Updated April 25, 2022
Okanogan County Vaccine locations:
COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been extensively tested through large clinical trials to make sure they meet all safety standards. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) carefully reviewed data on the vaccine and have determined that (1) the vaccines are safe and (2) the benefits outweigh potential risks.
The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been approved through the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) program. An EUA is granted during a public health emergency and is different than an FDA approval (licensure) of a vaccine.
Read more about the FDA’s process here.
Everyone 12 years and older can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Everyone 12 years and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
North Valley Hospital in Tonasket, Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster, Family Health Centers in Twisp, Brewster, Omak, Tonasket, Mid-Valley hospital in Omak, Confluence clinic in Omak — as well as pharmacies across the county — are all providing the COVID-19 vaccines.
Many different pharmaceutical companies are working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Two companies, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, were the first to successfully develop vaccines that have been proven to be safe for humans, and Johnson & Johnson was the third. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency who regulates the vaccine process to make sure it is safe, declared these vaccines safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 infection. They were given an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and are being used to immunize people across the country.
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines work in the same way. They are mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccines, which means the vaccine delivers, as a messenger, a piece of code that teaches the body how to make a protein called an antigen. This antigen itself is harmless, but it makes your immune system wake up and take notice.
Our immune system responds to the presence of the antigen by making antibodies. Once we have antibodies, the next time our immune system sees the foreign protein, it will launch a full response and will block or kill whatever has that antigen. This is basically how all vaccines work.
In the case of COVID-19, the antigen is a piece of the virus called ‘spike protein’. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines tell our immune system to make antibodies against spike protein, so that if we become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, our antibodies will recognize it and block or kill it before we can become ill with COVID-19.
It is recommended that you get your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine 21 days after the first dose, and the Moderna vaccine 28 days after the first dose, or as close as you can after those days.
For both Pfizer and Moderna, you can get your second dose up to 42 days after the first dose and still develop immunity to COVID-19.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-dose shot.
No. The vaccines do not contain live virus and there is no risk of becoming ill with COVID-19 from the vaccine itself.
The most common side effects of the vaccine are similar to many routine vaccines, including a sore arm, tiredness, headache, and muscle pain. Here’s some key data about symptoms from the vaccine that we have from clinical trials:
Among people younger than 55:
- About 80 percent of people reported pain at the injection site
- About half reported tiredness and headache
- Less than one-third (30 percent) reported muscle pain
Most side effects occur within two days of getting the vaccine and last about a day.
Side effects are more common among people 55 years or older than among those younger than 55
Side effects are more common after the second dose than the first dose.
The CDC encourages people who have already received the vaccine to participate in the V-Safe system; this is a voluntary smartphone tool that checks in on people by text after they get the vaccine. It allows them to report any reactions to the shots so that researchers can continually learn about side effects.
There are many benefits to getting the vaccine:
- Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 94-95% effective after 2 doses and will likely keep you from getting seriously ill, even if you do get COVID-19.
- Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, especially people at risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.
- COVID-19 infection can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you.
- The vaccine will help protect you by creating an antibody response to the virus, without having to experience sickness.
- COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to help stop the pandemic.
The combination of getting vaccinated and following the CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
You will need two shots, separated by 21 days (Pfizer) or 28 days (Moderna), to be fully protected from COVID-19 infection.
The first shot primes the immune system, helping it recognize a piece of the virus, and the second shot strengthens the immune response.
It is unclear right now if we will need repeat vaccinations each year, like the annual flu vaccine.
The Pfizer mRNA vaccine includes:
- mRNA – This mRNA is for the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Lipids – These are molecules that are not able to dissolve in water. They protect the mRNA, so that it does not break down before it gets into our cells. These can be thought of as little “bubbles of fat,” which surround the mRNA like a protective wall. There are four different lipids in the Pfizer vaccine: cholesterol; ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl) azanediyl)bis (hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate); ALC-0159 = 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide; and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine. The lipids are the most likely components of the vaccine to cause allergic reactions.
- Salts – The vaccine contains four salts. One is table salt. The salts are used to keep the pH of the vaccine similar to that found in the body, so that the vaccine does not damage cells when it is administered.
- Sugar – This ingredient is literally the same as that which you put in your coffee or on your cereal. In the vaccine, it helps keep the “bubbles of fat” from sticking to each other or to the sides of the vaccine vial.
The Moderna mRNA vaccine includes:
- mRNA – This mRNA is also for the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Lipids – There are four different lipids in the Moderna vaccine: cholesterol; PEG2000-DMG; 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC); and SM-102
The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines DO NOT include any of the following:
- Fetal material
- Blood products
- Preservatives, like thimerosal
- Egg proteins
- Pork products
People who have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine should not receive the vaccine. Individuals who have had anaphylactic reactions in the past should talk to their doctor before receiving the vaccine.
Pregnant women should talk to their doctor before receiving the vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for people over the age of 16, and the Moderna vaccine has been approved for people over the age of 18.
Data on the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines show that the vaccines protect people from getting symptomatic COVID-19, but we don’t know if it prevents them from getting infected — which means we don’t know whether vaccinated people can spread the virus to others.
Until we know the answer, we have to assume that people who have been vaccinated can still transmit the virus to others, and we’ll need to keep wearing masks.
It takes 2-3 weeks for your body to build up antibodies after the second shot, so be sure to keep wearing a mask and taking all safety precautions after you’ve been vaccinated.
We don’t know yet if people can still transmit COVID-19 to others after they’ve been vaccinated. The CDC recommends that we keep following all safety precautions until we know more.
The federal government will cover the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine and health care providers cannot charge you an office visit fee, or a fee to give you the vaccine. Whether or not you have health insurance, you will not be charged a fee for the vaccine.
Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine:
Centers for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html
Washington State Department of Health. https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/vaccine
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/making-vaccines/prevent-covid