


 

Should I be concerned about a severe allergic reaction?

An allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine (EpiPen) or if the person must go to the hospital. An immediate allergic reaction happens within 4 hours after getting vaccinated and could include symptoms such as hives, swelling, and wheezing (respiratory distress).

Individuals who meet any of the following criteria should be concerned about a severe allergic reaction and consult a doctor/ healthcare provider before getting the vaccine. 

  • If you are allergic to an ingredient in a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine
  • If you had an allergic reaction to a previous shot of an mRNA vaccine (AKA if you had a reaction to the first shot and you are concerned for the second)
  • If you are allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate
  • If you are allergic to other types of vaccines
  • If you have allergies not related to vaccines (food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies

If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911.

Source:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/specific-groups/allergies.html 

What are the vaccine ingredients?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is a sterile, preservative-free, frozen suspension for muscle injection.

Ingredients:
• mRNA
• lipids or fats: ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2- hexyldecanoate), 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol)
• potassium chloride
• monobasic potassium phosphate
• sodium chloride
• dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate
• sucrose

The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is a preservative-free frozen suspension for muscle injection.

Ingredients:
• mRNA
• Lipids or fats: (SM-102, 1,2-dimyristoyl-rac-glycero3-methoxypolyethylene glycol-2000 [PEG2000-DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC])
• tromethamine
• tromethamine hydrochloride
• acetic acid
• sodium acetate
• sucrose

The lipids (or fats) in the ingredients serve as a slippery coating that helps to slide the vaccine into the cells. Neither vaccine contains food proteins.

There is no egg or egg-related component of the RNA vaccine.

The Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine:
• Ad26.COV2.S 
• citric acid monohydrate 
• trisodium citrate dihydrate
• alcohol 
• hydroxypropyl betadex 
• polysorbate 80 
• sodium chloride 
• sodium hydroxide  
• hydrochloric acid
• water 

Can I get a vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine agree that authorized COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to pregnant and breastfeeding individuals. It is recommended you discuss your options with your healthcare provider.

If you are considering pregnancy, getting vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available to you is a great way to ensure that you — and your pregnancy — are protected. 

VACCINE MYTHS

Will the 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.

All authorized vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as headache or fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. 

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No. Neither 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.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?

There is no scientific evidence that the vaccine impacts fertility. Because none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain live virus, they are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies. 

Additionally, since the vaccine is not a live virus, there is no reason to delay pregnancy attempts because of vaccination administration or to defer fertility treatment until the second dose has been administered.

Cindy M. P. Duke, M.D., Ph.D., FACOG, Medical Director of the Nevada Fertility Institute explains why she recommends vaccination for her patients in this video

 

Do I need the vaccine if I already had COVID-19?

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts do not yet 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.  It is rare for someone who has had COVID-19 to get infected again. It also is uncommon for people who do get COVID-19 again to get it within 90 days of when they recovered from their first infection.  We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work.

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are working to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

Is there a microchip in the vaccine?

No. There is no tracking device, from the government or Bill Gates, in the vaccine. There may be trackers on the vaccine shipment boxes to protect them from theft, but there are no trackers in the vaccines themselves. State governments track where you got the vaccine and which kind you received using a computerized database to make sure you get all recommended doses at the right time. You will also get a card showing that you have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you don't have COVID symptoms, can you still spread the disease?

Yes. Throughout the pandemic, scientists have been working to understand the risk of transmission by asymptomatic carriers, and have continued to find that asymptomatic spreading contributes to the ongoing case numbers.

If certain communities experience low asymptomatic spread, it is most likely a result of strict public health measures.   

HOW THE VACCINES WORK

What is an mRNA vaccine?

The authorized Pfizer-BioNTec and Moderna vaccines, and several others seeking approval, are made using messenger RNA (mRNA). This new vaccine technology is unlike traditional viral vaccines that introduce a weakened viral protein to cause an immune response. mRNA vaccines deliver instructions to the cell to build a protein that resembles a viral protein in order to generate an immune response. mRNA does not alter or modify your DNA.

