COVID-19 vaccines questions & answers

Q. Doesn’t the vaccines ave side effects? Is it dangerous?
A. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, about as safe as any other vaccine and much safer than almost all common medicine. There can be some minor side effects after vaccination, such as a mild fever or sore arm. Mild symptoms are normal and a sign that the body is building immunity. About 10 percent of the people received the vaccine may experience side effects. The COVID-19 vaccines are up to 95 percent effective.

Q. Have some people gone into anaphylaxis with allergic reactions?
A. Allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines are rare and very few people have had severe adverse reactions (about 5 in 1 million people), it is 100 times less than penicillin. If someone normally has allergic reactions to the flu vaccine or other severe allergies, they should report that to their health providers in advance of receiving the COVID 19 vaccine.

Q. I have allergies and am allergic to many drugs, such as antibiotics. Is it still safe for me to get vaccinated?
A. You can still get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have allergies to drugs, such as antibiotics, but you need to talk to your health care provider first about what types of allergies you have had and if any precautions are needed for you to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Q. Can I still take the vaccine if I have underlying health conditions, take routine medication/treatment and nontraditional or homeopathic remedies?
A. Yes, you can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have underlying health conditions.

Q. Is the vaccine safe for pregnant women? What about for mothers who are breastfeeding?
A. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination. However, all women who are pregnant and mothers who are breastfeeding should talk with their health care provider before getting the vaccine.

Q. There’s a new variant of the virus already in California? Will this vaccine protect against it or will there be another vaccine?
A. Vaccine scientists believe the present COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the new variant. Scientists are continuing to study this new variant and the vaccines’ effectiveness against it. Both Pfizer and Moderna have already made progress with new vaccines against the new variant.

Q. How long does immunity from the vaccine last?
A. How long the vaccine will provide immunity from the virus is still unknown, but scientists believe it is at least six months and they are studying this. People should continue to take safety precautions including mask wearing, hand-washing and physical distancing, even after receiving the vaccine.

Q. How were these vaccines developed so quickly?
A. COVID-19 vaccine was developed to be safe and effective while moving very quickly to get doses manufactured en masse. Manufacturing started while the clinical trials were still underway. The U.S. government and vaccine manufacturers invested millions of dollars in producing millions of doses of vaccine while clinical trials were in progress, greatly reducing the amount of time between vaccine authorization and vaccine implementation. The investment in manufacturing normally doesn’t happen for other vaccines until later in the development process but the urgency of this virus required expediency. Still, these more quickly developed vaccines, called mRNA, continue to be held to strict safety standards.

Q. How do mRNA vaccines work? Are they safe and do they alter your DNA?
A: This mRNA, or messenger RNA, form of vaccine helps our cells make a “spike protein” that acts to trigger an immune response in the system and does not change our DNA. The technology utilized to make these vaccines has been developed over the last 20 years. Messenger RNA has been studied for over a decade for effectiveness in influenza, Zika, rabies, and new cancer treatments. This type of vaccine is what Pfizer and Moderna are manufacturing to help us get this public health crisis under control safely and effectively.

Q. When and how will people know it’s their turn to get a vaccine?
A. California has a new tool — the MyTurn Website, MyTurn.ca.gov, which allows people to sign up to be notified when it is their turn. The state’s priority is to continue vaccinating health care workers and residents in long-term care settings, then move to other priority groups and ultimately everyone once the vaccine supply is available.

California simplified eligibility guidelines under which health care workers, individuals 65-plus and education and childcare, emergency services and food and agriculture workers are eligible to make appointments to receive the vaccine, depending on supply.

Future groups will become eligible based on age.

This eligibility standard will move in unison across all 58 counties and allow the state to scale capacity up while ensuring the vaccine goes to disproportionately impacted communities.

Q. I don’t have a primary physician, where should I go to get the vaccine?
A. People without a primary care physician should contact their local community health clinic, known as Federally Qualified Health Care Center. Or local public health department to know when and where to go for their vaccine.

Q. How much does the vaccine cost?
A. The vaccine cost nothing — it is free for all Californians. If someone charges for it, it would be a scam.
If you’re undocumented or don’t have insurance, you can still get the vaccine at no cost, and COVID-19 vaccine does not count under the public charge rule.

Q. When will the majority of Californians get the vaccine?
A. The state’s weekly supplies of vaccine are extremely limited at this time. Once the vaccines are produced at scale by the manufacturers and made available to the state, we will know when everyone can have the vaccine according to the prioritized groups. Go to VaccinateAll58.com for information about the prioritization of groups for receiving the vaccine.

Q. Do people who already had COVID 19 have to be vaccinated?
A. Yes. Everyone should get vaccinated even if they had COVID-19. Health officials don’t know how long the immune response lasts after contracting COVID-19, so it is important that everyone receive this safe and effective vaccine.

Q. Do you need to get the same vaccine for your first and second dose?
A. Yes. Mixing different doses of different COVID-19 is not recommended.

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