COVID-19 VACCINE: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
 

WHAT VACCINES ARE CURRENTLY BEING ADMINISTERED?

Pfizer/BioN Tech and Moderna have two-dose vaccines that received emergency use authorization (EUA) in December. For detailed information on each, select the link below:

Moderna Fact Sheet
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Spanish

Pfizer-BioNTech Fact Sheet
English
Spanish

The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is a single-dose vaccine that received emergency use authorization (EUA) in February. For information about this vaccine, select the link below:

Johnson & Johnson Fact Sheet

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR A VACCINATION?

Vaccination is being offered in a structured phased strategy defined by the Tennessee Department of Health and CDC. For more information on which groups are currently being vaccinated, click here to be directed to the Tennessee Department of Health website. Note that different counties may advance through the vaccination phases differently, based on local demand and availability. To learn which phase your county is in currently, click here.

HOW IS THE VACCINE ADMINISTERED?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses for full protection. Individuals receiving the Pfizer vaccine would receive the second dose 21 days after the first dose. Those receiving Moderna would return 28 days later for the second dose.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccination.

The doses are administered via injection in the muscle of the upper arm, much like flu vaccination. You will be required to remain for observation for 15 minutes following your injection.

ARE THESE VACCINES SAFE?

Medication safety and efficacy is reviewed by the FDA prior to EUA. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have shown to be safe and effective, preventing >90% of COVID-19 cases. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) provided an independent review of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy before recommending it to the FDA for use.    

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?

Studies indicated that a small percentage of people who received the two-dose vaccine had short-lived fatigue and headache. Chills, muscle aches and pain at the injection site were other minor symptoms. Rare allergic reactions have been reported in individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions to other drugs/foods/vaccines.

WHY IS A TWO-DOSE VACCINE REQUIRED?

Although protection from a SARS-CoV-2 vaccination begins about 10 days after the initial dose of the vaccine, a second dose of the vaccine is needed to develop an immune response that will last. An individual is at risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection in the interim between vaccine administration and the development of immunity, so it is important that preventative measures (social distancing, masking, etc.) be continued after vaccination.

I HAVE HAD COVID-19 IN THE PAST. SHOULD I CONSIDER TAKING THIS VACCINE?

Yes, you should consider vaccination. However, if you are currently infected with COVID-19, you should wait to get vaccinated until after your illness has resolved and you have met the criteria to discontinue isolation.
 

I HAVE HAD MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY TREATMENT. SHOULD I CONSIDER TAKING THIS VACCINE?

Yes, but you must wait 90 days post monoclonal antibody treatment. You must also wait 90 days if you have had convalescent plasma treatment.
 

DO THE VACCINE SIDE EFFECTS DIFFER FOR THOSE WHO HAVE HAD COVID-19?

Individuals who have had COVID-19 may experience fever, fatigue and body aches after vaccination. 

WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER RECEIVING THE VACCINE?

It is recommended that those receiving the vaccine should monitor for any symptoms following vaccination. It is normal to feel slightly fatigued, particularly after the second dose, as your body’s immune response is triggered. However, if you experience symptoms such as low-grade fever, loss of taste and smell, cough, etc., it is likely that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 either before the vaccine was administered or before it resulted in immunity. It is recommended that you monitor your symptoms at home. If symptoms persist after 24 hours, you should contact your physician or visit an urgent care or emergency department depending upon the severity of your condition.


WHY HAVE SOME PEOPLE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 AFTER THEIR INITIAL VACCINE DOSE?

Because the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain live virus, it is not possible to contract COVID-19 from the vaccine; however, we must keep in mind that an individual could have been exposed to COVID-19 prior to taking the vaccination or before vaccine immunity takes affect (7-10 days after vaccination) and, therefore, could begin experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 after taking the vaccine.


IS THERE ANYONE WHO SHOULD NOT BE VACCINATED?

We encourage you to discuss vaccination with your primary care provider; however, a small number of individuals have experienced experienced allergic reactions. Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommend that individuals with severe drug/food allergy history (e.g. anaphylactic, use of epi pens) should consider deferring vaccination until more data is available. See next two questions regarding pregnant and lactating individuals and those treated with monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma.


IF I AM PREGNANT, SHOULD I TAKE THE VACCINE?

At this time, there is no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women because the clinical trials did not include patients who were pregnant. However, there is no prohibition on vaccination for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and vaccine may be offered to women who otherwise would be in a category to vaccinate. Pregnant women who meet criteria for vaccination should consult with their OB-GYN prior to vaccination.
 

SHOULD THOSE TREATED WITH MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY INFUSION OR CONVALESCENT PLASMA BE VACCINATED?

Currently, there are no data on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in those who received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma. Based on the estimated half-life of such therapies as well as evidence suggesting that reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection, it is recommended that vaccination be deferred for at least 90 days, as a precautionary measure until additional information becomes available, to avoid potential interference of the antibody therapy with vaccine-induced immune responses.
 

SHOULD I TAKE THE COVID-19 VACCINE IF I RECENTLY RECIEVED ANOTHER VACCINATION?

If you received another vaccination such as flu, pneumonia or shingles, it is recommended that you wait 14 days before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.


DOES THE VACCINE CONTAIN LIVE VIRUS?

No. These are the first vaccines using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. This technology uses the cells of one’s own body to boost an immune response toward a protein found on the virus cell wall. Antibodies toward this “spike protein” will then disable the SARS-CoV-2 virus if exposed in the future. This means that the vaccines are not produced using live virus; therefore, you cannot be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the vaccination. In contrast, an example of a LIVE vaccine is the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine.


SHOULD THE SPEED IN WHICH THIS VACCINE WAS DEVELOPED BE A CONCERN?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were able to be developed quickly due to scientists studying the SARS1 and MERS outbreaks, new techniques and early isolation of SARS-CoV-2. SARS1 occurred in 2002 and vaccine development was started at that time. SARS1 and COVID-19 structures are more than 70% identical. MERS occurred around 2012 and provided more information on vaccine development. MERS and COVID-19 structures are approximately 50% identical. As such, new vaccine development techniques were discovered prior to the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Scientists isolated SARS-CoV-2 in early January 2020, allowing structure analysis to begin.


For additional information, visit the CDC Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination page.

To learn more about Tennessee Department of Health vaccination, lick here.