COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
Information about COVID-19 vaccination as well as the most up-to-date information about when and how Reid Health will administer the COVID-19 vaccine will be available here. You can also follow our news releases and read related stories on our blog.
Downloadable information from the CDC:
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is opening up the next phase of vaccine recipients to include 70 years and older.
Everyone receiving the vaccine is required to schedule through the state website, www.ourshot.in.gov. If you need assistance from the state to schedule your appointment, you may call 211.
Please, do no show up without registering.
Refer to the Indiana state website for other important information on the vaccine.
Ohio residents can find up to date vaccine distribution information at Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Program.
Since the pandemic started, the federal government has been working to make COVID-19 vaccines available. Operation Warp Speed was put into place to get one or more vaccines developed as soon as possible. With the recent FDA emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, Reid Health will be distributing vaccines according to state and federal guidelines.
Check back often as we are updating as more information becomes available.
Is it mandatory to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
No, it isn't mandatory. You, your family and your friends get to make your own informed decisions about whether it's right for you.
How do we know the vaccines are safe?
The vaccines were tested in large clinical trials for which tens of thousands of people of different ages, races and ethnicities with different medical conditions were recruited to participate. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviews all safety data from the trials and only authorizes a vaccine for emergency use when the expected benefits outweigh the potential risks.
The CDC has an independent group of experts who review all the safety data that comes in as vaccinations are administered. If a problem is found, immediate action will be taken to determine if the issue is related to the vaccine and decide the best course of action.
How is getting the vaccine different than having the virus and building antibodies naturally?
If you take the vaccine, you build up antibodies without running the risk of getting really sick from COVID-19. Granted, a young, healthy person isn't likely to get very sick from the infection, but the risk is not zero. Even if you don't get very sick from the infection, you're a risk for transmission to someone more vulnerable. And none of us want to be the source of infection for a vulnerable elderly or chronically ill family member or friend, even unwittingly, if we can possibly help it.
Also, it appears the antibody level generated by the vaccine is better. Antibody levels from natural infection are quite variable from person to person and, in some people at least, might not last longer than a few months. The vaccine, on the other hand, appears to cause a much higher and more consistent antibody response that should be more protective.
Once the body has produced COVID-19 antibodies thanks to the vaccine, how long will that protection last?
We hope that translates into a long-lasting protection, but the truth is we don't know for sure at this point. We might need regular boosters to maintain the protection. Some people think we will need one yearly, taken along with the annual flu shot.
Can't we just develop herd immunity through natural infection among young, healthy people who don't usually get very sick from COVID-19?
The problem with this idea is there is no practical way to completely keep young, otherwise healthy people from contacting vulnerable elderly and chronically ill people. Plus, some young people are at risk. That means a lot of people will die along the way. The IU School of Public Health estimated, based on their studies, that getting to the 70% prevalence needed for natural herd immunity would necessarily mean about 13,000 additional deaths in Indiana alone.
Another problem is the time it would take to develop herd immunity naturally, which is probably a minimum of two more years of sequential waves of outbreaks in the U.S. with all the additional deaths, restrictions and economic devastation that would bring. That was the experience of the last really large pandemic, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which actually had waves that recurred over three years.
So if we have the possibility of achieving herd immunity through vaccination in the next 8 to 12 months, get back to normal life that much sooner and avoid so many deaths along the way, using a vaccine that seems to have very good effectiveness and low risk, shouldn't we consider it?
What does it mean that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA?
It means the available effectiveness and safety data are good enough to use the vaccines during the public health emergency. However, the data is limited, and the vaccines do not have full, unlimited FDA approval yet. They are still investigational products. The EUA allows for the vaccines to be distributed under certain limits during the public health emergency, until the authorization is rescinded or until the vaccines receive full approval through the normal process.
Are there risks in taking the vaccine?
The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for people ages 16 and older. For Moderna, it's 18 and up. A very small number of people have had serious reactions called anaphylaxis, which they also had after other past injections. In Pfizer's phase 3 trial, only 0.63% of people in the vaccine group reported possible allergic reactions, which was barely more than were reported in the placebo group. Those who have had a previous severe reaction to vaccinations or intramuscular injections can take the vaccine but will be observed for 30 minutes - instead of the usual 15 for everyone else - after getting the shot. Anyone with allergies should talk to their doctor about their particular risks and whether getting vaccinated is right for them.
