COVID-19 Vaccine FAQS

Questions about vaccine safety, effectiveness, and other concerns that come to mind? Find answers to your common questions below.

Update 11/21: A COVID-19 vaccine option is available for ages 5 and older.


Vaccine Safety

What Does Emergency Authorized Use (EUA) Mean?

During some emergencies – like the COVID-19 pandemic – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can issue an emergency use authorization (or EUA) for faster access to critical medical aides. These authorized interventions – including medicines, vaccines, and tests – can help save lives and prevent serious illness when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternative options.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully reviews all safety data from clinical trials and authorizes emergency vaccine use only when the expected benefits outweigh potential risks. All COVID-19 vaccines must go through rigorous testing in order to receive EUA authority.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

We understand your concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine. Munson Healthcare takes the safety of any vaccine very seriously. This includes reviewing safety evidence from the following before offering any vaccine:

  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP)
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

The authorized COVID-19 vaccines have been evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials and met the rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization. Millions of people in the United States have now received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. 

For more information about the safety of the vaccine, visit

How can a safe vaccine be available so quickly?

Thankfully, vaccine research had already begun due to previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses. This provided a head start for the rapid development of vaccines to protect against COVID-19. Additional steps were also taken to shorten the timeline without sacrificing safety, including overlapping trials, more efficient production of the vaccines, and proactively planning distribution during the last phase of the clinical trials.

I’m immunocompromised or have comorbidities. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The risks associated with contracting COVID-19 may be more severe for people who are immunocompromised. Therefore, individuals who are immunocompromised or have comorbidities are eligible – and encouraged by the CDC – to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You should speak to your family doctor to understand how the vaccine may affect your current treatment plan.

Will vaccinated Munson Healthcare staff continue following safety protocols, such as wearing proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)? 

Yes, Healthcare Team members will continue to wear PPE. The vaccine - along with PPE, handwashing, and social distancing - helps stop the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about how we’re keeping you safe.


Vaccines & Kids

Is the vaccine safe for kids?

The FDA and CDC have approved emergency authorized use of the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine for kids ages 5 and older. Learn more about safety, effectiveness, needle fear and more from five of our expert pediatricians.

 

Is the COVID-9 Vaccine Safe for Kids?

 

Why were children under 16 not included in the initial clinical trials?

The FDA has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for emergency use in adolescents 5 and older, supported by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The authorization follows extensive research from the CDC, determining Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to be both safe and effective for kids age 5 and up.

Children are not routinely included in initial drug and vaccine trials due to age-dependent growth and development factors. For example, there are big differences between immune systems and body mass in 2-year-olds versus 12-year-olds. For this and other reasons, trials with children must be separated by several age groups, which means many more participants were needed.

Is the vaccine safe for pregnant women?

Current guidance is that pregnant women should get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) along with the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recently published a joint statement strongly supporting COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women. The joint statement notes that waiting until after delivery to be vaccinated may inadvertently expose individuals to an increased risk of severe illness or death. The statement goes on to say that experts in high-risk pregnancy strongly recommend pregnant women get vaccinated.


Vaccines & Side Effects

What are the potential side effects of the vaccine?

Most recipients do not report serious problems after being vaccinated. Some studies have begun to show that COVID-19 vaccines may cause a stronger immune response than other vaccines you are familiar with. Common COVID-19 vaccine symptoms include:

  • A sore, red, or warm arm (goes away within a week or less)
  • Low-grade fever
  • Headache 
  • A general “I’m not quite my normal self” feeling
  • Nausea

These are normal signs that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to - produce an immune response so you have protection against the disease.

For two-dose vaccines:

Some symptoms listed above may feel more significant after a second dose. Increased fatigue in the hours following a second dose has also been reported. However, there is no marked increase in vaccine recipients reporting severe adverse reactions following a second dose.

Please make sure to schedule and receive your second dose unless a vaccine provider or your doctor advises otherwise.

Click here for specific information on authorized and released COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

Are there any long-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The standard length of time for clinical trials to observe long-term effects in vaccines is six weeks. Any long-term effects that may be present are likely to be found within this timeframe. The COVID-19 clinical trials observed participants for at least two months to ensure long-term effects could be evaluated. No significant long-term side effects were reported or observed. Those studies are ongoing and as more people are vaccinated, we will get more information about both short-term and long-term safety and efficacy.

I have a history of allergic reactions. Can I still get the vaccine?

Yes. Contact your family doctor if you have had any severe reactions to medicines or vaccines in the past.

According to the CDC, anaphylactic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines are rare.

Anaphylaxis typically develops within the first 15 minutes and among individuals with a history of anaphylaxis. These individuals are routinely asked to wait 30 minutes after vaccination for monitoring. Should this occur, anaphylaxis is highly treatable. Vaccine administration sites are prepared with epinephrine and other safety measures and protocols to respond appropriately.


