Answer: All individuals 12 years and older in the state of WA are eligible to receive the COVID Vaccine. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson are all studying their vaccine in younger patients. Results so far show it is safe and effective in 5 to 11 year-old participants. We are eagerly awaiting FDA approval, estimated to be this fall. Younger children are not expected to be eligible before the end of 2021 or early 2022.
Answer: We are offering Pfizer vaccine since it is the only one that has been approved for use in patients 12 years and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved only for patients 18 years and older. The Pfizer vaccine requires specialized storage requirements and must be given in large quantity all at once in order to not waste doses. We were able to vaccinate thousands of children and teens during our mass drive-thru vaccination clinics and are pleased that vaccine in local pharmacies continues to be easy to access. At this time, we are not able to provide access to the Pfizer vaccine during routine clinic appointments. We hope to offer COVID vaccines to our patients again in the fall.
Answer: Although the first round of vaccine studies did not include pregnant or breastfeeding women, the experts believe that it is safe and the goal is to not limit access to pregnant or breastfeeding women. Both the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine support this vaccine. A recent study by UW showed that the COVID vaccine is safe and effective. We recommend you contact your obstetrician to discuss your individual risk factors.
The good news is that there are very few conditions in which the risks of COVID vaccine outweigh the short-and long-term risks of COVID infection. The sooner adults in the United States get vaccinated, the quicker we will achieve herd immunity, which will—in turn—protect our children.
Answer: None of the approved COVID vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.
Answer: Yes, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated, even if you’ve already been sick with COVID-19. Early research suggests that even if you’ve had COVID-19, natural immunity may not be very long lasting. Additionally, it is not known how long after being infected with COVID-19 you may be able to get it again, and reinfection has occurred in the community. Receiving the vaccine will better protect you from contracting the virus again.
Here is some information on special situations that may impact the timing of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine:
No. Although the CDC initially recommended a 14 day waiting period between all vaccines and the COVID vaccine, it has since been proven to be safe when given at any time before or after any other vaccine.
Answer: Yes. All vaccines currently approved in the United States offer excellent protection against COVID-19 causing hospitalization or death. This means that if we can reach herd immunity quickly, future variants can be handled through seasonal boosters, rather than having to restart this current massive primary vaccination effort. The World Health Organization explains this in more detail.
Answer: The CDC has updated its guidance to state that two weeks after you are fully vaccinated, you can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. Additionally, you can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless anyone has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID. Remember that outdoor gatherings are always safer than indoor social events.
We understand this pandemic has been incredibly stressful and you may be hearing conflicting information on COVID vaccines. Here are some myths about the COVID vaccines and information explaining why they are false.
Fact: COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to infertility or miscarriage. A disinformation campaign has been circulating online, claiming that antibodies to the spike protein of COVID-19 produced from these vaccines will bind to placental proteins and prevent pregnancy.
This information is not scientifically plausible. During a COVID-19 infection, the immune system creates the same antibodies to the spike protein that COVID-19 vaccines would. COVID-19 infection has not been linked to infertility. Therefore, there is no scientific reason to believe fertility will change after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Science has shown that while pregnant women are at a higher risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, there is no evidence of an increase in miscarriages. During a COVID-19 infection, the immune system creates the same antibodies to the spike protein that COVID-19 vaccines would. Therefore, if COVID-19 affected fertility, we would already be seeing an increase in miscarriage rates in women infected with COVID-19. This has not happened.
Fact: You may experience short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that go away without complication or injury. The most common side effect is pain or swelling on the arm where you received the shot. Other reported side effects include headache, chills, fatigue, muscle pain, or fever lasting day or two. Remember that these side effects are an indication that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and are common when receiving any vaccine. These temporary side effects are much less dangerous than a COVID-19 infection.
The approved COVID vaccines are continuously being monitored for safety. The history of vaccine use has shown that long-term side effects happen very rarely, if ever. If side effects are going to happen, they usually do within eight weeks of receiving a vaccine. This is why there are safeguards in place and manufacturers must wait at least eight weeks after clinical trials have ended before applying for Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA.
V-safe is a tool developed by the CDC to help track any symptoms or adverse reactions to the COVID vaccines.
Fact: The first vaccines for COVID-19 were developed in record time. However, Operation Warp Speed did not “rush” in a way that would compromise safety. The approved vaccines have gone through the same research and approval process required for any new vaccine. They were reviewed by both the Federal FDA and a safety review group, as well as independent panels in several other countries. Each of these groups agreed on the approved use of the vaccines.
Fact: The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines both use mRNA technology. While this is the first time it’s being widely used in a vaccine for the public, this type of vaccine has been researched for more than three decades. Watch this quick animation that explains how mRNA vaccines work!
Fact: Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 33 million Americans have been infected and over 600,000 have lost their lives to COVID-19.
It is difficult to predict which healthy person will have an extreme reaction to COVID-19 and end up in the hospital or worse. Additionally, we are still learning about the long-term risks of COVID-19 and it is reported that more than 75% of patients hospitalized with COVID still have symptoms 6 months later.
Fact: Although we are fortunate that most kids are only mildly affected by COVID infection, it is hard to predict which kids with robust immune systems may overreact and trigger Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) which has affected more than 4,000 American youth. In addition, 113 children under the age of 5 years have died from COVID and more than 250 kids 5 to 18 years have died. We believe that even one preventable death is too many.
Fact: The evidence to-date is clear that the long-term risks of COVID infection are much higher than any possible long-term effects of the vaccine. Because the many COVID variants have spread to all parts of the world, it is just a matter of time before everyone will be exposed. We know that while it was important to protect kids at home during the early part of the pandemic, the risks of ongoing isolation no longer outweigh the serious unintended consequences of mental health struggles, developmental delay, and for many kids, academic difficulties.
Fact: It will take all of us working together to beat COVID-19. Our community, schools, and economy will only open when herd immunity is reached. Experts believe we will need between 70-85% of the entire population be vaccinated in order to achieve immunity.
Fact: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have reported that their vaccines do not contain preservatives. Additionally, none of the approved vaccines contain the live COVID-19 virus, animal by-products, egg products, or latex. The vaccines do contain basic elements that help them work better in the body including fat, salts, and sugars. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain the active ingredient, messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA is fragile and can break down easily. Storing mRNA vaccines in an ultracold environment keeps them stable and safe. You should not worry about the temperatures, as vaccines are thawed before injection.
Fact: COVID-19 vaccines cannot alter your DNA. mRNA vaccines work by telling the cells in your body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA in a vaccine does not interact with the DNA in your body or do anything to the DNA in your cells. Additionally, your cells will break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after they have finished using the mRNA, or instructions.
Fact: None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines contain fetal cells nor were fetal cells used the development or production of either vaccine.
Fact: There is no vaccine microchip. The vaccine will not track you or gather personal information into a database. This myth started after Bill Gates from The Gates Foundation made comments about a digital certificate of vaccine records. The technology he was referencing is not a microchip, has not been implemented in any manner, and is not tied to the development, testing or distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.