How does the vaccine work?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the first to use messenger RNA (mRNA), but researchers have been studying the technology for decades, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Previous work has been done on potential mRNA vaccines for flu, Zika, rabies and more. mRNA also has been used to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells.
Traditional vaccines put a weakened or inactive virus in the body, but mRNA vaccines teach cells how to make a harmless protein unique to the virus that triggers the immune system. That response then produces antibodies and provides protection from getting infected by exposure to the real virus.
In other words, the vaccine makes the body falsely believe it has been exposed to COVID-19 to trigger cells to react and produce the crucial antibodies that will protect against an actual virus infection. The process takes a few weeks to accumulate enough antibodies to help protect a person from getting the disease.
After the harmless protein is made, the cells break down the mRNA instructions and get rid of them. The mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cells where the DNA is kept nor interacts with the DNA in any way.
Can I get COVID from the vaccine?
Because the vaccines don't use a live virus, they can't give you COVID, but it will take a few weeks for the body to build up immunity after vaccination, so it's possible someone could become infected just before or after getting the shot and still get sick.
Are there side effects from the vaccine?
Some side effects such as headaches, fever and muscle pains have been reported during trials, mostly coming after the second of the required two injections. It's normal for vaccines to cause such symptoms, which are a sign that the body is building immunity to the virus.
When will I be able to get the vaccine?
Vaccinations in Indiana will be done in several phases with the first wave (Phase 1A) being frontline healthcare workers, including those at long-term care facilities. Those who are most at-risk to be hard hit by the disease will be targeted in Phase 1B (starting in January) followed by anyone who is at a higher risk for transmission because of their working or living conditions in Phase 2. That would include those in correctional facilities, group homes or shelters, or essential workers who cannot socially distance as part of their jobs. The general public then comes in Phase 3, which would most likely be sometime in the spring or summer of 2021.
More specific information about each of those groups and how people within them will be prioritized has not been released yet by the state of Indiana. When those decisions have been made, the information will be distributed through the news media and service providers.
What are covid vaccine recommendations for people over 90 close to 100 years of age ? People living in their own homes . Does the vaccine side effects outweigh the risk of the virus if they are following covid safety precautions?
Dr. Thomas Huth states ,"A person who is 90+ is very high risk for complications from COVID-19 and at very low risk of serious side effects from the vaccine, all other things being equal. Therefore, he or she should definitely consider taking the vaccine. However, there could be factors unique to the individual to either increase or decrease the risks. Therefore, that person's personal doctor should be consulted. I don't recommend relying solely on isolating the individual. He or she MUST come into contact with other people sometimes. We have seen many examples of at-risk people getting sick from well-meaning caregivers who don't know they are spreading the virus."
What's the difference between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?
There are some minor differences such as the Moderna vaccine possibly having a slightly higher likelihood for immediate minor side effects. The biggest difference is in handling and storage with Moderna's vaccine being easier for providers to manage. But on the important issues - such as overall effectiveness and safety - they are very similar.
Are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines interchangeable?
No, whichever one you get for your first round needs to be the same that you receive for your second shot.
How long do I have to wait between rounds of vaccinations?
It depends on which vaccine you get. For Pfizer, the time between shots should be 21 days. For Moderna, that number is 28 days. There can be some wiggle room within those timeframes, but everyone is encouraged to stick to the suggested waiting period for maximum effectiveness.
Once I've been vaccinated, will I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing?
Yes. We don't know yet how being vaccinated for COVID will affect your ability to spread the virus to others, so it will be important for you to continue to wear your mask, wash your hands, stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid large gatherings.
Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and physical distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC's recommendations to protect yourself and others, will offer the best protection from the virus.
Do I need to be vaccinated if I've already had COVID?
The CDC says yes since we don't yet know how long immunity lasts after someone has had COVID or after they've received the vaccine.