PATIENT EDUCATION

The COVID-19 Vaccine:
Fact vs. Fiction

ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR YOUR HEALTH

In order to protect the safety of you and others in our practice, we ask the following from you:

Capital Cardiology Associates requires that all patients and their guest must wear a surgical mask AT ALL TIMES while in our facility.

While we strongly encourage everyone to get the COVID vaccine, at this time we do not have any vaccine to administer.

Visiting from outside New York State? Please click here to read the latest on New York State’s travel advisory which requires all New Yorkers, as well as those visiting from out of state before visiting our offices.

To help protect yourself, your loved ones, and our staff, please do not visit our office without an appointment.

If you have an upcoming appt with us and are experiencing flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, respiratory issues, we ask that you call to speak with one of our nurses before coming into your appointment. If you have flu-like symptoms, you will not be charged a cancellation fee if you contact the office with proper notice. If you have been recently diagnosed with COVID or have been on quarantine, please bring documentation from your local DOH stating your quarantine has ended. This is in an effort to keep patients and staff as safe and healthy as possible.


GUEST POLICY:

All guests MUST follow the same screening and mask/face covering guidelines during the patient visit. Due to CDC guidelines and regulations form our building owners, there are two different policies regarding guests during patient visits. Please understand that special considerations are made to meet the needs of our patients that need assistance entering and exiting the building.

Corporate Woods – at this time we are allowed ONE medically necessary visitor per patient per visit.

Troy – We must follow building guidelines and can only allow guests to accompany patients with special circumstances.

If the visitor is experiencing any cold/flu symptoms OR temperature OR in past 14 days visitor or member in visitor’s household has tested positive or has been told you likely have COVID-19, the visitor will not be allowed to accompany patient.

As our CCA doctors, providers, and staff complete their vaccinations and the next phase of eligible individuals make their appointments, we would like to answer some of the frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 Vaccine. The cardiologists at CCA encourage all eligible patients to receive their COVID-19 Vaccine and realize many of the questions, unknowns, and misinformation circulating.

COVID facts:

› Currently, there have been over 318,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the US.
Understanding the Numbers: Provisional Death Count for Coronavirus Disease 2019 COVID-19

› COVID-19 is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the US behind heart disease and cancer. COVID-19 as the Leading Cause of Death in the United States

› 50-60% of COVID-19 transmission may come from people with NO symptoms. SARS-CoV-2 Transmission From People Without COVID-19 Symptoms.

› According to the CDC, over 6.6 million people in the US have received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine CDC.
See latest stats

› Currently, two COVID-19 vaccines are available for use in the US, as FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Both vaccines are 2-shot series given intramuscularly (the same way you receive your flu shot).

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective?

Yes! Both vaccines were studied in clinical trials with over 30,000 patients in each trial. Both vaccines have demonstrated ~ 95% efficacy in preventing COVID-19 after completing the two dose series.

How does the COVID-19 Vaccine work?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are “mRNA” vaccines. This innovative way of vaccinating has been in development for many years and has successfully been used in both the current FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines. Our bodies use messenger RNA (mRNA) like a blueprint or set of instructions. mRNA is involved in our cells’ normal functioning, telling cells what proteins to make and how.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give our cells instructions to make a harmless piece of the virus called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the virus’s surface, which enables the virus to enter and infect our cells. Once the vaccine mRNA is inside the cells, they make the spike protein and break down the instructions. The cells in your body then display this protein piece on their surface, allowing our immune system to recognize that the protein doesn’t belong, and our body begins building an immune response. This spike protein is harmless on its own without the rest of the virus, and since the mRNA instructs the body only to make that spike protein, it cannot give you the COVID-19 virus itself.

As the vaccine begins to work, this protein is “expressed” by our cells and exposed to our immune systems. From there, the immune system develops antibodies to the spike protein, learning how to fight the COVID-19 virus so that if we are exposed in the future, our bodies can stop the virus before it has a chance to cause illness. We then develop immune cells called “memory” cells, which will give us long term protection. The vaccine allows our bodies to build immunity to COVID-19 without actually becoming exposed.

Medical Researcher

Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective?

Yes! Both vaccines were studied in clinical trials with over 30,000 patients in each trial. Both vaccines have demonstrated ~ 95% efficacy in preventing COVID-19 after completing the two dose series.

