Everything You Wanted To Know About The Coronavirus Vaccine

After months of uncertainty, clinical trials, and development – there are finally two authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. These vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19 and may even help minimize illness associated with COVID-19 if you do contract the virus. 

While these vaccines are very new and much is still to be learned, their development is a positive step towards the ultimate goal of returning back to normalcy and getting rid of COVID-19 for good. 

If you are considering getting the vaccine or have questions about the nature of your appointment, continue reading to find answers to some of the most popular questions seniors have about the Coronavirus vaccine. 

For the latest information and updates on the Coronavirus pandemic, we highly recommend visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Which Coronavirus vaccines have been approved by the FDA?

There are currently two Coronavirus vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization in the USA: 

The Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (December 11th, 2020)

The Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine (December 18th, 2020)

Emergency authorization is not full FDA approval. Both vaccines will require further clinical study of their safety and efficiency to gather substantial data that will be used to request FDA approval in the future. 

How many shots of the Coronavirus vaccine are needed?

Both currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines require 2 shots to provide the most protection. 

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine doses should be given 21-days apart. 

The Moderna vaccine doses should be given 28-days apart. 

It’s important to keep in mind that while neither vaccine has a maximum interval between doses, you should try to get your second shot as close to the recommended 21 or 28-day period above. It is NOT recommended that you get your second dose earlier than the 21 or 28-day interval. 

Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. Neither currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus, and therefore cannot infect you with COVID-19. 

What are the known side effects of the Coronavirus vaccine?

The most commonly reported side effects for the Pifitzer/BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine are: 

  • pain at the injection site (Redness or swelling)
  • tiredness, fatigue, and muscle pain
  • headache
  • chills
  • joint pain
  • fever
  • nausea
  • swollen lymph nodes 

The majority of reported side effects are mild and last for 1 – 2 days, while some people report more severe reactions. If you have a known history of severe allergic reactions to any ingredients used in the Coronavirus vaccine or have an allergic reaction to your first dose of the Coronavirus vaccine, being vaccinated or receiving a second vaccination is not recommended by the FDA. 

How many people have already received the Coronavirus vaccine?

The first vaccinates in the U.S. were given on December 14th, 2020. So far, an estimated 22.5 million shots have been given. According to data from Bloomberg and the CDC, In the last week, an average of 1.16 million doses of the Coronavirus vaccine are being administered daily in the U.S. 

Who is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine currently?

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are still considered limited, however, the CDC is recommending that healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities be vaccinated first. It is suspected that as more vaccines become available, the CDC will recommend vaccine priority to essential workers, older adults, and others with underlying medical conditions.

How much does the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

The COVID-19 vaccine itself is being offered at no cost to all Americans. While some doctors or clinics may charge you for the administration of the vaccine itself, the Affordable Care Act requires that most health insurances cover federally recommended vaccinations. Health providers who vaccinate uninsured Americans are also eligible to apply for reimbursement through the Federal Provider Relief Fund.

Can immunocompromised people get the Coronavirus vaccine?

Pfitzer, the maker of one of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S., did include a handful of individuals with stable HIV infection in its phase 2/3 clinical trial. The data from this subset, however, is not available. 

That being said, the CDC provides the following information relating to the COVID-19 vaccine and immunocompromised individuals on their website: Persons with HIV infection or other immunocompromising conditions, or who take immunosuppressive medications or therapies might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19. Data are not currently available to establish vaccine safety and efficacy in these groups. Persons with stable HIV infection were included in mRNA COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, though data remain limited. Immunocompromised individuals may receive COVID-19 vaccination if they have no contraindications to vaccination. However, they should be counseled about the unknown vaccine safety profile and effectiveness in immunocompromised populations, as well as the potential for reduced immune responses and the need to continue to follow all current guidance to protect themselves against COVID-19.”

If I get vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Yes. 

The CDC continues to affirm that not enough is known about Coronavirus or the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine to say if or when they will stop recommending wearing a mask and social distancing. 

Vaccinated or unvaccinated, take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and others: 

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others
  • Avoid crowds
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands often


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