Vaccine distribution: Phase 1B
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Maricopa County has moved into Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. In its first full day of operation, the massive 24/7 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium was administering vaccines to about 200 people per hour.
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Q: Is the vaccine safe?
A: While there have been some cases in which patients had an allergic reaction to its vaccine, Pfizer says it appears to be safe.
Christ said when people get the vaccine, they will need to stay put with their provider for about 15 minutes to make sure they do not have an adverse reaction.
Neither Pfizer nor Moderna reported any serious side effects during their clinical trials. The most common side effects, according to the manufactures, are not unusual with vaccines.
- Pain at injection site
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes (Moderna)
"We need to let everybody know that the vaccine is safe, effective, and it's for everyone's benefit," Christ said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the flu-like side effects are a sign that your body is doing what it's supposed to and building protection against the virus.
There are several things, however, that cannot be known yet, including what, if any, long-term effects the vaccine might have.
It's also not clear if the vaccine can prevent transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 or if it only prevents people from getting sick.
Q: How soon can I get the vaccine?
A: It depends. The first doses are going to frontline workers, essential workers, and people at high risk for developing complications from COVID-19. The second phase of vaccine distribution (Phase 1B) was updated to prioritize all adults aged 75 years and older.
Phase 1B also includes education and child care workers and members of protective services occupations such as firefighters and police officers.
The vaccine will likely not be available to the general public until spring.
The New York Times created a tool to help people determine their "place in line" to get the vaccine. It looks at at four specific factors -- your age, where you live, your profession, and underlying conditions. This is not a reservation or registration for the vaccine. It's merely meant to give you and idea where you might fall in what's going to be a massive vaccination effort.
Q: Where can I get the vaccine?
A: There is a massive 24/7 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium. In addition, several Albertson's and Safeway pharmacies are offering the vaccine. Click here for locations and registration links.
Q: Who gets the vaccine first?
A: The vaccine is being rolled out in phases before it becomes available to the general population.
- Phase1A (December 2020-Spring 2021)
- Health care workers and support occupations
- Emergency medical service providers
- Long-term care staff and residents
- Phase 1B (December 2020-Spring 2021) <-- Maricopa County is in this phase
- Adults aged 75 years and older
- Essential workers
- Teachers, child care workers, and public safety employees will be prioritized
- Phase 1C (December 2020-Spring 2021)
- High-risk populations
- Adults with high-risk medical conditions, adults older than 65, and those living in a congregate care setting
- High-risk populations
Phase 2, the first time the vaccine will be available to the general population, is expected to start some time between the spring and summer of 2021. For this phase, ADHS anticipates that there will be enough doses of the vaccine to meet the demand. Phase 3, when the demand for the vaccine will start to decrease, is expected this summer.
Q: How many shots do I have to get?
A: Two. The second dose comes 21 or 28 days after the first, depending on which vaccine you get. Whichever version you get, your second dose must be the same as the first. So, if you got the Pfizer vaccine for your first dose, your second shot must also be the Pfizer vaccine.
Q: Do I have to go to the same place for my second shot?
A: No. You do, however, have to be sure you get the vaccine from the same manufacturer. If your first dose was Pfizer, your second dose must also be Pfizer. The vaccines are not "mix and match."
Q: Am I protected after the first shot?
A: No, not fully.
"While some protection will be obtained two weeks after the first dose, full protection will not be achieved until one to two weeks after the second dose," Dr. Christ said. "That second dose is very important."
Q: I've already had COVID-19. can I still get the vaccine?
Q: I'm not a resident of Arizona. Can I still get vaccinated here?
A: Yes. "Individuals will be taken in order based on their priority population not based on residency status," according to Maricopa County' COVID-19 vaccine webpage. "Identification, such as a driver's license or employer ID badge, may be required to verify eligibility for the phase they are registering."
That said, health officials strongly encourage people to get their second shot at the same place they got the first one. If that's not possible, you will get a vaccination record noting which vaccine you got and when. This is important because the two versions of the vaccine are not interchangeable, and the timing of the second shot is essential for each vaccine to work properly.
Q: Can I get a shot without an appointment.
A. No. You must register and schedule an appointment at a specific location.
Q: What happens if I just go to a vaccine site?
A: Staff there will explain what you need to do to properly register and guide you to an exit.
Q: How many vaccines have been administered? Where is my county n the process?
A: ADHS posts the current numbers on its Find Vaccine webpage. It also includes links and phone numbers for vaccination sites by county.
Q: Will this vaccine be a yearly thing like the flu shot? Will I need periodic boosters?
A: There's no certain answer to that yet, but medical experts seem to be leaning toward an annual shot like the flu vaccine. Viruses mutate over time and vaccines have to be adjusted to be as effective as possible against current strains. It's probably not a one-vaccine-fixes-everything-forever approach. Medical researchers are still learning about the body's responses to the coronavirus and how the antibodies to it work. There's still quite a bit that's unknown.
