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COVID-19 vaccine FAQ: Solutions to your commonest questions


Greater than a 12 months and a half into the coronavirus pandemic, Individuals are anxious, depressed and annoyed — but additionally hopeful, as vaccines are attending to hundreds of thousands of individuals throughout the nation, and research present that they work in opposition to the lethal illness.

However because the vaccine has rolled out, so have the questions: Who ought to get it? What’s protected to do when you’re vaccinated? What about breakthrough circumstances? 

Listed below are the solutions to your most regularly requested questions in regards to the vaccine, together with its effectiveness, its dangers, and what to anticipate in terms of unwanted side effects.

How can I get the COVID vaccine?

Vaccine distribution obtained off to a patchy and complicated begin, with some states rolling out quicker than others to totally different precedence teams, however vaccines are actually extensively accessible throughout the U.S. and eligibility has expanded to incorporate everybody age 12 and up. The tempo of vaccinations reached a peak of over 3 million photographs per day in April earlier than beginning to decline. 

Greater than 62% of eligible individuals within the U.S. (ages 12 and up) had been totally vaccinated as of early September, the CDC experiences, and over 73% have gotten not less than one dose.

Doses can be found — for free of charge — at hundreds of vaccination websites and pharmacies throughout the nation. 

To discover a location close to you, go to the web site vaccines.gov, textual content your ZIP code to 438829, or name 1-800-232-0233 (the CDC says the decision heart operates in 150+ languages).

When can youngsters get the vaccine?

The Pfizer vaccine acquired authorization in Could for adolescents age 12 to fifteen after scientific trial outcomes confirmed it’s protected and efficient in that age group. That has allowed many college students to get vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19 earlier than the beginning of the varsity 12 months. 

However youthful youngsters should wait some time longer. Vaccine makers have begun together with youthful youngsters in scientific trials, with outcomes anticipated within the coming months. Many specialists anticipate vaccines to be accessible for youthful age teams by early this winter.


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The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are at present approved just for ages 18 and up.

What are the variations between the COVID vaccines?

In December 2020, the FDA approved emergency use of the primary two coronavirus vaccines within the U.S., one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, and the opposite by Moderna. Each require two doses. A 3rd vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson‘s Janssen Biotech division, obtained FDA authorization in late February and solely requires one shot.

All three proved extremely efficient at stopping extreme sickness, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. 

On August 23, Pfizer’s vaccine grew to become the primary to be granted full FDA approval. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are each made utilizing messenger RNA, or mRNA, know-how.

Historically, vaccines have been made out of a weakened or inactivated germ that trains the immune system to combat off an infection if it encounters the virus sooner or later. However mRNA vaccines do one thing totally different: They train human physique cells learn how to make a innocent piece of a protein — a “spike protein” — that is additionally discovered on the floor of the coronavirus. After that protein piece emerges on the floor of a cell, the human immune system acknowledges it and begins making antibodies for it — which provide safety if the individual is uncovered to the precise virus sooner or later.

One distinction between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is the wait time between the 2 required doses: Pfizer’s are given 21 days aside, whereas the Moderna photographs are given 28 days aside. 

Johnson & Johnson took a distinct strategy, creating what’s referred to as a viral vector vaccine — a sort that has been used for years in opposition to different ailments. It makes use of an altered, innocent, non-replicating model of a typical chilly virus, referred to as adenovirus kind 26, to introduce genetic directions for the “spike protein.” The immune system responds by making antibodies which is able to shield the individual in the event that they’re contaminated by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, sooner or later.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine has the benefit of being saved in common fridges, whereas the 2 others have to be saved and transported at below-freezing temperatures. 

What are the identified unwanted side effects of the COVID vaccines? 

On the whole, unwanted side effects aren’t unusual with vaccines, and the COVID-19 shot is not any exception. Your physique’s immune response may embrace the identical sorts of unwanted side effects usually seen with different vaccines, together with a sore arm, fatigue, fever, chills or complications.

“That is anticipated,” Dr. Neeta Ogden, an inner medication specialist and immunologist, mentioned in an interview on CBSN.

“Folks ought to perhaps take into consideration vaccinating on weekends, for instance,” she mentioned. “You most likely may have to take a day without work from work. … That is predictable and I do not suppose that it’s alarming.”

Not everybody experiences unwanted side effects, however medical doctors stress that their prevalence is regular and mustn’t discourage individuals from getting the photographs. 

Can the unwanted side effects be minimized?

The CDC affords some recommendation on methods to fight vaccine unwanted side effects: After vaccination, use or frivolously train the arm that obtained the shot. Take Tylenol or Motrin for any ache you could have, however solely after you’ve got gotten the shot, not earlier than. The CDC additionally recommends ingesting loads of liquids after you get both the primary or second dose. If redness or tenderness will increase on the vaccination website within the days following the shot, the CDC recommends that you just name your physician.

