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COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is NY State’s vaccination plan and phases? 
NY State determines phases and prioritization for vaccination.  See the NY State Vaccine website for the most current information.   

How will NY State distribute vaccine? 
New York State plans to use up-to-date data to determine which geographic areas of the state may derive a greater public health benefit to receiving early vaccine. This may include areas with higher historical burden of disease or areas that have the highest prevalence of COVID-19. In addition, individual factors for hospitals and nursing homes will be considered including cases per facility in prior 14 days, and vulnerability index of population served. New York will also consider whether the vaccine can be used effectively as a potential outbreak interruption strategy and if so, what the criteria will be. 

What are mRNA vaccines? 
Messenger RNA vaccines, mRNA vaccines, are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein, even just a piece of a protein, that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.  mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus and they cannot give someone COVID-19.  The mRNA vaccine technology is not new.  This method was already being studied for other diseases, which allowed it to be rapidly applied to COVID-19.  For additional information see Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines from the CDC

What COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized by the FDA?  
There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA.  The vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech was authorized by the FDA on December 11, 2020.  The vaccine developed by Moderna was authorized by the FDA on December 18, 2020. Multiple other COVID-19 vaccines are under development. For the most current information go to the FDA’s Vaccine website.  

How was the vaccine produced so quickly?
The vaccine approval went through the normal phases.  Timelines were accelerated, existing networks were utilized, and due to federal funding support mass vaccine production began while awaiting the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA.  These all allowed for the vaccine to be available much faster than usual

How many shots of the vaccine are needed?   
The two currently FDA authorized vaccines need two shots to be effective. 

Are there any side effects?
Most common side effect is arm soreness at the injection site.  The main side effects are fatigue, headache, and fever.  Most side effects occur after the second dose, are minimal, resolve in 24 hours and do not result in you to miss work.  The side effects mean your body is mounting an immune response and the vaccine is working.  The risks of COVID-19 are much worse than the vaccine.  20% of all adult patients with COVID-19 are getting sick enough to need hospitalization.  

I already had COVID-19. Should I get vaccinated?
Yes.  But the CDC recommends vaccination should be deferred until you have recovered from the acute illness and are no longer under isolation.  There is no minimal interval between infection & vaccination, however, current evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Vaccination may be deferred until after this 90 days if there is a shortage of vaccine. 

What if I am pregnant or expect to become pregnant?
See the following references below for guidance and information:
https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-advisory/articles/2020/12/vaccinating-pregnant-and-lactating-patients-against-covid-19
https://www.asrm.org/globalassets/asrm/asrm-content/news-and-publications/covid-19/covidtaskforceupdate11.pdf

Do people still need to wear a mask and socially distance after they are vaccinated?  
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision. 

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