COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
Q1: What is an Emergency Use Authorization?
Drugs and vaccines have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that only safe and effective products are available to the American public. During public health emergencies, when there is good scientific reason to believe that a product is safe and is likely to treat or prevent disease, the FDA may authorize its use through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), even if definitive proof of the effectiveness of the drug or vaccine is not known. FDA pre-licensure approval is considered for treatment or prevention of diseases that are very serious.
Q2: How do we know if the vaccine is safe? How will you monitor and track vaccine side effects?
The DoD is confident in the stringent regulatory process and requirements of the FDA. Manufacturers are required to submit their raw data for the FDA to review. Safety, immune response, and efficacy data from the trial stages are submitted to the FDA before they are authorized for use and distribution. Per FDA requirements, DoD will be monitoring and tracking vaccine reports of vaccine side effects through various surveillance activities both internal and external to the DoD.
Q3: Why should we receive the first-available vaccine when there are several other vaccines still in trials?
People who are offered the first-available vaccine are considered to be in groups that are most in need of COVID-19 protection. Vaccinated people will be protecting themselves, as well as their families and all people with whom they interact. Evaluation of the first-available vaccine will continue, even after its pre-licensure release. The release of other vaccines cannot be fully predicted, so people who are offered the first-available vaccine are highly encouraged to receive it.
Q4. If I already had COVID-19, should I still get a vaccine?
Yes. Vaccination is recommended because the duration of immunity following COVID-19 infection is unknown and the vaccine may have value in protecting previously infected people.
Q5. Will we still need to wear masks and practice physical distancing once a vaccine is available?
Yes. The intent of the vaccine is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will still need to wear appropriate face covings and practice physical distancing in order limit the spread of the virus. Additionally, initially, we will not have enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine and COVID-19 pandemic risks will continue. We will continue to recommend wearing masks and practicing physical distancing for everyone until the pandemic risk of COVID-19 is substantially reduced. We know that the vaccine is effective in preventing illness caused by a COVID-19 infection. We do not yet know if it is fully prevents asymptomatic infection and onward transmission of SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Q6. If I take the vaccine, will I still be required to comply with COVID-19 mitigation measures?
Yes, it is important that initially, everyone continues to comply with all COVID-19 mitigation/preventive measures even after receiving the vaccine–likely for much of 2021. The more efficient we are at distributing the vaccine and the more people who accept it, the faster we can ‘return to normal’. The experts predict we’ll need about 70% of the American population vaccinated in order to have ‘herd immunity’. The closer we get to 100%, the safer we all will be! We will continue to follow guidance from the DoD.
Q7. Will recipients of the vaccine receive a card or something as proof of receipt of the vaccine?
It will be included in your electronic health record, and you will receive a card specifying the vaccine you received.
Q8. Is the COVID-19 vaccine one or two shots?
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is a two-shot regimen. The second Pfizer dose cannot be given sooner than 21 days. The initial shot by itself can provide significant benefit and protection, while the second shot provides even greater protection. Based on what we know about other vaccines in development, it will likely also lead to longer lasting immunity.
Q9. Can I get the Moderna vaccine if it becomes available if my first shot was made by Pfizer?
No. Individuals will receive both doses of the same manufacturer only.
Q10. Will DoD require all Service Members to receive the vaccine?
Not at this time. The vaccine is offered on a voluntary basis. Priority populations are highly encouraged to receive the vaccine. When formally licensed by the FDA, a vaccine may become mandatory for military personnel as is the case for the influenza vaccine.
Q11. Who do I contact if I experience adverse effects from the vaccine?
Medical staff are available at the COVID Vaccine Site should you need emergency medical assistance. If you have general concerns after you leave the COVID Vaccine Site, you can contact your medical provider or the MHS Nurse Advise Line at 1-800-TRICARE, option 1. For severe symptoms, contact your Primary Care Provider or go to the emergency room. Adverse events should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) by the provider or patient at https://vaers.hhs.gov/
Q12. If I begin to feel ill after the shot, should I be concerned about being around my family members?
