Since New Hanover Regional Medical Center received the first COVID-19 vaccines in mid-December 2020, it has put tens of thousands of shots in arms across southeastern North Carolina.
NHRMC's vaccine distribution plans follow guidance released by the CDC and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, everyone age 16 and older in North Carolina will be eligible to receive a vaccine. Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about the vaccine.
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What is the COVID-19 vaccine?
A vaccine helps protect you against an infectious disease. Everyone should receive a COVID-19 vaccine before they are exposed to the disease to prevent them from becoming sick or spreading the disease.
Is a COVID-19 vaccine needed or necessary?
Yes. The best way to prevent infection to yourself or others is to get vaccinated when possible. The FDA has not authorized the vaccine for children under the age of 16.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
The FDA will only permit vaccines that are determined to be safe. The current studies during the vaccine trials have shown that the vaccine is safe.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine in the short- and long-term?
As of late November, early results from multiple studies of COVID-19 vaccines have been made public. These trials show a 95% effectiveness for the Pfizer vaccine and a 94.5% effectiveness for the Moderna vaccine for people who received both doses of the vaccine. This means there were about 95% fewer people with COVID-19 in the study groups getting the vaccine compared to the groups who received a placebo.
We do not know the long-term ability of COVID-19 vaccines to prevent infection at this time. It is possible that recipients will need additional doses (boosters) of the vaccine in the future.
How is the vaccine administered?
The COVID-19 vaccine is a shot into the muscle of the upper arm. If you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, you'll need to receive a second dose either three (for Pfizer) or four (for Moderna) weeks later. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot.
What happens if I only get only one dose of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine?
At this time, we do not know the exact effects from only receiving one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, researchers believe it would make the vaccine less effective. NHRMC strongly recommends that everyone receive their second dose in a timely manner so that they may receive the maximum protection from the vaccine.
If you have a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine, you should not receive the second dose.
Are there any groups who should NOT receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
At this time, vaccines are not approved for children under age 16. If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, you should not receive it.
See a full list of ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine here.
See a full list of ingredients in the Moderna vaccine here.
See a full list of ingredients in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine here.
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I don't feel well?
If you're sick with COVID-19, you should wait until you've recovered, it's been at least 10 days since you first had symptoms, and you've gone at least 24 hours without a fever, according to the CDC.
Should pregnant and breastfeeding women receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
The American College of OB/GYN and Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine both recommend pregnant and breastfeeding women receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. You should also receive the vaccine if you’re trying to conceive but aren’t pregnant yet.
Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?
There are no links to fertility problems and the vaccine, said Dr. Pamela Oliver, an OB-GYN with Novant Health. There’s also not a concern about future fertility, she said. Read more here.
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines, such as flu or shingles?
Yes. If you’re receiving the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, get it at least 14 days before you get any other vaccinations. If you’re receiving the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, schedule other vaccinations either 14 days before the first dose or 14 days after the second dose.
I experienced lymph node swelling after the vaccine. Can I continue with my mammogram appointment?
If you have a previously scheduled screening mammogram, talk to your doctor about rescheduling your appointment for four to six weeks after your vaccination. If you have a diagnostic mammogram, talk to your doctor, but don’t delay your appointment. Inflammation or swelling of the lymph nodes is an expected effect of your body’s immune response to the vaccine.
What if I have already had COVID-19? Should I still get the vaccine?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and NHRMC recommend all eligible individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccine regardless of their prior infection status. Additionally, a prior COVID-19 infection may not indicate immunity to the disease in the future.
Would I test positive for COVID-19 after receiving this vaccine?
No, you will not test positive on nose, throat or saliva tests because of the vaccine. You may test positive on the blood test (antibody), but this is not the test that we use to determine if someone is currently sick with COVID-19.
What are the short-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Individuals who receive a COVID-19 vaccine may experience mild to moderate side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. Trials have shown the side effects typically occur at the site of the injection and do not last beyond a few days.
The most common side effect caused by the vaccine includes pain at the site where the vaccine was given, which is in the arm. Other side effects may include a headache, fever, chills or muscle aches – especially after the second shot.
What are the long-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
We are not aware of long-term side effects of COVID-19 vaccines at this time. However, based on prior vaccine trials, we remain confident in recommending the COVID-19 vaccines. As we receive more data in the coming weeks and months, we will continue to share updated information.
What can I do after I've been vaccinated?
Please continue to follow recommended safety precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to the CDC, everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don't live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.