Updated April 28, 2021.
At this time, there is an unprecedented logistical effort by federal, state and county agencies to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines to essential frontline workers and people most at risk of severe complications from COVID-19. At One Medical, we are committed to keeping our members informed every step of the way until the COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone.
To stay up to date with our vaccination efforts in your area, please check here for the latest information
Here are our answers to some of your most commonly asked questions:
Can I sign up for a vaccine waitlist?
At One Medical, we will offer vaccination to everyone we can, according to the plans established by our public health partners, so a waitlist isn’t needed. We understand that the media has differing reports daily, and rest assured we'll let all our members know as soon we have vaccines available.
How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, approved in December, use messenger RNA (mRNA) which delivers a small genetic “message” that causes your own cells to make a protein that resembles the spike on the outer shell of the tiny COVID-19 virus. Your immune system then recognizes this protein as foreign, and produces specific antibodies and specialized immune cells (T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes) that quickly spring into action if the virus itself shows up in the future.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does the same thing, but instead uses a harmless cold virus to deliver the information that the immune system uses to create protection. Unlike the mRNA vaccines, the J&J vaccine does not need special freezers. Instead, it can be stored in a normal fridge, allowing for much easier access to the vaccine across a variety of locations.
What are the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been shown to be over 90% effective in preventing illness from COVID-19. How long this protection lasts is currently unknown. The J&J vaccine is slightly less effective in preventing illness; however, what is more impressive is that it is virtually 100% protective against severe disease leading to hospitalization or death.
Once fully vaccinated (which means 2 weeks have passed after you received your final dose for Pfizer/Moderna and 4 weeks have passed for J&J), for the first 3 months afterwards, you do not need to quarantine if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
How will the vaccine be administered?
The vaccines are administered the same way as the flu shot, injected into the muscle of the upper arm. Both the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines require two doses for a full immune response. For Pfizer/BioNTech, the second dose is 21 days after the first, with a full immune response 14 days after the second dose. For Moderna, the second dose is 28 days after the first with a full immune response 10 days post second dose. Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose, with a full immune response 28 days after.
What are the common side effects?
Common side effects may include pain around the area of the injection, feeling tired, headache, muscle aches, and less commonly, fever. So far, severe side effects have been reported to be very rare with these current COVID-19 vaccines. As with all vaccines, there have been rare reports of serious allergic reactions to the vaccine. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis to any ingredient in either of the COVID-19 vaccines, it is not considered safe to get that specific vaccine. If you have a history of severe allergic reactions, please speak to your healthcare provider for guidance before being vaccinated.
The FDA in April, paused J&J vaccination in the US because of 6 cases of rare brain blood clots associated with low platelets in females <50 years old. The experiment panel met again a week later and decided the risk was extremely low and it was safe to continue the J&J vaccine campaign.
How much will the vaccine cost?
The federal government has said it will cover the cost of all vaccines, and intends to vaccinate everyone who requests it. According to Operation Warp Speed (OWS), a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, and the Department of Defense, the objective is to ensure that “no one desiring vaccination will face an economic barrier to receiving one.”
If multiple types of COVID-19 vaccines are available, will I have a choice about which one I receive?
As soon as it’s your turn to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, we recommend opting for whatever vaccine is available at the time, as they are considered equally effective. If more than one option is widely available, then you may be offered a choice. Just remember that if you receive either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, both doses must be the same type.
For the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, when can I get my second dose?
After the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a second dose can be given as soon as 21 days. For the Moderna vaccine, 28 days is recommended. For both vaccines, the CDC has said up to 42 days is an acceptable window, so don’t worry if you get your shot longer than the 21 or 28 day period. You are also able to get the 2nd dose up to 3 days early.
Can I receive the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine with other vaccines?
You should not get a COVID-19 vaccine if you have had any other vaccine in the 14 days prior.
If I get the vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask?
All three vaccines are highly effective, so once you've received the full vaccine series (i.e. two shots) and your immune system has had an additional 14 days or more to respond, you're very likely to be protected from getting sick. It is unknown yet if those who are immune can still transmit the virus. Since no vaccine is 100% effective, you should continue to maintain physical distance in public settings, as well as avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, even after being fully vaccinated. The CDC has said, however, that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a mask while walking, biking, or exercising outdoors with household members, dining outdoors with people from other households, or while attending small outdoor gathers with fully vaccinated people or a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Those who are fully vaccinated should, however, continue to wear a mask while dining indoors, exercising indoors, riding public transportation, visiting an indoor barber shop, salon, movie theater, shopping center, or museum, attending indoor gatherings with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and while attending crowded, outdoor events like parades, sporting events, or concerts.
Once I’m fully vaccinated, will I still need to get tested for COVID?
Yes, for a few reasons. First, many travel, work and school-related activities require testing, and having been vaccinated does not yet allow someone to opt out. Second, while the current mRNA-based vaccines are extremely effective at preventing you from getting sick, we await more data confirming how effective they are at preventing you from transmitting the virus to someone else. That being said, if you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine. If you develop symptoms that may be due to COVID-19, however, you are recommended to isolate and get tested, even if you have been previously vaccinated.
I’ve had COVID-19 already. Should I still get a vaccine?
Yes. At this point, there is not enough evidence to know how long immunity from a COVID-19 infection lasts. It’s also unclear whether vaccination or infection produces the strongest immunity. However, if you had COVID-19 and were treated with monoclonal antibodies, you should wait 90 days before getting the vaccine.
How confident can we be that the vaccines used in the United States are safe?
While the specific vaccines are new, the ways in which they create an immune response have either been in testing or in widespread use for many years. The idea of a “never before used” genetic vaccine may seem intimidating, but the underlying technology has been proven safe on thousands of volunteers. Only the specific COVID-19 genetic message is truly new. The safety standards of the FDA remain stringent and the safety of the vaccines will continue to be closely monitored. At One Medical, our own senior clinical advisors regularly review the published safety data carefully, and we only offer vaccines when we strongly believe the benefits unequivocally outweigh any risks. We concur with the FDA that the Moderna,Pfizer COVID-19, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines safely deliver very high immunity against this virus. We support the vaccination of the largest number of people possible as the most effective way to bring the current pandemic under control.
If I get the COVID-19 vaccine will it affect COVID-19 test results?
No. Per the CDC, the COVID-19 vaccine cannot cause you to falsely test positive or negative on PCR or antigen viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.
Do I need to show proof of occupation or age to confirm my vaccine eligibility?
If your eligibility is based on age, medical condition, or employment, please be prepared to show proof of eligibility at your appointment.
How do I know that my medical condition qualifies me for the vaccine?
For those with questions about underlying medical conditions that qualify when 1c eligibility is open in your local area, the CDC notes these medical conditions are at increased risk for COVID related illnesses; however, it’s best to check your local health department guidelines to confirm if any specific or additional guidelines are noted.
What if I’m pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a compromised immune system?
Pregnant or lactating women, and people who are immunocompromised can safely get the vaccine. If you have questions, you should talk to your provider to make an informed decision for your unique situation. More information about pregnancy and the vaccine is available on our blog post here.
Can I vaccinate my child?
At this time the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for individuals 16 and over, and the Moderna and J&J vaccines are approved for individuals 18 and older. Because children under these age groups weren’t in the vaccine studies, more data is needed before approval for younger ages to receive the COVID vaccine. Even pediatric patients with high-risk conditions are not yet approved.
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County,Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. The One Medical Group entities and 1Life Healthcare, Inc. make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.