Below are answers to common questions you may have about a COVID-19 vaccine and other general questions:
What is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)?
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) can allow the use of unapproved medication, vaccines or equipment to help diagnose, treat or prevent different types of health threats to protect the public health. There are still rigorous clinical processes, important health measures and scientific data that support an Emergency Use Authorization. For more information about a EUA, visit FDA.gov.
When can I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Adventist HealthCare continues to follow the state’s rollout plans for COVID-19 vaccinations. At this time, our clinics are open only to healthcare workers and those over the age 75, under the state Phase 1B criteria. We are moving quickly and safely to vaccinate any eligible medical personnel and community members, as we coordinate with local government on plans for future phases.
For more information about the state of Maryland’s plan for distribution, visit their vaccine page. We recognize the importance of this vaccine and are working with the counties we serve to help with broader vaccination efforts in coming months.
Will the vaccine be available at Adventist HealthCare locations?
Adventist HealthCare will open community clinics for Maryland residents age 75 and older as the state of Maryland shifts into phase 1B of its vaccination plan this week. Clinics will be held near our hospitals in Fort Washington, Shady Grove, Silver Spring and Takoma Park.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Both vaccines that have been approved for emergency use and have been shown to be safe and effective based on clinical trial data with tens of thousands of people of all races, ages and gender. For more information about the safety of the vaccine, visit the CDC website.
There is large amounts of data on the safety of vaccines and clinical data supporting the use of vaccines. As with any medication there is rigorous safety and clinical processes designed to ensure safety and effectiveness. Once a vaccine is approved there are continued clinical studies and other measures in place to monitor the safety and efficacy.
Even with the news of several vaccines, we must remain vigilant in the coming months. We’ve all done so much but more is needed. Now more than ever, continue to wear your face mask, maintain social distance and avoid large crowds and gatherings. This includes avoiding high risk activities such as eating indoors and house parties or gatherings.
What's the difference between the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines?
The news of two vaccines is encouraging. It gives us another tool to fight COVID-19. Both vaccines have been shown to be effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19. There are a few differences between each vaccine at this time:
- Age: The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has an emergency use authorization in individuals 16 years and older. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has an emergency use authorization in individuals 18 years and older.
- Dosage: Both vaccines are given as two shots. The second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is given 21 days after the first dose. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is given 28 days after the first dose.
- Effectiveness: Both vaccines have been shown to be effective at preventing COVID-19. In clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was shown to be 95% effective. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was shown to be 94.1% effective.
At this time, both vaccines are not available to the general public yet. It is recommended that you receive the vaccine that is available to you first and your doctor can help decide which is right for you. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, visit the CDC website.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?
Both vaccines that have been approved for emergency use have been shown to be safe and effective. The likelihood of side effects is low and usually end on their own within a few days. Common side effects that could be experienced are:
- Injection site redness, pain and swelling
- Chills, fatigue, headache, fever, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting
These types of side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do—working and building up protection to disease.
Will the vaccine give me COVID-19?
No, the vaccines will not give you COVID-19. Both vaccines use a new type of vaccine using mRNA, not a live or weakened virus. It does not use the SARS-CoV2 virus and will not give you COVID-19. These vaccines work by teaching our cells to make a specific protein or part of a protein that will start an immune response. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our systems. More information can be found on the CDC website about how the COVID-19 vaccine works.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Once the vaccine become available to you, you should consider receiving it. Talk with your doctor and they can help determine if there are any concerns for you based on your medical history. A vaccine can help protect you from getting seriously ill with COVID-19 and also protects those around you, especially those at high risk of serious complications caused by COVID-19.
The vaccine is another tool in our fight against COVID-19. It will remain important that we continue to wear masks, social distance, wash our hands frequently and practice other public health recommendations until it becomes safe again.
Will I still have to wear a mask and social distance if I get the vaccine?
Yes. It takes several weeks after your second COVID-19 vaccine dose for you to be fully protected. Taking precautions like wearing face masks, washing hands frequently and social distancing will help you stay protected. Even after you are fully protected, these steps will continue for some time after to ensure we continue to protect our families, friends and communities.
What’s the difference between a conventional vaccine and an mRNA vaccine?
Most vaccinations available today use a weakened or inactivated virus to initiate an immune response. mRNA vaccines work differently. They work by teaching our cells to make a specific protein or part of a protein that will start an immune response. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our systems. More information can be found on the CDC website about how the COVID-19 vaccine works.
If I’ve been infected with COVID-19 before, do I need a vaccination?
We do not know if a previous COVID-19 infection provides immunity. More studies will be needed to determine how long immunity lasts from previous infections. For more information, visit the CDC website.
How can I schedule my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
If you received your first COVID-19 dose with Adventist HealthCare, you will receive a reminder notice to schedule your second dose. You may not receive your second shot in the same place as your first shot.
If you received your first COVID-19 dose at another location that is not part of Adventist HealthCare, you should schedule your second dose with that healthcare provider.
Are vaccines safe?
Vaccines are extremely safe. They go through extensive testing over many years in clinical trials to ensure their safety.
Even after a vaccine is approved, it continues to go through tests to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective. There is a national vaccine monitoring system that tracks safety and any adverse reactions.
How do vaccines work?
Your immune system uses special types of cells to fight infections. After you have fought off an illness, your body remembers how to fight the next time you are exposed to the same illness.
Vaccines use weakened or dead viruses to help our bodies develop immunity. They help your immune system develop the memory to fight a virus, bacteria or disease without you actually getting sick.
Do vaccines make you sick?
This is a common myth. Vaccines do not cause the disease or illness. There may be some mild side effects such as fever but that is normal as your body develops immunity. There can also be some mild tenderness or pain at the site of the injection but that is also normal and goes away within a few days. More serious side effects are rare. The benefit of vaccination far outweighs the risk as vaccines prevent deaths and serious side effects from deadly and dangerous diseases.
The results of the COVID-19 vaccine trials are not available yet. Reports on the safety, side effects and any adverse reactions will be included once approved by the FDA. The CDC is the best place for updates regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.