Health FYI – Your COVID-19 vaccine questions answered
For this month’s Health FYI webinar, Jonathan Dugas sat down with Lianne Jacobs and Tonja Dodd to answer some frequently asked questions from our Vitality members about the COVID-19 vaccines. Here is what they covered:
On the top of Vitality members’ minds is whether they can earn Vitality Points for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The answer is yes*.
To earn points for the COVID-19 vaccination, members can submit one of the following forms of supporting documentation:
- A completed Prevention Activity form that has been signed by the medical professional who administered your vaccine
- A medical record from your vaccination provider showing that you received the vaccine
You can also submit proof of your COVID-19 vaccine online on PowerOfVitality.com under Your Account > Forms & Waivers > Prevention. Alternatively, you can email your documents to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax them to 877.224.7110
If I have been sick with COVID-19, should I still get vaccinated?
You should still get vaccinated even if you were sick with COVID-19 because health experts do not yet know for how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. It is possible for you to be infected again, especially now that additional strains (or variants) are more prevalent. If you have serious medical conditions or other health issues, it is important for you to speak with your doctor about whether it is safe for you to receive the vaccine.
Do I need to wipe down groceries or packages with disinfectant?
You do not need to wipe down your groceries or packages with disinfectant. The CDC stated that the risk of contracting COVID-19 from touching a contaminated surface is less than 1 in 10 000. So, while it is possible, the risk of getting the virus in this way is very low. The CDC has updated their cleaning guidelines, so now you can feel safe cleaning your high-touch surfaces with soap and water, rather than with disinfectant.
Which is the best vaccine for me?
The best vaccine for you is the vaccine you can receive as soon as possible. It is important to be vaccinated as soon as you are able to secure an appointment. Try securing an appointment as soon as you can to help combat the spread of COVID-19, especially as many states are lately seeing a rise in the spread of the virus. Read more about this question here.
Why would someone who is young and healthy need the vaccine?
The answer is that even if you are not at a high risk, it is important to get it for the following reasons:
- The vaccine protects you from getting COVID-19. If you don’t get vaccinated, you will have limited protection from getting COVID-19, becoming seriously ill, experiencing long-term effects or death, regardless of your risk of getting COVID-19.
- The vaccine protects your family from getting COVID-19 and it prevents you from passing it on to family, friends, and others around you.
- The vaccine protects those who cannot get vaccinated, e.g., children under the age of 16 who are not eligible for the vaccine.
- The vaccine protects your community.
- As more people become vaccinated, there will hopefully be herd immunity which means the virus will not be as widespread; the virus starts to go to ground and there is less chance of it mutating and spreading (which can help end the pandemic).
- The vaccine will allow for more freedom to visit in person with others and your bubble can grow. The CDC has released information on people who are fully vaccinated. If you do get COVID-19 for instance, you have to isolate, quarantine, miss work or even become ill, therefore the vaccine gives you more freedom and less restrictions to go out and there will also be fewer travel restrictions.
There are many benefits for receiving the vaccine regardless of your age or your risk for COVID-19.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Yes, the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. These vaccines were studied in tens of thousands of participants and in clinical trials, and they have all met the FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality needed in order to receive emergency use authorization in the United States. The CDC recommends that you get vaccinated as soon as you are able to do so. The CDC and FDA have a process in place where they continue to closely monitor the safety of the vaccine as they continue to be more broadly used. More than 189 000 000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States at the time of the webinar and there have been very few adverse reactions to the vaccine. We have seen the close monitoring of the vaccine play out with the recent pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. It may have seemed scary, but pauses like this are common in drug trials and rollouts. The pause was due to the six reported cases of blood clots out of about 7,000,000 doses of from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC and FDA had time to review the evidence and recently lifted the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA and CDC have stated that they have confidence this vaccine is safe and effective, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.
Does the vaccine affect my fertility?
If you are trying to become pregnant or want to get pregnant in the future, the CDC states you may receive the COVID-19 vaccine. There is currently no evidence that the vaccine causes any problems with pregnancy and in addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. Just like all vaccines, the FDA and CDC scientists continue to monitor and study the vaccine for side effects and that will continue. Recently there was a study published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that shows some promising news on the subject: They are reporting that the vaccines are safe for people who are pregnant or nursing and that the vaccines may be good for passing on antibodies to the baby.
Why does it take a long period time to be considered fully vaccinated? What does the two-week period to have the full vaccination effect mean?
It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to fully learn how to fight the virus in the future. During the two weeks immediately after the vaccine appointment, your body is hard at work as your body as in the process of building immunity against the virus. That is why you are not fully vaccinated until two weeks after receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In the two-week waiting period or even after I am fully vaccinated, do I need to wear a mask in public and practice social distancing?
Yes, even if you are fully vaccinated, you should still wear a mask and social distance when you are in public. While your risk of getting COVID-19 is much lower now that you are vaccinated, you still need to take precautions in public because the risk of transmission still exists and increases with the number of unvaccinated people around you. When you are in public, you do not know how many people are vaccinated or not, and you don’t know who around you is at high risk for severe illness. We still need to protect those around us. You should still stay six feet apart and wear a mask as this will help to keep everyone safe.
What are the COVID-19 side effects that we know of?
The most commonly reported side effect is pain at the site of the shot, so you might expect to have a sore, red or swollen arm.. Some other symptoms people have reported experiencing after getting the vaccine are fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, fever, chills or nausea. While side effects are possible, less than half the number of people who get vaccinated experience side effects, and when they do, they usually resolve within a few days. Don’t worry if you didn’t experience any side effects – the vaccine is still working for you. People can experience side effects from both the first and the second doses.
Does the vaccine prevent against transmitting the virus to others?
Scientists are still studying that as it was not studied during the initial clinical trials, which focused on whether the vaccines prevent COVID-19 and prevent becoming sick with COVID-19. However, what wasn’t originally studied is whether we can transmit the virus to others when we are vaccinated. There are no answers yet, so it is important to use all measures to protect yourself and others. Read the article about why we do not know just yet.
COVID-19 doesn’t seem to affect children as badly as adults. There isn’t a vaccine yet for children. When will that be recommended?
Pfizer recently released the results of their clinical trial in children 12 to 15-years old and is asking for emergency approval for this population. Moderna is conducting trials too. Pfizer and Moderna have also launched clinical trials for children 6 months to 11 years in age. We have promising data so far, but experts predict that the rollout of vaccines to younger populations won’t be until 2022.
Stay safe. We’re all in this together.
* A small number of members may not be eligible to earn points for vaccination due to their company’s policy. If you have any questions, please contact your HR directly.