January 12, 2022
CRMA – Common Covid Questions
- Are the COVID vaccines effective?
The COVID vaccines are very good at preventing infection: about 95% after two doses for Pfizer and Moderna, and 67% for J&J. With the Delta variant, efficacy decreased from 95% to 90% for Pfizer and to 87% for Moderna. Booster shots will increase those numbers. Efficacy is higher in children and adolescents. Even better, all three of the vaccines are great at preventing hospitalizations and deaths from COVID- about 99%. The Omicron variant might decrease the efficacy numbers, but early indications are that the initial 2 doses of Pfizer/Moderna followed by a booster after 6 months still provides good protection against hospitalization and death.
2. I was vaccinated last Spring. Do I need a booster?
Yes. The CDC recommends that all adults receive a booster dose 5+ months after completion of their initial vaccination. The booster significantly increases your body’s ability to resist initial infection, as well as prevent hospitalization and death.
3. Can the COVID vaccine give me allergic reactions?
About 1 in 100,000 people experience an allergic reaction to the vaccine – these are mostly people who have a history of allergic reactions. There have been no reported deaths from allergic reactions. If you are allergic to polyethylene glycol (Miralax), you should not get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. If you are allergic to polysorbate, you should not get the J&J vaccine.
4. Can the COVID vaccine give me myocarditis?
Out of 100,000 vaccinated people, there will be about three extra cases of myocarditis compared with 100,000 unvaccinated people. In the vast majority of the reported cases of myocarditis related to COVID vaccine, the symptoms resolved within 6 days and there was no long-term cardiac damage. Out of 100,000 people with a COVID infection, 11 more people got myocarditis compared with unvaccinated people. COVID infection is about four times higher risk for myocarditis than the COVID vaccine.
5. Did the drug companies include people of color when they tested the COVID vaccine?
Pfizer: Among 37,706 participants, 9% were Black, 28% were Hispanic or Latinx
Moderna: Among 30,420 participants, 10% were Black, 20% were Hispanic or Latinx
J&J: Among 43,783 participants, 19% were Black, 9% were indigenous South American.
6. How were the COVID vaccines developed so quickly without cutting corners?
The technology used to develop the mRNA vaccines has been developing over the last 25 years. We were lucky that this technology was available and that there was a spike protein on the COVID virus. The common cold virus does not have a similar spike protein which is why we were never able to vaccinate against the common cold
7. Should I get the COVID vaccine if I am pregnant?
Yes. Both those planning pregnancy and those currently pregnant are recommended to get the COVID vaccine. Pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from COVID infection, including death.
8. Can the COVID vaccine affect my fertility?
There is no evidence that any COVID vaccine affects fertility or sperm quality/count. There is, however, evidence that COVID infection can cause male reproductive disorder.
9. Can I get COVID from the vaccine?
No. These vaccines are made with mRNA – m stands for messenger. They send a message to your cells to produce a protein on the COVID virus and then your immune system can produce immunity against COVID. The protein in the vaccine alone cannot give you COVID without the rest of the virus. The mRNA does not affect your DNA. mRNA and DNA are different.
10. Is the J&J vaccine safe?
Yes. The J&J vaccine was paused for 10 days in April 2021 out of an abundance of caution. About 3 people per million who received the J&J vaccine experienced blood clots. Most reports were in adult women under age 50. The incidence of blood clots associated with COVID infection is much higher, at 39 per million.
11. Isn’t Covid no worse than the Flu?
No. Though the initial symptoms are superficially similar, researchers estimate you are much more likely to die from Covid compared to Flu. In 2019, 22,000 people in the US died from Flu, compared to 459,000 who died from Covid so in 2021 … despite widespread use of vaccines and masks.
12. If I’m young and healthy, do I still need to worry about Covid?
Yes. It’s true that good baseline health will improve your chances of surviving Covid, however thousands of otherwise-healthy people have died or been hospitalized. And you can still spread the virus to others even if you survive an infection.
13. I’ve read about promising Covid treatments. Why bother getting vaccinated if I can rely on effective treatment?
While it’s true there are several promising treatments under development, none of them come close to the efficacy of vaccination. Moreover, the treatments are expensive, hard to administer, and we don’t have the capacity to use them for all Covid patients. Plus, treatments won’t help prevent you from spreading the virus.
14. I previously had Covid or I had a blood test showing Covid antibodies in my system. Do I still need to get vaccinated?
Yes. Though “natural immunity” may provide some protection, it is less consistent and less reliable than the protection you will get from the vaccines. The CDC recommends everybody get vaccinated irrespective of previous infection status.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your CRMA provider via phone or Patient Gateway.
Charles River Medical Associates