With several COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), information about vaccine distribution and availability is evolving daily. In the state of Ohio, the vaccine is now available to individuals 12 years of age and older. As supply increases throughout the state, access to vaccination appointments continues to improve.
Stay up to date on vaccine locations near you by visiting the Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard.
Vaccines have helped shape our lives and improve public health for decades, and many of them are so common that we hardly give them a second thought. From chicken pox and pertussis to measles and polio, vaccines have been working behind the scenes to protect us from illnesses every day.
Most recently, however, you have likely heard a lot about the newly developed COVID-19 vaccines, which were designed to prevent and protect against infection from the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Below you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this new immunization.
Several manufacturers have worked to develop safe and effective coronavirus vaccines. Each vaccine must undergo rigorous and detailed studies before receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is the same standardized review process used to evaluate the safety, effectiveness and quality of all vaccines, including those that are now common – like HPV, influenza, pneumonia, shingles and hepatitis A vaccines.
While developed quickly, the authorized COVID-19 vaccines did not skip any of these vital and necessary steps.
Safety is our top priority, and Fairfield Medical Center will only administer vaccines authorized and supported by the FDA.
It is important to understand that although the vaccine development seemed to happen very quickly, the science behind the breakthrough had a head start. Researchers had already made progress developing vaccines from other types of coronaviruses: the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2012 MERS outbreak. In addition, the creation of the Ebola vaccine has provided additional insight into viruses like COVID-19.
All FDA authorized vaccines meet the agency’s rigorous, standards for safety, effectiveness and quality.
The authorized COVID-19 vaccines do not contain a live virus and you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines. However, you can come into contact with the virus after you have been vaccinated. Remember that it takes about 1-2 weeks after your second dose for the vaccine to work. Regardless of your vaccination status, please remember to keep wearing masks when appropriate, stay 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with, avoid crowds and wash your hands frequently.
Yes, mRNA vaccines are safe and have been in development for many years. mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid, and these vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response in our bodies. If or when the virus enters our bodies, this response will produce an antibody that protects us from getting infected. These vaccines are not able to alter our genetic makeup (DNA).
Vaccines activate an immune response, which helps the body learn to fight off a virus. If we become exposed to the virus, our bodies will remember how to fight and protect us. All FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19.
Getting a vaccine is a personal decision and you should discuss any concerns or health conditions with your healthcare provider. The COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool to stop the pandemic.
Getting immunized against COVID-19 offers the following benefits:
- Your protection – A COVID-19 vaccine will keep most people from getting sick. Even in a rare case where one does catch the virus, a vaccine will likely prevent you from becoming seriously ill.
- Protecting others – When you get a COVID-19 vaccine, you are protecting others those who can’t get vaccinated, such as people with weakened immune systems or infants. Researchers are still learning how vaccinated individuals transmit COVID-19 to others. Regardless of your vaccination status, it’s important to keep wearing a masks, staying 6 feet apart from people we don’t live with, avoiding crowds and washing our hands frequently.
- A safer way to build protection – Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection. Researchers are still trying to understand how long antibodies stay in our bodies after having COVID-19. A COVID-19 vaccine will protect you by creating an immune response without you having to experience sickness from COVID-19.
- Stopping the pandemic – Getting a COVID-19 is an important tool to stop the pandemic. Click here to learn about all the steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Researchers are still trying to understand how long antibodies stay in our bodies after having COVID-19. If you who have already had COVID-19, you still need to get vaccinated to ensure your protection. If you are currently infected with COVID-19, wait to get vaccinated until your illness has resolved and you have met the criteria to discontinue isolation. If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, talk to your doctor about when you should get vaccinated.
Currently, there are three COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Moderna – 18 years and older
- Pfizer-BioNTech – 12 years and older. At Fairfield Medical Center, a parent or guardian is required to be present and consent to the vaccination of anyone under the age of 18 years old.
- Johnson & Johnson – 18 years and older
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an intramuscular injection, just like flu vaccines, tetanus shots and many others. In order for two-dose vaccines to offer the most protection, you will need to receive a booster in addition to the first dose. Depending on which vaccine you receive, this second dose should be given 3-4 weeks after the first.
Your first and second doses of the vaccine must be made by the same manufacturer. For example, if you receive a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the time of your first dose, you will need a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for your second; the same is true of Moderna vaccines. Your healthcare provider will help you manage this process.
Pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. There is limited data on the safety of COVID-19 during pregnancy, because it was not studied among pregnant people. Even with the limited data about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy, experts believe that the COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a specific risk based on how these vaccines work in the body.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recommend that COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who choose to receive the vaccine. Expectant mothers should be given the opportunity to make their own decision as to whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Talk with your healthcare provider to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy.
If you still have questions, consider discussing the follow concerns with your healthcare provider:
- What is the likelihood of you being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19
- Risks of COVID-19 to you and your fetus or infant
- What do we know about the COVID-19 vaccine so far:
- Effectiveness to develop protection in the body
- Known side effects of the vaccine
- Limited data on the safety of COVID-19 during pregnancy, because it was not studied among pregnant individuals
There is no information that shows that the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or cause miscarriage. CDC and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) have safety monitoring systems in place to gather information about vaccination during pregnancy and will closely monitor that information.
Research has shown that in some cases, the COVID-19 vaccine can cause swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the underarm region of the injected arm. While this is often a normal immune response, the temporary change may affect the results of your mammogram.
In order to reduce the risk of abnormal mammogram findings related to the COVID-19 vaccine, it is recommended that you delay a screening mammogram for 4-6 weeks following the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.
Do NOT delay your mammogram if:
- You have other breast symptoms, such as a noticeable breast lump, unexplained breast pain or nipple discharge, change to the skin on your breast, change in the size or shape of your breast, or swelling, warmth or redness on your breast.
- You have not recently received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Before making any changes to your scheduled mammogram, speak with your healthcare provider or contact FMC’s women’s health nurse navigator at 740-687-2727.
You may feel soreness or experience some swelling in your arm. You may also feel tired, have a headache, fever, or chills. Symptoms commonly last no more than 2-3 days. If symptoms continue, call your doctor, nurse or clinic.
Even if you have these types of effects after your first shot, it’s important to make sure you get the second one, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get a second shot. Ask your doctor if you have questions. Your body takes time to build immunity. You may not be fully protected against COVID-19 until 1-2 weeks after your second shot.
In most cases, discomfort from fever or pain is normal. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider:
- If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours
- If your symptoms are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
- If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911. Click here to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and rare severe allergic reactions.
- People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.
Yes, until enough people are vaccinated, it’s important to continue to wear a mask when appropriate, stay 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with, avoid crowds and wash your hands frequently. For the most current mask guidance, please click here.
While studies have shown that coronavirus vaccines are highly effective, it’s important that we continue using all possible tools to slow the spread of COVID-19, regardless of vaccine status. This includes wearing masks, following social distancing guidelines and practicing good hand hygiene.
Because vaccines are designed to help the immune system fight an illness after infection occurs, it remains important to prevent exposures from occurring whenever possible. Additionally, it is still unclear whether or not the vaccine will stop the transmission, or spread, of COVID-19 from one person to another.
No. The state of Ohio does not mandate COVID-19 vaccines. Instead, the Ohio Department of Health and our regional health systems are working together to make vaccines more widely available to those who choose to be immunized.
Vaccine requirements may differ among organizations. Talk with your leadership team to learn more about vaccine policies and expectations within your workplace.