Vaccine Availability and Eligibility
WHEN WILL I BE ABLE TO GET THE VACCINE?
Massachusetts developed a phased approach for distribution of the COVID-19 Vaccine. Information about these phases, including who is eligible and where we are in the process can be found here.
Beginning April 19, 2021 people age 16+ who live, work, or study in Massachusetts are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
CAN I SIGN UP OR BE ADDED TO A LIST TO GET THE VACCINE?
No, at this time, Sturdy is not maintaining a sign-up list for the vaccine. If the vaccine becomes available to our community, we will post scheduling information on our website. In the meantime, if you are looking for a mass vaccination site that is currently available, please click here.
SHOULD I GET THE VACCINE BASED ON MY MEDICAL HISTORY?
If you have questions or concerns related to your personal medical conditions, you should discuss them with your primary care physician to determine the risk versus benefits related to vaccination. Below is a chart highlighting who can receive the vaccine based on the data available.
Proceed with Vaccination
Precaution to Vaccination
Contraindication to Vaccination
- Immunocompromising conditions
- Autoimmune disease
- Moderate/severe acute illness
- History of food, pet, insect, venom, environmental, etc. allergies
- History of allergy to oral medications (including the oral equivalent of an injectable medication)
- Non-serious allergy to vaccine or other injectables
- Family history of anaphylaxis
- History of severe allergic reaction to another vaccine
- History of severe allergic reaction to an injectable medication
- History of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccines
About the Vaccine
PFIZER AND MODERNA VACCINES ARE mRNA VACCINES. WHAT IS AN mRNA VACCINE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
An mRNA vaccine teaches your body how to create a harmless "Spike protein" which then initiates an immune response in your body. This immune response produces antibodies in your body to fight against future infection. An mRNA vaccine does not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, which means you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
The mRNA also DOES NOT affect your own body’s DNA as it never enters the nucleus of your cell where your DNA is kept. This means that the mRNA does not come into contact with your DNA which means it cannot change or alter your DNA in anyway.
THE JANSSEN/JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE IS A VIRAL VECTOR VACCINE. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
A viral vector vaccine is made from an inactivated adenovirus, the virus that causes the common cold, and contains a piece of DNA that instructs the body to make the COVID-19 spike protein.
This in turn triggers an immune system response, giving you protection should you ever be exposed to the real virus in the future.
HOW CAN A VACCINE HELP?
Sometimes our body's natural defense system needs a boost to help protect it from a bacteria or a virus. Vaccines work by helping your immune system develop antibodies to fight off an infection, much like it would if your body were exposed to the virus or bacteria naturally.
HOW WERE COVID-19 VACCINES DEVELOPED SO QUICKLY?
Researchers and developers used cutting edge approaches to develop these vaccines. Vaccines that require obtaining the virus and weakening or inactivating it are longer processes. New approaches being used, such as mRNA technology require scientists to only know the virus's genetic sequence, which was identified early in the pandemic, helping to accelerate the process of vaccine development.
Safety and Side Effects
SHOULD I BE WORRIED ABOUT SAFETY OF THE VACCINE?
Like all vaccines, the FDA ensures that all COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested for safety before being authorized for use in the United States and will continue to be monitored. All vaccines must successfully complete three phases of clinical trials which includes monitoring the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines administered to thousands of people. The speed at which COVID-19 vaccines are being developed is due to unprecedented funding for the research, development, and study of them.
ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS OF THE VACCINE?
Mild to moderate side effects have been reported including; local injection site reactions, fever, chills, fatigue, muscle pain, body aches, and headache. These are all signs of a successful immune response and antibody production which are good. Most were reported to resolve within a few days.
IS THE VACCINE EFFECTIVE?
Data from Pfizer and Moderna showed high efficacy of 90-95% for prevention of COVID-19 infection compared with placebo.
In the single dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the primary goal of the vaccine is prevent severe critical COVID-19 illness and associated death. The vaccine is:
- 85% effective in preventing serious illness from COVID-19
- 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 hospitalization
- 100% effective in preventing death from COVID-19
All three authorized vaccines are proven to be safe and effective.
CAN I GET THE VACCINE IF I AM PREGNANT, TRYING TO BECOME PREGNANT, OR BREASTFEEDING?
There is limited data related to the COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant and/or lactating women. During the phase III clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine, 23 women became pregnant after enrollment. there were no significant adverse outcomes observed in these cases.
The CDC and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology DO NOT consider pregnancy to be a contraindication to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should speak with your physician regarding the risk versus benefits of vaccination.
Vaccine: Testing and Prevention
WILL I GET A POSITIVE TEST RESULT AFTER I GET THE VACCINE?
No, the vaccine will not result in you testing positive on a viral COVID-19 test which tests for active infection. However, if you have an antibody study done, the results may show that you have antibodies present. This is a result of your body having an immune response to the vaccine and developing the appropriate antibodies to help you fight of the COVID-19 infection, which is the goal. This continues to be studied.
DO I STILL NEED TO WEAR A MASK AND PRACTICING SOCIAL DISTANCING ETC...?
Yes. You will still need to practice the safety measures put in place such as social distancing, wearing a mask, and good hand hygiene while experts learn more about how the vaccine provides protection in real-life situations. Vaccination and following the recommended guidelines put out by the CDC on how to protect yourself provides us with the best defense against the pandemic at this time.
WILL THE VACCINE PREVENT ME FROM GETTING SICK WITH COVID-19?
Yes, vaccination works by teaching your body how to develop an immune response and fight against the virus that causes COVID-19, this protects you from developing COVID-19.
CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/hcp/mrna-vaccine-basics.html
Joseph A. A Huge Experiment: How the World Made so Much Progress on a COVID-19 Vaccine so Fast. https://www.statnews.com/2020/07/30/a-huge-experiment-how-the world-made-so-much-progress-on-a-covid-19-vaccine-so-fast/
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Pardi N, Hogan MJ, Porter FW and Weissman D. mRNA vaccines- a new era in vaccinology. 2018. Nature reviews/drug discovery. 17: 261.
PHG foundation in University of Cambridge website: https://www.phgfoundation.org/briefing/rna-vaccines
Slaoui M and Hepburn M. Developing safe and effectively covid vaccines-Operation Warp Speed’s strategy and approach. 2020. NEJM, 383: 18.