Q: Can my employer require me to get the vaccine? If I don't do it, can I be fired?
A: The short answer is possibly.
If you have an underlying medical condition, you might be exempt under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act provides similar protection for people with "sincerely held" religious beliefs against vaccines.
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If you are exempt, you and your employer would need to work together to come up with "reasonable accommodations." What that looks like varies. It could be remote work or it could be using personal protective equipment (PPE) at the workplace.
Absent those two exceptions, you will be taking a risk against your employer's mandate. Employers have the right to enforce their requirements.
"If your employer requires it, and you don't do it, then it is likely you'll lose your job," said attorney Logan Elia with Rose Law Group.
Q: Once I get the shot, I won't get sick, right?
A: Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes, but Pfizer says its vaccine is 95% percent effective at preventing COVID-19. Moderna puts its vaccine's efficacy at 94.5%.
It takes time for your body to build immunity, at least a couple of weeks. So, if you're exposed to the virus right before or right after being vaccinated, your body will not have had time to build up its defenses.
It's also important to remember that no vaccine is 100% effective. You should still take precautions.
If you do develop the disease, you probably will not get as sick as you might have otherwise. You might even be asymptomatic.
Also, it's still not clear if people who have been vaccinated can transmit the coronavirus to others.
Q: Will I still have to wear a mask and socially distance after getting the vaccine?
A: Medical experts say yes. While Pfizer says its vaccine is effective at preventing people from getting COVID-19, it's not clear yet if it has any effect on transmitting the virus. So, even if you do not get sick, you could still be contagious.
"It will be important for everyone to continue taking precautions, even after being vaccinated, to ensure that we are protecting our loved ones and those around us," according to Dr. Christ.
Medical experts worldwide have made it clear that masks are not just to protect the wearer but also to protect everyone around them.
"It's possible that someone could get the vaccine but could still be an asymptomatic carrier," said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician. "They may not show symptoms, but they have the virus in their nasal passageway so that if they're speaking, breathing, sneezing and so on, they can still transmit it to others."
Q: I'm pregnant. Should I get the vaccine?
A: "There are no clinical trials yet conducted in children or pregnant women," Dr. Christ said. "As we get more information, will be adding more information about kids and pregnant women."
Q: What about my children? Can they get the vaccine?
A: The short answer is no. The FDA has only approved the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine for people 18 and older. At this point, there are no completed studies or trials involving kids.
Q: There are two versions of the vaccine? What's the difference?
A: The three biggest differences are the storage requirements, whether the vaccine needs to be diluted before being administered, and the dosage amount and timing, according to the FDA and pharmaceutical experts.
The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at subfreezing temperatures -- -94 degrees. Transporting the Pfizer vaccine requires a complex "cold chain," including expensive ultra-cold freezers and dry ice. Also, it only lasts in the refrigerator for five days. Moderna's vaccine is a little more flexible.
It can be stored in regular freezers and has a refrigerated shelf life of 30 days. That means it's more easily transported and stored, and will be more widely available.
Pfizer's vaccine must be diluted. It's given as two 100-microgram shots given 21 days apart.
Moderna's vaccine does not require dilutions. It's two 30-microgram doses given 28 days apart
Q: Can I choose which version of the vaccine I get?
No. Most people will probably get the Moderna vaccine because it is more easily transported and a significantly longer refrigerated shelf life.
Q: I've heard that the vaccines use cells from aborted fetuses. Is that true?
A: No. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are synthetic. They take advantage of a new approach to vaccines by using messenger RNA (mRNA). Traditional vaccines use a weakened or inactive virus to trigger an immune response. The mRNA vaccines do not work that way. "Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein -- or even just a piece of a protein -- that triggers an immune response inside our bodies," explains the CDC.
The main claim regarding the use of cell lines from aborted fetuses involves the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been FDA-approved yet. The Associated Press, among others, fact-checked the claim that researchers used cells from the lung tissue of a fetus aborted in the '60s in the production of its vaccine. While those cells, called MRC-5 cells, have been used in the creation of vaccines, AstraZeneca confirmed to AP that it does not utilize those cells in its COVID-19 vaccine. It did, however, use another cell line in its vaccine development -- clones of kidney cells from a fetus aborted in 1973. They were used in the production of the vaccine but are not in the vaccine, according to an expert in the field.
“What’s important for the public to know even if they are opposed to the use of fetal cells for therapies, these medicines that are being made and vaccines do not contain any aspect of the cells in them,” Dr. Deepak Srivastava told the AP. “The cells are used as factories for production. They are widely used in many aspects in biomedical science because they are so effective.”
Q: How much is vaccine going to cost me?
A: It's free.
Q: Is getting the vaccine mandatory?
A: Not by the government. Your employer, however, might require it.
Q: Can I donate convalescent plasma after getting the vaccine?
CNN and AP contributed to this article.