Simi Pharmacy

Everything you want to know about covid vaccines

It’s good idea to ask questions about any medication that you are taking, and that goes for covid vaccines too. 

SIMI PHARMACY is happy to give complete and accurate answers… and if there is anything that we haven’t covered in this list of FAQs, let us know.  We’ll dig out the information you are looking for.

Are these vaccines safe?

Yes.  Before being approved for use, the covid vaccines were tested on tens of thousands of people.  It worked on them and it will work on you.  The vaccines met very high and strict standards in order to get approval.

If I get a covid shot today, how long does it take for the vaccine to kick in?

Very high protection begins one or two weeks after receiving the booster. A trial by Pfizer suggests that from seven days onwards, a booster dose of Pfizer is extremely effective at preventing illness from Covid-19

I just had a flu shot.  Should I wait a few days before I get a Covid booster?

No waiting time is necessary. You can get both shots on the same day if you like. Take one in the left arm and one in the right.

Should my baby get a covid shot?

Yes !  Check out this chart from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

I am immunosuppressed or immunocompromised; can I have a booster?

Yes.  In fact, getting vaccine protection is very important for people like you.  If your immune system doesn’t function well, or if you are taking medicine that suppresses your immune system or if you are taking steroids, get a booster.  This goes for anyone over the age of 12.  This chart from the CDC is for you.

I’m allergic to a lot of things.  Is the booster safe for me?

The only people with allergies who should NOT get the vaccine are those with a history of serious reaction to the vaccine ingredients.  There are very, very few such people. If, for any reason, your doctor thinks that you should not get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, he may prescribe the Novavax vaccine instead.

If you have allergic reactions, then you already know that you should not take anything without getting the okay from your doctor.

Check out this chart from the Center for Disease Control; it’s about vaccines for people with allergies:

Will I have side effects from the booster?

Most people experience no side effects at all.  Some people feel minor effects.  These go away very soon and they are nothing compared to how bad you can feel if you come down with covid.  Some people feel pain or tenderness at the spot where the needle went in, or you might feel tired and headache-y.  Very rarely, people complain of muscle ache, swelling of the lymph nodes in the arm that got the injection, chills, nausea, fever, or rash.  Even these symptoms won’t last more than two or three days. 

How often should I get a booster?

Last September, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha advised that everybody should get a covid booster once a year, between Labor Day and Halloween, around the same time that you get your annual flu shot.

Covid tends to hit hardest in the winter, so taking a fall booster makes sense.  Making it an annual routine also removes confusion about who is eligible for a booster, how many boosters, when, which boosters, how far apart. (The exceptions are the elderly and immunocompromised who may need boosters at more frequent intervals.)  However, not everybody agrees with this policy, mainly on the grounds that viruses are mutating all the time and don’t necessarily follow schedules announced by the White House.  Also, it is feared people may get complacent if covid is put at the same level as flu.  Public health experts point out that to ward off flu, people don’t have to mask up, test frequently or keep six feet apart, but these are effective barriers that prevent spread of covid and they shouldn’t be dumped just because people are getting an annual shot.

Research published in February 2023 found that three to five months after getting a booster, most people have around 65 per cent protection against serious illness from Covid-19, and one year later protection was still at around 52 per cent. The data were collected in July 2022, when the Omicron BA.5 variant was the dominant strain.

Pfizer and Moderna are called bivalent vaccines?  What does that mean?

A vaccine that works by stimulating an immune response against two different antigens, such as two different viruses or other microorganisms is called bivalent.  Valent means able to act on, react, or bind with a biological substance. Bi means two.

The updated Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are bivalent vaccines, which means they offer protection against both the original coronavirus, as well as the Omicron variant BA.1.

If a vaccine is monovalent (mono means one) that means that it is based on the original (ancestral) strain of SARS-CoV-2

None of the currently FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are live-virus vaccines.  You absolutely cannot get covid from a vaccine.

What’s the difference between Pfizer and Moderna?

There is a “subtle difference” but the important thing is that both vaccines are effective and work in the same way.

Here’s what a high-powered team of medical researchers found out.

Both the mRNA vaccines currently approved for COVID-19, namely mRNA-1273 (Moderna) and BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) “induced robust functional humoral immune responses, with differences in epitope recognition and antibody-mediated functional properties. In addition, strong responses against VOCs, including the Beta and Delta variants, were observed.” But the study also found “subtle differences” in immune responses.[Science Translational Medicine ]

Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use relatively new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology and both must be stored in freezer-level temperatures.  Pfizer got FDA emergency approval in December 2020 and full approval in August 2021. Moderna also got FDA approval in December 2020 (a week after Pfizer-BioNTech.)

How are Novavax and Johnson & Johnson different from Pfizer and Moderna?

Novavax vaccine is a protein adjuvant. It had a 90 per cent efficacy in its clinical trial, performing almost as well as the mRNA vaccines. It is simpler to make than some of the other vaccines and can be stored in a refrigerator, making it easier to distribute.  It got the FDA nod in July 2022.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is a carrier, or virus vector, vaccine, a type of vaccine that has been used before for the flu.  However, it caused blood clots in some people so the FDA made use of this vaccine conditional. A doctor has to review your medical history before prescribing it.  At present, it is given only to people18 and older who specifically request the J&J vaccine or who cannot have the other available vaccines for medical reasons.

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