The authorized COVID-19 vaccines are important tools in our fight against COVID-19.
Based on both clinical trial and real-world data, the COVID-19 vaccines are:
There’s been a lot of news in the fight against COVID-19 and the quest for reliable information can be difficult. In this video, Dr. Liam Sullivan tackles some of the questions we’ve received from Spectrum Health team members and our patients alike. Below the video is a breakdown of the questions asked and the time they appear to help guide you as you watch.
1:37: A leading question we get is about "breakthrough infections" - Those who have the vaccine but still get COVID-19. How often do we see that?
3:25: Do we test for the Delta variant? What do we know about the efficacy of the vaccine against the Delta variant?
5:12: For those who have had COVID-19, is the vaccine still necessary for them?
6:36: Lets talk about masking. There is a lot of frustration there... Why have we reverted in many cases to the suggestion, and in some cases requirement, of having even vaccinated people wear masks?
8:36: There is a lot of discussion now about a booster dose for those already vaccinated. How does this help?
9:38: How can you be so sure that the vaccine is SAFE when it's only been around for less than a year?
13:35: How significant is this FDA approval that was announced this week?
14:26: There is no doubt of fatigue when it comes to this - for our team here at Spectrum Health - and the community at large. What keeps you going and do you think we'll ever get out of this?
A consolidated and helpful handout addressing frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Keeping you informed is important to us. Here are a few things to know about the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine and additional resources:
Vaccines work by tricking the immune system to fight off an infection. They do this in different ways. Some use weakened versions of the virus that are unable to cause illness (chicken pox and measles); some use dead virus (influenza); and the COVID-19 vaccine uses pieces of the virus to target a specific protein on the surface of the virus.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a genetic coding material that is translated by cells into a protein. mRNA historically has been very unstable and easily broken down by the human body, which makes it challenging to study. Recent technological advancements have reduced these challenges and improved the stability, safety and effectiveness of mRNA vaccines. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA that encodes the spike protein from SARS CoV-2, which is the main protein the immune system uses to respond to the virus.
Unlike an mRNA vaccine, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is an Adenovirus vector vaccine, which has been extensively studied and used safely in clinical studies involving vaccines for Ebola virus, RSV, HIV, Malaria, HPV and Zika virus.
Watch and listen as Spectrum Health experts briefly answer these commonly asked questions about how vaccines work:
The FDA has rigorous scientific and regulatory processes in place to help ensure the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine. For the COVID-19 vaccines, which have been authorized for emergency use during the pandemic, the FDA granted authorization after finding sufficient evidence that in clinical trials the vaccines were effective and safe. The vaccine manufacturers are continuing to collect “real-world” data about their long-term safety and efficacy. Eventually, these data may help support full FDA approval of the vaccines. Spectrum Health strongly encourages everyone eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Our clinical experts have extensively reviewed each of the vaccines’ clinical trial data as well as data collected since the vaccines became available for public use.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination. Learn more about their recommendations for pregnant and lactating patients, and have a discussion with your health care provider about your specific situation.
At this time, the Pfizer vaccine has received emergency use authorization for individuals 12 and older. The Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are not authorized for anyone younger than 18.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends persons with immunocompromising conditions or on immunosuppressive medications receive COVID-19 vaccination unless otherwise contraindicated.
There are usually mild to moderate side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. The most common side effect caused by the vaccine includes pain at the site where the vaccine was given, which is in the arm. Other side effects may include a headache, fever, chills or muscle aches. The symptoms below are commonly experienced after a vaccine:
If side effects are worrisome or do not seem to be going away after a few days, a person should contact their primary care provider to further discuss. If the person does not have a primary care provider, we suggest scheduling a virtual visit through the preferred health system’s electronic resources.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a helpful resource here about COVID-19 vaccines for people with allergies or who are concerned about allergic reactions.
At this time, we do not know the impact vaccination will have on transmission of the virus. This will only be answered with studies after widespread vaccine rollout. Safety measures, including mandatory masking, social distancing and pre-procedure COVID-19 testing will still be required until more information is available.