COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Has the Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval?

On Monday, August 23, 2021, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EAU), for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine requirement also include an annual booster?

Note that there is a difference between a third dose and a booster vaccine.

On August 12, 2021, the FDA, in association with the CDC, reported that a third dose is recommended for immunocompromised individuals. See specific recommendation below.* As of September 24, 2021, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine to be administered as a single booster dose at least six months after completion of the primary Pfizer-BioNTech series to those who meet specific criteria. See specific recommendation below.**

Who should receive a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), along with other federal health officials, now recommend that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receive an additional third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) to be better protected against contracting the COVID-19 virus. For those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, an additional dose is not recommended at this time.

*Who qualifies for a COVID-19 third dose vaccine?

Currently, moderately to severely immunocompromised people qualify. This includes those who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response (including biologics such as Enbrel, Humira and Remicade)

If you meet the criteria above, you should contact your TPP primary care office or call the TriHealth Covid Call Center at 513 86 COVID (513 862 6843).

Helpful Link(s):

I had a COVID-19 infection earlier this year and tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. I am otherwise healthy and not taking any medications. Do I need to get a vaccine?

At this time, we do not know how long someone who had COVID-19 is protected from a repeat infection, whether the person tested positive for the COVID-19 antibody or not. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection is possible, CDC experts recommend that individuals who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 still get the vaccine, regardless of whether their infection caused them to be symptomatic or asymptomatic. There is no recommended minimum interval between infection and vaccination, but infected individuals should defer their vaccination until they recover from acute symptoms.

Is the vaccine safe?

The science is clear – with more than 3 billion doses administered worldwide, COVID-19 vaccines have proven beyond a doubt to be safe and effective at reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19, transmission to others, decreasing hospitalizations and preventing COVID-related deaths.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to be very effective and safe. Few adverse effects have been reported. The administration of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J, Janssen) vaccine was temporarily put on hold after the vaccine caused blood clots in six out of 6.8 million patients. The FDA has subsequently removed its pause and instead recommends that women younger than 50 be made aware of the rare complication.

Some people might be nervous about the vaccine. However, getting the vaccine will safely protect you and your family. The risks from contracting the virus and dying are far greater than the possible risks from receiving the vaccine.

How can we be sure the vaccine is safe for pregnant women, their unborn babies or their infants after birth?

The CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Maternal Fetal Medicine Society all recommend COVID-19 vaccination to protect women and their unborn children. Recent studies show that the vaccines are safe and effective with no increased risk of pregnancy complications. TriHealth OB physicians feel strongly that the COVID-19 vaccine protects pregnant women and their unborn children. O.B. physicians want to engage in a dialogue and partner with pregnant women.

Does the vaccine cause infertility?

There is currently no scientific evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes problems with fertility or pregnancy.

Does it matter which vaccine I get?

No, that is a personal choice. The brand of vaccine we provide is dependent upon which brand we can obtain from the state of Ohio.

How can we trust this vaccine if we don’t know the long-term side effects?

There is no way to know with certainty that any vaccine or medication will not have any unexpected long-term side effects. Thus far, the side effects seen after millions of doses of the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. are only temporary, with rare exceptions. The known and unknown risks of the COVID-19 vaccine are still significantly less than the complications associated with the disease itself.

Why is the vaccine recommended if vaccinated people could continue to contract and spread COVID-19?

Fully vaccinated people may have breakthrough infections, but the vaccination clearly is very effective at preventing hospitalization and death. The virus will continue to spread, and the pandemic will not end until we reach “herd immunity.” The best and safest way to get there is through vaccinations.

Are side-effects worse with the second round of vaccine?

Clinical trials have shown that most Covid-19 vaccine recipients who had noticeable side effects from their first dose, tend to have stronger side effects after the second dose. As with the first dose, the side effects are an indication that the vaccine is working, and your body is responding as intended.

Should I take over-the-counter medication when I get the vaccine?

Medications such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil) may be taken for the treatment of side effects AFTER the injection; however, taking these medications prior to your vaccination just to prevent side effects is not recommended at this time by the CDC. This is due to a lack of information on how these medications may affect the effectiveness of the vaccine.

If you only experienced mild discomfort after the first dose, it is recommended to wait and see if anything is needed after the second dose. If your discomfort was significant after the first dose, consider pre-treating before the second dose if desired, with the understanding that the impact on the effectiveness of the vaccine is unknown.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine have an effect on mammogram results?

Yes. After receiving the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, some patients experience short-term changes in the size and consistency of armpit lymph nodes. Because this can mimic an abnormal finding on breast imaging, the American Society of Breast Imaging recommends scheduling a screening mammogram or screening breast MRI prior to your COVID-19 vaccine or 4 to 6 weeks after your second injection. For more information, click here

Should I make sure that I get the vaccine with the best reported efficacy?

The efficacy rates for all three of the vaccines are very effective in preventing severe COVID-19  and nearly 100% effective in decreasing your need for hospitalization or severe illness including death. If you have the opportunity to receive the vaccine, it is recommended that you take advantage.

Vaccine Efficacy Overall Severe COVID-19 Deaths
Pfizer 95% 89% 0 due to COVID
Moderna 94% 100% 0 due to COVID
J&J 72% USA (66% overall) 85% 0 due to COVID

Will Vitamin D help me avoid COVID-19?

It is true that patients admitted with COVID are frequently Vitamin D deficient. Keeping your Vitamin D levels in the normal range is certainly appropriate, but it’s not clear if Vitamin D treatment will improve clinical outcomes for COVID-19 patients.