Is the Vaccine Safe Despite the Rapid Development?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccines were developed over an unprecedented ten months. However, this is the result of sufficient resources working together across the world. In April 2020, the World Health Organization brought together various governments, scientists, global health organizations, and businesses. With unprecedented scientific collaboration and funding, multiple trials were conducted in parallel, contributing to progress faster than expected. The world developed COVID-19 vaccines quickly because of years of previous research on pandemic preparedness, related viruses, and faster ways to manufacture vaccines. All of the rigorous processes regarding safety review for new vaccines were followed.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective against the new virus variant detected?

A new COVID-19 variant has been detected in parts of the world, including the US, and there are concerns of future virus mutations. Most recent data shows that the current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against one of the new variants and suggests they may be effective against other mutations. Scientists are actively researching the vaccines and the effects of other potential mutations. However, the best way to stop the virus from mutating is to increase vaccinations, as vaccines offer broad immunity and can reduce the spread of future virus mutations.

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine safe for people with heart conditions?

Yes! People with heart conditions are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. We recommend that all patients with heart conditions receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Who Should Not Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Getting vaccinated is one of the steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. The majority of people are eligible for the Vaccine with the following two (as of 1/12/2021) exceptions:

> Pediatrics: At this point, the Pfizer vaccine is approved for individuals 16 years of age and older, and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is approved for individuals 18 years of age and older. Studies for COVID-19 vaccines in children are currently ongoing.

> If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling, difficulty breathing) or immediate allergic reaction (within 4 hours of receiving) to any of the ingredients in the vaccines or after receiving the first dose. Ingredients include polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polysorbate. See the full list of ingredients here. This vaccine DOES NOT contain eggs, preservatives, or latex.

Can Patients on Blood Thinners Get the Vaccine?

Yes! If you are taking blood thinners, it is safe for you to receive the vaccine. For those taking warfarin, ensure that you are regularly checking your INR and that your most recent INR was within the appropriate range. After you receive the vaccine, you may develop what looks like a bruise around the injection site. To help prevent this from occurring, make sure that you don’t rub the injection site immediately after receiving the vaccination.

Does the Vaccine Cause Infertility?

This rumor began on social media when someone stated the vaccine contains “syncytin-1,” a protein essential in forming the human placenta. This caused concern that the vaccine could cause the body to attack this protein essential for fertility. The vaccine gives the body instructions on making the spike protein of the COVID-19 virus, so if a person is later infected, their immune system can generate a response to protect against the virus. The spike protein is made of amino acids, which are often referred to as the building blocks of proteins. There is a concise sequence in the spike protein that is similar to syncytin-1. However, the body is extremely unlikely to confuse the two, and it is too short to trigger an immune response.

During the clinical trials for the vaccines, 23 women participating became pregnant after receiving the vaccine. Additionally, in animal studies, no safety concerns regarding female reproduction, fetal/embryonal development, or postnatal development were demonstrated in rats that received the COVID-19 Vaccine before or during gestation. Future studies in pregnant women are planned, and the manufacturers are following patients who became pregnant in the clinical trials after receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine.

In addition, more than 50,000 pregnant women in the US have been infected with COVID-19, and although their bodies responded by developing antibodies similar to the ones created by the body after vaccination, there has been no evidence of an increase in early pregnancy loss.

Pregnant woman

Does the COVID-19 Vaccine inject a tracking device?

No! This is another social media rumor. There is a company that makes syringes that may be used for single COVID-19 vaccine doses in the future. They have an option to contain a microchip on the label of the Vaccine to let the healthcare provider know if the dose has expired or if it is counterfeit. This would be a safety precaution for the patient. A microchip would not be injected, track who has received the vaccine, or record any personal information.

Should I Receive the Vaccine if I Already Had COVID-19?

Yes. If you are currently sick with COVID-19, you should wait to become immunized until after your illness has resolved or until you are no longer required to isolate. The immunity we receive from having the infection (natural immunity) is unique to each person. We still have many unanswered questions since the virus is so new, and we are unsure how long the natural immunity from exposure will last. As we continue to learn more about the virus, recommendations may change, yet currently, both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity play important roles in preventing the spread of the virus and keeping everyone healthy.

The CDC currently states that re-infection with the virus is uncommon within the first 90 days after a COVID-19 infection and therefore states that vaccination can be delayed until the end of that 90-day period if chosen.

Can You Develop COVID-19 from the Vaccine?

No! None of the vaccines contain a live version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Therefore, this vaccine cannot infect you.