Do the COVID vaccines shield in opposition to new variants? 

Well being officers say the vaccines nonetheless supply robust safety in opposition to extreme sickness from the present variants. Current information present hospitalization charges amongst unvaccinated adults had been 17 occasions greater than among the many totally vaccinated, the AP reported.

There are at present 4 “variants of concern”: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. Delta, which turned up within the U.S. within the spring, is extra contagious and now makes up the overwhelming majority of U.S. circumstances — about 99% of recent infections are Delta.  

Specialists are additionally keeping track of the Mu variant, which emerged in Colombia in January, and which has mutations suggesting it could possibly bypass current coronavirus antibodies. 

“However there is not plenty of scientific information to recommend that. It’s principally laboratory in vitro information,” Dr. Fauci mentioned. “…We do not contemplate it a direct risk proper now.” 

Who should not get a COVID vaccine?

The CDC says individuals allergic to the ingredient polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate, which is analogous, mustn’t get an mRNA COVID vaccine, and anybody who has a direct allergic response to the primary dose mustn’t get the second.

A handful of individuals suffered opposed reactions, together with anaphylaxis, after getting the vaccine, however all recovered.

Folks with a historical past of allergic response to a vaccine or injectable remedy for an additional illness ought to discuss to their medical doctors, the CDC advises. It says individuals with meals allergic reactions do not have to keep away from the vaccine.

Do you have to get a COVID vaccine throughout being pregnant?

The CDC up to date its steerage in August to advocate that people who find themselves pregnant or planning to change into pregnant ought to get vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19, citing a rising quantity of information verifying the protection of the vaccines throughout being pregnant.

“I might say in case you’re pregnant, not solely is it a good suggestion to get the vaccine on the premise of security, nevertheless it’s extremely efficient and vital since you are at elevated threat of dangerous outcomes in case you get COVID,” mentioned Surgeon Normal Vivek Murthy. 


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Though pregnant individuals had been not included within the preliminary scientific trials, tens of hundreds of pregnant ladies have now gotten the photographs safely. Extra analysis has discovered no questions of safety and no elevated threat of miscarriage.

Many medical doctors say the photographs are particularly vital due to the identified threat of extreme sickness from COVID-19 throughout being pregnant.

“I like to recommend extremely that every one pregnant ladies be immunized, from preliminary discovery of the being pregnant proper as much as time period,” Dr. Bob Lahita, professor of medication New York Medical School and chairman of medication St. Joseph College Hospital, mentioned on CBSN. He mentioned there may be “no proof” that the vaccine “has any impact on the placenta, on the fetus, on the mom. Besides if one will get the an infection, the COVID, and you’re pregnant, you run the chance of changing into very, very sick.”

How lengthy will COVID vaccine safety final? 

Researchers and well being specialists say they do not but know for certain. On its official net FAQ, the CDC says, “We can’t know the way lengthy immunity lasts after vaccination till now we have extra information on how nicely COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world situations.”

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel provided a tough window: “We consider there will likely be safety probably for a few years.”

However amid the unfold of the extra transmissible Delta variant and proof that vaccine efficacy is waning considerably, U.S. well being officers started creating plans to supply booster photographs to extend safety.

What’s a booster shot and when can I get one?

A “booster” refers to an additional dose for these whose immune techniques responded nicely to the preliminary vaccines however may face waning efficacy as time goes on.

Pharmacies started providing third doses to totally vaccinated, immunocompromised sufferers in August 2021. Roughly 10 million individuals within the U.S. could qualify for such extra photographs, with roughly 3% of Individuals estimated to be immunocompromised.

Pharmacy chains anticipate the FDA to authorize boosters for the overall over-12 inhabitants as quickly as September 2021. 

Can you continue to unfold COVID after getting the vaccine?

Individuals who obtain a vaccine dramatically decrease their likelihood of getting sick from the virus, although in a comparatively small variety of circumstances, individuals could catch what’s often called a breakthrough an infection regardless of being vaccinated. Vaccinated individuals who contract the virus could have a excessive viral load for a time frame, even when they do not develop signs. However most analysis signifies the vaccines assist cut back its unfold.

What are my dangers of a breakthrough an infection?

Massive-scale information remains to be trickling in, however a London research launched in early September 2021 was encouraging.

The info, gathered from December 8, 2020, by way of July 4, 2021, present that, of greater than 1.2 million adults who obtained a primary dose, fewer than 0.5% reported a breakthrough an infection two weeks or extra after getting the vaccination. Amongst individuals who obtained each photographs, fewer than 0.2% obtained such an an infection throughout the identical interval. 

Even higher: The percentages of a completely vaccinated one that does catch COVID-19 needing a hospital keep shrank by greater than two-thirds, in contrast with an unvaccinated coronavirus affected person. The survey additionally discovered that the chance of sufferers affected by lengthy COVID, with signs lasting greater than a month, had been reduce in half by full vaccination.

Do I nonetheless have to put on a masks after receiving a COVID vaccine? 

As soon as you’ve got gotten vaccinated it takes about two weeks for the physique to develop immunity, so you may have to proceed taking precautions like social distancing and carrying masks to scale back your threat of an infection throughout that point.

After that, the CDC says it’s protected for totally vaccinated individuals shed their masks in some conditions, though it urged the continued use of masks indoors in areas of upper transmission because the extra contagious Delta variant unfold. Masks are nonetheless required for everybody in sure venues like airways, public transit and well being care amenities.

Many states have since dropped their masks mandates, though masks are nonetheless advisable for people who find themselves not vaccinated.

What can I safely do after I’m totally vaccinated?

As soon as individuals are totally vaccinated — that means two weeks have handed after their last dose — the CDC is assuring Individuals that they’ll can resume most actions and collect with different vaccinated individuals, indoors or outdoor.

Vaccinated individuals not have to self-quarantine after journey. The CDC has a extra detailed record of do’s and don’ts right here. 

Can employers power you to get vaccinated?

Many giant firms already do, and President Biden is following go well with.

On September 9, 2021, Mr. Biden introduced new COVID-19 vaccine necessities, which is able to have an effect on roughly 100 million Individuals. The brand new measures embrace a vaccine mandate for all federal employees and contractors, and a requirement that firms with over 100 workers mandate vaccines or common testing. 

The Division of Labor’s Occupational Security and Well being Administration (OSHA) is creating a rule requiring these employers to ensure their workforce is totally vaccinated or require unvaccinated employees to get a damaging take a look at not less than as soon as every week.


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“Typically talking, employers are free to require security measures like vaccination with exceptions for sure workers,” mentioned Aaron Goldstein, a labor and employment companion on the worldwide legislation agency Dorsey & Whitney. “So the reply is prone to be sure, with an asterisk.” Many hospitals, for instance,  have lengthy required workers to get vaccines, with exemptions allowed for medical or non secular causes.

American employees largely again employers making that decision. Greater than half of these in a single current ballot say they favor requiring vaccination for his or her workplaces.

Do I have to get vaccinated if I’ve already had COVID?

Even after you’ve got gotten sick from COVID-19 and recovered, you possibly can nonetheless get it once more. So-called pure immunity varies from individual to individual. The vaccines, however, present a reliably excessive stage of safety.

That mentioned: When you had been handled with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma throughout your sickness, it is best to wait 90 days earlier than getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC additionally recommends it is best to discuss to your physician earlier than continuing.

What are the substances in COVID vaccines?

The FDA has posted detailed data on its web site, together with a full record of substances for the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Why are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines two doses?

For these vaccines to succeed in most effectiveness, two doses are wanted. The primary injection begins constructing safety within the immune system. A second shot will increase the quantity of that safety to greater than 90% in opposition to the virus.

In reporting on this situation, CBS MoneyWatch senior reporter Stephen Gandel uncovered issues that getting solely one of many two photographs may truly make the pandemic worse over time.

“The priority is that if individuals get one shot, and never two photographs, and people individuals get uncovered to the coronavirus, the virus will not get killed off [from] them… and the virus will work out a option to adapt itself, after which it may unfold once more. Then we may have a vaccine-resistant pressure of the coronavirus on the market,” he defined.

Why was there a brief “pause” on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?  

On April 13, U.S. well being officers advisable a non permanent “pause” in use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a number of situations of uncommon blood clots had been reported. Well being officers recognized 16 circumstances, principally amongst ladies underneath the age of fifty, three of whom died, out of greater than 6.8 million individuals who had acquired doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

The pause was lifted 10 days later after a CDC panel of medical specialists decided that the advantages of the vaccine outweigh the dangers. A warning was added about an elevated threat of uncommon however critical blood clots for girls underneath 50.

The CDC and FDA mentioned the blood clots, referred to as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, had been seen alongside low ranges of blood platelets — an uncommon mixture that requires specialised therapy. The businesses mentioned the “opposed occasions” appear to be extraordinarily uncommon, however that the pause was vital in order that well being care suppliers might be made conscious of learn how to acknowledge and handle such circumstances.

“One of many issues you may take away from all of that is that when the surveillance system, the CDC and the FDA, say that one thing is protected, you may ensure that it is protected,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s prime infectious ailments professional, mentioned.

How many individuals must be vaccinated earlier than we attain herd immunity?

Specialists have not reached a consensus on precisely what it can take for the world to realize herd immunity — a stage of widespread safety that leaves the virus few remaining targets, so outbreaks can not flourish. 

A big majority of the inhabitants will must be vaccinated earlier than it could actually occur.



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