COVID-19 has made itself comfortable in our communities and has continued to evolve. As this virus changes, so have the protocols and treatments (specifically the vaccines) to keep people safe and healthy. Read on for the answers to the most commonly asked COVID vaccine and vaccine booster questions.
1. How do the COVID-19 Vaccines Work?
Vaccines have been around for a long time and it is thanks to these developments that people live better, healthier lives. When the pandemic was in full swing, scientists took it upon themselves to develop vaccines for this deadly virus in record time. Like other vaccines, the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines protect individuals from getting severely ill or even dying from COVID.
Unlike other vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer are mRNA vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this type of vaccine trains the cells in our body to make a protein or “piece of protein” which then prompts an immune response. Moderna and Pfizer, therefore, protect a person without them possibly getting sick with COVID-19 from the vaccine itself.
J&J is considered an adenovirus vaccine. As Nebraska Medicine puts it, “the Johnson & Johnson vaccine delivers the virus’ DNA to your cells to make the spike protein. An adenovirus acts as a delivery vehicle used to carry the coronavirus genetic material (DNA). The adenovirus delivers the little piece of DNA to the cell that will then make the spike protein.”
Why are Second Doses Necessary?
All three vaccines protect and help your body to develop antibodies against COVID. It is also important to note why the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require multiple doses to be effective, while J&J only requires one dose.
According to the Stanford Medicine News Center the first dose stimulates a part of the immune system that gives a wide range of antiviral protection, while the second dose has “powerful beneficial effects that far exceed those of the first dose.” That is why it is stressed that the second dose of the mRNA vaccines should not be skipped.
2. Are the Vaccines Effective Against the Delta Variant?
The quick answer to this popular question is, yes. Viruses tend to be tricky and mutate. Variants of the COVID-19 virus are being tracked globally and as the CDC website mentions, “[these mutations or variants] are to be expected.” While most of these variants appear and disappear, some like the Delta strain are sticking around and causing more of a raucous.
The Delta variant was identified in India and tends to spread more quickly than the earlier forms of COVID-19. Not only that, but the Delta variant may cause more severe symptoms in unvaccinated people. The Moderna, Pfizer, and J&J vaccines have been proven to prevent serious complications and even death from COVID-19. These vaccines also slow the appearance of new variants.
3. Why are Vaccines Not Approved for Ages 11 and Younger?
Some people wish the approval of vaccines for the younger age groups were in place right now, while others are worried the current clinical trials are being rushed. The argument between “too soon” and “not soon enough” is a hurdle for those who are trying to improve these vaccines to suit everyone, young and old. Push back from both sides make “experts believe [that the] Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not likely to grant approval of the vaccines [for these age groups] until late November,” according to National Geographic.
While this predicament is frustrating, it is true that children’s immune systems work differently than adults. The way their bodies react to things tends to be unpredictable. As children are growing, their bodies are being exposed to things they have never been exposed to before. This is why experts are taking their time with approving vaccines for children, especially if there are new side effects that may arise and certain dosage changes that need to be made.
The estimated timeline for ages 11 and younger to get the vaccine is still inconsistent and changing. According to National Geographic, “in late July, federal regulators asked Pfizer and Moderna to expand their clinical trials to include up to several thousand more children in the 5-to-11-year-old age group and provide four to six months of safety data rather than just two.” This was all due to the rare cases of heart inflammation in young adults.
4. Are the Vaccines Safe for People with Breathing Issues?
According to the CDC, the vaccines are safe as long as the person does not have any immediate, severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or its ingredients. Medical News Today also mentions that the American Lung Association, in general, recommends people with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or breathing problems, such as asthma, should get vaccinated.
In fact, they strongly suggest that people with breathing conditions get the vaccine sooner rather than later because contracting COVID may cause more serious complications in people with these underlying breathing ailments.
5. Is it Possible to get COVID if You are Vaccinated?
Yes, but the good news is that only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated test positive for COVID-19. According to the CDC, the small number of people who get the virus after being fully vaccinated have very mild symptoms. This includes those who contract the Delta variant.
However, while symptoms are tolerable, the disease can still be transmitted by those who test positive for COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated. Click here for more information on what to do if you test positive or if you were around someone who tested positive. This includes the CDC’s guidelines on when to isolate or quarantine.
6. Is the COVID Booster Shot Necessary?
Just when you thought that you knew everything there is to know about the COVID vaccines, a booster shot is approved. Over time the effectiveness of the vaccines decrease and it is for this reason that boosters are necessary. The COVID booster helps keep the immune system strong and ready to fight the virus as it continues to change.
As of Oct. 21, 2021, the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J booster shots are officially approved for “older adults and high risk individuals,” according to the CDC’s Advisory Committee.
The CDC recommends Pfizer and Moderna recipients wait at least 6 months after the second dose before receiving the booster. J&J recipients may receive a booster if they were vaccinated 2 or more months ago. Click here for the most up-to-date list of the Colorado COVID vaccine phases for the booster shot.
The CDC recommends a third dose in the vaccine series for those who are immunocompromised at least 28 days after their second dose. Also, the interchange of vaccines for the third dose is approved. This means if your first two doses were Moderna, you can get Pfizer as your third dose.
Schedule Your COVID Vaccine Appointment Today
Advanced Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine offers the COVID vaccine in Colorado. Walk-in or schedule your first dose or receive a booster shot at select clinics. Click here to learn more about Colorado COVID vaccine eligibility for the vaccine booster, for a list of our clinics that offer vaccines, and to schedule your appointment.
Check out vaccination rates in Colorado by visiting the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.