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Frequently asked Questions about the Covid Vaccine

January 14, 2021

Currently, there are two mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) available under Emergency Use
Authorization (EUA) in the United States to prevent COIVD-19.
mRNA Vaccine mechanism of action: mRNA vaccines tell our cells to make a piece of the “spike protein”
that is found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Since only part of the protein is made, it does not harm
the vaccine recipient, but it is antigenic and thus stimulates the immune system to make antibodies. mRNA
the vaccine does not contain a virus or virus particle. In contrast, most vaccines use weakened or inactivated
versions or components of the disease-causing pathogen to stimulate the body’s immune response to create
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines went through the same rigorous safety assessment as all vaccines do before the
Food and Drug Administration authorizes them for use in the United States. This included large clinical trials
with tens of thousands of people and data review by a safety monitoring board and will continue to be
rigorously evaluated for safety. mRNA vaccine and disease technology began in the 1990s (30 years ago).
The research was built upon decades of previous research from similar virus SARS-CoV-1.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why is it important that LTCF staff receives COVID-19 vaccine, even if LTCF residents are
The vaccine will help protect you from getting COVID-19. LTCF staff were placed first in line to receive
COVID-19 vaccine because of their essential role in fighting this deadly pandemic and their increased risk of
getting COVID-19 and spreading it to their patients. Symptoms of COVID-19 can persist for months – even in
young healthy people. Long term effects of the virus are not clear, but it can damage the lungs, heart, brain, &
increase the risk of long-term health problems. The decision to get vaccinated protects more than just your
health. It can also help protect your colleagues, facility residents, families, and communities.

Q. Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use or in development in the United States use
the live virus that causes COVID-19. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity
after vaccination. That means it is possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just
before or just after vaccination and gets sick.

Q. If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
Yes. CDC recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19 because you can
catch it more than once. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from
COVID-19. Clinical data from trials suggest that vaccine-induced immunity may last longer and more robust.
Anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and
after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation. Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection
with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after the initial infection. Therefore, people with a
recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired.

Q. Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying medical condition?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart
disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from

Q. Why do I need two COVID-19 shots?
Currently authorized vaccines, and most vaccines under development, require two doses of vaccine. The first
shot helps the immune system recognize the virus, and the second shot strengthens the immune response.
You need both to get the best protection. Initially, 80%-82% protection was seen in the trials two weeks after 1st
dose but without the second dose, protection decreased to 50%. With the second dose, protection went up to ~

Q. What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Possible side effects include a sore arm, headache, fever, or body aches and normally go away within a few
days. At least 8 weeks’ worth of safety data was gathered in the clinical trials for all the authorized
vaccines, and it is unusual for vaccine side effects to appear more than 8 weeks after vaccination.

Q. What if I have allergies?
Allergic reactions are rare side effects of all vaccines (1 in 1 million people). These reactions tend to be in
people who have a history of severe allergy responses to food, medication, etc. (~ 1.6% people). These
individuals usually carry EpiPen. CDC still recommends these people to get the vaccine in a medical setting in
case support is needed.

Q. Does mRNA vaccine alter a person’s DNA?
mRNA cannot enter the nucleus of the cell and cannot alter DNA. RNA & DNA are two different molecules that
do not functionally interact with each other. DNA is located within the nucleus of cells. RNA enters the cell (but
not the nucleus), only exists briefly, does its job to instruct the cell to produce the spike protein, then is broken

Q. Does COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility?
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine can lead to infertility.
Q. Will the COVID-19 vaccine be effective if the virus mutates?
The current vaccines (Pfizer/Moderna) will likely continue to be effective even with virus mutation. All viruses
mutate. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a slow mutating virus. Spike protein would have to mutate for the vaccine to be
ineffective. mRNA technology enables vaccines to easily be changed if needed due to significant mutation.

Q. Are there any other COVID-19 vaccines that are not mRNA approved in the USA?
Currently, in the USA only two mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines are approved under EUA. However, Oxford-Astra
Zeneca’s Vaccine, which is a viral vector vaccine was approved in the UK and India. Viral vector vaccine contains
a weakened version of a live virus - a different virus than the one that causes COVID, which will introduce
COVID genes into the cell. The genetic material gives cells instructions to make a protein that is unique to the
virus that causes COVID-19 then producing an immune response. The vaccine is expected to last for at least
six months when refrigerated at 38–46°F (2–8°C).

Rev 01/07/21

Food and Drug Administration. FDA briefing document: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine; Food and Drug
Administration; FDA briefing document: Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.

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Michele Cook
(704) 930-8441