COVID19 Questions & Answers
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine and does it work against the variants?
The COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA) have high efficacy in preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 infection, and even higher efficacy in preventing severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalization, and death. Among the currently known and circulating COVID-19 variants, the COVID-19 vaccines appear to be very effective in preventing symptomatic illness and have an even higher effectiveness in preventing severe disease.
Is it safe to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccines under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA) have similar safety profiles to vaccines that are currently fully FDA-approved. These safety profiles have been characterized in efficacy trials and effectiveness studies as well as post-administration surveillance systems. There is an abundance of safety and efficacy data for the available COVID-19 vaccines. We know that vaccination decreases the risk of COVID-19 infection by 95% and almost eliminates the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
Do I need a full vaccination, or will one shot be sufficient (if receiving the mRNA vaccine)?
Individuals who receive only one dose of a two-dose series are not fully protected against COVID-19 and its variants and are not considered “fully vaccinated.” The J&J vaccine is only one shot—you would be “fully vaccinated” with only one dose of this vaccine.
I’m already fully vaccinated. Do I need to get a 3rd dose COVID-19 vaccine?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) on August 12, 2021 for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to allow for the use of an additional 3rd dose in certain immunocompromised individuals. The CDC subsequently concurred with the FDA and established guidelines for a 3rd dose in people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. Sunrise Community Health is offering these in our main clinics. The evidence for a 3rd dose for other people continues to move through the scientific review and approval processes of the FDA and CDC. We believe a Pfizer and Moderna 3rd dose will become available later in the fall for people who are at least 8 months out from their last dose of vaccine. At this time, there is not a booster approved for J&J but that information may change in coming weeks.
If I recently had COVID-19, do I need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
You should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19.
If I am healthy, why do I need to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Vaccination protects against both asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 infection. Therefore, vaccination not only protects individuals from getting sick but also prevents transmission of the virus to their families, co-workers, and patients.
I wear a mask when I’m working. Isn’t that enough protection?
Wearing a mask helps reduce the spread of the virus, but vaccination is more effective. Being vaccinated means you are protected even when you are not wearing a mask.
I had a reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, should I get another one?
If you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and had a reaction, you should consult with your primary care provider to determine if it is safe to receive a second vaccine. If your provider recommends against vaccination, you should submit a request for accommodation via the medical declination form.
If I am breastfeeding, do I need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that lactating individuals be vaccinated for COVID-19. The current safety data on the use of COVID-19 vaccine does not indicate any safety concerns to breastfeeding infants.
If I am pregnant, do I need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant individuals have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. The current safety data on the use of COVID-19 vaccine does not indicate any safety concerns to pregnant women or unborn infants. If you are pregnant and do not wish to get the COVID-19 vaccine until after delivery, please fill out a medical declination. Lactating mothers are advised to get vaccinated just like non-lactating women.
How is the Delta variant different than the original COVID-19 virus?
The Delta variant has the same symptoms as the original virus, however, it is much more contagious than previous strains. Each person infected with the original virus (or earlier strains), generally infected 2 people; those infected with the Delta variant, generally will spread the virus to 57 people. Additionally, unvaccinated patients infected with the Delta variant are more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated persons with a breakthrough infection.
Is the vaccine effective against the Delta variant?
Yes. While you may still get COVID (called a “breakthrough infection”), it is less likely to occur in vaccinated people. The vaccine is proven to protect you against the worst effects and symptoms of the virus and lowers your chances of spreading it to others.
If I am vaccinated and protected against the Delta variant, why do I need to wear a mask and socially distance?
Because the Delta variant is much more contagious, and we are working to increase the levels of vaccination in areas of substantial or high transmission, everyone who is able (including fully vaccinated people) should wear masks in public indoor places. This includes children in schools, indoor concerts, and areas where social distancing are not possible.
Is it too late to get the vaccine when I am in the hospital with the virus?
Yes. The time to get the vaccine is before you have COVID. Do not postpone the opportunity to get the vaccine while you can and while you are still healthy. Many doctors and nurses are reporting tragic cases of individuals requesting the vaccines before they are intubated or in the ICU when it is too late to administer it and protect them.