Director of Nursing, Tamara Scott, answers the top 10 most popular questions about the COVID vaccine below.
Q: I know there are several vaccines available, which one should I get?
A: The vaccines have all been thoroughly tested and the results are all very similar; they keep 100% of people from getting very ill or hospitalized, which is the goal. They are all considered safe with the same safety protocol across the board. Finding a site that is convenient for you should be your primary consideration. The sooner you get it, the sooner you will have immunity, which is better for all of us.
Q: If I take the vaccine, does that mean I can roam around freely with no mask and do all the things I did pre-COVID?
A: NO! When you take the vaccine you will dramatically reduce your risk of getting the virus. There is still a chance you can get a little runny nose or a slight cold and spread the virus. So it’s important to wear a mask until numbers go down.
Q: If I already had COVID, do I still need the vaccine?
A: YES! We do not yet have a test for what is called neutralizing antibodies. So the ones you have are general and don’t mean it makes you immune to COVID. So the vaccine is still very important, even if you have had the virus as it helps build your antibodies and T-cells.
Q: I have allergies or I’m on different medications. Is it ok to get this vaccine?
A: YES. There are no interactions with medications in this vaccine. It’s especially important for people who have medical conditions or are overweight.
Q: If I have a suppressed immune system, is it safe to take this vaccine?
A: YES! Mainly because there is no live virus in it – if you have other conditions such as cancer, autoimmune disease or other conditions, it is safe.
Q: Is it safe for children?
A: We don’t know yet! In the US, we do clinical trials on adults first. If safe, then we test on pregnant women and children, which is what stage is coming now. We have to test it first before we say it’s ok for them to take it.
Q: What are some of the normal side effects and how long could they last?
A: THIS IS CRITICAL. Most people get side effects, which is good. It’s your immune system reacting to this vaccine. A pain in the arm, fever, chills, fatigue are all common and go away within 24- 48 hours. It is critical you are aware of this. If you feel bad the next day, it is normal. Medications such as Tylenol can help greatly.
Q: How long after getting the vaccine do we know we are protected? How long will protection last?
A: Depending on the vaccine, most people will require a second shot before they are fully protected. This is usually 3-4 weeks after the first shot. Full protection is reached one week after the second shot. They are not exactly sure how long a person will be fully protected; however, it is commonly felt it will last at least six months, although many health care professionals feel it will actually last 1-2 years.
Q: If we get the vaccine, is there a chance you will not show symptoms and transmit the virus?
A: Well with the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, the answer is no. With the other two vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer, they didn’t test this so we don’t know. That’s why wearing a mask is critical.
Q: How much will it cost?
A: $0 – the government paid it. There is an admin fee which is typically covered by insurance. However, if you do not have insurance, the state is figuring a way to cover the cost so we can all get the vaccine without worrying about the economics of it, which is critical.
A few other notes to consider:
- If you plan to travel to visit family or friends, you may be required to receive a vaccination in order to do so.
- There is talk that many facilities will not be letting caregivers enter the facility unless they have proof of a vaccination. If you do any work in facilities, you may be locked out if you are not vaccinated.
- Now that the vaccines are available, we are hearing from many current and new clients that they will only allow caregivers into their home who have been vaccinated.
Based on what we know about vaccinations, getting a COVID-19 vaccine can not only help keep you from getting seriously ill if you do get the coronavirus, but it can also protect people around you – particularly people at increased risk for severe illness.