Thank you again to all of the Vincentian caregivers who have chosen to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At the onset of our vaccine clinics in December, we shared the hope that the vaccine marked a turning point in our fight against the pandemic. Nearly three months later, the vaccine is working! The number of COVID-19 cases in congregate living settings like Vincentian’s senior communities is dramatically down from what was seen in 2020. Cases among staff are down, too!
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. All answer are based upon the most up-to-date information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
If you are a staff member who has not been vaccinated but wishes to receive more information about how and when you could receive the vaccine, please e-mail us at email@example.com.
Q: How long does it take for the COVID-19 vaccine to work?
A: People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 at least two weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or at least two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen).
Q: How long will protection from the COVID-19 vaccine last?
A: Scientists don’t know yet. Further research will tell us more about how long immunity lasts and if people will need booster vaccines in the future.
Q: Why do I still need to wear a mask and face shield at work after getting vaccinated?
A: In most cases, the vaccine will stop the COVID-19 virus from making you seriously ill. But we don’t yet know if the vaccine will stop you from spreading the virus to others. Vincentian is following DOH and CDC guidelines, which state both a face mask and a face shield be worn. As the guidelines change, we will update the policies and notify all employees.
Q: What is the difference between getting vaccinated and wearing a mask? Why do vaccinated people still need to wear a mask in public?
A: Preliminary data is promising that vaccinated individuals are less likely to contract and transmit the virus, but scientists do not have enough data yet to draw any definitive conclusions. We do know that vaccination dramatically reduces the likelihood of serious illness due to COVID-19. However, we still do not know whether the vaccine prevents an individual from carrying SARS-CoV-2 and spreading it to others, so it is still important to wear a face mask and physically distance even after being vaccinated.
Q: What about the updated CDC guidance released on March 8 that lessens restrictions for vaccinated people?
A: The updated CDC guidance does not apply to healthcare personnel or healthcare settings. It applies to private places, like individuals’ homes, and small group settings outside of healthcare. At Vincentian, fully vaccinated people should continue to follow guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, physical distancing (at least 6 feet), avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands often.
How do the vaccines work? Do they change my DNA?
A: COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. There are currently two types of COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for use in the United States: messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and viral vector vaccines.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way.
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different, harmless virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells to start building protection. This triggers our immune system to recognize the virus that causes COVID-19 and to begin producing antibodies and activating other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection.
Q: Are there any long-term side effects of the vaccines?
A: The safety profile of the vaccines has been very good. In the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials, more than 30,000 people were vaccinated. None had a severe adverse reaction due to the vaccine. Researchers will continue to collect safety data as more people get the vaccines. The CDC has an independent group of experts who will continue to review all the safety data and will also provide regular updates. If a safety issue comes up at any time, action will be taken.
Q: If I’m exposed to someone with COVID-19 after I’ve had both my vaccine shots, do I still need to quarantine?
A: No. You do not need to quarantine if 1) it has been at least 14 days but not more than 90 days from your final vaccine dose, and 2) you do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. You should monitor yourself closely and remember to never come to work with any symptoms related to COVID-19, whether or not you are vaccinated.
Q: If I start showing signs of COVID-19 after I’m fully immunized, should I get tested for COVID-19 and stay away from others?
A: Yes. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, even after you reached full protection, you should be tested. Stay away from others while you wait for your test results. It’s uncommon, but fully immunized people can still be infected with COVID-19. Cough, shortness of breath, rhinorrhea, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell are not consistent with post-vaccination symptoms, and instead may be symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 or another infection.
Q: Will current tests pick up on the new types (variants) of COVID-19 I’m hearing about? Is there a risk that we’re missing cases?
A: The tests utilized by Vincentian will detect the COVID-19 variants. Our Clinical Excellence team, and scientists around the world, are monitoring this closely and will update this information if any new concerns about these variants and our ability to test for them develops.
- CDC: Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People – Updated March 8, 2021
- CDC Science Brief: Background Rationale and Evidence for Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People – Updated March 8, 2021
- CDC: Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines – Updated March 11, 2021
- CDC: Post Vaccine Considerations for Healthcare Personnel – Updated December 13, 2020
- CDC: COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Research – Updated February 18, 2021