COVID-19 FAQs for the Community

COVID-19 FAQ for the Community

From the Offices of the Executive Vice Presidents for Research

Updated August 26, 2020, 2:00PM CST

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) continues to closely follow the COVID-19 outbreak. These FAQs contain information about COVID-19 to answer questions we have received from the community. This webpage will continue to be updated frequently as new information is received and responses are subject to change. Additional information for VUMC patients is available at: https://www.vumc.org/coronavirus/information-vumc-employees-and-patient

Treatment

Current research suggests that hydroxychloroquine is not safe or effective for treating patients with COVID-19 (as of February 8, 2021). Early in the pandemic, patients may have received hydroxychloroquine under “Emergency Use Authorization,” but it did not reduce morbidity or mortality. The FDA announced a warning on using hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting due to the risk of heart rhythm problems (source). Hydroxychloroquine during this pandemic has taught us to be more cautious of using drugs as emergency treatments without evidence from trials (source).   The NIH’s COVID-19 treatment guidelines currently recommends against using hydroxychloroquine, with or without azithromycin, for treating hospitalized or non-hospitalized patients with COVID-19 (source).

Ivermectin is currently being studied in humans for treating COVID-19, but the results are not yet known (as of February 8, 2021). Many of these studies are looking at ivermectin as a complementary drug used with other treatments. Researchers recently showed that ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasitic infections, reduced the growth of SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory setting (source 1, 2). It is not known whether it is safe or helpful for this disease. The NIH’s COVID-19 treatment guidelines currently note that there is not information to recommend for or against use of this drug in COVID-19 (source).   Sometimes new treatment ideas turn out to help, and sometimes they are actually proven to be harmful.  The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org. 

Valacyclovir, an antiviral drug, has not yet been studied in humans for treating COVID-19 (as of October 26, 2020). It is not known whether it is safe or helpful for this disease.  Sometimes new treatment ideas turn out to help, and sometimes they are actually proven to be harmful.  The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org. 

Favipiravir, an antiviral drug used for influenza in Japan, is currently being studied in humans for treating COVID-19 in over 30 clinical trials (as of Octoboer 26, 2020). It is not known whether it is safe or helpful for this disease. Sometimes new treatment ideas turn out to help, and sometimes they are actually proven to be harmful.  The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org.

There is not much information about the safety and effectiveness of using glutathione for treating patients with COVID-19 (as of October 26, 2020). It is not known whether it is safe or helpful for this disease. Sometimes new treatment ideas turn out to help, and sometimes they are actually proven to be harmful.  The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org.

There is very limited information about the safety and effectiveness of using arbidol/umifenovir, a drug used in China and Russia for the flu, for treating patients with COVID-19 (as of August 7, 2020) (source 1, 2).  It is not known whether it is safe or helpful for this disease.  Sometimes new treatment ideas turn out to help, and sometimes they are actually proven to be harmful.  The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. Trials for arbidol are in progress but the results are not known yet. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org. 

There is very limited information about the safety and effectiveness of montelukast, a medication used in asthma, for treating COVID-19 (as of August 7, 2020) (sources 1, 2). It is not known whether it is safe or helpful for this disease.  Sometimes new treatment ideas turn out to help, and sometimes they are actually proven to be harmful.  The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org. 

Dietary supplementation of zinc has not been linked to preventing COVID (as of August 7, 2020) (source). There is very limited information about the safety and effectiveness of using zinc for treating patients with COVID-19 (source). In the past, there have been several human trials assessing the ability of zinc lozenges to reduce symptom duration during a cold infection, but these have produced mixed results and have not included COVID-19. Sometimes new treatment ideas turn out to help, and sometimes they are actually proven to be harmful. The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. Trials with zinc, mostly in addition with other potential treatments, and COVID are in progress but the results are not known yet. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org. 

Vitamin C has an important role in healthy immune function, and low levels in the body can increase one’s susceptibility to infections. Over past decades, there have been several human trials assessing the ability of vitamin C supplementation to reduce symptom duration and severity during a cold infection, but these have produced mixed results. However, there is very limited information about the safety and effectiveness of using vitamin C for treating or preventing COVID-19 (as of August 7, 2020). The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. Trials for Vitamin C are in progress but the results are not known yet (source). You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org. 