You should not be concerned about any adverse effects from the shot putting your family at risk. Current data shows that about 10-15% of vaccine recipients have side effects from the COVID vaccine. These can include redness, soreness at the injection site, feeling tired, feeling generally ill and fever. It is recommended that those who have a fever stay home from work and away from their family members as much as possible. That is not because of any risk from the shot, but rather, because it is possible that someone with a fever might have a different infection, completely unrelated to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine that simply occurred at the same time as receiving the vaccine. For most people, side effects from the shot last a day or two, anything longer than that could be caused by something other than the vaccine.
Q13. How long will protection last following vaccination?
We do not know how long protection will last following vaccination but it will be critically important to measure long-term protection (at least two years) in the phase 3 trials and in other groups prioritized for early vaccination. We are still learning about the duration of protection following infection with COVID-19 and it is too early to tell how long protection will last.
Q14. Should children get the vaccine?
The current vaccine trials have not studied the safety and efficacy for children under the age of 16 and manufactures are not currently asking the FDA for authorization to vaccinate children. COVID-19 vaccines will not be available to children until the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines has also been fully studied in children. The good news is that children tend to not get as sick or be as symptomatic as adults who have COVID-19, which likely factored into this at the national level.
Q15. If I am pregnant, can I get the vaccine?
CDC and the independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have provided information to assist pregnant people with their decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, ACIP recommends that certain groups (e.g., healthcare personnel, followed by other frontline essential workers) are offered vaccination during the first months of the COVID-19 vaccination program. People who are pregnant and part of a group recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccine may choose to be vaccinated. If they have questions about getting vaccinated, a discussion with a healthcare provider might help them make an informed decision.
Q16. Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No, it is not possible to get COVID-19 from vaccines. Vaccines against COVID-19 use an inactivated virus, parts of the virus, or a gene segment from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.
Q17. Should I get the vaccine for influenza (flu shot)?
Yes, it is important to get the seasonal influenza vaccine. Typically every year during the winter months, influenza causes many hospitalizations and deaths, especially among the very young and very old. Before getting the COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to tell your provider about any vaccinations you have already received or are planning to get, so the best timing of your COVID-19 vaccine can be determined.
Q18. Can I receive the flu shot around the same time I receive the COVID shot?
Due to a lack of data on safety and efficacy of the vaccine administered simultaneously with other vaccines, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine should be administered alone with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccines including the seasonal flu shot.
Q19. How will the DoD track personnel who receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
Everyone who receives a COVID-19 vaccine will be tracked through existing medical record and readiness reporting systems.
Q20. Why/how were Belvoir Hospital and other MTFs selected by DoD to receive the first wave of vaccines?
The first vaccination sites were selected by the DoD’s COVID-19 Task Force from sites recommended by the military services and U.S. Coast Guard to best support several criteria: anticipated supply chain requirements for initially approved vaccines (i.e. ultra-cold, bulk storage facility); sizeable local population to facilitate rapid vaccine administration to priority personnel across the military services; and sufficient necessary medical personnel to administer vaccines and actively monitor vaccine recipients after initial and second-dose administration.
Q21: When will high risk patients be able to get the vaccine?
High risk patients will be eligible for vaccines when we move to Phase 1C of the DOD COVID-19 Distribution Plan. Availability of the vaccine is dependent upon future deliveries, but is estimated to occur in early 2021.
- If you’re a service member and you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine from a non-DOD provider, make sure to update your medical records.
- If you haven’t received your COVID vaccine yet, schedule your vaccine as soon as possible.
- Find a DOD COVID Vaccine Location near you
- If you’re unsure if the vaccine is right for your child, we recommend discussing your child’s medical conditions, including prior reaction to vaccines, with a medical provider.
- For some immunocompromised children, a third primary series/additional dose is recommended.
- For more information, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens webpage.
- People aged 18 years and older who received Pfizer-BioNTech-COMIRNATY® or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should receive a 1st booster dose 5 months after dose 2 of the primary series.
- Children 5 and older who completed the primary series of Pfizer-BioNTech-COMIRNATY® COVID-19 vaccine should receive a 1st booster dose 5 months after dose 2 of the primary series.
- If you received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine you should get a booster dose 2 months after your initial Janssen dose.
- People aged 50 years and older, or have a weakened immune system may receive a second mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech-COMIRNATY®, and Moderna) booster dose, 4 months after the first booster dose.
- Individuals aged 18 years and older who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine may a second booster dose of either mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech-COMIRNATY®, and Moderna) vaccine.