The COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool to help transition back to “normal,” but it does not mark the end of the pandemic. Avoiding contact with those who have been exposed or are confirmed positive of COVID-19, properly wearing a face mask when needed, and practicing hand hygiene are still important steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs (Moderna and Pfizer)
How does an mRNA vaccine work?
mRNA vaccines have strands of genetic material called mRNA inside a special coating. That coating protects the mRNA from enzymes in the body that would otherwise break it down. It also helps the mRNA enter the dendritic cells and macrophages in the lymph node near the vaccination site.
mRNA can most easily be described as instructions for the cell on how to make a piece of the “spike protein” that is unique to SARS-CoV-2. Since only part of the protein is made, it does not do any harm to the person vaccinated but it is antigenic.
After the piece of the spike protein is made, the cell breaks down the mRNA strand and disposes of them using enzymes in the cell. It is important to note that the mRNA strand never enters the cell’s nucleus or affects genetic material. This information helps counter misinformation about how mRNA vaccines alter or modify someone’s genetic makeup.
Once displayed on the cell surface, the protein or antigen causes the immune system to begin producing antibodies and activating T-cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection. These antibodies are specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which means the immune system is primed to protect against future infection.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
The U.S. FDA has granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective determined by data from large clinical trials. While vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized for use. The CDC continues to monitor adverse events through safety monitoring systems. Click here for more information on the CDC and safety monitoring. (Source: CDC, Ensuring the Safety of Vaccines & Benefits of Getting Vaccinated)
Will the vaccine give me COVID-19?
No. According to the CDC, none of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the U.S. contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.
(Source: CDC, Facts about Vaccination)
Who should not get the vaccine?
You should not get the COVID-19 vaccine if you:
- had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of the vaccine or have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredients of the vaccine.
- had an immediate allergic reaction, even if it was not severe, to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
- have had an allergic reaction to PEG (polyethylene glycol) or polysorbate. Polysorbate is not in the vaccines but closely related to PEG which is included.
(Source: CDC, Allergic Reactions)
If you are pregnant, plan to be pregnant or breastfeeding, please talk to your doctor before getting vaccinated.
If you have already recovered from COVID-19, there are no recommendations by CDC on whether or not to get vaccinated. There is not enough information available to say if or for how long after COVID-19 infection someone is protected from getting it again (natural immunity). If you are currently infected with COVID-19, please wait until you have completed your quarantine period and are not experiencing symptoms before getting vaccinated.
If you have questions or concerns on whether to be vaccinated, please talk to your doctor.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
The most commonly reported side effects of the vaccines include:
- Injection site pain and swelling
If you experience any of these side effects, these are normal signs that your body is building protection and should go away in a few days. The CDC still recommends getting the second shot even if you experienced side effects after the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you otherwise.
Each individual that is vaccinated should report their side effects in the v-safe health checker platform right away.
(Source: CDC, After Getting the Vaccine)
Your Safety is Our Top Priority
You may be concerned about news of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and its implications for your health and those of your loved ones. Your safety and well-being are our top priority.
With respect to Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-34, we will continue to follow our proven tactics for controlling the spread of COVID-19, including universal masking and screening of all employees, providers, and visitors.
As has been our policy for nearly a year now, we will continue with our limited in-person visitation policy while encouraging virtual visitation options. In line with CDC guidance, all patients, visitors, and staff will still be required to wear a mask in all our facilities, including our hospital, clinics, and administrative buildings. We firmly stand behind these evidenced-based safety measures.
Please know that:
- We are taking all necessary measures and precautions to protect the safety of our patients and staff.
- We specialize in the care of patients with complex illnesses and have experience with managing and containing novel viruses.
- This is a rapidly evolving situation and we suggest you check out the latest updates on the CDC website as well as the website of your state health department and Dallas County Health and Human Services.
- Hospital visitor policies have been updated to reflect national efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. This policy may change at any time due to the rapidly evolving situation.
- Only virtual visits will be allowed for COVID-19 positive patients or Persons Under Investigation (PUI).
- Visitors to other areas of the hospital are limited to one person per day.
- Emergency Room patients will be limited to one visitor per visit.
- All visitors will undergo a health screening. Cleared visitors will need to wear a wristband and face mask at all times.
- Face masks should be changed daily.
- Visitors should stay in the patient room at all times, unless they are visiting the cafe or parked car.
- Visitors should limit their interactions with others in the facility.
- Visitors should wash and/or use hand sanitizer frequently.
- Patients in critical care fall under a special visitation category, and will be determined on a case by cases basis.
- Hospital entry points will be limited to enable screening of visitors. Visitors who show any signs of illness, including mild symptoms, should not visit patients in the hospital or accompany patients to the emergency department.
- All patients and visitors must wear a mask at all times.