This month’s Wise Living column highlighted some Frequently Asked Questions as they relate to the COVID-19 vaccine. This is by no means conclusive nor is it a substitute for a conversation with your health care provider. Please think of it as a springboard to launch a healthy discussion with your doctor.
We believe that good days are ahead!
Your Ikor Team
Dear Wise Living readers,
This month we are going to note some frequently asked questions as they relate to the COVID-19 vaccine. * This is not a comprehensive list of inquiries and is also not a substitute for discussions with your doctor. These are sample questions that typically arise when discussing the vaccine.
For additional information regarding the vaccine, here are two very informative sites: The Wisconsin Department of Health Services https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-about.htm and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html.
Who should get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Getting the vaccine is strongly encouraged for most individuals. The COVID- 19 vaccines are being made available in phases to assure the highest benefit to the community. The first phase focuses primarily on frontline health care workers, residents and workers at long term care facilities and other emergency responders at high risk for infection by coronavirus. This will safeguard the healthcare system and preserve the ability to provide care for those who need it. This initial phase will expand to include other essential workers and people at very high risk for hospitalization or death from COVID-19. It is anticipated that supplies of the vaccine(s) will be available to the general population in the late Spring or early Summer of 2021. Earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) opened up coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone age 65 and older as well as to those with special conditions, like diabetes. It’s worth a call to your primary care physician to see when the vaccine would become available to you.
Is receiving the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
The vaccine has undergone extensive study and review with tens of thousands of immunizations already administered. The data suggests that the vaccine is not only safe but highly effective. This process involves gathering data about the effectiveness and potential side effects of the vaccines that are reviewed by multiple federal agencies responsible for public health and safety. The vaccine has also been tested among a broad range of ages, races, ethnicities, and people with pre-existing conditions.
By the time COVID-19 vaccines are distributed to the general population, they will have undergone a high standard of safety and regulatory approvals based on results of research conducted on thousands of individuals. These safety approval boards include scientists and experts in infectious disease and vaccination that have no connection with the companies producing the vaccines. These individuals evaluate the safety based entirely on the data from the clinical trials. The safety standards for vaccines are even more strict than other medical interventions as these are given to potentially millions of healthy people. The speed of the COVID-19 vaccine development up to the approval stage underscores the advancement in scientific research and is based on decades of experience with production of vaccines for hundreds of other diseases. It does not indicate rushing of the regulatory checks and approval processes.
How is the COVID-19 vaccine administered?
The vaccine is administered as a shot, typically in the upper arm. Individuals are then observed for 15 minutes after administration to note any potential reactions. This is a common practice. Both of the FDA authorized vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna require two shots. The initial dose starts building resistance and the second shot or dose serves as a booster, administered three (Pfizer) or four (Moderna) weeks later This is needed to provide the most protection the vaccine has to offer and increase the likelihood that you will develop antibodies and build immunity.
How long is the COVID-19 vaccine effective?
We don’t know yet, but immunity is expected to be strong for months. Researchers will not know how long immunity lasts until they are able to follow people who receive the vaccine over longer periods of time. This will also help determine whether further booster doses are required.
Is this a live virus vaccine? Could it make others I come in contact with sick?
No, the COVID-19 vaccines are called mRNA vaccines and do not contain virus or virus particles. Thus, it is impossible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine. You will not be contagious or shed live virus.
Do individuals need to quarantine after being vaccinated?
No. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain virus or virus particles. Thus, it is impossible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine. You will not be contagious or shed live virus. Individuals should monitor for symptoms and follow appropriate guidance from their primary care provider.
Will I have to get the COVID-19 vaccine every year?
At this time, we are anticipating that this vaccine will be given only using two shots (21 or 28 days from each other), but future booster shots might be needed.
As always, contact your doctor with any questions that you may have regarding the COVID-19 vaccine or any concerns that you may have relative to the virus.
Better days are ahead!
Dave Ferguson, MD., Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)® MD, NSCA-CPT is Managing Director of IKOR in the Greater Green Bay area. He passionately provides advocacy and life care management services to seniors and individuals with disabilities. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Ikor visit www.ikormidwest.com.
*Medical College of Wisconsin Covid Vaccine Update, December 14, 2020.