There is evidence that vitamin D may enhance immune functions in human cells and reduce the spread of some viruses in the laboratory setting.  However, there is very limited information about the safety and effectiveness of using vitamin D for treating or preventing COVID-19 (as of August 7, 2020)(source). If your healthcare professional finds that you have a Vitamin D deficiency, it should be treated regardless of COVID-19. The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org.

There are very limited data about copper supplements building immunity and even less information about the safety and effectiveness of copper supplements for fighting COVID-19 (as of August 12, 2020). There are some studies looking at the potential role of copper as part of a combination of treatments for COVID-19 but the results are not known yet. There is some data on the COVID-19 virus not surviving for more than 4 hours on a copper surface in a lab setting, but this is different from taking copper supplements. Sometimes new treatment ideas turn out to help, and sometimes they are actually proven to be harmful.  The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org. 

In May, the World Health Organization released a statement warning the community to be cautious about promoting unproven claims that nicotine, and especially smoking, could help treat COVID-19. It is well known that smoking has many negative impacts on respiratory and overall health. There is limited evidence about nicotine, outside of smoking, as a treatment for COVID-19 (as of August 12, 2020). Sometimes new treatment ideas turn out to help, and sometimes they are actually proven to be harmful. The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org.

There are no published studies on the effectiveness of nicotinamide, or any dietary sources of nicotinamide, in protecting against COVID-19 (as of August 12, 2020). It is not known whether nicotinamide is safe or helpful for this disease. Additionally, soy products are not an especially rich source of nicotinamide. A randomized controlled clinical trial on the effect of nicotinamide riboside on COVID-19 outcomes among the elderly is underway in Denmark. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org.

There are no published studies that say RhoGAM, sometimes referred to as Rho(D) Immune Globulin, is safe or effective to treat COVID-19 (as of August 12, 2020). The only approved use of RhoGAM is for prevention of a condition called “Rh immunization” which happens when someone with Rh-negative blood develops antibodies after exposure to Rh-positive blood, such as during a delivery. You can search for in-progress clinical trials for COVID-19 and other conditions at trialstoday.org

Ambroxol is used in other countries for breaking up phlegm in respiratory diseases. There are no studies that say Ambroxol is safe or effective to treat COVID-19 or to reduce the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 (as of August 12, 2020). The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org

Nobivac 1-cv is a vaccine approved for treating canine coronavirus which affects dogs, not humans. This vaccine does not prevent COVID-19, which is caused by a different coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2019. There are other vaccine options currently being studied for COVID-19. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org.

Itolizumab, a treatment approved in India for psoriasis, was part of one study in humans for treating COVID-19 (source), but no results have been published (as of August 4, 2020). It is not known whether it is safe or helpful for this disease. The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org.

Some studies have shown that selenium deficiency may be associated with COVID-19 risk (source 1, 2). There is a hypothesis that selenium supplements might help with COVID-19 (source 1, 2), but it has not yet been studied in in humans for treating COVID-19 (as of August 5, 2020). It is not known whether it is safe or helpful for this disease. The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org.

Some scientists believe that ozone therapy can be used as an add-on treatment for COVID-19 or to help prevent organ damage due to COVID-19 infection. However, there is currently no definitive scientific evidence. A clinical trial is underway in Italy to study whether oxygen-ozone therapy plus probiotic supplementation is effective in slowing the progression of COVID-19. An observational trial of individuals who have already undergone ozone therapy is being conducted in Turkey to investigate whether this therapy can prevent COVID-19. You can also search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org.

Researchers have noticed that some of the patients who have had COVID-19 have developed blood clotting problems. (source – Johns Hopkins University) The clinical trial Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) 4 is exploring the use of various blood thinners in patients with COVID-19. To learn more about the ACTIV – 4 trial visit the National Institute of Health (source – NIH) (last updated 3/30/2021)

Prevention

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a searchable listing of approved products that have activity against the virus that causes COVID-19 infections.

Witch hazel is not recommended as a disinfectant against coronavirus.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a searchable listing of approved products that have activity against the virus that causes COVID-19 infections.

The CDC recommends frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for the prevention of COVID-19.  When handwashing is not possible, the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. The United States Food and Drug Administration has a list of frequently asked questions about hand sanitizers and COVID-19.

Both alcohol-based hand sanitizer and hand washing with soap are important in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds if your hands are visibly dirty, before eating, and after using the restroom. Hand sanitizing is a good option because it may be more convenient and are less irritating on your hands. Make sure the hand sanitizer is at least 60% alcohol.  (source)

The CDC recommends frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for the prevention of COVID-19.  When handwashing is not possible, the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. The United States Food and Drug Administration has a list of frequently asked questions about hand sanitizers and COVID-19.

