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Medical director provides COVID vaccine Q&A

With COVID-19 vaccines being distributed, there are bound to be questions.

Warren General Hospital Medical Director Dr. Keith Price has prepared responses to some frequently asked questions.

¯ Do they use weakened or killed virus to stimulate immunity, like a number of other vaccines (like mumps, measles, rubella, chicken pox, polio, flu)?

No. There is no chance of getting COVID from the vaccine.

¯ Are there any potential side effects of the vaccines?

Yes, but thankfully, no serious ones. As with many vaccines, fatigue (about 10%), muscle or joint aches (5-9%), headache (4.5%), low-grade fever, and redness or pain at injection sites (2-4%) may occur. These usually occur several hours after the injection and go away within 24-36 hours. Some experts feel this is a positive sign that the body is developing an immune response.

¯ Is there just one shot for each vaccine?

No. Both require an initial shot followed by a second one 3-4 weeks later. It is very important to get both shots to develop maximum immunity.

¯ Were they developed quickly?

Yes. Because of technology advances, both vaccines use a technique that allows much faster production of the vaccine than was true for other older vaccinations.

¯ Have they been thoroughly tested?

Yes. Each has gone through the standard 3-phase testing process. In the third phase, over 30,000 participants were involved in each vaccine’s study.

¯ Are they effective?

Yes. They had 94-95% effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 in those who got the vaccine. And of the small number of people who developed COVID despite getting the vaccine, none developed severe disease.

¯ Will my kids in grade school be vaccinated?

Probably, eventually. Both companies have started studies in children, but the first roll-out of the vaccines will target people 18 years of age and older. Children are usually less sick with COVID-19 than adults.

¯ Are there other COVID vaccines in development?

Yes. Numerous others in the U.S. and around the world are in various phases of development and will likely be alternatives to the two above.

¯ If I get the vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask and distancing right afterwards?

No. First of all, it takes several weeks to build up immunity after any vaccination, and this is a two-shot process. And until the prevalence of COVID-19 drops a lot, it will be important to continue masking, to socially distance, to avoid crowds and to wash hands frequently.

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