COVID-19 Vaccine: Frequently Asked Questions

What vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the United States from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?

Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine are the only two to have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Johnson & Johnson applied for an EAU on February 4, 2021.

Sources and more information:

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/29/covid-vaccine-comparing-jnj-pfizer-moderna-novavax.html

https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-legal-regulatory-and-policy-framework/emergency-use-authorization

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes. The authorized vaccines went through rigorous development and testing processes. The most adverse reactions were two test subjects reporting an allergic reaction after receiving the vaccine in the U.K. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is still safe for people with allergy problems, and those who have experienced severe reactions to prior vaccines or injectable drugs can still get the vaccine, but should be monitored for 30 minutes afterward. If you have concerns, you should discuss them with your doctor.

Sources and more information:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/allergic-reaction.html

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/cdc-says-people-with-history-of-severe-allergic-reactions-can-get-covid-19-vaccine

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/pence-gets-coronavirus-vaccine

Is the COVID-19 vaccine effective?

Yes. The Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection. Pfizer says their vaccine was still effective against lab-engineered mutations that are seen in the new variants found in the U.K. and South Africa. The Moderna vaccine has been shown to have an efficacy of 94.1%. It also appears to provide protection against the new variants, but is more effective on the U.K. variant than the one from South Africa. The company announced Jan. 25 that it is working on a vaccine booster to address new variants, which should be available by fall. Adjusting for new strains is a manageable, relatively quick undertaking thanks to the way mRNA vaccine technology works.

Sources and more information:

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/29/covid-vaccine-comparing-jnj-pfizer-moderna-novavax.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/12/15/946554638/fda-analysis-of-moderna-covid-19-vaccine-finds-it-effective-and-safe

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html

How was a COVID-19 vaccine developed so quickly?

Scientists have been preparing for this situation for many years. About 30 years ago, a handful of scientists began exploring whether vaccines could be made more simply, and after the Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016, the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford designed a strategy for defeating what was then an unknown virus using a “plug and play” technology. This allowed scientists to be ready to start vaccine development as soon as they got ahold of the coronavirus. That, coupled with significant funding and a high prioritization by all nations, allowed the vaccine to be developed and authorized much more quickly than one might expect. It should also be noted that at least two other pharmaceutical companies tried to make a vaccine but could not get authorized. The ones that get authorized have been through a strict, rigorous process to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Sources and more information:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-are-mrna-vaccines-so-exciting-2020121021599

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55041371

How will the vaccine be distributed?

The federal government will oversee a centralized system to order, distribute and track COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccines will be ordered through CDC. Vaccine providers will receive vaccines from CDC’s centralized distributor or directly from a vaccine manufacturer.

Source and more information here:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html

Who will get vaccinated first?

AFSCME members do jobs that have required them to be at front of the line working through this pandemic, so they should be at the front of the line to receive the vaccine, and many will. Front-line workers getting vaccinated is key to stopping the spread of the virus among the general population. Nursing home and hospital employees will be among the very first to get vaccinated, along with nursing home residents. Then, correctional employees, teachers, and school employees will be among the next to get vaccinated. It is expected that the military will have its own stock of vaccines, which they will distribute to military members.

Sources and more information:

Dr. David Michaels

https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents/Programs/Immunizations/PA%20Interim%20Vaccine%20Plan%20V.4.pdf

What can I do now to help protect myself from getting COVID-19 since it is not yet my turn to get vaccinated?

You should cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often. It should be noted that people must continue these practices even when they are vaccinated, especially while most of the general public has not yet been vaccinated, so we can completely stop the spread of the virus. We must also continue the fight for safe workplaces and paid leave policies that allow sick employees to stay home.

Sources and more information:

Dr. David Michaels

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html

Should minority communities be hesitant to get vaccinated considering their race’s history with vaccines?

While the well-documented concerns about vaccines among minority communities, particular the Black community, are understandable and valid, they can be confident that the COVID-19 vaccine was tested on white, Black and Latinx people alike, and Black doctors and researchers are involved in the production of the vaccine. One notable figure is Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Black woman and one of the lead scientists who helped develop the vaccine. Health officials are aware of the concerns of these communities and have assured the public that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for all races.

Sources and more information:

Dr. David Michaels

https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/15/us/black-americans-and-vaccine-hesitancy/index.html