Generations Family Health Center | Willimantic, Norwich, Putnam and Danielson CT

Vaccine News 2021

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VACCINE NEWS

LATEST VACCINE NEWS AT GENERATIONS

Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Generations Family Health Center is offering the COVID-19 Vaccine. Here is the info you need to know:

WHO IS CURRENTLY ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE THE
COVID-19 VACCINE?

Phase 1a
• Healthcare Workers
• First Responders
• Long Term Care Residents and Employees

Phase 1b
• Individuals 75 Years of Age or Older

Also eligible in Phase 1b but not being scheduled at this time:

  • Individuals 65 and Older
  • Individuals 16-64 With Certain Medical Conditions
  • Frontline Essential Workers
  • Individuals Living/Working In Congregate Settings

Read More

English Vaccine Update PDF

Spanish Vaccine Update PDF

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT COVID-19 AND THE COVID-19 VACCINE

Generations has created a Frequently Asked Questions List on topics related to COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Vaccine. Please click on the topics below to learn more.

COVID-19 BASICS

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WHAT IS COVID-19?

CCOVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. This type of coronavirus was not detected before 2019. You can get COVID-19 through contact with another person who has the virus. It is predominantly a respiratory illness that can affect other organs. People with COVID- 19 have had a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms may include:

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

BASIC CARE FOR THE CORONAVIRUS

COVID-19 VACCINE BASICS

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WHAT IS A VACCINE?

Think of a vaccine as a way for your immune system to practice for a virus. Vaccines give the body a preview of one or more key features of a virus before you get the actual virus. The immune system then develops antibodies or “memory” of how to react and stop the virus once you are exposed to it. Vaccines allow you to have immunity to a disease without having to get the disease first.

HOW DOES THE VACCINE FOR THE NEW CORONAVIRUS WORK?

TThe vaccine allows the immune system to produce antibodies that latch onto the spike protein that makes coronaviruses unique. (Coronaviruses got their name because the viruses have protein spikes that look like a crown). This allows the immune system to quickly recognize the actual coronaviruses and interfere with its ability to multiply. The idea is to stop SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from getting into cells, replicating itself and making a person sick.

What sets the COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna apart from other vaccines is that they use messenger RNA (mRNA), which is a “novel” vaccine approach. This technology has distinct advantages because it actually mimics how our own body’s biochemical machinery works. In short, the mRNA in the vaccine acts as a recipe card, telling our bodies to manufacture small parts of the virus in order for our body to develop its own immune response.

WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE IN THE mRNA VACCINES?

The mRNA vaccines contain:

  • mRNA – The mRNA is for the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Lipids – These are molecules that are not able to dissolve in water. They protect the mRNA so it does not break down before it gets into our cells. These lipid particles can be thought of as little “bubbles of fat” surrounding the mRNA like a protective wall, making it easier for the mRNA to enter cells.
  • Salts – Salts, similar to table salt, are used to keep the pH of the vaccine close to that found in the body, so the vaccine does not damage cells when it is administered.
  • Sugar – This ingredient is similar to the same sugar you put in your coffee or on your cereal. In the vaccine, it helps keep the “bubbles of fat” from sticking to each other or to the sides of the vaccine vial.

The mRNA vaccines do NOT contain:

  • The COVID-19 virus
  • Blood products
  • Antibiotics
  • DNA
  • Fetal cells
  • Pork products
  • Egg proteins
  • Preservatives (e.g., thimerosal)

HOW WAS THE COVID-19 VACCINE MADE SO QUICKLY?

Scientists were able to begin developing the vaccine before there was a known case of COVID-19 in the U.S. by using the viral genome as a template. These vaccines also do not require time-consuming steps, such as growing ingredients in chicken eggs, which is necessary for flu shots. Under normal circumstances, from pre-clinical testing to distribution, a vaccine takes roughly 72 months, or six years, to develop. Under the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS), the timeline to develop a COVID-19 vaccine was reduced to only 14 months.

According to the CDC, OWS provided the resources and funding needed from the federal government to create highly coordinated efforts, which accelerated development while maintaining standards for safety and efficacy.

Specifically, clinical protocols that show the safety and efficacy of the vaccine were aligned, which allowed the vaccine trials to proceed more quickly. Additionally, the protocols for the trials were overseen by the federal government, as opposed to traditional public-private partnerships, in which pharmaceutical companies decide on their own protocols.

Rather than eliminating steps from traditional vaccine development timelines, the steps outlined under OWS advanced simultaneously, such as starting manufacturing of the vaccine at an industrial scale well before the demonstration of vaccine efficacy and safety as typically happens under normal vaccine development. These steps increased the costs associated with development of the vaccine, however it did not compromise the safety or efficacy of the vaccine. Further, these steps compressed the overall vaccine development timeline, but not the clinical study timeline.

