As of late December, we have rolled out 2 new COVID-19 vaccines that were approved for emergency use. This is great news. Connecticut has been one of the leaders of distribution and vaccination and we plan to keep it that way, with important information and guidance for residents in our communities.
Now that there are authorized and recommended vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States, AFC Urgent Care Vernon has answers to questions you may have about the new COVID-19 vaccines, what’s in them, how safe they are and if they will protect you from COVID-19.
How many NEW COVID-19 vaccines are there?
There are many COVID-19 vaccines being developed and are currently in their trials. 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 update any changes in the future.
What’s in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine?
Both vaccines rely on mRNA (messenger RNA) to help our immune systems make copies of the coronavirus protein so that if we come into contact with the active virus, our immune systems will recognize it and destroy it. This is a new vaccine approach to creating an immune response versus standard vaccines that use weakened viruses. mRNA uses a “spike” protein that will create a small piece of what is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus and our immune system will copy it and then destroy it.
Which COVID-19 vaccine 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. A second difference between the two is that Pifizer’s second vaccine is required after 3 weeks versus Modernas vaccine, which requires a second shot after 4 weeks.
Who is next in line for the COVID-19 vaccine in Connecticut?
Connecticut already started phase 1a back in Decemeber. Those who were eligible for the vaccine were health workers, first responders and long term facility care residents. Currently, the state has moved forward into Phase 1b of the vaccination schedule. The vaccine will be available to follow groups of people:
- Front line essential workers
- Individuals and staff in congregate settings
- The elderly ages 75 and older
- Ages 65+
- Ages 16 to 64 with comorbidities
At this time, only the elderly ages 75 and older are able to schedule their vaccinations. Stay tuned for everyone else. 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.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine prevent me from getting the new COVID-19 variant?
Scientists and experts are working to learn more about these new variants, and more studies are needed to understand:
- Where new variants will spread
- Whether the vaccines on the market will protect against the emerging strains of the virus
- What’s different about these variants
- How the disease caused by these new variants differs from the disease caused by other variants that are currently circulating
At this time, the CDC is monitoring the situation closely and working to characterize and isolate emerging variants. 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
I have allergies. Can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?
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 severe.
The FDA and The CDC are closely monitoring possible side effects with people who may have allergic reactions like 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.
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.
Are there long term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Experts don’t think so. 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.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine work if I already had COVID-19 and recovered?
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, advise 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.
Can a COVID-19 vaccine give you COVID-19?
There is a very slight chance you may get a mild case of COVID-19 right after getting the 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.
Can I stop wearing a mask after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?
No, it is important that you still wear a mask and maintain social distancing. 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.
***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.
Keep testing and stay up to date about COVID-19 with AFC Urgent Care Vernon
Vaccination is going to take some time to reach herd immunity. But, until then we must continue to stay precautions and to keep testing. AFC Urgent Care Vernon is open 7 days a week and we offer quick and convenient COVID-19 testing options.
- Schedule a COVID-19 rapid test appointment
- Learn more about our standard PCR COVID-19 testing (no appointment needed)
And, if you need us for flu vaccines, sprains, X-rays, minor injuries, allergies, or any acute illnesses, we can help treat that too! You can count on your healthcare heroes at AFC Urgent Care Vernon to be here for all of your urgent care needs on 179 Talcottville Rd.