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FAQ: Answering Your Questions About The Coronavirus Vaccines As Inoculations Roll Out In Kansas

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Morry Gash
/
AP
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage, Mich.

Hospitals across Kansas have started vaccinating frontline health care workers against COVID-19.

Public health officials have said a widely available vaccine will ultimately control the pandemic that has killed almost 2,500 people in the state.

As the vaccines become available to the general public, America Amplified is gathering and curating answers from experts to questions on the minds of public radio listeners across the country.

There are different companies producing coronavirus vaccines. Will all of them require people to get two doses? And do they need two doses of the same vaccine? How will people avoid getting two different vaccines?

From William Schaffner MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases:

The two current vaccines each require 2 doses. Other vaccines are being studied; one of them is a single dose vaccine. You do need to have two doses of the same vaccine. Ideally you should visit the same health practioner who will be keeping a record of who is vaccinated with which vaccine.

If you have a question about any of the COVID-19 vaccines, send an e-mail to news@kcur.org with the subject "KCUR Vaccine Question."

I am 65 and live in a 55-plus community. When do you feel I can realistically expect to be able to get the vaccine?

From William Schaffner MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases:

The determining factor will be your age, not your community. You’ll be in the second or third group to receive a vaccine, likely by sometime this spring. We know healthcare providers are first, and then residents of long-term care facilities. We are waiting on advice from the CDC Advisory committee on who should go next -- essential workers, or people who are 65 or older.

Does your visa status affect the chances of you getting the vaccine?

From Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, Dean of University of Missouri-Kansas City Medical School and a member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee:

There are no restrictions on vaccine provisions to anyone on a visa.

What are the logistics for actually getting it to elderly with underlying issues?

From Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, Dean of UMKC Medical School and a member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee:

CVS and Walgreens will be administering vaccines in senior living facilities. For those who cannot consent, relatives who have power of attorney can do so.

[What are the] side effects [from the vaccines] for people with underlying health issues. Do they even know?

From Dr. William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center:

Both [Pfizer and Moderna vaccines] use messenger RNA technology, a really novel vaccine platform. ...There still remain many questions to be answered as we go forward. At this juncture, we're only going to know about short-term side effects, but we need to know whether there are any potential rare, long-term side effects. Short-term side effects that we know of now appear in about 5% to 15% of participants. They include inflammation, soreness at the injection site, a low-grade fever, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. These can last from 12 to 36 hours after vaccination.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

From Side Effects Public Media:

No. The COVID-19 vaccine doses developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna ... have been in development for about three decades, but are only now being used for COVID-19. According to the CDC, mRNA vaccines teach your cells how to make a protein – or even just a piece of a protein – that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects you from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

Do I still have to wear a mask once I have the vaccine?

From Side Effects Public Media:

Yes. According to NPR’s Shots, studies of the new vaccines only measured whether vaccinated people developed symptoms, not whether they got infected. It's possible that they got mild infections — not enough to make them ill, but enough to pass the virus on to others. The CDC is calling for those who are immunized to continue wearing masks and practicing safe physical distancing until more is learned.

Is it safe for patients with autoimmune disease who take immunosuppressive medications to be vaccinated against COVID? Is it effective?

From Dr. William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center:

There's no doubt that we're going to have to look very carefully at data on both the safety and efficacy because that too can be impaired in immunocompromised individuals. The vaccines that are typically not recommended routinely for severely immunocompromised individuals are what we call attenuated viral vaccines, where we take the natural virus and make it weaker. And this is a very old way of making vaccines. But for example, our measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines are attenuated viral vaccines. None of the front runners for COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 are that type of vaccine. So I don't anticipate problems with safety ... but that will need to be studied going forward.

Do any of the manufacturers know if their vaccine is safe for people with HIV?

From William Schaffner MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases:

It probably won't hurt, but it could help. The second vaccine in line — the Moderna vaccine — included a small study of people with HIV infection and we expect to see that data shortly. But in the meantime, if people with HIV are offered the Pfizer vaccine they should take it.

Will I have to pay for the vaccine?

From Side Effects Public Media:

No. Vaccine providers will be able to bill insurance for a fee to administer the vaccine, but will not be able to charge you. They can seek reimbursement for uninsured patients from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

This story was produced as part of America Amplified, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.