Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out and being distributed, there are a lot of questions being asked and just as much inaccurate information being provided as answers. If you’re nervous about getting the COVID-19 vaccine or just feel bombarded by information about the vaccine, we’re providing helpful, trustworthy answers to frequently asked questions to help you organize the information and make informed decisions for you and your family.
Do I need to get the vaccine if I already had COVID-19?
Yes. If you’ve already had and recovered from COVID-19, the CDC still recommends that you get vaccinated because you can catch COVID-19 more than once. While it’s true you may now have some antibody protection from the virus, it’s unclear how long that protection will actually last.
Can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing after I get the vaccine?
No. Wearing a mask and social distancing will likely still be in place for a while. Mask and cloth facial coverings are source controls recommended by the CDC because at this time there is not enough evidence in place to know for sure how well the vaccine works for more than a few months.
Will I get sick with COVID-19 by taking the vaccine?
No. The vaccines that have been developed do not contain the live virus. Instead, the vaccines teach your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. This process can sometimes cause symptoms, but these are normal and a sign that the body is building protection against the virus.
Are there any side effects or severe allergic reactions to the vaccine?
There have been some mild side effects reported, such as:
- Pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
Most side effects happen 1 to 3 days after receiving the vaccine and typically only last 1 to 2 days. The CDC has learned of reports that some people have experienced severe allergic reactions—also known as anaphylaxis—after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Serious problems from vaccination can happen, but they are rare.
I thought it took years to create an effective vaccine, how was this one created so quickly?
The world-wide impact of the pandemic required an emergency response from pharmaceutical companies to quickly develop a vaccine, but that does not mean they disregarded safety protocols or didn’t perform adequate testing. According to Mayo Clinic:
To receive emergency use authorization, the biopharmaceutical manufacturer must have followed at least half of the study participants for at least two months after completing the vaccination series, and the vaccine must be proven safe and effective in that population. In addition to the safety review by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization has convened a panel of vaccine safety experts to independently evaluate the safety data from the clinical trial. Mayo Clinic vaccine experts also will review the available data. The safety of COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA.
Essentially, the emergency situation warranted an emergency response.
Is it true the COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA?
No, the vaccine will not alter your DNA. The COVID-19 vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. According to the CDC, mRNA vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Injecting mRNA into your body will not interact or do anything to the DNA of your cells. Human cells break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after they have finished using the instructions. While mRNA technology is new, it is not unknown because it has been studied for more than a decade. The mRNA vaccines do not contain a live virus and do not carry a risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person. The mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.
I heard the COVID-19 vaccine was developed to contain a microchip that will track me?
There is no vaccine "microchip" and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database. This is a myth that started circulating when comments were made by Bill Gates from The Gates Foundation about a digital certificate of vaccine records. The technology he was referencing is not a microchip, has not been implemented in any manner and is not tied to the development, testing or distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Do I have to get both shots of the vaccine?
Yes. You need both shots to get the best protection. The first shot helps the immune system recognize the virus. The second shot, given 3 to 4 weeks after the first, strengthens the immune response.
How much of the population needs to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity?
The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. Experts do not yet know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19.
When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
California is allocating COVID-19 vaccines as they become available to ensure equitable distribution. Initially vaccination was limited to healthcare workers and long-term care residents.
The next to be vaccinated will be individuals who:
- Have higher risk for severe disease or death (due to age or other factors)
- Are unable to work at home
- Live or work in geographic areas that have been highly impacted
- Are most likely to spread disease to other workers or to the public
At this time in Butte County, the vaccine is by invitation only. Residents interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccination, may register here. This registration process will allow Public Health to notify individuals when the vaccine is available for the phase and tier in which they are categorized, as defined by the California Department of Public Health.
Where can I get the vaccine?
Once you are notified that you are eligible to receive the vaccine, locations will be provided. Orchard Hospital is approved through the State of California as a COVID-19 vaccination site. Due to the allocation changes, effective immediately, only health care workers, EMS, and age 75 years older are able to schedule appointments for the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Please call (530) 797-3595 to schedule an appointment and continue to check our Facebook Page for vaccine updates.