WILL I GET COVID-19 FROM THE VACCINE?

The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. The goal of the vaccines is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it is possible a person could become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. But any infection would not be the result of receiving the vaccine.

WILL COVID-19 VACCINES CAUSE ME TO TEST POSITIVE ON COVID-19 VIRAL TESTS?

Neither the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.​

If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently researching how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

TYPES OF VACCINES

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WHAT VACCINES ARE CURRENTLY BEING USED TO VACCINATE AGAINST COVID-19?

Two vaccines, one from Pfizer and one from Moderna, have received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. More vaccines are expected to receive emergency use authorization in 2021.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA). Rather than delivering a virus, these vaccines contain part of the virus’ genetic information that helps your body’s cells produce a viral protein that stops COVID-19.

Here’s a closer look at the two vaccines:

WHAT ARE THE AGE RESTRICTIONS FOR EACH VACCINE?

Pfizer: The current FDA’s emergency use authorization applies to people 16 years and older.

Moderna: 18 years and older.

WHAT IS THE DOSAGE RECOMMENDATION FOR EACH VACCINE?

Pfizer: Two shots, a priming dose and a booster shot, 21 days apart.

Moderna: Two shots, a priming dose and a booster shot, 28 days apart.

HOW WELL DOES EACH VACCINE WORK?

Pfizer: In clinical trials, the vaccine developed by Pfizer and partner.

BioNTech was 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infection.

Moderna: 94.1 percent effective from 14 days after the second dose.

HOW IS EACH VACCINE STORED?

Pfizer: Shipped and stored at minus-94 degrees. Once thawed, the vaccine must be used within five days.

Moderna: Shipped at minus-4 degrees, a regular-freezer temperature. Once thawed, the vaccine remains stable in a refrigerator for 30 days and at room temperature for 12 hours.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN PREPARATION OF EACH VACCINE?

Pfizer: Must be diluted with saline (salt water) before injection.

Moderna: Ready for injection from the vial. No dilution needed.

VACCINE ELIGIBILITY

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How do I know if I am currently eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccination?

The State of Connecticut has created a website where you can learn about your eligibility and what to do next. Please visit the web site to learn more, and check back frequently for updates.

CLICK HERE: Phases (ct.gov)

If I am an employer and my employees are eligible for the vaccine, how do I help them get registered for the vaccine?

Employers play a key role in the process by submitting names of employees who are eligible for vaccination to the VAMS system. Please click here to learn how to submit your employee roster to VAMS:

COVID-19 Vaccinations - Employers (ct.gov)

What Is VAMS and How Does It Work?

Eligible individuals must be registered in the Vaccine Administration and Management System (VAMS). This is an easy-to-use, secure, online tool developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to manage vaccine administration.

Once your name is entered into the VAMS system, VAMS will then invite those individuals to set up an account and schedule an appointment to be vaccinated. People can search VAMS for participating clinics and book appointments anywhere slots are available. The system will also send automatic reminders to book your first and second appointments.

VAMS is where Generations will post open vaccine appointments for all of our sites.

WHO SHOULD GET THE VACCINE?

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WHO SHOULD GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE?

Because SARS-CoV-2 virus can affect all people in all age groups, most people should get the COVID-19 vaccine, once supplies allow for their priority group to be vaccinated.

SHOULD I GET A VACCINATION IF I HAVE ALREADY HAD COVID-19?

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from reinfection after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.

We will not know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a more data on how well it works.

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are currently researching. The CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

ARE COVID-19 VACCINATIONS RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN?

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were not studied on children in the early clinical trials, only non-pregnant adults participated. However, clinical trials continue to expand and the vaccines will be studied on children and the recommendations for children could change in the future.

Should women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant in the coming months, or breastfeeding receive the vaccine?

Pregnant and breastfeeding women were not specifically included in the clinical trials for the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may be at increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection, so your health care provider may recommend that you receive the vaccine. Please discuss with your doctor.

Can people who are immunocompromised receive the vaccine?

While these vaccines have not been specifically studied in individuals who are immunocompromised/immunosuppressed and it is not known exactly how efficacious they will be (if immunocompromised individuals mount the same response as others receiving the vaccine), immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for complications from COVID19 illness. There are no recommendations that patients who are immunocompromised should not get vaccinated.

  • The clinical trials contained individuals with immunocompromising conditions.
  • The vaccine does not contain live or weakened virus, and therefore, it cannot cause a COVID19 infection in someone with a weakened immune system.
  • It is important that immunocompromised individuals practice other strategies to reduce transmission (hand washing, mask use, social distancing) even after vaccination.

What if I am sick with COVID-19 or another acute respiratory illness during the time period offered?

You should wait until you are fully recovered before receiving the vaccine. Please discuss with your doctor.

What if I am in quarantine when I am offered the vaccination?

