Both vaccines are approximately 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19. They both use a new technology involving messenger RNA (mRNA), which uses a synthetic copy of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material. This technology tricks the body into thinking it has the virus, thereby triggering the production of antibodies.
EUA is an abbreviation for Emergency Use Authorization. It is a legal way for the FDA to approve new drugs or new indications for old drugs previously FDA approved for use during a declared emergency. This authority is granted to the FDA under sections of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It does not constitute approval of the drug in the full statutory meaning of approval. Still, it authorizes the FDA to allow the availability of an unapproved drug or unapproved use of a drug in a declared state of emergency. A EUA is only granted after meeting specific statutory criteria.
The vaccines were required to undergo the rigorous standards set forth by the FDA, including requirements to move through the three phases of clinical trials, and were tested in tens of thousands of people. Also, the FDA set precise requirements before manufacturers of vaccines can submit for emergency use authorization, including:
There is more to learn about the level and extent of protection provided by these vaccines. For that reason, it is recommended to continue with the safety precautions until we know more.
The full length of protection is unknown at this time. However, the first patients vaccinated in March are still protected, which is nine months. The hope is three to four years, consistent with data from animal studies using other coronavirus vaccines. Even so, that is not yet proven with any of the current vaccines.
Children are not advised to receive the vaccine at this time. The vaccines were not studied in children yet. The vaccines will not be recommended for children until the data can support their safety and efficacy.
Prioritization of patients for vaccine administration is dependent on several factors determined at the state level. Right now, essential health care workers and nursing home residents are being vaccinated.
Each state will decide who is included in the next phase, emphasizing those at highest risk (i.e., those older than 65, those with underlying conditions, and essential workers).
Check with your primary care physician (PCP) to see if they know when they may receive the vaccine and how they plan to administer it. Like flu vaccines, administering these vaccines can occur at doctors’ offices, hospitals, and pharmacies.
The government purchased the initial supplies of vaccines, so definitive costs are not available at this time. However, costs for the administration of the vaccine can be billed.
Expect costs to be similar between the vaccines. Additionally, out of pocket costs are unexpected for patients.
There should be no out of pocket costs expected for patients.
Side effects are expected to be mild but not unexpected, with some reported as injection site soreness, low-grade fever, and headache. The vaccine intends to trigger an immune response, so some of these side effects experienced may be a good indication the vaccine is doing its job. Two doses are required, so it will be imperative for health care providers to communicate and educate patients ahead of time with suggestions for over the counter (OTC) medications that may help with any side effects experienced.
No, you cannot. The vaccine is a synthetic copy of the virus. It is not an inactivated or weakened versions of the actual virus, so there is no way to contract COVID-19 from the vaccine.
It is unknown how long the antibodies will last. Right now, the health experts believe antibodies last for three months, but since they do not know beyond that, vaccines are recommended even in patients who have already had COVID-19.
V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination.7
Learn more at vsafe.cdc.gov.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency in charge of enforcing laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace, put forth guidance on December 16, which said: “employers can require employees to get vaccinated before entering the workplace” with exceptions.
The view is based on the fact that the law allows employers to impose requirements to ensure employees don’t pose a threat to others’ “health or safety” in the workplace. The EEOC treats the vaccines as part of the measures used to accomplish just that.
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