After months of anticipation, the COVID-19 vaccination process has started, albeit at a slower pace than many Americans prefer. The FDA authorization of two vaccines and possibly another one are important steps in the fight to end the coronavirus pandemic or at least mitigate the effects it has had on daily life for individuals around the world.
Healthcare providers of all sizes are being inundated with questions from patients about the new vaccines. Many want to know about potential side effects that might occur with it, while others are curious about whether or not they should receive it if they’ve already contracted COVID-19. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to answer some of these questions, giving providers an FAQ summary to share with their patients and get back to focusing on direct clinical care.
1. Will the vaccine stop me from contracting COVID-19? How effective is it?
Research has shown that the COVID-19 vaccines will most likely prevent individuals from contracting the virus and spreading it. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has a 95 percent efficacy rate. Data on the Moderna vaccine shows a 94.1 percent efficacy rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all COVID-19 vaccines currently in development will only be authorized or approved only if they make it substantially less an individual will get COVID-19.
2. How long does the COVID-19 vaccine last?
There’s no definitive answer yet to this question. According to researchers, it depends on factors such as how many people get the COVID-19 vaccine. Clinical trials are underway to study the long-term effectiveness of the authorized vaccines.
3. Will getting the vaccine cause me to get sick with COVID-19?
As noted by the CDC, neither of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines currently being distributed in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. These vaccines will NOT cause you to get the virus.
4. What are possible side effects?
Often people receiving the vaccines have had no side effects. Those that experience side effects report symptoms such as pain and swelling on the arm on which you received the shot and fever, chills, fatigue, muscle or joint pain and/or headache. These symptoms are also consistent with your body’s normal immune reaction-great news, the vaccine is doing it’s job. Most side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine occur within the first three days after vaccination and only last a day or two.
5. What is an mRNA vaccine?
Also referred to as Messenger RNA vaccines, mRNA vaccines are designed to make the virus’ spike protein, which enables the virus to attach to cells in an individual’s body. Unlike other vaccines which trigger an immune response by putting an inactivated germ into the body, mRNA vaccines cause an individual’s body to develop antibodies to the spike protein. This is what prohibits the virus from attaching to cells if it enters the body. mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 or affect an individual’s DNA in any way.
6. If I already had COVID-19, should I get the vaccine?
Although getting COVID-19 might offer some level of immunity to reinfection, there is no definitive data on how long that protection lasts. Therefore, individuals who previously contracted COVID-19 should still consider getting one of the available vaccines.
7. How many shots of the COVID-19 vaccine do I need to receive its full effects?
Both of the current vaccines being used in the U.S., from Pfizer and Moderna, are a two-dose series. There is not comprehensive data on levels of immunity after the first dose of both vaccines, although the Pfizer vaccine provided partial immunity and an 82 percent efficacy rate approximately two weeks after the first dose. In individuals who participated in Moderna’s clinical trial, the first dose was found to be 80.2 percent effective.
8. Is there a risk of a severe allergic reaction if I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Like any vaccine or medication, there is a risk of an allergic response. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and throat, a fast heartbeat, a bad rash all over the body and dizziness and weakness. If an allergic response were to occur, it would likely occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose. People who experience a severe allergic reaction with the initial dose, should not receive the second dose.
9. Do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing if I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. It’s recommended that, in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 even after you’re vaccinated, you continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. These simple practices keep you and the ones you love safe.
Utilizing automated appointment reminders and tailored patient outreach enables you to cost-effectively provide your patients with the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccination process and monitor them post-vaccine. Doing so through HIPAA-compliant text messaging lets your practice staff and physicians more efficiently communicate with each other and patients while maintaining the privacy of your patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) and complying with HIPAA requirements. In addition, our CareMessenger platform enables you to check-in on patients to ensure they aren’t experiencing any unexpected side effects, offering them peace of mind and better quality care. Schedule a demo with our talented team to learn more!