To protect others, you must wait until after your quarantine period ends to get vaccinated.

WHO SHOULD NOT GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE?

A few groups should not get the vaccine, and some others should consult with their doctor or follow special procedures.

People who should NOT get the COVID-19 vaccine include:

  • Anyone with a severe allergy to an mRNA vaccine component (i.e., one that causes anaphylaxis or requires medical intervention).
  • People currently isolating or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. These individuals can get vaccinated once they have finished isolation and their primary symptoms have resolved.

If you fall into any of the categories below, you should consider the risks and benefits and consul with your healthcare provider:

  • Pregnant women
  • People with certain immune-compromising or autoimmune conditions
  • Breastfeeding women
  • People on anticoagulants

AT YOUR VACCINE APPOINTMENT

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WHAT SHOULD YOU BRING TO YOUR VACCINE APPOINTMENT?

You should bring your ID as well as your cell phone to your vaccination appointment.

WHAT SHOULD YOU MENTION TO YOUR VACCINATION PROVIDER BEFORE YOU GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE?

Tell your vaccination provider about all of your medical conditions, including:

  • If you have any allergies
  • If you have a fever
  • If you have a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner
  • If you are immunocompromised or are on a medicine that affects your immune system
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • If you are breastfeeding
  • If you have received another COVID-19 vaccine

HOW IS THE COVID-19 VACCINE GIVEN?

The COVID-19 Vaccine is an injection into the muscle.

HOW MANY DOSES OF THE VACCINE DO I NEED?

The COVID-19 Vaccine vaccination series is 2 doses

HOW FAR APART SHOULD THE VACCINES BE?

Pfizer: Two shots, a priming dose and a booster shot, 21 days apart.

Moderna: Two shots, a priming dose and a booster shot, 28 days apart.

DOES THE 2ND DOSE OF THE COVID-19 VACCINE HAVE TO BE BY THE SAME MANUFACTURER?

If you receive a first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, you should receive a second dose of the same vaccine to complete the vaccination series. If you receive a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, you should receive a second dose of the same vaccine to complete the vaccination series.

CAN I GET THE SECOND VACCINE DOSE AT A DIFFERENT LOCATION THAN WHERE I RECEIVED THE FIRST DOSE?

The vaccine manufacturer MUST BE THE SAME but the location does not have to be the same if you cannot get back to the original location. However, we highly suggest that you go to the same location. 

AFTER YOU GET THE VACCINE

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WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I GET THE VACCINE?

After receiving your vaccination, you will be asked to sit in a waiting area for observation for a pre-determined amount of time, varying from 15 to 30 minutes. This waiting period will allow clinical staff to observe you and make sure you do not have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. You will be asked to sign up for a V-Safe app.

WHAT IS V-SAFE?

V-safe is a new voluntary smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to check in with people who have been vaccinated to identify potential side effects after COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe asks questions that help CDC monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe also provides second-dose reminders if needed and live telephone follow-up by CDC if participants report a significant health impact following COVID-19 vaccination. For more information on how to sign up, visit: www.cdc.gov/vsafe

ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS WITH THE COVID-19 VACCINES?

There is the risk of possible side effects from both COVID-19 vaccines. The most common side effects from the mRNA vaccines are:

Injection site reactions:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Hardness
  • Redness
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection

General side effects:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Low-grade fever
  • Chills
  • Joint pain

NOTE: There is a remote chance the COVID-19 Vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine. For this reason, your vaccination provider may ask you to remain at the location where you received your vaccine for monitoring after vaccination. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face and throat
  • A fast heartbeat
  • A bad rash all over your body
  • Dizziness and weakness

WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT SIDE EFFECTS?

If you have already left the facility where you received your COVID-19 vaccine and you experience a severe allergic reaction, call 9-1-1, or go to the nearest hospital.

Call the vaccination provider or your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.

Report vaccine side effects to FDA/CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The VAERS toll-free number is 1-800-822- 7967 or report through V-safe.

BEFORE AND AFTER THE VACCINE

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WHAT TO DO BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER YOU GET THE VACCINE?

Once vaccinated, how long does it take before I develop immunity? The vaccine requires two doses 3 or 4 weeks apart, depending upon the last injection. For example, someone vaccinated in late December won’t be fully protected until late January or early February.

ONCE I’VE BEEN VACCINATED, DO I NEED TO CONTINUE TO WEAR A MASK AND PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING?

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all of the tools currently available to help stop this pandemic, such as covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

We do not know whether the vaccine prevents you from transmitting the virus to anyone else.  We know the vaccine prevents someone from getting a severe infection, but scientists still do not know whether someone who is vaccinated can still transmit the virus to someone else.  This is another reason why we all need to continue wearing masks, social distance, etc.

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Willimantic (860) 450-7471
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including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals. For more information see https://bphc.hrsa.gov/ftca/