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COVID-19 Vaccine: Fact vs Fiction

COVID-19 Vaccine: Fact vs Fiction

With so many sources of information, it’s easy to see why conflicting information is swirling about the COVID-19 vaccine. Maybe something you saw on social media is making you hesitant about getting vaccinated. Perhaps a family member or friend sent you an article that makes you question the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. Keep in mind: Much of the information available is accurate, but some of the “facts” are just plain wrong.

Valley Health has addressed some of the most widespread questions and rumors surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines in order to separate fact from fiction and help you make an informed decision.

How was it developed so fast?

No steps were skipped in the development and testing of the vaccine. Due to the urgent nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine companies were granted permission to complete each step of the approval process at the same time, rather than consecutively.

You can read more on this process from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by clicking here.

How do mRNA vaccines work?

mRNA vaccines protect against infectious diseases. While traditional vaccines put a weakened germ into our bodies, mRNA vaccines teach our cells to make a protein that triggers a response inside our bodies. This immune response produces antibodies, protecting us from getting infected if COVID-19 enters our bodies. mRNA vaccines have been held to the same safety and effectiveness standards as all other vaccines in the U.S.

What is the difference between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine versus the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines? 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, similar to the flu vaccine. This type of vaccine uses a weakened live pathogen as the delivery method. This causes the body to trigger an immune response. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use mRNA to teach our cells to make a protein that triggers a response (as detailed above).

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also more accessible since it can be stored in a refrigerator, rather than in ultra-cold storage. This is a promising development because more of the vaccine can be distributed more easily. The Johnson & Johnson, as well as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are all very effective in preventing serious illness from COVID-19.

Can I wait to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it becomes more readily available? Can I choose which vaccine I receive? 

Health experts, including the Virginia Department of Health, encourage people to get the first vaccine available to them. 

What is the difference between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines?

There are some differences between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. First, they have different storage requirements. The Moderna vaccine can be stored at -4 degrees Fahrenheit, while Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit. The age requirement also differs – with Moderna’s minimum age at 18 years old and Pfizer at 16 years old. 

What side effects can I expect?

Side effects reported during the eight week trial period and the first months of distribution include a low grade fever, headache, and muscle aches. These symptoms were consistent between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Most patients with side effects have reported full recovery within 24-48 hours. Many recipients reported little to no side effects from the vaccine.

Can I have an allergic reaction from the vaccine?

As more vaccines are administered, we’re learning more about reactions. Serious allergic reactions – known as anaphylaxis – have been very rare. Speak with your provider if you are concerned about allergies. Click here to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and allergies.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

The vaccine does not contain the live virus. Therefore, it is impossible to contract COVID-19 from receiving the vaccines.

I’ve heard the vaccines can negatively impact fertility. Is this true?

Current data shows no correlation between the mRNA vaccines and fertility. The data also gives reassurance that mRNA vaccines are safe for those pregnant and breastfeeding.

Additionally, pregnancy is a known risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease. Meaning, women who are pregnant and have other risk factors experience a greater chance of severe complications from contracting COVID-19. The vaccine helps to ensure that you won’t contract COVID-19.

Speak with your provider about the best option for you. Your provider can give you advice specific to your health history.

I’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered. Should I still get vaccinated?

Yes. Due to the severe risks associated with COVID-19 and the possibility of reinfection, you should be vaccinated. If you have been treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing after I’ve gotten both vaccine doses?

Yes. While the vaccines have proven effective for protecting you from the virus, it’s still uncertain if you can still spread the virus to others after vaccination. It’s also unclear when The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other federal and state agencies will lift masking and social distancing recommendations.

Do I have to get both doses of the vaccine?

Yes. In order for either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to work properly, you must receive both doses. Each dose must be from the same brand. For example, if you receive the Pfizer vaccine your second dose must also be Pfizer.

How long after the second dose am I fully protected? 

Current data suggests full immunity appears 10-14 days after your second vaccine. Again, it's important to continue to practice good hand hygiene, mask wearing, and social distancing after your second vaccine. 

Should my vaccinator be wearing gloves?

Vaccinators are required to follow all hand hygiene guidelines laid out by the CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Those guidelines state that gloves are not required when administering vaccines. Good hand hygiene is sufficient.

How do I get a vaccine through Valley Health?

Valley Health is currently vaccinating eligible Virginia residents by appointment. New clinics and available appointments are dependent on vaccine availability. Valley Health will post registration links between 9am and 3pm daily. If registration links have not been posted by 3pm, they will not be posted that day.

For updated information on registration in Virginia, click here.

Do you have someone in your life who needs help registering online? Become their vaccination helper by watching the web site and social media pages. Anyone can help a friend, family member or neighbor to sign-up online when appointments are available.

West Virginia vaccinations are being coordinated by local health departments. To learn more, click here.

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