COVID-19 Vaccination Facts

So what are the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and what does it mean for you and Sioux Center Health? The facts are meant to help develop awareness and eliminate myths about the current COVID-19 vaccines that are available or likely to be approved in the very near future. The Pfizer vaccine has already received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and the Moderna vaccine has been recommended for approval by FDA staff ahead of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. It is expected that the committee will recommend the EUA for Moderna in the same way they recommended the Pfizer vaccine.

When asked if this vaccine is safe in recent interviews here are a couple of responses from our clinical leaders at Sioux Center Health:

“The vaccine has been well tolerated in clinical trials. Local and mild systemic reactions may happen, such as headache or muscle soreness, but these are really signs of the immune system kicking in.” – Dr. Scott Rens, Sioux Center Health Chief Medical Officer

“The vaccines have gone through the same safety and efficacy trials/steps as any other medication that gets approved. With EUA, the government has essentially said to start building up a supply while the trials are being done and, if it’s approved, then the vaccines are ready more quickly. It’s just as safe as any other medication that is approved. I believe this vaccine is trustworthy.” – Paige Smit, PharmD, Sioux Center Health Pharmacy

Why should I get the vaccine?

  • A safe and effective vaccine is a vital step toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The more people who get the vaccine, the closer we can get to “back to normal” and see reduced illness and hospitalizations due to this virus. While masking and social distancing are important, the majority of people getting vaccinated is the only way this virus will get under control.
  • The more people who get the vaccine, the more lives will be saved.
  • Sioux Center Health recommends that people get the vaccine as soon as they have the opportunity.
  • The vaccine will not be mandatory at this time but is highly encouraged.
  • Vaccines approved for emergency use have undergone rigorous testing by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) to ensure safety and efficacy.
  • The FDA is respected worldwide and its decisions are made by expert scientists and physicians. Safety is their top priority.
  • Avera, Sioux Center Health, and state health experts have monitored the vaccine’s progress and the data from the clinical studies and are confident in its safety and effectiveness.
  • Data on the vaccines is very promising. Vaccines are showing effectiveness levels as high as 95% and even 93-95% effectiveness in the 65+ age group.
  • Based on this data, the COVID-19 vaccine is probably the most effective vaccine ever produced.
  •  The vaccine will only be administered to groups of people for whom the vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective. The vaccine has not been trialed in children yet so children will not be vaccinated yet.
  • There is no reason to fear that this vaccine was rushed. The vaccines went through large trials, resulting in trusted data about their safety and efficacy. The part of the process that was ramped up was allowing companies to begin manufacturing vaccine ahead of approval. Usually, manufacturing waits until full approval is received.
  • Wearing masks, practicing social distancing, maintaining good hand hygiene and other prevention measures are still very important.

I heard the side effects from the vaccine are worse than getting COVID-19?

  • Some people will experience side effects. These are generally mild and temporary, like headache, fatigue, mild fever and pain at the injection site.
  • Side effects will last only a day or two and are much easier to get through than having COVID which is potentially life-threatening. Even mild symptoms can continue for two weeks or more.
  • Side effects are to be expected and aren’t anything to worry about.
  • It’s impossible to get COVID from the vaccine. It is not a live virus; the vaccine is only a portion of the virus protein and so it’s not capable of giving you COVID. Symptoms are a result of the body’s immune response and show that your body is working to build immunity.
  • Not everyone will get symptoms and not having symptoms doesn’t mean that the vaccine is not working.
  • The way that it works is the body recognizes the vaccine as foreign and mounts an immune response to that. It’s that immune response that sets up the immune system’s memory of the virus which allows us to fight off actual COVID.
  • There have not been reports of serious side effects, although there is always a slight risk with any vaccine and there will be isolated reports of reactions as large numbers of people get vaccinated. Hearing these isolated reports is not a reason to avoid the
    vaccine.
  • Allergic reactions were very rare in the U.S. study, although these studies did exclude people who had experienced severe reactions in the past. In the United Kingdom, the two allergic reactions documented were not life-threatening and could be treated with a dose of epinephrine. Vaccine sites will have epinephrine on hand in the rare case that this occurs.
  • The way the vaccine is designed means that there will be very low risk for long-term side effects. The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines. Messenger RNA vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response, according to the CDC. Injecting messenger RNA into your body will not interact or do anything to the DNA of your cells. Human cells break down and get rid of the messenger RNA soon after they have finished using the instructions. No zombie movies in our future from this vaccine.

I already had COVID-19 and I have recovered, so I don’t need to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

  • There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. This is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last long, but more studies are needed to better understand this.
  • Sioux Center Health recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19 previously. However, those who have had COVID-19 should delay vaccination until about 90 days from diagnosis. People should not get vaccinated if in quarantine after exposure or if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

I read on Facebook that COVID-19 vaccines were developed to control the population through microchip tracking or “nanotransducers” in the human brain.

  • There is no vaccine microchip, and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database.
  • This myth started after comments made by Bill Gates from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 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.

My friend told me the COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.

  • These messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccines were not created with and do not require the use of fetal cell cultures in the production process.

When can I get vaccinated?

  • The first shipments of vaccines are reserved for individuals identified in Phase 1-A as specified by the Iowa Department of Public Health
    • Healthcare Personnel. Paid and unpaid people serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work remotely.
    • Long Term Care Facility (LTCF) residents. Adults who reside in a residential care facility, nursing facility, skilled nursing facility, assisted living program, or elder group home.
  • The SCH COVID-19 Task Force and Vaccination Committee have developed a tiered approach for vaccinating our employees
  • By responding to your supervisor that you wish to be vaccinated it will help us finalize that list and contact you about your vaccination date
  • Individuals that choose not to get vaccinated on that assigned dates will need to wait until the next round of vaccines arrive. At this time we do not know when additional doses will be shipped to SCH or which vaccine it will be

Information in this document was obtained from multiple sources including the FDA, Avera, Mayo Clinic, and the Iowa Department of Public Health