If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek care at an emergency room.
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available across the nation, you may have some questions about whether or not you should get vaccinated. In part one of this series on frequently asked questions about the vaccine, I talked about side effects, safety, and importance of the vaccine, as well as other things that you should know.
In part two, I’ll continue answering common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine regarding:
- Who should get the vaccine
- When to get vaccinated
- Reactions to the vaccine
- Staying healthy after the vaccine
Have questions about the #COVID19Vaccine? Infectious disease expert Dr. Wortmann answers more FAQs in part two of the COVID-19 vaccine series on the #LiveWellHealthy blog: https://bit.ly/2YoyqRP.
Who should get the vaccine?
The Federal Drug Administration has recommended that the only individuals who should not get the vaccine are those who are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. If you have a complicated medical condition and are unsure about whether or not you should get the vaccine, please talk to your healthcare provider and they can recommend the best course of action for your unique situation.
If I’ve already gotten COVID-19, should I still get the vaccine?
After having coronavirus, your body is protected against the virus for an estimated six months. However, there is no long term protection. As a result, you should still get vaccinated to keep you healthy long-term, even if you’ve had the virus.
Is the vaccine recommended for pregnant women?
Yes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine. My advice would be to talk to your obstetrician or primary care provider about your particular situation and when would be the best time to get vaccinated.
If you’re having major surgery, would you recommend getting the vaccine?
If you are scheduled for surgery, talk to your doctor about when you’re eligible for the vaccine and when it makes the most sense to get it. Since COVID is so wide-spread right now, it would be best to get the vaccine now, if it’s available to you. However, if you don’t qualify for the vaccine at this time, then you can get the vaccine after the surgery.
I’ve had serious side effects from other vaccines. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
This is a personal decision, but it’s important to remember that unfortunate events happen whether or not people receive the vaccine. Just because someone died or had any other serious event doesn’t mean it was associated with the vaccine. From the information we have, serious safety events did not happen any more frequently in people who received the vaccine as compared with people who received the placebo.
If you are allergic to the flu vaccine, is it safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The components of the COVID-19 vaccine are different from those included in the flu vaccine, so as long as you aren’t allergic to the components of the COVID-19 vaccine, it should be safe for you to get it. If you are unsure, your primary care provider can help you determine what ingredients are included in the vaccine for coronavirus and whether or not you are allergic. You can also view what’s in the vaccine through the following links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website:
Timing of the vaccine.
Vaccine distribution varies by state. If you live in Maryland or Washington, D.C., visit MedStar Health’s website to learn when you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Can I get coronavirus in between receiving the first and second doses of the vaccine?
Because COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly across the country, it’s possible to contract the virus after your first dose of the shot but before your second dose when you’re 95 percent protected. If that happens, you’ll need to follow the recommendations established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and quarantine for ten days. Once you’ve been cleared, you can come back for the second dose of the vaccine. Don’t stress if you aren’t cleared by the time you’re due for the second dose. Even if you get the second shot a few days late, it will still be effective.
How long is the vaccine effective? Will I need to get vaccinated every year?
We don’t know yet how long the vaccine will be effective. Studies are ongoing, and people participating in the studies will be followed for one to two years. Data from those studies will provide information on how long the vaccine works.
If I take a blood thinner, do I need to stop the blood thinner before vaccination?
If you are on blood thinners, you should still get the vaccine. Be sure to tell the person administering your vaccine as they’ll likely apply pressure a little longer after the shot.
I’m due for another vaccine in between my COVID-19 vaccine doses. Can I still get it?
You should avoid getting any other vaccine for 14 days before, in-between, or after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Reactions to the vaccine.
Why is this vaccine more likely to give you adverse side effects than the flu shot? What does this mean for the more vulnerable populations?
The adverse effects seen with the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are thought to come from the lipid nanoparticles which are wrapped around the mRNA. These nanoparticles prevent the mRNA from getting destroyed by our body before they enter into our cells and do their work. Studies show that older patients have fewer side effects than younger patients, so it’s likely that the more vulnerable populations will tolerate the vaccine well.
Is an agency keeping track of the adverse side effects in individuals as more people get the vaccine?
Yes, unexpected or serious adverse reactions are entered into the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System as they are reported. In addition, you should enroll in the CDC’s ‘VSafe’ program provided to you when you receive the vaccine. This allows you to report your symptoms to the CDC on your phone, which helps them collect data on vaccine side effects.
What else should I do to stay healthy after getting the vaccine?
After you get the COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll want to continue wearing face masks in public and maintaining a physical distance of six feet from others outside of your household.
What should I do if I’m vaccinated but others in my household are not?
It will take time for the vaccine to become available to everyone. But the good news is that every time someone if your house gets vaccinated, that’s one less person at risk for getting the virus. And, it decreases the risk of someone bringing it into your house. Eventually, we’ll all have the opportunity to get vaccinated.
Are monthly B12 injections considered a vaccination?
No, B12 injections are not considered to be a vaccination. They are a supplement to replace a deficiency in the amount of B12 in your body.
Are there any long-term negative effects of the vaccine?
A significant percentage of people who were infected with COVID have developed long-term complications. Right now, we don’t know if those will eventually get better or be permanent. However, there is no reason to believe that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will cause later problems.
For more information from MedStar Health experts on the COVID-19 vaccine, watch our Facebook Live broadcast: