Two COVID-19 vaccines, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, have received the United States Food and Drug Administrations’ Emergency Use Authorization and are arriving locally to begin a phased approach for vaccine distribution.

Wadena County Public Health encourage everyone to be patient as the vaccine becomes available for more people and to continue to do those things that help protect others and yourself from COVID-19 such as wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing and being tested.

As questions about the vaccines are circulating in the community, we would like to provide additional information about the vaccines.

Can I sign-up to receive the vaccine?

In time, everyone in MN will be able to receive a vaccine. With the scope of this effort, vaccine distribution will occur using a ‘phased-in’ approach. The first group to be vaccinated is Phase 1a, which includes health care workers and long-term care residents and their staff. Since Phase 1a is based on employment and place of residence, people in this category will be contacted by their employer or the facility where they live to let them know when the vaccine is available to them.

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The priority groups for Phase 1b and 1c are in the process of being determined, but may include essential workers and older adults. In later phases, the vaccine will be available in our communities at various vaccine dispensing sites where people may make an appointment to receive the vaccine

How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

The vaccine is free. The federal government will cover the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine. Health care providers are able to charge an administration fee that can be reimbursed through the patient’s health insurance. You may be asked for your health insurance information, but you should not be billed if they do not pay.

How many shots of COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use require two doses about one month apart.

Are the vaccines safe?

The authorized Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines went through the same rigorous clinical trials that other vaccines go through. They were required to meet the strict safety standards of the U. S. FDA and, due to the urgency of this situation, the vaccine data was also reviewed to receive Emergency Use Authorization. The EUA is used in public health emergencies when a product shows that it likely works, is safe but hasn’t yet gone through the whole process of the FDA licensure, and no other remedy is available. To receive EAU, the manufacturer must have followed at least half of the study participants for at least two months after completing the vaccination series, and the vaccine must be proven safe and effective in that population. Without FDA Emergency Use Authorization from the national expert advisory group, the COVID-19 vaccines cannot be distributed for use.

Can I get COVID-19 from the COVID-19 vaccine?

No. The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 messenger RNA vaccines (also called mRNA vaccines) developed in the U.S. do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine used to protect against infectious diseases and they do not carry the risk of causing disease in the person being vaccinated.

Keep in mind that it will take a few weeks for your body to build immunity after getting a COVID 19 vaccination. As a result, it is possible that you could become infected with the virus that causes COVID 19 just before or after being vaccinated, before you have immunity.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine change my DNA?

The mRNA vaccines teach our cells to make a protein (or piece of protein) that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. This does not affect or interact with a person’s own DNA as the mRNA never enters the nucleus of our cells.

What does the mRNA vaccine contain?

The ingredients in the mRNA vaccine are:

  • The active ingredient is mRNA (Nucleoside-modified mRNA encoding the viral spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2).
  • The vaccine also include lipids (fats) to help protect the mRNA, salts and amines to protect your cells when you get the vaccine, and sucrose (sugar) for vaccine stability.

The mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna do not include any of the following:

  • Fetal material
  • DNA
  • Antibiotics
  • Blood products
  • Preservatives
  • Gluten
  • Egg proteins
  • Pork products
  • Microchips

Are there side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines?

A COVID-19 vaccine can cause mild side effects, similar to signs and symptoms of COVID-19, after the first or second dose, including:

  • Pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain

You will be asked to stay for 15 to 30 minutes after getting a COVID-19 vaccine to monitor you for any immediate reaction.

Most side effects happen within the first three days after vaccination and typically last only one to two days. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and you develop symptoms more than three days after being vaccinated or the symptoms last more than two days, self-isolate and get tested.

Can people with an egg allergy receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Neither the Pfizer/BioNTech nor the Moderna Inc. vaccine contain eggs or egg products.

Should I get a vaccine if I have a history of serious allergic reactions?

If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable medications, check with your health care provider if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any

ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not getting that specific vaccine.

If you have a severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, do not get the second dose.

Do COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or miscarriage?

COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to infertility or miscarriage. There is no scientific reason to believe this will change after vaccination for COVID-19.

While there are no formal studies, the best evidence comes from women who got sick with COVID-19 while pregnant. While data clearly indicate pregnant women are at higher risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, there is no evidence of increased miscarriage rates.

During natural infection, the immune system makes the same antibodies to the spike protein that COVID-19 vaccines would. Thus, if COVID-19 affected fertility, there already would be an increase in miscarriage rates in women infected with COVID-19. This has not happened.

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine even if I've already had COVID-19?

Yes, it is recommended that people who have already had COVID-19 infection be offered vaccination to assure ongoing protection from serious disease. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired. You should not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated.

Do I still need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have received two doses of the vaccine?

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide, it is very important for everyone to continue to wear a face mask, wash hands often, stay at least 6 feet away from others and stay home when you are sick to help stop this pandemic.

Where should I look for reliable, ongoing information about COVID-19 vaccinations?

Information about COVID-19 vaccine is updated frequently. Please seek advice from your healthcare provider with additional questions you may have regarding the COVID-19 vaccines or any health concerns. You may also find additional information through trusted resources including the Minnesota Department of Health website at www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/vaccine.html or the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines.

Please visit the Wadena County Public Health Facebook page, the Wadena County website, your local healthcare provider’s website or Facebook page and local media for future updates as additional local information becomes available.