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.   

What COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized by the FDA?  

There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA. 

Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine

  • The FDA has given emergency use authorization to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Data has shown that the vaccine starts working soon after the first dose and has an efficacy rate of 95% seven days after the second dose. This means that about 95% of people who get the vaccine are protected from becoming seriously ill with the virus. This vaccine is for people age 16 and older. It requires two injections given 21 days apart.

Moderna Vaccine

  • The FDA has given emergency use authorization to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Data has shown that the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 94.1%. This vaccine is for people age 18 and older. This vaccine requires two injections given 28 days apart.

Multiple other COVID-19 vaccines are under development. For the most current information go to the FDA’s Vaccine website.  

Administration of 2nd Dose

  • Persons should not be scheduled to receive the second dose earlier than recommended (21 days for Pfizer-BioNTech and 28 days for Moderna). However, second doses administered within a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended date for the second dose are still considered valid. 
  • The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series. (Source Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC)

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.  For additional information see Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines from the CDC

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. 

Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause someone to test positive on a COVID-19 diagnostic test?

Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.

If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine? 

COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. You should not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated.

However, anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation.

Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired.

Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than protection from COVID-19 vaccines?

The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection.

Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about.

What about coadministration with other vaccines?  

Given the lack of data on the safety and efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines, the vaccine series should routinely be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccine.

However, mRNA COVID-19 and other vaccines may be administered within a shorter period in situations where the benefits of vaccination are deemed to outweigh the potential unknown risks of vaccine coadministration (e.g., tetanus toxoid-containing vaccination as part of wound management, measles or hepatitis A vaccination during an outbreak) or to avoid barriers or delays to mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (e.g., in long-term care facility residents or healthcare personnel who received influenza or other vaccinations prior to/upon admission or onboarding). If mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are administered within 14 days of another vaccine, doses do not need to be repeated for either vaccine.

 

Additional Information

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Contact

 

Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

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