With several COVID-19 vaccines recently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), information about vaccine distribution and availability is evolving daily. Currently, the vaccine is available in limited supply for critical populations. As supply increases in Ohio, please look for updates to learn more about how Fairfield Medical Center will distribute FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccinations.
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.
Q: Will I be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: No. The state of Ohio will not mandate vaccines. Instead, the Ohio Department of Health and our regional health systems will work 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.
Q: How will the COVID-19 vaccine be distributed?
A: Initially, vaccines may be in short supply. Until production and availability increase, Ohio’s first vaccines will be distributed using a tiered, or layered, approach. Healthcare workers, first responders and individuals (residents and staff) within nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other congregate living situations will be the focus of the vaccine’s first phase.
As the number of available doses increases, the vaccine will become more accessible to those who choose to receive it.
Q: Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
A: 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.
Q: What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Information from clinical trials and international vaccine use is continuously reported and analyzed. The most common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine appears be pain at the injection site. Similar to other vaccines, it may also cause fatigue, headache and muscle soreness. This is a sign that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and working hard to build protection.
As studies continue, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will publish recommendations for the vaccination. These will outline information on who is considered a good candidate for the vaccine, side effects experienced by recipients and how different groups are likely to respond to the vaccination.
Q: Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
A: No, you cannot contract COVID-19 from the vaccine.
Currently, there are no vaccines containing live virus. Instead, they use mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) to teach our immune systems how to identify and fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These instructions allow our body to create antibodies and build immunity.
Q: How is the COVID-19 vaccine given, and how many doses do I need?
A: The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an intramuscular injection, just like flu vaccines, tetanus shots and many others. In order for the vaccine to offer the most protection, you will need to receive two doses. The 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.
Eventually, a one-dose vaccine option may be available.
Q: If I’ve already had COVID-19, do I need the vaccine?
A: We do not know how long natural immunity to the illness lasts; vaccination helps ensure we all have some level of protection, regardless of previous exposure. If you have already had COVID-19, talk to your healthcare provider about receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
Q: If I get the vaccine, can I go back to living “normally”?
A: 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.
Q: How soon after receiving the vaccine can I receive a screening mammogram?
A: 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.