With the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines being administered after emergency use authorization by the FDA many people have questions about the vaccine that impact their decisions on whether or not to get it. Dr. Praveen Buddiga, leading Board Certified Immunologist by the American Board of Internal Medicine and The American Board of Pediatrics and founder of Family Allergy Asthma Clinic, answers some of the most common questions surrounding the MRNA vaccines including what to expect and what side effects you may encounter.
Your Top COVID Vaccine Questions, Answered.
Since Dr. Buddiga received the COVID vaccine, he has been fielding questions from patients and members of the community about what they can expect when they get the vaccine. Here are some answers to the top common questions he’s received in the past few weeks.
Should we all get the vaccine?
Yes, this vaccine is a critical step to ending this terrible pandemic. The COVID 19 mRNA vaccine is important to get, so that the population can get protected as individuals and families from further spread – and possible death and long-term health complications. Hopefully, if this vaccine campaign is a success, we can take off our masks and return to our schools, work environments and patronize businesses in a safe, healthy manner for all.
Will the COVID Vaccine help us reach herd immunity?
Yes, but only if a sufficient portion of the population gets the vaccine. Herd immunity can only be achieved if 70-80% of the global population receive the vaccine.
Did you get the vaccine?
Yes! I received both doses of the PFIZER vaccine, three weeks apart. I experienced mild tiredness the next morning after the first shot although it resolved in less than 24 hours. No problems after the second shot.
If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, should I get the vaccine?
Yes, once you’ve recovered and three months have passed (CDC recommends 90-days since start of illness), you should receive the standard 2-doses of the vaccine for full immunity protection and to prevent contracting COVID-19, or a variant of COVID, in the future.
Can I get the vaccine if I currently have symptomatic COVID illness?
No, you can not get the vaccine if you currently have COVID-19 symptomatic illness and should wait for approximately a minimum of 3 months from your last positive COVID test.
What side effects should I expect from the vaccination? How long do they last?
The most common side effect is soreness and mild swelling at the injection site. Other than that, fatigue, headache, fever and chills have been reported by a small percentage of recipients (2-9%) and these should all subside within 24 hours. If they last longer than 48 hours it is recommended to consult with your physician.
If I have food allergies, or have had an allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past, can I be vaccinated?
Maybe: you may safely receive the vaccine if you’ve had a history of environmental allergy, food allergy, allergy to flying insects, or allergy to antibiotics.
You should NOT get the vaccine if you’ve had a severe allergy to a component known as polyethylene glycol, or “PEG,” in a prior vaccine unless you’ve been evaluated and cleared by your physician or allergist/immunologist. There may be alternative vaccines that may be approved in the United States in the future for these patients, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which is sending the final data to the FDA next week for possible Emergency Use Authorization approval by the end of February.
The CDC guidelines recommend that individuals who experience severe anaphylaxis to the first shot do not receive a second shot of the series and consult an allergist/immunologist for further guidance.
When will it be “my turn” to get the vaccine?
The vaccine is being distributed in phases, with healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities (aged 75 and older) being offered the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
Phase 1b will include frontline essential workers, such as firefighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the educational sector.
Phase 1b will also include people aged 65—74 years, because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19.
Phase 1c will include people aged 16—64 years with underlying medical conditions, which increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19. This phase will also include other essential workers (including those who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health.
As vaccine availability and roll out increases, vaccination recommendations will expand to include more groups per the CDC.
Can I “shed” the virus once I have the vaccine?
No, as the vaccine does not contain a live virus you will not shed the virus from receiving the vaccine. The vaccine contains what is essentially a clone of the virus, which teaches your immune system how to respond to the actual virus if it should come into contact with it or a close variant of it. Additionally, once you have developed a full immune response to the vaccine, it is unlikely enough of the virus could survive in your system to then be shed to others.
Is the vaccine approved for children?
Currently clinical studies have started to assess safety in children in the age group from 12 years to 17 years. We shall await those results and, eventually, emergency use authorization by the FDA may be given based both on the effectiveness of the vaccine in this population, as well as the safety signals of the trial data. I will update the blog regarding progress in this endeavor in the near future.
Currently, the Pfizer vaccination is approved for those 16-years-old and above, and the Moderna vaccine for those 18-years-old and above, as these were the ages used in the clinical studies and were shown to be safe.
Can I get the vaccine if I’m pregnant?
The CDC states “getting vaccinated is a personal choice for people who are pregnant.” due to limited availability of study data in this category although currently the vaccine may be safely administered if you are in your third trimester based on recent trial data.
We’re In This Together
We treat patients with asthma, allergies and other immunological conditions every day, and we know their concern of contracting more severe illness from COVID-19 is a source of stress and anxiety. We’re here to help our patients with calm, unbiased scientific information and support, and will be administering the vaccine in our offices once the quota allotted is dispatched by the California Department of Public Health, in the next few months or earlier.
Part of protecting yourself from severe illness as a result of contracting COVID-19 is ensuring your condition is under control and being managed effectively. To learn more about how we can help you with accurate diagnosis, early interventions and comprehensive treatment, reach out to us here.
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