Mark S. Riddle, MD, DrPH, FISTM Associate Dean for Clinical Research, University of Nevada, Reno-School of Medicine, Associate Chief of Staff – Research, Veterans Administration, explains how the vaccines work.

What technology does the Janssen vaccine use?

The Janssen vaccine uses an adenovirus vector vaccine — a more established approach to creating immunity through vaccination.

  • Adenovirus vector vaccines employ a harmless, inactive virus to deliver a gene that carries the blueprint for the spike protein found on the surface of the coronavirus. The virus enters cells, which then follow the genetic instructions to construct a replica of the coronavirus spike protein. The immune system uses these replicas to recognize — and respond to — the real coronavirus.

Will the vaccine alter my DNA?

No authorized COVID-19 vaccine has the ability to alter your DNA.

Some vaccines use mRNA technology. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is 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

Mark S. Riddle, MD, DrPH, FISTM Associate Dean for Clinical Research, University of Nevada, Reno-School of Medicine, Associate Chief of Staff – Research, Veterans Administration, explains in this video.

How do COVID-19 vaccines protect us?

Authorized vaccines protect people by lowering their chances of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. 

If enough Nevadans get vaccinated, we can keep our businesses, restaurants, casinos, and schools open and return to doing the things we miss and move toward normalcy. Widespread vaccination will end this pandemic, the way it ended smallpox, polio, and measles.

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.

Mark S. Riddle, MD, DrPH, FISTM Associate Dean for Clinical Research, University of Nevada, Reno-School of Medicine, explains the mRNA vaccine technology used by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Is there fetal tissue in the COVID-19 vaccine?

There are no vaccines that involve stem cells from aborted fetuses nor were there aborted fetuses used in vaccine development.

COVID-19 vaccine candidates are researched using cells derived from human fetuses electively aborted decades ago. 

Some vaccines are developed with cells that came from fetuses decades ago, but these are known as cell lines which can differentiate continuously. Pfizer and Moderna strictly used them for confirmation tests only. J&J used them in development, confirmation and production.

Sources
https://www.nebraskamed.com/COVID/you-asked-we-answered-do-the-covid-19-vaccines-contain-aborted-fetal-cells 
■    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/abortion-opponents-protest-covid-19-vaccines-use-fetal-cells 

COVID-19 PREVENTION

Will my vaccine protect people other than me?

Herd immunity, also known as 'population immunity', is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection. It is safest if achieved through vaccination rather than infection. However, in order to reach herd immunity, a significant portion of the population needs to be vaccinated.

Like a line of matches → if one catches on fire, they all do → but if some are unable to, other matches wouldn’t be lit

Millions of Americans might die of COVID if we all don't get vaccinated. The fatality rate for COVID is 2% to 3%. if you apply it to the entire U.S. population, it would equate to about 6 million to 10 million people who would die from COVID. 

Sources
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00396-2 
https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/herd-immunity-lockdowns-and-covid-19

How do I protect others if I have COVID-19?

If you are sick with COVID-19 or have tested positive and are asymptomatic, it is important to isolate yourself from others to avoid spread. This means staying at home, not going to work or school in person, or running errands. If possible, avoid contact with others in your household. Stay home, isolated from others for at least 10 days after your symptoms first appeared and for at least 24 hours with no fever. If your symptoms escalate, contact your health care provider or seek emergency care right away.

What should I do if I've been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19?

If you were exposed and are not fully vaccinated, quarantine at home and stay away from others. Get tested 5-7 days after exposure. After a negative test, you can end quarantine. If you develop symptoms, isolate. If your symptoms worsen, contact your health care provider.

If you are fully vaccinated, you do no need to quarantine unless you develop symptoms. Get tested 3-5 days after exposure. If you test positive or develop symptoms, isolate.  

What are the CDC guidelines for activities for fully vaccinated individuals?

CDC issued these updated guidelines on October 21, 2021. Fully vaccinated people can:

  • Participate in many of the activities that they did before the pandemic.
  • Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel and from self-quarantine after travel.
  • Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
  • Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible.

Because breakthrough infections of COVID-19 in the fully vaccinated is still possible, these precautions should be taken:

  • Wear a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
    • Fully vaccinated people might choose to mask regardless of the level of community transmission, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in their household is unvaccinated.
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Get tested 5-7 days after close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days after exposure or until a negative test result.
  • Isolate if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Source:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html

Will a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?

Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care and public health resources.

What are variants and are the vaccines effective against the new variants?

Variants are changes in the genetic code of the virus that occur through mutations. These changes are expected and normal for viruses. While some new variants emerge and disappear, others persist. At this time, there have been multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 identified globally — the most concerning at this time is the Delta variant. 

According to the CDC, variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than the original virus. 

So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants. Scientists will continue to study these and other variants.

The CDC recommendations to help limit the spread of the variants include continuing to follow public health guidelines which include vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine. 

You can learn more about the variants from the CDC here.

How can I build immunity to COVID-19?

There are two ways to develop an immune response and protection from COVID -19:

  • Get infected with the virus and develop an immune response and antibodies
  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine that triggers your body to create an immune response and antibodies

Getting the disease is risky because you don't know how serious your symptoms will be, if you will require hospitalization, or if you might die. 

Getting the vaccine has no discernible risk for most people and minor, transient side effects.  

Mark S. Riddle, MD, DrPH, FISTM Associate Dean for Clinical Research, University of Nevada, Reno-School of Medicine, explains immunity in this video.

APPROVED & AUTHORIZED VACCINES

Which vaccines are fully FDA-approved?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was fully approved by the FDA on August 23, 2021.

Which vaccines are authorized by the FDA?

Two vaccines are currently authorized for use in the U.S. under EUA (Emergency Use Authorization):

  • Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine – authorized under EUA 12/18/2020
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine – authorized under EUA 2/27/2021

Both authorized vaccines provided complete protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19 in their clinical trials and are considered extremely effective tools for ending the pandemic. 

Neither of these authorized vaccines contains additives that can sometimes cause strong reactions, such as antibiotics, preservatives or adjuvants (compounds used to boost the immune response to a vaccine).

How effective is the Janssen vaccine?

  • The Janssen vaccine was 100% effective at preventing death from COVID-19 in vaccine trials;
  • 85% effective at preventing severe disease across all regions studied beginning 28 days after vaccination, including for the South African disease variant
  • Protection against moderate to severe disease starts about two weeks after vaccination. By four weeks after the shot, data from the clinical trial showed there were no hospitalizations or deaths.

Trial participants

  • The Janssen vaccine was tested in 44,000 people in the U.S., South Africa and Latin America. Among global participants in the testing, 59% are White/Caucasian; 45% are Hispanic and/or Latinx; 19% are Black/African American; 9% are Indigenous and 3% are Asian. In the United States, 74% are White/Caucasian; 15% are Hispanic and/or Latinx; 13% are Black/African American; 6% are Asian and 1% are Indigenous.
  • 41% of participants in the study had other conditions associated with an increased risk for progression to severe COVID-19: obesity (28.5%), type 2 diabetes (7.3%), hypertension (10.3%), HIV (2.8%); other immunocompromised participants were also included in the study.

Note: Head-to-head comparisons among the three vaccines now available cannot be made, because the trials were conducted at different times during the pandemic and in different countries dealing with different variants and transmission rates.

The nation’s leading medical experts urge people to take whichever COVID-19 vaccine is available to them.

How effective is the Pfizer vaccine?

  • The Pfizer vaccine was 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19 in vaccine trials
  • 95% effective at preventing severe infection

The nation’s leading medical experts urge people to take whichever COVID-19 vaccine is available to them.

Note: Head-to-head comparisons among the three vaccines now available cannot be made, because the trials were conducted at different times during the pandemic and in different countries dealing with different variants and transmission rates. This vaccine was tested before the emergence of new virus variants in Britain, South Africa, and Brazil. 

 

How effective is the Moderna vaccine?

  • The Moderna vaccine was 100% effective at preventing death and severe infection from COVID-19 in vaccine trials

The nation’s leading medical experts urge people to take whichever COVID-19 vaccine is available to them.

Note: Head-to-head comparisons among the three vaccines now available cannot be made, because the trials were conducted at different times during the pandemic and in different countries dealing with different variants and transmission rates.

 

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