COVID-19 Vaccine – Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available on the reservation? How will it be distributed?
A: We received our first shipments of the Moderna vaccine immediately after it received approval from the FDA for emergency use just before Christmas. Our medical team has planned for community distribution based on guidance and parameters put forth by the CDC. Our first priorities are to protect those most vulnerable within our community, including frontline healthcare workers and elders. We strongly encourage everyone in the community to get vaccinated.
Q: Will there be enough for everyone who wants it?
A: When FDA first authorizes or approves the use of one or more COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, we expect there will be a limited supply. This would mean that not everyone will be able to be vaccinated right away. However, once a vaccine is approved for general use, manufacturers will be able to quickly increase their ability make and distribute a large amount of COVID-19 vaccine and we expect that means the supply of vaccines will continue to increase in the weeks and months to follow.
The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available.
Q: How do vaccines work?
A: Vaccines work by mimicking the infectious bacteria or viruses that cause disease. They stimulate the body’s immune system to build up defenses and immunity against the infectious bacteria or virus without causing the disease. After vaccination, the immune system is prepared to respond quickly and forcefully when the body encounters the real disease-causing organism.
For COVID-19 specifically, antibodies that bind to and block the spike protein on the virus’s surface are thought to be most important for protection from disease because the spike protein is what attaches to human cells, allowing the virus to enter our cells. Blocking this entrance prevents infection.
Q: Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause COVID-19?
A. None of the vaccines in US clinical trials contain live viruses so the vaccine itself cannot cause COVID-19.
Q: How will we know if a vaccine is safe and effective?
A: The safety and efficacy of a vaccine is determined through clinical trials. Clinical trials are studies that are typically conducted in three phases to assess the safety and efficacy of vaccines in increasingly larger numbers of volunteers. Assessing safety is a major goal in the third phase of trials, and both short-term safety (e.g. fever, tenderness, muscle aches) and long-term safety (e.g. autoimmune conditions or enhanced disease following infection) are studied.
After a vaccine is approved and in more widespread use, it is critically important to continue to monitor for both safety and effectiveness. Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. However, some very rare side effects may only be found after large numbers of people have been vaccinated.
Any rare side effects should be reported to your primary care physician and to the CDC and the FDA using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
Q: Will there be side effects from the vaccine?
A: Based on available data, you may experience general post-vaccination symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body aches. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Some people find it necessary to take a day off of work following the vaccine shots. None of the vaccines in US clinical trials contain live viruses so the vaccine itself cannot cause COVID-19.
Q: How many shots do I need?
A: The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require two shots. The first shot starts building protection. A second shot is needed a few weeks later to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer. Marimn Health will be offering the Moderna vaccine, which requires two (2) doses, 28 days apart
Q: How long will the vaccine take to work?
A: It depends on the vaccine, but based on clinical trial data you should expect to have full protection from the vaccine about a week after your second dose.
Q: If you get the vaccine, will you definitely not get COVID-19?
A: No, it is not a guarantee. The current data suggest that you have roughly a 94-95% chance of not getting COVID-19 if you get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Q: Does Marimn Health recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Based on the results of the scientific studies and clinical trials completed, the vaccine has been approved by the FDA for use and endorsed by doctors and physicians, scientists, virologists, and medical professionals across the country as being largely safe and effective across a wide variety of demographic groups. Our medical team is making the appropriate plans for distribution within our community when the time comes and we strongly encourage everyone in the community to get vaccinated when the time comes.
Q: Which vaccine will Marimn Health distribute?
A: Marimn Health began receiving and distributing the first few hundred Moderna vaccine doses in late December 2020. We anticipate that production will continue to increase and we will receive more and more vaccine doses for our community as time goes on.
Q: If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
A: There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed. It is safe for anyone who has had COVID-19 to get the vaccine and it probably makes sense for everyone to get the vaccine; however, if you have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days, you will probably not be in the front of the line.
Q: After I am vaccinated, do I still have to wear a mask?
A: There is not enough information available to say for sure whether the vaccine protects the individual getting the vaccine or if it protects those they come into contact with as well. That means that the current health and safety protocols we have will stay in place until we start to see community spread decrease in the region around us. Remember, many people – such as pregnant women, women who are nursing, and kids under the age of 16 – may not be able to get the vaccine, so we should continue to wear a mask to protect these individuals in our community. Also, we are still in the midst of flu season and wearing a mask can help slow the spread of influenza, colds, and COVID-19.
Q: If I have allergies, should I be concerned?
A: People with severe allergies who have experienced anaphylaxis in the past should talk to their doctor before getting the vaccine to figure out how to get the vaccine safely and what kinds of precautions to take.
Q: Where I can get more information about the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Marimn Health COVID-19 team can be reached at 208-686-8213.
Q: I want to be vaccinated! Where I can get on the list to be contacted when Marimn Health has a dose for me?
A: If you would like to be put on the list to be contacted about receiving a vaccine, please call 208-686-5444 or email Covid19vaccine@marimnhealth.org. We will add you to our list and contact you when there is a vaccine dose available for you.