COVID-19 Vaccines & Boosters

COVID-19 Vaccines & Boosters

If you are not vaccinated, please visit this section of the CDC website.

For more information about COVID-19 boosters, please visit this section of the CDC website.

Benefits of the COVID-19 Vaccine & Boosters

  • The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccines all have been shown to be effective at preventing COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.
  • COVID-19 vaccination is a more reliable way to build protection against the virus than by contracting the virus (natural immunity). The amount of protection produced by natural immunity varies depending on how mild or severe the illness was, how much time has elapsed since the infection and the person’s age.
  • According to the CDC, getting a COVID-19 vaccine, even if previously infected with COVID-19, provides added protection to your immune system.
  • Vaccine effectiveness at preventing infection or severe illness wanes over time, especially in people ages 65 years and older who are a significant portion of those we serve at our life plan communities and through our home care and hospice services and LIFE program. Getting a booster restores lost protection.
  • The booster significantly reduces emergency department (ED)/urgent care center (UC) visits. A CDC analysis of COVID-19-related cases conducted between August 26, 2021 and January 5, 2022 of nearly a quarter of a million ED/UC patients and another 87,000+ hospitalized patients found a booster was highly effective at preventing:
    • ED/UC visits at a rate of 94% for the Delta variant and 82% for the Omicron variant
    • Hospitalization at a rate of 94% for the Delta variant and 90% for the Omicron variant.
  • The booster provides significant protection against symptomatic disease for both the Delta and Omicron variants, but with greater protection against the Delta variant.
  • The combination of getting vaccinated, boosted and following CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

Source: CDC

Fully Vaccinated vs. Up-to-Date Vaccinated

  • The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” as a person who has completed just their primary series of vaccinations.
  • The CDC defines “up-to-date” as a person who has received all doses of the vaccination, including the booster, for which they are eligible.

Benefits of Being Up-to-Date With Your COVID-19 Vaccines

  • The more individuals who are up-to-date on their vaccines, the lower the risk of spreading the virus in the workplace and community-at-large. The higher the percentage of individuals vaccinated and the lower the number of cases of COVID-19 means less restrictions on gatherings and events of all kinds.
  • Most people who are up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be restricted from work or school following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  • You can resume indoor activities, although, masks may be required at times, especially if you are in an areas of substantial or high transmission.
  • In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings; however, it is advisable to consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccination.
  • You do not need to test for COVID-19 before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel within the United States.

Common Side Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccines

The most commonly reported side effects for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccines include the following:

In the arm where you got the shot:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Throughout the rest of your body:

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Process

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved three vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccines.

  • The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two administrations approximately 21 days apart between doses.
  • The Moderna vaccine requires two administrations approximately 28 days apart between doses.
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine requires one administration.

COVID-19 Vaccine Terminology

  • ACIP – The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
  • CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • COVID-19 is a disease caused by the novel coronavirus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person (much like the flu or common cold) through the air by coughing or sneezing; through close personal contact, like touching or shaking hands; by touching an objector surface with the viruses on it; and occasionally, through fecal contamination.
  • Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a vaccine is based on the need to use a vaccine quickly to save lives during a public health emergency
    • EUA is a shorter process, but no steps are skipped in the safety evaluation process
    • An EUA does NOT imply that the authorization was done too quickly or that the vaccine is not safe
  • FDA – Food and Drug Administration
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. These vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. This immune response, which includes making antibodies, protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.
  • Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells. For COVID-19 viral vector vaccines, the vector (not the virus that causes COVID-19, but a different, harmless virus) will enter a cell in our body and then use the cell’s machinery to produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. This piece is known as a spike protein and it is only found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. The cell displays the spike protein on its surface, and our immune system recognizes it doesn’t belong there. This triggers our immune system to begin producing antibodies and activating other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection.
  • VRBPAC – The Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee

Frequently asked questions about the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. It does not contain the COVID-19 virus and it cannot give you COVID-19 or change your DNA. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece that looks like the “spike protein” which is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. Our bodies recognize that this protein should not be there, so they build antibodies that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19, if we are infected in the future.

Is it safe to receive the vaccine?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on December 11 from the US Food and Drug Administration. Although the EUA is a shorter process, there were no steps skipped in this safety evaluation process that assesses whether or not the known and potential benefits of a vaccine outweigh the known and potential risks.

How will I receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine?

A trained and certified professional from CVS Health will inject the vaccine into your arm muscle.

What is the dosage of the Pfizer vaccine?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine series consists of two doses administered three weeks apart.

What are the common side effects of the vaccine?

The most commonly reported side effects are pain, swelling or redness at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, fever, nausea, overall not feeling well and swollen lymph nodes.

What should I do if I experience other symptoms after receiving the vaccine?

Contact your healthcare provider. If your provider feels the symptoms are a result of receiving the vaccine, please call the Team Member Hotline at 717.654.0819.

Will there be a charge for the vaccine?

There is no vaccine or administration charge for eligible residents and team members. The federal government will provide the vaccine and CVS Health will be reimbursed by the vaccine recipient’s insurance carrier.

Will I need to sign a consent form?

Yes. Residents and team members who choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccination must complete a vaccine consent form.

What is the efficacy of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine?

Preliminary data suggest that vaccine efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is 95% following two doses in healthy adults. The estimated vaccine efficacy following a single dose is 52.4%. For optimal protection, everyone should receive both doses of the vaccine.