Will I have side effects from the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The safety profile seen in the clinical trials is similar to that seen of other viral vaccines.
The most common side effects from both vaccines include injection site reactions (arm pain or tenderness or redness), fatigue, muscle pain, headache, chills, and fever. If you do have a side effect, they are expected to last just a day or two. People experienced these side effects more frequently after the 2nd dose than after the 1st dose. Overall, adults over the age of 65 report fewer side effects than younger adults. These side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing its job and the vaccine is working.

Anaphylaxis has been reported with the vaccine, and although extremely rare, people can have severe allergic reactions to ingredients used in a vaccine. That’s why experts recommend people with a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines or ingredients in the vaccines, not get the vaccination.

How Do We Know that the COVID-19 Vaccine Doesn’t Cause Long-term Health Problems?

Ultimately, we are not fortune-tellers, but based on more than 50 years of experience with vaccines, it is not likely that vaccines cause unexpected long term problems. Studies have found no relationships between vaccines and the development of chronic diseases. This is assumed to be the case for the COVID-19 vaccines, as well. The clinical trials provided 2 months of safety data after the Vaccine, which is similar to the time period for other vaccine safety data. Vaccine safety continues to be monitored very closely.

Should I Report Any Problems or Bad Reactions After Receiving the Vaccine?

Yes. Both the CDC and FDA are continuing to monitor the vaccines and encourage you to report any significant side effects after receiving the vaccine. These can be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Why Do I Need to Receive the Vaccine if I’m Ok with Social Distancing and Wearing a Mask?

The pandemic continues to grow despite our efforts to control it. Physical barriers, such as masks, can only do so much to help protect us from exposure to the virus. The vaccine will help ready our body to fight the virus if we are exposed. Vaccination, along with physical barriers, will give us the best protection from COVID-19 and help to stop the spread that has devastated so many individuals and families already.

Do I Still Have to Wear A Mask After My First Dose of the Vaccine?… After the Second Dose?

Yes. It’s recommended that you continue to wear masks and social distance after receiving the first and second dose of either vaccine. In fact, maximum immunity from the vaccines is not seen until about 3-4 weeks after the 2nd dose. However, much is still unknown about COVID-19 and protection after vaccination, including how much the Vaccine protects against transmission.

Other factors also play a role in preventing the spread, such as the total number of people who actually get vaccinated and receive the complete series. We need to learn more before we can safely recommend otherwise. Therefore, all the tools available to us to prevent the spread of the virus should continue to be used. This includes distancing, wearing masks (covering both your nose and mouth), and washing your hands often with soap and water.

Can I Only Get the 1st dose of the Vaccine?

No, only one dose does not provide full immunity. It is recommended to complete the 2 required doses in order to get the maximum efficacy and immunity against COVID-19.

What Should I Do Until I Get the Vaccine?

Follow the guidelines that have been set by the CDC and other organizations to help protect yourself and others. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when you’re in public or around others. Maintain at least 6 feet apart if possible and avoid close contact with people who are sick or are believed to be sick. Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated areas. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, and wash your hands often with soap and water. For other information refer to the CDC recommendation.

What is Herd Immunity? And Why Is It Important?

Herd immunity occurs when enough people become immune to a disease to make the spread unlikely. As a result, the entire community is protected, even those who are not themselves immune. Herd immunity is usually achieved through vaccination, but it can also occur through natural infection.

Experts initially estimated that somewhere between 60%-70% of the population needs to be immune to COVID-19 in order to achieve herd immunity. More recently, they have raised that estimate to near 90%. As of now, the United States is nowhere close to the numbers needed to achieve herd immunity.

Achieving herd immunity through natural infection means many people would become ill and many more would die. Ideally, we will achieve herd immunity as more people around the world receive vaccines that will confer lasting immunity. Becoming vaccinated protects not only you but also those around you. We now have the tools to slow and eventually end the pandemic − please help stop the spread, and get vaccinated.

When Can I Get the Vaccine?

Many people are very eager to get the Vaccine, and it is important to know when it is available to you. NYS has created a website, as well as a smartphone app called, “Am I Eligible?” that all residents of New York State can sign up to notify them when they can receive their Vaccine. You can also call your county or state health departments.

Written by Ronald Pilz Pharm Intern, Rachel Rogge Pharm Intern, Maura Falli, PharmD, and Kate Cabral PharmD, BCPS, BCCP