The active ingredient in hand sanitizers that the CDC recommends recommended for use against COVID-19 is alcohol. When handwashing is not possible, the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Aloe vera is included in some hand sanitizers to help reduce the skin irritation that alcohol can cause for some people.

There are no studies that say drinking aloe vera juice is safe or effective in preventing COVID-19. There are no registered clinical trials looking at aloe vera juice and COVID-19 (as of August 17, 2020). The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org

There is no scientific reason to believe that drinking cold water will make a COVID-19 infection worse. It is good practice when sick with any type of respiratory illness to stay well hydrated.

The CDC recommends that surfaces be cleaned with soap and water or another detergent, and then disinfected with a household disinfectant. The EPA has a list of products recommended for SARS-CoV-2019. However, people primarily get COVID-19 by close contact through respiratory droplets, not from contaminated surfaces. 

In studies, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 appears to become undetectable on copper surfaces faster than other surfaces. To clean surfaces, though, it is still recommended to use soap and water or an EPA-recommended disinfectant. To kill the virus on your hands, use soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer.

There are different kinds of UV rays. There is evidence that UVC rays can kill viruses, possibly including the virus that causes COVID-19, but the sun’s UVC rays are blocked by the earth’s atmosphere. The sun’s UVA and UVB rays do reach us, but there is inconclusive evidence about their ability to kill the virus on different kinds of surfaces. All UV rays have the potential to damage cells. This damage could possibly hurt a virus, but it can also cause skin damage and skin cancer in humans. Sunblock agents help protect our skin against this kind of damage. UV light is not recommended for use in killing the virus on human skin.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a searchable list of approved products that have activity against the virus that causes COVID-19 infections. Borax is not on this list (as of August 25, 2020).

There is no evidence that using a saline nasal spray can protect against COVID-19 infection. However, several studies are in progress to test whether certain other types of nasal sprays (for example, those containing iodine or nitric oxide) can be effective in treating or preventing COVID-19. The best way to learn how to treat COVID-19 is to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org.

Glycol ether is not on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of disinfectants for use against the COVID-19 virus. A disinfectant on that EPA list is recommended. The CDC suggests using those disinfectants and making sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

There is no evidence suggesting that products like VapoRub can prevent COVID-19 infection. The ingredients in VapoRub – camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol – do have antibacterial properties, and can sometimes soothe symptoms from respiratory ailments when applied to the chest or throat or used in a vaporizer. However, VapoRub should not be used in or near the nostrils because inhalation of its petroleum base can cause dangerous vapors to collect in the lungs, resulting in a pneumonia-type illness and lung damage. Camphor can also be toxic if absorbed through the lining inside the nose or accidentally swallowed.  

Research suggests that COVID-19 is more commonly spread from respiratory droplets passed from people in close contact than from touching surfaces. It is possible but probably less common that those droplets land on surfaces, and then a person gets infected by touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes, after touching the surface (source). Washing your hands with soap and water (or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer) regularly and avoiding touching your face will help with this concern. Another important way to avoid getting the virus while shopping is to wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others.

Other Questions

Neither, but they are all related. An antigen is part of a virus that your immune system uses to recognize it as a foreign substance – this signals your body to start making antibodies to fight the virus. Antigens and antibodies are being studied for use in tests and treatments for COVID-19. You can search for in-progress clinical trials at trialstoday.org. 

We do not know how long antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 last in the body, and we do not know how much protection they may give people against getting COVID again (source). Antibodies are also just one part of our immune system’s defense against a virus, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.   Scientists will learn more about antibodies and other parts of the immune system as more people recover from COVID-19.

You should talk to your medical providers about any procedures that are not urgently needed. [source: CDC] They will help decide if there are more benefits of you receiving care than there are risks of you being exposed to the coronavirus. If you must visit in-person, you should follow recommended precautions such as wearing a mask, good hand hygiene, avoiding touching your face, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.

This likely depends on the type of exercise and the nature of the location. The CDC recommends not wearing a mask during high intensity activities, like running, if it causes breathing difficulty. Sweat can also make the mask become wet, making it even more difficult to breathe through and could promote the growth of bacteria. If unable to wear a cloth face covering, consider conducting the activity in a location with better ventilation (for instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where you can maintain physical distance from others. Gyms and other fitness sites may have their own additional requirements for mask usage. You can see more of the CDC’s considerations for wearing cloth face coverings here.

COVID-19 swab testing has not been shown to cause major injury to the nose or sinuses. When COVID-19 testing began, it was believed that nasal swabs needed to be inserted 3-5 inches into the nose to reach the back of the nasal cavity. This can be very uncomfortable, causing a small proportion of people to gag, cough, bleed from the nose, or even faint. However, newer tests use a type of swab that is much shorter in length but just as effective. The test you receive may depend on the availability of these different swabs.

N95 respirator masks can protect the wearer from respiratory droplets, including those that contain viruses like SARS-CoV-2. There is evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 is primarily spread through large respiratory droplets, and a close fitting surgical mask can also offer protection against those. It’s critical they are “fit-tested” to ensure that it fits tightly around the nose and mouth for maximum effectiveness. Given the limited worldwide supply of both N95 and surgical masks, they are recommended only for health care professionals at greatest risk of exposure through direct COVID-19 patient care. N95 masks are not recommended for the general public, in part because they can be more difficult to breathe through. Instead, the general public is encouraged to wear reuseable cloth masks to limit the spread of the virus. You can read more about the FDA’s recommendations for personal protective equipment here.

The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face mask as barrier to prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air when you speak, cough, or sneeze. Studies have found that masks made of multiple layers of a tight weave fabric are more effective at blocking small particles, like those the size of virus particles. A study completed at Duke University compared droplet transmission through 14 different mask types and found the least transmission for fitted N95 and surgical masks as well as cotton-polypropylene-cotton, 2-layer polypropylene, and 2-layer cotton pleated masks, while knitted masks, bandanas, and fleece neck gaiters had higher levels of droplet transmission. All mask types reduced the droplet transmission compared to no mask at all, with the exception of the gaiter type neck fleece which appeared to cause the largest droplets to disperse into a multitude of smaller droplets. Since those smaller droplets can remain airborne longer, the fleece neck gaiter type of masks should be avoided. Masks with exhalation valves should also be avoided because they release unfiltered air and don’t protect others if you’re contagious. Masks should cover both the nose and mouth and can be secured with ties or ear loops.  They should fit snugly but comfortably, without gaps on the sides or below. You can read more about the CDC’s recommendations for cloth face coverings here.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be spread mostly from close (within around 6 feet) person to person contact. The virus travels in droplets from an infected person who coughs, sneezes, talks, or sings. These droplets can go into the mouths and noses of people nearby, spreading the virus. One reason the virus is spreading rapidly is because some infected people do not show symptoms but are contagious, so they can spread the virus to others without knowing. (source)

Some people are at higher risk of getting sicker from COVID-19 than others. Those with some underlying medical conditions like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity are at increased risk for getting severely sick (source). Older adults are also at higher risk (source). Black or African American persons, Hispanic or Latino persons, and American Indian or Alaska Native persons have higher rates of hospitalization and death (source). Researchers are continuing to learn about the complicated biological and social reasons why some people get sicker than others.

Vaccines

Vaccines are being distributed rapidly across the United States. To learn more about the vaccine distribution plan for your state visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1.14.2021)

The US government is providing the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status. As a vaccine recipient, you cannot be charged for the COVID-19 vaccine.  For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance  (source – CDC). (last updated 4/5/2021)

Currently there is no evidence to suggest that the new COVID-19 variants will change the strong effectiveness of the current vaccines. To learn more about future vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more questions. (1.14.2021)

Being reinfected with COVID-19 is possible, so you should be vaccinated whether or not you’ve had COVID-19. To learn more about vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1.14.2021)

Three COVID-19 vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) from the FDA: a vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses given at least 21 days), one from Moderna (2 doses given at least 28 days apart), and Johnson and Johnson (1 dose). To learn more about COVID vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (source – CDC) (last updated 3/15/2021)

As of January 13, 2021 10 million vaccines have been administered in the United States. To learn more about COVID vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 visit Vanderbilt University Medical Center for more questions. 

While antibodies and vaccines are both viable options to counteract the virus that causes COVID-19, there are major differences. While an antibody may immediately help treat an existing infection, a vaccine will train the immune system to protect against future infections. To learn more about differences between antibodies and vaccines visit Vanderbilt University Medical Center for more information. (1.5.2021)

If you have a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines or any of the ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine, or any vaccine, consult with your doctor before getting the vaccine. To learn more about the ingredients in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine visit the Food and Drug Administration. (1.7.2021)

COVID-19 vaccinations will protect you from getting COVID-19. You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. You may experience pain and soreness on the arm that you received the vaccines. You may also experience chills, fever, tiredness, and headache. The vaccine will not cause cough, stuffy nose, or loss of taste or smell. If you have these symptoms, you should be evaluated by your health care provider for possible COVID-19 infection. (source – Vanderbilt University Medical Center) (1.28.20)

The development of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was a joint collaboration between a US pharmaceutical company (Pfizer) and a German biotechnology company (BioNTech). People from many countries including Germany and the United States participated in studies about this vaccine. (source – DHHS) (1.28.20)

If you have a history of a serious reaction (such as anaphylaxis) to any Pfizer COVID vaccine ingredient, then you should not get the vaccine.  However, allergies to things such as eggs are currently not listed as concerns for receiving the vaccine.  To learn more about what is inside the Pfizer COVID vaccine visit Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (source – CDC) (1.28.20)

Researchers are monitoring new COVID variants closely. This includes research to see whether new variants may change the protective effects of the current vaccines. So far studies suggest that antibodies gathered through vaccination with the current authorized vaccines do recognize new variants. (source – CDC) (2.8.20)

The vaccine is designed to stop the virus from making you sick. We don’t know yet if the vaccine will stop you from spreading the virus. We should continue to wear masks, social distance, and wash hands after we’ve been vaccinated. (source – Vanderbilt University Medical Center) (1.19.20)

People with immunocompromising conditions may be at increased risk of severe COVID-19, so they should strongly consider preventative options.  To find out when immunocompromised patients will be able to be vaccinated in your state, visit the CDC’s tool for finding your state’s information quickly (source – CDC), or contact your local health department. (1.19.20)

COVID vaccinations are being distributed at a rapid rate across the country. This includes many locations, including retail pharmacies (pharmacy finding tool – CDC). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a tool for quickly finding vaccine distribution information for your state. (source – CDC). (1.13.20)

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is made by taking a piece of DNA from the COVID-19 spike protein and combining it with an adenovirus, a type of virus typically involved in a common cold. (source-CDC) This adenovirus is just a way to carry instructions to your immune system – it is genetically modified so that it cannot give you a cold.  The piece of COVID-19 DNA also does not give you an infection.  This vaccine helps your immune system recognize the COVID-19 virus, and develop antibodies to protect you from future infection. To learn more about their vaccine visit Johnson and Johnson. (source – JNJ) (last updated 2/9/2021)

People may experience pain at the site of the injection, muscle aches, and other discomfort after  COVID-19 vaccination. If you have any pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. To learn more about what to expect after receiving the COVID vaccine visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (source – CDC) (last updated 2/9/2021)

COVID-19 vaccines work by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19. So you are at a much lower risk of getting COVID-19 if you are vaccinated. In the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson clinical trials, while minimal, there were individuals who got COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. However, these individuals tended to have less severe infections in comparison to those in the study who received a placebo. (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson)Because we know that there is a possibility that you can develop a COVID-19 infection even after being vaccinated, it is important that you continue to wear your mask and social distance. To learn more about the benefits of the COVID vaccine visit Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (source – VUMC) (last updated 3/15/2021)

People who are pregnant and part of a CDC recommended group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can receive the vaccine. If you have questions about getting vaccinated, you should speak with your health care provider. To learn more about COVID vaccine recommendations for pregnant women visit the CDC (source-CDC) (last updated 2/12/2021)

The Pfizer COVID vaccine is a two-dose series vaccine. The first dose garners a relatively weak reaction by priming your immune system, followed by a strong immune reaction after the second dose. Researchers have reported that the average vaccine efficacy between the first and second doses was 52% for the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. (source – BMJ)   To get full efficacy, patients should follow FDA guidelines and receive both doses of the vaccine.  To learn more about vaccine efficacy visit the Food and Drug Administration to learn more. (source – FDA) (last updated 2/18/2021)

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has emergency use authorization in the US for individuals 16 years and older. The Moderna vaccine has emergency use authorization for individuals 18 years and older. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has emergency use authorization for individuals 18 years and older. Vaccine studies in adolescents are currently in progress. Studies in younger children are beginning soon. To learn more about age requirements for existing COVID vaccines, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (source – CDC) (last updated 3/15/2021)

The CDC currently recommends against taking any pain relivers before you get a COVID-19 vaccine. This is because we do not know yet how pain relivers will impact the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. To learn more about what to expect when receiving your COVID vaccine, visit the Center for Disease and Prevention (source – CDC) (last updated 2/12/2021)

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “based on how COVID-19 vaccines work, experts think they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant. However, there are currently limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people because these vaccines have not been widely studied in pregnant people. Systems are in place to continue to monitor vaccine safety, and so far, they have not identified any specific safety concerns for pregnant people.” (source – CDC) If you would like to speak to someone about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, please contact MotherToBaby. To reach MotherToBaby: call 1-866-626-6847. (source – mothertobaby) To learn more about COVID vaccines and reproductive health visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (source – CDC) (last updated 3/24/2021)

According to the Food and Drug Administration depression is currently not mentioned as a side effect for the authorized COVID-19 vaccinations. (source – Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson) The most common side effects are soreness at the injection site, headache, tiredness, muscle pain, and nausea. To learn more about COVID vaccines and side effects visit the Food and Drug Administration website. (source – FDA) (last updated 3/24/2021)

Vaccines are being distributed rapidly across the United States. Current estimates suggest that vaccine doses will likely be available to all Americans late May 2021, with the rapid distribution of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. (source – NYT) To learn more about the vaccine distribution plan for your state visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (source – CDC) (last updated 3/8/2021)

According to the Food and Drug Administration, “if you are taking blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder, you should mention it to the provider who is giving you your COVID-19 vaccination” (sources – Moderna, Pfizer , and Johnson and Johnson FDA fact sheets).  Like with any injection, there is a risk of bleeding and bruising at the injection site, but there are currently no known serious effects related to getting the vaccine while taking a blood thinner. You may be recommended to apply firm pressure to the injection site for at least 5 minutes to reduce bruising. To learn more, visit the Food and Drug Administration (source – FDA) (last updated 3/26/2021)

You should tell your vaccination provider about any medications you are taking, including if you are on a blood thinner or are on a medicine that affects your immune system (sources – Moderna, Pfizer , Johnson and Johnson FDA fact sheets). You can also talk with your healthcare provider about any concerns or questions you have about your medicines and the COVID-19 vaccines.  To learn more visit the Food and Drug Administration (source – FDA) (last updated 3/8/2021)

There are 3 COVID-19 vaccines that have received emergency use authorization in the US, made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson. These vaccines are highly effective in preventing you from getting sick from COVID-19. To learn more about the COVID vaccines visit Vanderbilt University Medical (source-VUMC) (last updated 3/5/2021)

No. Viral shedding is an indication that your body is infected with COVID-19. (source – NCBI) None of the three vaccines in the US use a live virus and they cannot give you COVID-19 infection. However, since it typically takes a few weeks for your body to build immunity from the COVID vaccines, it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (source – CDC) To learn more about the COVID vaccines visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (source – CDC) (last updated 4/2/2021)

The current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation is to wait to get the vaccine if you have a short-term illness, such as strep throat or a cold. To learn more about vaccine recommendations for individuals with acute illness visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (source – CDC) (last updated 3/5/2021)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that the current vaccines are very effective at preventing infection. However, researchers are still learning how the vaccines prevents the transmission or spread of the COVID virus from one person to another. Because of this, it is important that you continue to wear your masks, staying 6ft away from individuals, and continuing to clean your hands. To learn more about future data on COVID transmission, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (source – CDC) (last updated 3/5/2021)

Even if you don’t experience any side effects to the COVID vaccine, the vaccine is still working. (source – UC Davis) For example, a little over 50% of people did not report side effects in the vaccinated group for the Pfizer vaccine clinical trial. (source – NEJM) To learn more about the COVID vaccine side effects visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (source – CDC) (last updated 4/6/2021)

At this time individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are not able to donate convalescent plasma with the Red Cross. (source – Red Cross) However, other plasma donation providers may allow convalescent plasma donation after vaccination if donors meet Food and Drug Administration (FDA) eligibility criteria. (source – FDA) To learn more about convalescent plasma donation requirements visit the FDA (source – FDA) or talk to your local plasma donation provider. (last updated 4/6/2021)