Questions about the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you’re unable to reach your primary care doctor and you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines (or any other health-related concerns) talk to live registered nurse at 231-935-0951.

This free service is available daily from 7 am to 11 pm. No insurance is required.

Ask-A-Nurse - Learn More

 


Vaccines & Variants

Are current COVID19 vaccines effective against different strains?

COVID-19 virus mutations are expected. Some variants may be more transmissible or less responsive to vaccines, so it is important to avoid exposure through other tools, like masking and social distancing. Scientists will continue monitoring variants of the virus and will assess the related efficacy of current vaccines. It is likely vaccine manufacturers will modify future vaccines to provide immunity to more than one strain, if necessary.

It is important for eligible individuals to get vaccinated to help communities achieve herd immunity. This provides less opportunity for the COVID-19 virus to mutate into variants. To date, current vaccines appear to be effective against variants but we cannot predict if that will remain true if the virus continues to mutate into additional variants.

What about the highly contagious Delta variant – will the vaccine protect me from this strain?

The Delta variant spreads at least twice as fast as the original COVID-19 virus, with a viral load (the amount of virus you carry in your body) that’s 1000 times higher. However, COVID-19 vaccines are still highly effective at preventing even the Delta variant. In the small probability of a breakthrough infection, fully vaccinated people can still spread the virus, although the window of time they can spread the virus appears to be much shorter. Studies also show that the Delta variant is more likely to lead to hospitalization, though the majority of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated.

Vaccine Effectiveness

Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective at keeping me from getting sick?

Like other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine helps protect you by creating an antibody response in your body without having to experience sickness. It usually takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination, meaning it’s possible to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

What about breakthrough infections?

COVID-19 vaccines are shown to be up to 95% effective at preventing severe cases of the disease approximately 10-12 days after receiving the full recommended dose. Keep in mind that no vaccine is 100% effective. In fact, the COVID-19 vaccines currently available are more effective compared to other vaccines routinely administered in the United States. They all do an excellent job of preventing severe forms of the disease, including hospitalizations and mortality, which is the primary goal of any vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness rate means a small number of vaccinated individuals (5-15%, or 1-2 in 20) could still be infected with what’s called a breakthrough infection and spread COVID-19 even after receiving the full-recommended dosage. But there’s good news: vaccinated individuals typically experience a less severe form of the disease. These rare cases are why continuing to ACT (wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing hands often) is so important even among vaccinated individuals until larger herd immunity is achieved.

Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

I’ve already had COVID-19. Should I still get the vaccine?

The immunity gained from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering. Some early evidence suggests that natural immunity may not last very long. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the possibility of re-infection, strongly consider getting vaccinated (as long as you are not still acutely ill).

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are studying. If you have received COVID-19 convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibody treatment, please wait 90 days before requesting a COVID-19 vaccine.

What is herd immunity and how do vaccines help reach it?

Herd immunity (or community immunity) is accomplished when enough people in a region or population become immune to potentially dangerous viruses like COVID-19 – either from infection and recovery or through vaccination. Once herd immunity is achieved, community spread drops significantly and the virus naturally dies out. Click here to learn more about herd immunity or watch the video below.

Where can I learn more about different vaccines?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention updates its COVID-19 vaccine pages regularly. Visit the link below for updated information on authorized and recommended vaccines as they become available in the United States. 

Information includes:

  • Who is and is not recommended to receive each vaccine
  • Side effects
  • Information from clinical trials, including study design and outcomes
  • How each vaccine works
  • What to expect after vaccination
  • Vaccine ingredients and more

Visit the CDC

 


Other Commonly Asked Questions

Can I choose which brand vaccine I get?

All of the available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at protecting you and your family from severe forms of the disease. If you feel strongly that one specific vaccine is right for you, please make sure to confirm your vaccination location has available appointments with the vaccine you prefer.

Will I need to pay to receive a COVID-19 vaccine? What will it cost?

FDA-authorized vaccines are given at no cost, regardless of your ability to pay, your insurance coverage status, or your immigration status. Please note: your private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid may be charged an administration fee, but there is no out-of-pocket cost to anyone living in the United States. The CDC warns that if anyone asks you to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine, it is a scam.

I recently received a vaccine unrelated to COVID-19. Should I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. According to the CDC, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine and other types of vaccines without regard to timing. You can even opt to get multiple vaccines at the same appointment, such as the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot.

Will the flu shot help prevent me from getting COVID-19?

No, but it can prevent you from getting the flu at the same time as COVID-19. Preventing both illnesses at once by getting your flu shot could prevent severe symptoms. The CDC anticipates the likelihood of both the flu and COVID-19 viruses spreading at the same time this winter.

What if I was exposed to a COVID-19-postitive individual but never tested for COVID-19. Should I get vaccinated?

Yes, but please complete a 14-day quarantine before you get vaccinated.