How many doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine require two doses. Ohioans who receive a dose of either of these vaccines must receive a second dose of the vaccine from the same manufacturer, as they are not interchangeable. The Johnson & Johnson/Jannsen vaccine requires a single dose. A booster vaccine is now being recommended and has been approved for those six months after receiving both Pfizer doses.

**How do I know if I should get a booster vaccine?

As of September 24, 2021, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine to be administered as a single booster dose at least six months after completion of the primary Pfizer-BioNTech series to the following, with these guidelines:

  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster
  • People aged 18–64 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster, based on their individual benefits and risks, and
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster, based on their individual benefits and risks.
    • These include: health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons.

Helpful links:

I’ve seen a lot of rumors on social media about vaccines. How can I tell what is true?

The internet is rife with dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, and it can be difficult to know what to trust. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about the vaccines with information from trustworthy sources. Learn more about finding credible vaccine information from the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health.

What are normal side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

When you get a COVID-19 vaccine, you can expect mild side effects, including soreness or redness at the injection site. Other common side effects are fever, chills, headache, tiredness, and muscle or joint pain. These side effects are normal as your body creates an immune response to protect you from COVID-19, and may increase with the second dose.

Can children and the elderly receive the vaccine?

The current vaccines are available for people 12+.

Can I get COVID-19 between the 2 vaccinations?

The CDC said it can take weeks for a person’s body to build up immunity after getting vaccinated. 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.

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.

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.

If I have egg allergies or have had Guillain-Barre, can I get the vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccine or injectable medications, such as food, pet, venom, environmental or latex allergies get vaccinated. Those with a history of allergies to oral medicines or a family history of severe allergic reactions are also in the clear. But the agency cautions against vaccination for individuals who have had any kind of immediate allergic reaction — when treatment with an epinephrine pen or a hospital visit is necessary — to any ingredient in the Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccine. These “immediate” reactions can include hives, swelling and wheezing. The same advice goes for people who have had a severe allergic reaction to their first dose of either vaccine. The CDC says this group should not get the second dose, which is required for full protection.

If I had another vaccine recently can I still get the vaccine for COVID?

The vaccine series should routinely be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccine. Currently, there is insufficient data on the safety and efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines. 

J&J/Janssen FAQ

I only want the (JJ/Pfizer/Moderna) vaccine? Can I pick the brand that I want to receive?

When you have the opportunity to get any of the three available COVID-19 vaccines, you should schedule an appointment. All three vaccines have been thoroughly tested and have been found to be safe for the prevention of COVID-19 and are highly effective in preventing severe illness and death.

Has the J&J/Janssen vaccine been approved?

On February 27, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the third vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The EUA allows the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.

What are the benefits of the J&J/Janssen?

The J&J/Janssen vaccine requires just one dose. Its effectiveness in eliminating severe COVID-19 symptoms is comparable to the other options (85% vs. 89% and 100%), Vaccine storage is also a benefit of the J&J/Janssen version which will remain stable at standard refrigeration temperatures for up to three months.

What is the difference between an mRNA (Pfizer & Moderna)and viral vector (J&J/Janssen) vaccine?

All three vaccines deliver genetic instructions that help prime our immune systems to fight off coronavirus. RNA enters healthy cells where it helps generate the production of spike proteins that will trigger the immune system to product antibodies that will recognize the virus if later infected. While the viral vaccine introduces antibodies that can identify COVID-19 and help neutralize it.

Is the J&J/Janssen vaccine as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?

Efficacy varies with the three vaccines, with the two dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offering overall efficacy near 95%. The one dose J&J/Janssen vaccine offers 72% efficacy in the USA. All three have been shown to be 100% effective at preventing death from COVID-19.

Vaccine Efficacy Overall Severe COVID-19 Deaths
 Pfizer 95% 89% 0 due to COVID
 Moderna 94% 100% 0 due to COVID
J&J 72% USA (66% overall) 85% 0 due to COVID

Are there differences in the side effects between the three vaccines?

Mild side effects have been reported with all versions of the vaccines, but the J&J/Janssen version has a lower incidence of overall side effects.

  Pfizer  Moderna J&J/Janssen
Local pain  77.8% 90.1% 58.6%
Swelling 6.3% 12.6%  7%
Fatigue  59.4% 67.6% 43.8%
Chills  35.1% 48.3% 2%
Fever  15.8% 17.4% 12.8%
Overall Side Effects  36% 46% 27%

If I have had allergic reactions to any previous non-COVID vaccines, should I ask for a specific COVID vaccine?

No, not unless there was a specific component of a vaccine that was identified as having caused your reaction that may also be a component in one of the COVID vaccines. If no specific component was identified, you may receive any of the COVID vaccines, but your period of observation should be 30 minutes instead of the standard 15 minutes as an added precaution.

If you have a known allergy to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate, you may not be eligible for any of the currently available vaccines. If you have a known allergy to citric acid monohydrate, trisodium citrate dihydrate, ethanol, or2-hydroxypropyl-cyclodextrin (HBCD), you may not be eligible for the J&J/Janssen vaccine. In those cases, it is best to check with your medical provider or allergist on the best course of action.

Is the J&J/Janssen vaccine approved for all age groups?

The J&J/Janssen vaccine is approved for those 18+. Distribution of the vaccine will follow the roll-out plan from Governor Mike DeWine.

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