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COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccines

Click for MWHC Vaccine Clinic Info

Virginia Department of Health/Rappahannock Area Health District Vaccine Registrations:

VDH vaccine survey for residents over 65 in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Caroline, King George, and Spotsylvania
All others pre-register with the Virginia Department of Health for your COVID-19 vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration recently granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for both Pfizer’s and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. Mary Washington Healthcare (MWHC), in partnership with the Rappahannock Area Health District (RAHD), is the Fredericksburg region’s hub for COVID-19 vaccines.

Pfizer vaccine fact sheet

Moderna vaccine fact sheet

The Commonwealth of Virginia has released COVID-19 vaccination prioritization guidelines to assist us in developing a vaccine deployment plan for our region. The first phase of the distribution includes healthcare workers and long-term care residents. MWHC has begun vaccinating the first tier in the Governor’s deployment plan—including healthcare personnel who directly engage with COVID-19 patients in our hospitals such as emergency department staff and providers, ICU staff and providers, respiratory therapists, housekeepers who work in COVID-19 medical units, and more.

In addition, MWHC and RAHD are collaborating to establish vaccine clinics for our first responders such as EMS, fire and rescue, and police. You can find the Governor’s full phased deployment model here. We anticipate completing the first phase of the vaccine deployment in the first quarter of 2021.

While many of us wait patiently for our turn to receive the vaccine, it is important to do credible research to determine if you plan to receive the vaccine. Here are some early “Frequently Asked Questions” to assist you in making the right decision for you, your family, and your neighbors. Tune in to our Community Town Halls on Facebook to learn more or ask questions of our expert panel. Or watch them on our YouTube channel.

Vaccine FAQs

Is it safe?

Is the vaccine safe?

Before the FDA grants Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), the safety and efficacy of the vaccines is reviewed by panels of independent experts retained by the companies, by FDA scientific staff, and by an independent panel of experts convened by the FDA. There are no reported serious safety concerns from these two vaccines. The CDC and the FDA will continue to monitor individuals who have received the vaccine to ensure there is no evidence of even rare safety issues.

We understand some of you might be nervous about the vaccine, but as health care workers, we have a duty to protect our patients and each other, and we would never seek to put our employees in harm’s way. We will only ask you to do this if we believe it will safely protect you, your family, and our patients.

Please also keep in mind that COVID-19 can be a fatal or debilitating disease, even in young, healthy people. The risks from contracting the virus are greater than the possible risks from receiving the vaccine.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

It is not possible to get COVID-19 from vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use only protein while other vaccines being studied use inactivated virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.

How many doses will I need?

How many doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will I need?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. An initial vaccination and then a second shot either three or four weeks later. The Pfizer vaccine requires a booster 21 days later and the Moderna vaccine requires a second dose 28 days later. The different vaccine products are not interchangeable. The second dose must be completed with the same vaccine brand as the first dose. Both doses are important to ensure full protection.

What if I miss my second dose?

What if I miss my second dose?

These two COVID-19 vaccines are not completely effective unless you receive the second dose. Your second dose will be scheduled when you receive your first shot.

What are the side effects?

What are the side effects?

Pfizer has reported that some Phase III clinical trial participants experienced mild-to-moderate side effects with its investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Scientists anticipate that the shots may cause mild flu-like side effects - including sore arms, muscle aches, and fever. Therefore, we are recommending that you take ibuprofen or acetaminophen (if you can safely take them) before you get the vaccine. This will help to significantly alleviate the side effects. Study participants did not take pain relievers before their vaccines.

Please seek medical attention immediately if you experience severe side effects.

Can a person with COVID-19 get the vaccine?

Can a COVID-19 vaccine be given to a person sick with COVID-19?

We expect that will be based on the degree of the person’s illness. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will make this clear in its “precautions and contraindications” advice regarding each of the vaccines.

If I've had COVID-19, do I need the vaccine?

If I have had COVID-19 should I get the vaccine?

Yes. While individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 do produce antibodies, the antibody levels and how long they last are not known. If you have had COVID, you need to wait 30 days before getting vaccinated.

Will people who have gotten sick with COVID-19 still benefit from getting vaccinated?

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19, and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 previously. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person, and the evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long in some people.

Do I have to wear a mask still?

Do I have to continue wearing a mask after I get the vaccine?

Yes. We should all continue wearing face masks, practicing excellent hand hygiene and social distancing until enough vaccine is manufactured and distributed, until we know how long a vaccine will protect us, and until our community shows levels of minimal spread.

Will it keep me from getting COVID?

Will it keep me from getting COVID-19?

