COVID-19 vaccine distribution and vaccination has started as of late December. Connecticut has been diligent on obtaining a steady supply of the vaccine and vaccinating groups for phase 1a of the distribution schedule. As we finally have a vaccine available, many people have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, their effectiveness and how safe they are to the public.
AFC Urgent Care New Britain has answers to questions you may have about the NEW COVID-19 vaccines on the market. And, as new information becomes available we will continue to update information for friends and families in the New Britain communities.
Questions and Answers About the New COVID-19 Vaccine
What are my options for COVID-19 vaccines?
There are many COVID-19 vaccines being developed and are currently in their trial phases. But as of right now, we currently have two FDA emergency approved vaccines for COVID-19 on the market. Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna are two reputable companies that created mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines. Both have had a series of clinical trials and data to prove they are both 95% effective at preventing COVID-19.
***There are 3 other COVID-19 vaccines that are currently in phase 3 clinical trials. As new information is available, we will be updating the info here.
When can I get my COVID-19 vaccine in Connecticut?
At this time, Connecticut finishing up Phase 1a, and has started Phase 1b. Those who are eligible for the vaccine are health workers, first responders and long term facility care residents. Phase 1b of the vaccination schedule will start with the elderly ages 75 and older. After that, the vaccine will be available to following groups of people:
- Front line essential workers
- Individuals and staff in congregate settings
- Ages 65+
- Ages 16 to 64 with comorbidities
For more information on the vaccine schedule and phases click here: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccination—Phases
***As more information is presented we will continuously update this blog with new guidance about the vaccine schedule and future phases.
Is the new COVID-19 vaccine effective against the new COVID-19 variant?
Scientists and experts will continue to work on finding new information about these new variants. Until then the CDC will continue to monitor the situation closely and work on characterizing and isolating emerging variants on the following:
- Where new variants will spread
- What’s different about these variants
- Whether the vaccines available are effective against the new variants
- How the disease caused by these new variants differs from the disease caused by other variants that are currently circulating
But, just so you know, the new COVID-19 variant is currently in the U.S. Here is a map of US COVID-19 Cases Caused by Variants
Which of the COVID-19 vaccines should I get?
Both vaccines are 95% effective at preventing COVID-19. Depending on which COVID-19 vaccine you get, there are slight differences you should know about. For instance, Pifizer’s vaccine requires it to be stored at very low temperatures, while Moderna’s vaccine, although required to be refrigerated, does not require it to be kept as frigid. The only other difference that will affect you is the second dose. Both require two doses, but Pifizer’s second vaccine is required after 3 weeks versus Modernas vaccine, which requires a second shot after 4 weeks.
Whichever you end up getting, you must follow their specific vaccine schedule.
What’s in the NEW COVID-19 vaccines
There is a new approach to creating vaccines than standard vaccines that use deaden or weakened viruses. The new COVID-19 mRNA vaccine uses a “spike” protein that will create a small piece of what is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus while our immune system will copy it and then destroy it. As a result we develop antibodies as if we had recovered from the virus.
Will the New COVID-19 vaccine cause me to have an allergic reaction?
The great majority of those vaccinated in the trial phases of both vaccines have not experienced allergic reactions, which is why they have been approved for emergency use. That being said, there is always a small chance with any vaccine, that an allergic reaction may occur.
The CDC has reported that there are two categories of allergic reactions; severe and not so severe. Possible side effects with people who may have allergic reactions to the vaccine may include symptoms of anaphylaxis. In the United States, the CDC says that it’s safe for people to get vaccinated, but are monitoring them closely 30 minutes after getting vaccinated. Depending on where you get your vaccine, the medical professional will have an epi pen readily available in case there is an allergic reaction.
If you have a severe reaction to the mRNA molecules found in the COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC suggests that you do NOT get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have a less severe reaction and already had the first dose, the CDC also advises that you refrain from getting the second dose, as well.
Symptoms to look out for if you have an allergic reaction within 4 hours after getting vaccinated are:
The CDC also advises that if you are allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate to avoid getting the vaccine.
***Should you have any questions about allergies to any vaccine, we highly suggest you consult with your primary care doctor.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine give me any long term side effects?
Experts suggest that it would be highly unusual, or uncommon for a vaccine to show significant side effects after 8 weeks.
The Pifizer vaccine alone had over 40,000 people in their trial phase without any serious side effects. Their trial phase took place over a period of months and they gathered at least 8 weeks worth of safety data. At this time there are no reported long term health effects from the vaccines.
In addition to this, the federal government and the Science Subcommittee of Governor Lamont’s Vaccine Advisory Group both had to approve the vaccine to be administered in Connecticut.
I already had COVID-19 and recovered, will the vaccine work for me?
If you are currently infected with the active COVID-19 virus, the CDC advises that you wait until your illness is over to receive the vaccine.
In addition to this, the CDC and our Medical Director, advises that the COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection or not. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, it is too soon to tell how long this protection will last. Getting a vaccine after you have COVID-19 and recovered will give you the extra immunity you need in the following months.
Is there a chance I can still get the virus after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
Just like the flu, or any other vaccine, you need some time before it can actually protect you. It can take up to 10-14 days after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to build immunity. Therefore, it is important that you continue wearing a face mask, social distancing and taking other precautions until two weeks after your second shot to reap the benefits of the vaccine.
We also highly suggest you don’t skip the second dose! One dose is not enough to provide full immunity. Any time in between the first dose and the second you need to continue taking safety precautions.
Can I stop social distancing and wearing a mask if I get COVID-19 vaccinated?
No, please do not. It is important that you still wear a mask, maintain social distancing and continue taking safety precautions. It doesn’t matter if you have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies or if you get the vaccine, you still need to wear a mask and take safety precautions because not everyone you come into contact with has been vaccinated yet or have had COVID-19.
***The best safeguard to flatten the curve is to keep following social distancing protocols, wearing a mask and waiting for your turn to be vaccinated next.
Stay COVID-19 free with AFC Urgent Care New Britain
Vaccination is going to take a while before we reach herd immunity. But, for the next several months, we need to take precautions and continue safety protocols. Whether you have COVID-19 or get the vaccine, we must all do our part to protect others who haven’t been exposed or received their vaccine yet.
AFC Urgent Care New Britain will continue to help friends and families in the New Britain community test for COVID-19. We offer rapid COVID-19 testing with results in 30 minutes by appointment only (Slots fill up fast!).
We also offer regular standard COVID-19 testing 7 days a week with results in 3-5 business days. Learn more here.