Answers to Your COVID-19 Vaccine Questions

January 04, 2021
prep2 for CL 600w NHRMC's vaccine distribution plans follow guidance released by the CDC and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. As more vaccines become available, other groups will become eligible for vaccination. Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about the vaccine.

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. A second dose is then administered either three or four weeks later depending on the vaccine.

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?

Children, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and immunocompromised individuals were not included in Phase Two of clinical trials, so we do not have a recommendation for these groups at this time. We expect to learn more details in the next few weeks as part of any authorization for use from the FDA.

If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, you should not receive it. The ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine, which is the type NHRMC will be administering, include mRNA, lipids, potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

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.

When can the general public receive a vaccine?

We will learn more in the coming weeks when vaccines will be available for the general population, including our patients. In the meantime, 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.