It’s a new year and we finally have 2 vaccines for COVID-19! As we’ve dealt with COVID-19 for over a year, it’s safe to say that we’re finally getting somewhere to flatten the curve. We know you have many questions, so here’s a quick COVID-19 FAQ for quick reference for your most pressing questions.
What do we know about the new COVID-19 vaccines? Are they effective? Who can get it and which one should you get? Connecticut has been diligent when it comes to distribution and vaccination of COVID-19 in comparison to other states. At the same time they are working hard to achieve herd immunity.
With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out in late 2020, a lot of us are moving up the line to be next for vaccination, but there are a lot of questions left unanswered. AFC Urgent Care Danbury has prepared a guide with important information on the new COVID-19 vaccines.
COVID-19 Vaccines: FAQ’s:
What are our options for COVID-19 vaccines?
The first COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out are Pifizer/BioNtech and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines which have been authorized by the Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
***There are 3 other COVID-19 vaccines that are currently in phase 3 clinical trials. Many other vaccines are still being developed and tested. As new information is available, we will be updating info here.
Which COVID-19 vaccine should we get?
Both vaccines are 95% effective at preventing COVID-19. But, there are slight differences between both vaccines. 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. In addition, Pifizers second vaccine is required after 3 weeks versus Modernas vaccine, which requires a second shot after 4 weeks.
Who can get vaccinated for COVID-19 in Connecticut?
Over the next few months, the distribution schedule will continue to move a lot of us up the line for COVID-19 vaccination. According to Connecticut’s vaccination phases, we’re finishing up phase 1a, which includes health care workers, first responders and long term facility care residents are eligible to get the vaccine.
Connecticut just started phase 1b, which will allow front line essential workers, individuals and staff in congregate settings and the elderly ages 75 and older. At this time, they’re allowing the elderly ages 75 and older to schedule their vaccinations. We highly suggest following along the vaccine schedule and phases here for more information: 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?
At this time, the CDC is monitoring the situation closely and working to characterize and isolate emerging variants. Here is a map of U.S COVID-19 Variant Cases.
Experts from the CDC are working to learn more about these new variants and will continue to update information on:
- Where these new variants have spread
- How new variants may differ
- How effective the vaccines are expected to be against the new strains
- How the variants are currently circulating in comparison to the current variants that are circulating now.
I heard that COVID-19 vaccines are different from standard vaccines. How so?
There is a new approach to vaccines to help prevent infectious disease. According to the CDC, instead of making use of a deadened or weakened virus used in a standard vaccine, mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein and then build immunity by triggering an immune response. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give special instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called a “spike protein” that is normally found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Once our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong, an immune response occurs, making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19.
Can you get an allergic reaction from the COVID-19 vaccine?
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.
The FDA and The CDC are closely monitoring possible side effects with people who may have allergic reactions associated with anaphylaxis. And for this reason, anyone who gets vaccinated will be monitored 30 minutes after to ensure there isn’t an allergic reaction.
If you do happen to have a severe reaction to the mRNA molecules found in the COVID-19 vaccine, the hospital or center you receive your vaccine will have an epi pen readily available. The CDC also suggests that you do NOT proceed with the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you are highly allergic.
If you have a less severe reaction and already had the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, 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 any long term side effects from getting 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. 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. Experts suggest that it would be highly unusual, or uncommon for a vaccine to show side effects after 8 weeks.
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. Therefore, it is safe and effective against COVID-19
Do I still need to get vaccinated if I already had COVID-19?
Short answer: YES. According to The CDC, and our Medical Director, COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. 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.
***However, 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.
Can you still get COVID-19 after getting vaccinated?
Yes you can still get COVID-19 after getting vaccinated! Just like the flu, or any other vaccine, there is a period of time that the vaccine needs in order to help you build immunity. 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.
And PLEASE don’t skip the second shot! The first shot alone is not enough to build immunity. You need to get the required second dose to build to reap the benefits of immunity.
Does getting COVID-19 vaccinated mean I don’t have to social distance or wear a mask
You still need to wear a mask and social distance. The same concept also applies to those who already had COVID-19. 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.
AFC Urgent Care Danbury can help test you for COVID-19
AFC Urgent Care Danbury hopes that everyone takes this time to digest the new information and new vaccines available on the market. As vaccination takes time, we still need to do our part to make this work so that one day we will be COVID-19 free. Until then, if you need us, we have 3 locations that serve the greater Danbury area for urgent care needs.
- 2 Main Street (corner of South St, next to Dunkin Donuts)
- 76c Newtown Rd. (Next to Texas Roadhouse)
- 100 Mill Plain Rd. (Right next to Duchess)
You can visit us for minor cuts, sprains, X-rays, COVID-19 testing, flu vaccines and your other urgent care needs 7 days a week. With extended hours from 8 am to 8 pm, Monday through Friday and weekend hours from 8 am to 8 pm, we make it convenient for all of our friends and families in the Danbury communities. If you need rapid testing for COVID-19, schedule a virtual consultation with us so that you can schedule a time that works for you. We also offer standard COVID-19 testing that is performed 7 days a week with no appointment needed.