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WVLT News answers your questions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines

With more people becoming vaccinated, Americans can look towards a future where the coronavirus pandemic is more under control.
Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 3:34 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 14, 2021 at 11:00 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - With more people becoming vaccinated, Americans can look towards a future where the coronavirus pandemic is more under control. However, the vaccination process is off to a slow start in the country, with COVID-19 breaking records, and that’s leaving many with questions about the pandemic and vaccine.

The WVLT News COVID-19 Vaccine Team has done some research to answer some of your frequently asked questions surrounding the vaccine:

Are the three vaccines interchangeable?

No, the CDC advises that if your first does of the vaccine was the Moderna, then your second dose should be the Moderna and the same for the Pfizer vaccine.

“The safety and efficacy of a mixed-product series have not been evaluated. Both doses of the series should be completed with the same product,” the CDC website reads.

The following are strategies to ensure you receive your second dose of either vaccine:

  • Providing COVID-19 vaccination record cards to vaccine recipients, asking recipients to bring their card to their appointment for the second dose, and encouraging recipients to make a backup copy (e.g., by taking a picture of the card with their phone)
  • Encouraging vaccine recipients to enroll in v-safe, a free smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins as well as second-dose reminders
  • Encouraging vaccine recipients to enroll in VaxTextSM, a free text-message-based platform that provides COVID-19 vaccination second-dose reminders
  • Recording each recipient’s vaccination in the immunization information system (IIS)
  • Recording vaccine administration information in the patient’s medical record
  • Making an appointment for the second dose before the vaccine recipient leaves, to increase the likelihood that patients will present at the same vaccination site for the second dose

What side effects could you experience after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

According to the CDC website, the most common side effects from the vaccine are pain, redness, and swelling of the injected arm. You may also experience a headache, muscle pains, fatigue, chills and fever. The CDC says all of these things are normal and signs that your body is building protection against the virus. The side effects should only last a few days, but you can get with your doctor about taking over the counter medications to help with any symptoms.

What are my options if I am allergic to the ingredients in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines?

Both the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease and Control recommend that people who are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccines to no get vaccinated. However, if you have already taken the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and then experienced an allergic reaction, the CDC says the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be an option for you, with a doctors recommendation. You can use the TDH vaccine tracking tool to see where and when you can get either of the vaccines within 50 miles of your area.

The Knox County Department of Health will not be receiving allotments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but you can get it in other counties.

Why is there a shortage of the vaccine in Sevier County?

The WVLT News Vaccine Team has noticed that once the vaccine appointments open up in all East Tennessee counties, they are gone within a matter of minutes. This is due to the vaccine being in such high demand. Sevier County is in the 1A2 vaccine phase, which includes the 75 and older age group. As of January 29 Sevier County had administered a total of 6,668 vaccines and around 3,700 people in the county had received at least one does of the vaccine.

Why is Knox County not employing drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinations like other counties and states?

Knox County officials are not currently offering drive-thru vaccine services. Health officials say their method just works specifically for the size of the county. KCHD officials say to rest assured that their method is just as safe and efficient as the drive-thru option.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine free?

Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine, paid for by taxpayer dollars, is free to every American, according to the Centers for Disease and Control. The CDC website notes that this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t pay anything when you go to get your shots, as individual providers can charge you a fee for giving you the vaccine. However, according to medicare.gov the vaccine is available at no cost to Medicare and Medicaid recipients. Medicare also covers COVID testing, COVID antibody testing and antibody treatments related to the virus.

“Vaccination providers can be reimbursed for this by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay the vaccine administration fee,” the CDC website states.

When will you be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

When you will be able to be vaccinated? Tennessee officials have a tool you can use to track your vaccine eligibility and officials have plans to launch a system for scheduling your vaccine appointment.

How long will you be immune to the virus once you get the vaccine?

The CDC has collected data from the tens of thousands of Americans who have already been vaccinated and found that the Pfizer vaccine, which is 95 percent effective and the Moderna vaccine which is 94.5 percent effective will both be most efficient at preventing one from contracting the virus fourteen days after the second dose. There is no clear timeline as to how long you will remain protected from the virus after taking the vaccine.

How will the vaccine affect people with allergies?

Like any other medications or vaccines, it is always recommended that to talk with your doctor about whether something is a right fit for you. According to the CDC website, anyone with allergies to other medications, foods or inhalants can receive the covid-19 vaccine with normal precautions. Meaning, after taking the vaccine there will be a roughly 15-minute observation period. For people with allergies not related to vaccines or other medicines, the CDC says you can be vaccinated.

Tennesseans can find specific information surrounding the vaccine in your county here.

If you have any other questions about the Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines, you can email the WVLT News COVID-19 Vaccine Team here.

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