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Posted on: April 2, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine: Question and Answer for Residents

BOHvaccine

By the Berkeley Heights Board of Health

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is on the forefront of everyone’s mind right now. If you are eligible for the vaccine, you can visit the NJ Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS) and check which vaccination locations have appointments. Selection of sites is based on availability and not proximity to your home. Not all vaccination sites use NJVSS. For example,  Union County and Kean University will not be listed on NJVSS.  

Berkeley Heights volunteers are also available to help seniors with the process. If you need assistance making an appointment, please email seniors@bhtwp.com or call 908-464-2700 x 2229. If you are waiting for your turn in line, please continue to be patient. The vaccine is expected to be available to us all sometime this spring. 

These days we are inundated with a lot of medical information. The Berkeley Heights Board of Health has compiled a list of answers to some of the most commonly asked questions in the community about the vaccines. We want to hear more from you! If you have questions about COVID-19, the chances are your neighbor has them too. Email the topics you want covered to lpalumbo@bhtwp.com. Together, we can stay both healthy and informed. 

vaccine1What kind of side effects should I expect from the vaccine? Is it a bad sign if I do not develop any symptoms after a shot?

Everyone reacts differently to the vaccine. Side effects are a normal reaction. It means the vaccine has triggered a response from your immune system and is building protection against COVID-19. If you do not experience side effects, there is no reason to be alarmed. It does not mean the vaccine isn’t working—your body simply had a different response.  

The most common side effects are pain, redness, and swelling in the arm where you received the shot, as well as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea throughout the rest of the body. Learn more about what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. 

It seems like this injection hurts more severely than other vaccines. Why is that? 

The CDC reports that pain at the injection site is the most frequent and severe solicited local reaction among vaccine recipients. The degree to which someone experiences a reaction like pain or swelling at an injection site will vary from person to person. It also depends on the volume of vaccine injected, location on the body, and ingredients used to extend storage shelf life.

Why do some people suffer from flu-like symptoms after the second injection? 

The first shot teaches your body how to recognize the virus and respond to it. By the time you get the second shot your body is revved up and ready to go. You are more likely to experience side effects after the second injection because your body already knows how to react. In general, most people feel better within 48 hours.  

I heard you shouldn’t take medicine before you get the vaccine. What about afterwards if I am in a lot of pain?

The CDC recommends that you do not take medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen before getting vaccinated to avoid side effects. Pain relievers may prevent the vaccine from doing the best job possible. If you do not have a medical condition that prohibits you from taking these medications regularly, you can use them post-vaccination if you become very uncomfortable hours later. 

Why do the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two dosages, whereas Johnson & Johnson only uses one? Does that mean it is less effective? Should I wait to get a certain one? 

You should get whatever shot becomes available to you the quickest. All three shots are approved for Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 infection. The number of shots varies based on how the vaccine was studied in clinical trials. When the vaccines were being developed and tested, Moderna and Pfizer studied a two-dose regimen whereas Johnson & Johnson studied a single inoculation. 

Currently, all three companies are investigating alternative dosing regimens. They are also testing the vaccine in children and pregnant women. 

Do you have to receive your second vaccine within a certain period of time? 

If you receive a vaccine that requires two doses, you should get your second shot as close to the recommended interval as possible. To receive full protection, the CDC recommends the following schedule:  

  • Two Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses should be given three weeks (21 days) apart. 
  • Two Moderna vaccine doses should be given one month (28 days) apart. 
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine requires only one dose. 

If you are unable to stay within this timeline, your second dose may be given up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose. Only do this if it is absolutely necessary. It is also important not to get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval. 

Why do health officials believe we may need a booster next year?  

All viruses mutate. We see this happen every year with the flu. The virus responsible for COVID-19 has also changed over time. These mutant strains, commonly referred to as variants, have been identified in the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, and here in the U.S. 

If these variants change significantly over time, the vaccine may not remain effective enough to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and/or death. A booster could protect us against these variants. 

I am vaccinated. Now what?

Remember: you are not considered fully protected until two weeks after your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after receiving the J&J/Janssen shot. Once you are fully vaccinated you can resume some pre-pandemic activities such as visiting indoors with other vaccinated friends or family members. Learn more about the public health recommendations for fully-vaccinated people. Even though you are personally protected, you must continue to take precautions in public. Wear a face mask and maintain social distancing. 

Web resources

FDA COVID website

CDC FAQ

CDC Myths & Facts

 

 

 

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