COVID-19 Vaccine Update and FAQs

We have applied to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services to get the vaccine and are waiting for approval and allotment of vaccine. Once approved, we will update patients via phone calls and emails as well as updating our website.

1/6/2020

Vaccine distribution update
We are still waiting to be notified of when we will receive the vaccine.  We will continue to update our website as new information comes in and will send out messages to all of our patients as soon as it’s available.

To track the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, please check the CDC Covid Data Tracker:
https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations

1/1/2020

Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 vaccination will help keep you from getting COVID-19
• COVID-19 vaccines are being carefully evaluated in clinical trials and will be authorized or approved only if they make it substantially less likely you’ll get COVID-19.

• Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.

• Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

• Experts continue to conduct more studies about the effect of COVID-19 vaccination on severity of illness from COVID-19, as well as its ability to keep people from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccination will be a safer way to help build protection.
• COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. And if you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you.

• Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines must first show they are safe and effective before any vaccine can be authorized or approved for use. The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine for use under what is known as an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Late last week, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was approved for EUA.

• Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. But experts don’t know how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.

• Both natural immunity and immunity produced by a vaccine are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

COVID-19 vaccination will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic
• Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

• The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

• Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available. As experts learn more about how COVID-19 vaccination may help reduce spread of the disease in communities, CDC will continue to update the recommendations to protect communities using the latest science.

Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines
FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19
None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests
Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

FACT: People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated
Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long. We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

FACT: Getting vaccinated can help prevent getting sick with COVID-19
While many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness or they may even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. If you get sick, you also may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you while you are sick. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

FACT: Receiving an mRNA vaccine will not alter your DNA
mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and can most easily be described as instructions for how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.

FACT: mRNA Vaccines Are New, But Not Unknown
There are currently no licensed mRNA vaccines in the United States. However, researchers have been studying and working with them for decades. Interest has grown in these vaccines because they can be developed in a laboratory using readily available materials. This means the process can be standardized and scaled up, making vaccine development faster than traditional methods of making vaccines. mRNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). As soon as the necessary information about the virus that causes COVID-19 was available, scientists began designing the mRNA instructions for cells to build the unique spike protein into an mRNA vaccine.

Future mRNA vaccine technology may allow for one vaccine to provide protection for multiple diseases, thus decreasing the number of shots needed for protection against common vaccine-preventable diseases. Beyond vaccines, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells.

Getting Vaccinated

How many shots of COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?
All but one of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States need two shots to be effective. The other COVID-19 vaccine uses one shot. The Pfizer vaccine just approved for EUA requires two shots.

If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available?
Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have received two doses of the vaccine? Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

When can I stop wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others after I have been vaccinated?
There is not enough information currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than protection from COVID-19 vaccines?
The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Some early evidence—based on some people— seems to suggest that natural immunity may not last very long.
Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

Will this vaccine give me COVID-19?
There is not an intact virus in the vaccine. The mRNA-based vaccines cannot cause COVID-19 because they don’t use any part of the coronavirus itself. Instead, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines contain manufactured mRNA molecules that carry the instructions for building the virus’ spike protein. After vaccine administration, the recipient’s own cells take up this mRNA, use it to build this bit of protein, and display it on their surfaces. The foreign protein flag triggers the immune system response. The mRNA does not enter the cell nucleus or interact with the recipient’s DNA. And because it’s so fragile, it degrades quite quickly. To keep that from happening before cell entry, the mRNAs are cushioned in protective fats.

How do we know the vaccine is safe?
The Pfizer phase 3 trial included more than 43,000 people, and Moderna’s had more than 30,000. The first humans received mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines in March. The most common adverse events emerge right after a vaccination. As with any vaccine that gains approval, monitoring will continue.

UK health officials have reported that two healthcare workers vaccinated in the initial rollout of the Pfizer vaccine had what seems to have been a severe allergic response. Both recipients had a history of anaphylactic allergic responses and carried Epi-Pens, and both recovered. During the trial, allergic reaction rates were 0.63% in the vaccine group and 0.51% in the placebo group. As a result of the two reactions, UK regulators are now recommending that patients with a history of severe allergies not receive the vaccine at the current time.

What are the likely side effects?
So far, the most common side effects are pain at the injection site and an achy, flu-like feeling. More severe reactions have been reported, but were not common in the trials. Common side effects are a good sign, and signal that the recipient is generating “a robust immune response.”

Yolanda Marcos, MD, FACP

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Sarah Davidson, MPAS, PA-C

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