COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
Why will it take so long for the COVID-19 vaccines to become widely available?
It takes a lot of time to manufacture and distribute these vaccines. Doses will be extremely limited at first, so the government must decide who needs the COVID-19 vaccine first.
Please, visit the Virginia Health Department direct vaccination distribution and allocations https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/
What ages has the COVID-19 vaccine been approved for?
Pfizer’s vaccine has been authorized for ages 12 and up. Moderna’s vaccine is currently authorized for ages 18 and up. Both companies have begun clinical trials for younger kids.
My child is 12 years (or older), how do I get them vaccinated?
Individuals that are 12 and up may register for the shot.
Arlington County, click here
Fairfax County, click here
Loudon County, click here
Vaccine finder, click here
What about ages 0 to 11? When can we expect a COVID-19 vaccine for infants, kids and younger teens?
With any luck, a full pediatric vaccine will be available by late 2021. Children’s immune systems evolve as they develop from infancy through the teenage years. As a result, research that’s been done on the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 and up needs to be repeated in younger children.
Both Pfizer and Moderna recently began new vaccine trials including children as young as age 12. If they’re successful, the data will need to go through FDA review, followed by the time it takes for production and distribution. This process can take a while, especially for very young ages, which are usually tested last.
How do Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines work?
Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are made using the same technology: They inject a genetic molecule called mRNA, which causes a person’s cells to create a viral protein (called a “spike”) that triggers the desired immune response. There is no live virus involved – the mRNA molecule is simply a messenger that tells the body how to create an immune response, then it’s quickly broken down by the body and disappears.
How many doses does the COVID-19 vaccine take to be effective?
Nearly all COVID-19 vaccines being studied in the United States, including the approved vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, require two shots: an initial dose followed a booster 3 weeks later for Pfizer and 4 weeks later for Moderna. While you do gain some immunity from COVID-19 with the first dose, it’s very important – for your own sake, and your community’s sake – to get both doses.
A few weeks after the second dose, you are protected from COVID-19 at a success rate of about 95% or 94% (Pfizer or Moderna, respectively). It’s worth noting that no vaccine is 100% effective, and this is among the highest efficacy seen with vaccines.
Are Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines safe? Should my family get the vaccine, once it’s available to us?
Health officials closely reviewed all safety data from Pfizer and Moderna’s clinical trials and concluded that the vaccines have not led to serious health problems. For example, in Pfizer’s recipients, less than 1 percent had an allergic reaction.
The CDC will continue to monitor for long term side effects as more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine. So far, no vaccine has shown to have long term side effects occurring beyond a few weeks of taking the vaccine.
Are there any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Some people have mild side effects like soreness in their arm, chills, low grade fever, fatigue or headache for about 24 hours. These side effects are a normal part of the body’s immune system response, and commonly occur with many vaccines, including the flu shot.
Any effects of COVID vaccine on pregnancy, the developing fetus, or infants?
No pregnancy related data have yet been released. Pregnancy and breastfeeding will probably not be contraindications to receiving COVID-19 vaccine; however, there is no safety data in the pregnant woman, her fetus or infants at this time. While these vaccines were not specifically tested in breastfeeding women, it is not likely (based on the mechanisms of action of the vaccines in US trials) that there would be any risk to the child.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine wear off every year, like the flu shot?
Great question. This information is not yet available — so stay tuned.
Would you still recommend continuing full precautions after vaccination?
We will need to continue to practice physical distancing and mask wearing while indoors or in certain crowded outdoor settings. As more people are vaccinated increasing immunity, original guidelines will allow for some relaxation. For the most up to date guidelines, click here.
I saw on the news that a COVID-19 mutation was identified in the UK. Will the current COVID-19 vaccine still be effective?
All coronaviruses, including COVID-19, will tend to mutate and evolve over time. This just means that the genetic blueprint, or genome, of the virus is changing. The UK mutation appears to be associated with how contagious the virus is, but not with any part of the virus that affects how the vaccine works.
In other words, the current COVID-19 vaccine should still be effective against the mutated virus.
Modified from Connecticut Children’s Hospital