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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

Updated January 15, 2021

On Dec. 10, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in people 16 years and older, and authorized the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 18. AstraZeneca is also developing a vaccine, which may be authorized soon.

When will Children’s Mercy begin administering the vaccine?

Children’s Mercy is following the vaccine rollout plans developed by Missouri and Kansas. In following the plans, we have been able to begin vaccinating our employees. We are excited to hopefully soon be able to provide vaccine to our patients and agencies that provide services for our patients. We are working with the states of Missouri and Kansas to determine who is eligible to receive the vaccine and when we will be receive the vaccine to administer to these individuals.

We will continue to keep this page updated as additional information becomes available. You can also check the websites of your local health department to learn more about their plan for vaccine distribution.

COVID-19 vaccine research study

Would you like your child to be registered as a potential participant for a COVID-19 vaccine research study?

If you would like to sign your child(ren) up to be contacted for a future COVID-19 vaccine research study, please complete the survey at the link below. This registry is not a research study and the information you give will not be used for a research study without first contacting you for informed consent. We intend to store your contact information solely for the purpose of contacting you for future research projects.

Please contact Megan Bledsoe, Clinical Trials Coordinator at (816) 960-3007 with any questions.

Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Anyone who is 16 years old or older can get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The FDA has said that people who have a history of anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction) to the COVID-19 vaccine or its components should not get the vaccine for now. The FDA is planning to publish more guidance soon about what to do if you do have a history of anaphylaxis.

Even though most adults can get the vaccine, certain groups will get the vaccine first. Right now, the first doses are being given to healthcare workers who are at direct risk of being exposed to coronavirus. People who live and work at long-term care settings like skilled nursing facilities are also at the front of the line. As more vaccine doses are produced and distributed, more people will become eligible to receive it. If you are in a high-risk group, talk to your doctor or your employer about when you may be able to get the vaccine.

Experts estimate that healthy adults in the general population may be able to get the vaccine in the spring.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine effective?

Yes, the vaccines are very effective. Clinical trials have shown the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to be 94% to 95% effective in preventing COVID-19. This is considered to be a high level of effectiveness, comparable to other extremely effective vaccines such as ones for tetanus and measles.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes. When the vaccines were tested, the most common side effect was pain at the injection site, and it was generally mild. Other common reactions were fatigue, headaches, muscle pain and chills. Fever was an uncommon side effect. These post-vaccination symptoms are a sign that the body is reacting properly to the vaccine. Essentially, it shows you that your immune system is revving up to protect you.

Should we be worried about how quickly these vaccines were developed and produced?

It is normal to have questions about any new treatment or vaccine. However, COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same cycle of clinical trials and independent reviews as every other vaccine or medication. They were able to go through the cycle and be produced more quickly because of help from the U.S. government, but quality was not compromised.

Additionally, the vaccine uses modified RNA, which has been around for more than 10 years and has already been used as a treatment for cancer. This is not a completely new type of technology, which is one of the reasons that pharmaceutical companies were able to develop the vaccines quickly.

When can children get the vaccine?

Right now, the vaccine is only approved for people who are 16 or older. The vaccines are currently being tested on children 12 to 15 years to see if they are safe and effective for adolescents. Tests may begin on younger children as soon as next month.

Young children who get COVID-19 typically have less severe symptoms than adults. Nevertheless, once the vaccine is determined to be safe and effective for kids, it will be important to vaccinate them. Kids can pass COVID infection along to adults, and vaccination can help to prevent transmission. Children who have COVID infection also have a small risk for a more serious complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C. Preventing COVID can also prevent MIS-C.

Can pregnant or breastfeeding women get the COVID vaccine?

Yes. The vaccine is not contraindicated for pregnant or breastfeeding women – meaning it has not been shown to be harmful to this group. Since the vaccine does not contain the live virus, it cannot cause COVID-19 infection. For this reason, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has determined that there is no safety risk to pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of being vaccinated vs. contracting COVID-19.

Can people who are immunocompromised or take immunosuppressants get the vaccine?

Yes. The vaccine is not contraindicated for this group – meaning it has not been shown to be harmful to people in this group. Since the vaccine does not contain the live virus, it cannot cause COVID-19 infection. For this reason, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has determined that there is no safety risk to immunocompromised people. If you or your child are immunocompromised or take immunosuppressants, talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of being vaccinated vs. contracting COVID-19.

How many doses need to be taken?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines need to be taken in two doses. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is given three weeks after the first dose. The second dose of the Moderna vaccine is given four weeks after the first dose.

It’s important to take both doses of the vaccine from the same company – so, for example, if your first dose is the Pfizer vaccine, your second dose should also be from Pfizer.

If I have already had COVID, can I get the vaccine?

Yes. If you have had a COVID infection, you may take the vaccine after the 10-day isolation period.

Once I have been vaccinated, can I stop wearing a mask?

No. Studies have shown that people who were vaccinated were 94% to 95% less likely to get COVID disease. What we don’t know yet is whether vaccinated people might still contract coronavirus and be contagious to others. For this reason, it’s important to continue to wear a mask and socially distance even after you’ve had both doses of the vaccine. Over time, we will learn more about whether vaccinated people can pass the virus to others or not.

Are the healthcare workers at Children’s Mercy being vaccinated?

Yes. Eligible healthcare workers at Children’s Mercy will be offered the vaccine. In fact, the first employees received the vaccine on Dec. 16. More and more employees will be vaccinated as doses become available.