Current data show that both the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccines are 95 percent effective in preventing the person from getting COVID-19. The studies did not test everyone to see how many people in the vaccinated group got infected compared with the placebo group. Instead, the scientists compared how many in the vaccinated group and the placebo group went on to develop the disease. The companies will continue to test people in the studies for antibodies to the COVID-19 virus, which would include people who did not show any symptoms of their infection, so they can get a better sense of whether the vaccines protect against not only getting sick, but also against infection.

What are the odds I will still catch COVID-19?

According to the CDC, we will not know how long immunity lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccine works. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about. The CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

How long until I am protected?

How long will it take for the vaccine to begin protecting me?

It normally takes about two to three weeks after your second dose for cellular immunity to develop and several weeks for a full antibody response.

Will COVID vaccines cause me to test COVID positive?

Will COVID-19 vaccines cause me to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests?

No. These vaccines will not cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection or vaccination and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

Will this be an annual shot?

Is this an annual shot?

Scientists are still studying this and will determine this once the vaccine is distributed and more data is available.

How does the vaccine work?

How does the vaccine for COVID-19 work?

Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines use novel messenger-RNA, or mRNA, technology, which uses genetic material to cause the body to create a protein from the virus. The immune system then recognizes the virus and attacks it. This would be the first mRNA product to be approved by the FDA. The study has enrolled 43,538 volunteers. About 42 percent of global participants and 30 percent of U.S. participants have racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. In Pfizer and BioNTech’s late-stage clinical trial, 50 percent of the volunteers got the vaccine, while the other half got a placebo of saltwater. Then they waited to see who would get sick. Only 170 volunteers out of 44,000 have so far gotten sick with COVID-19. An independent board of experts looked at the placebo and vaccine participants and reported that the vaccine is 95 percent effective.

Does the vaccine use a live virus?

I have a health condition that prevents me from getting vaccines with live viruses. Do you know if the COVID-19 vaccine uses a live virus?

Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are mRNA vaccines, and AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s are non-replicating vectored vaccines. None of the early vaccines being tested are live weakened versions of the virus. When vaccines are licensed, part of the information that will be provided will include who should or should not get each vaccine. At that time, we recommend talking with your healthcare provider to determine which vaccine will be the best one for you to get, given your medical history.

Are there other vaccines being studied?

Are there other vaccines being studied?

The AstraZeneca and University of Oxford team, as well as Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, are also working on a vaccine but using different technology for delivering the viral genes that can produce viral proteins to activate the immune system. Novavax and the Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline are working on a vaccine that uses proteins themselves to trigger an immune response. All are close to completing their testing.

What about distribution?

Are there challenges with the distribution?

These vaccines will require two doses and need to be kept at very low temperatures-much colder than a household freezer. Many hospitals and clinics do not have the ability to store the medicine at these ultra-low temperatures, so that must be worked out once these vaccines get FDA approval. At Mary Washington Healthcare, we have ample cold-storage facilities to hold whichever vaccine we use for patients and employees. And, during distribution, we still need to keep the vaccines cold and the temperature strictly monitored, making the distributing challenging. However, Mary Washington Healthcare has teams working on our plans for this and we are prepared to store and safely distribute the vaccines we receive.

Is the pandemic over now that we have a vaccine?

Do the new vaccine trial results mean the end to the pandemic?

In the short term, no. The soonest that coronavirus vaccines could become widely available to the public would be in the spring. But if effective vaccines become available-and if most people get them-the pandemic could drastically shrink. This means we are one giant step closer to getting our lives back to normal.

Will the flu shot protect me from COVID?

Will getting the flu vaccine protect me from COVID-19?

A flu vaccine will not protect you from getting COVID-19, but it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. This can keep you from having a more severe illness. While it is not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the winter, the CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread during that time. You should encourage all your friends and family to get flu shots, just like we have at Mary Washington Healthcare.

What is a vaccine?

What is a vaccine?

According to the CDC, a vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies and cellular immunity to combat that specific disease, like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease without having to get the disease first. Therefore, vaccines are necessary-they prevent disease by letting you develop immunity in a safe and controlled way.

What is an EUA?

What is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and what does it mean for COVID vaccines?

The FDA granted EUA for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in late 2020. In an emergency, like a pandemic, the FDA can make a judgment that it is worth releasing something for use even without the typical timeline for a new vaccine or drug. If there’s evidence that strongly suggests that patients have benefited from the vaccine in clinical trials, the agency can issue an EUA to make it available. Current data from both manufacturersstrongly indicate that both vaccines are safe and effective. These vaccines will continue to be studied, as is true with all vaccines.

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