COVID VACCINES WERE DEVELOPED AND APPROVED SO QUICKLY. WERE APPROPRIATE SAFE CHECKS DONE?

Things have moved faster than normal, but we have done everything correctly. The FDA was able to approve an Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer based on its good safety and efficacy profile. We have been very careful in monitoring safety and have taken no short cuts in evaluating the vaccines at Cincinnati Children’s. Almost 40,000 people enrolled in Pfizer nationwide, over 30,000 enrolled in Moderna and close to 30,000 for both Janssen and AstraZeneca. Thus, we will have a lot of safety data before the other vaccines are licensed.

DOES EVERYONE WHO RECEIVES A COVID VACCINE HAVE SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS?

No. Many people have no symptoms at all. If people are going to have symptoms, the most common have been soreness at the site of vaccination, headaches and fatigue. Some people have had body aches and rarely (less than 10%) people have had chills and/or a fever. If people are going to have side effects, they typically start 1-2 days after vaccination and last for 1-2 days. Some people have had more side effects with the second dose of vaccine but again the side effects are short lasting. One could think of the symptoms described above are a good thing as it is a sign that the vaccine is working. While we would prefer that no one who received the vaccine had any side effects, we think the benefit of protection against a potentially lethal virus FAR outweighs the possible risks of the vaccine.  

CAN IMMUNOCOMPROMISED INDIVIDUALS GET VACCINATED?

Yes. The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are not “live” vaccines and thus immunocompromised individuals are at no greater risk from these vaccines than any other person. While neither the Astra Zeneca nor Janssen vaccines use adenoviruses that can grow in our body, they are “live”. Thus, while we have no reason to think either the Astra Zeneca or Janssen vaccines are of increased risk to people with immunocompromising conditions, it would be best to discuss with you doctor if one type of the COVID-19 vaccine may be better for you.

DO COVID VACCINES CONTAIN HUMAN STEM CELLS?

None of the vaccines contain human cells. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are pure mRNA that was made in the lab. This process does not use any cells at all. The AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines use an adenovirus to bring the spike protein gene to our cells. Viruses need to grow in cells. After the adenovirus used in the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines are grown, the virus is collected from the cells and purified. So there ONLY is virus, NO human cells, in the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccine. The initial cell line for the AstraZeneca vaccine came from human embryonic kidney cells. However, those cells were obtained over 60 years ago. There are NO human cells in the finished product of either the AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccine. 

CAN THE COVID VACCINE GIVE ME COVID-19?

No. The vaccines only contain a piece of the virus. Depending on the vaccine, it either contains the piece of the virus that tells our body to make the spike protein or it contains the spike protein itself. The spike protein is what the virus uses to attach to our cells and start an infection. The body then makes antibodies to the spike protein, which protect people against COVID-19 should they be exposed to the virus. The vaccine does not contain the whole virus, so it is impossible to get COVID-19 by getting vaccinated.  

IF KIDS DON’T GET THAT SICK FROM COVID, WHY DO THEY NEED TO BE VACCINATED?

As of Dec 31, 2020, more than 2.2 million kids in the United States have been infected, and thousands of them have been hospitalized with COVID-19. At least 180 previously healthy kids have died of COVID.  The vaccine is important for the health and safety of children, but also to prevent them from spreading the disease to adults such as parents, grandparents, and teachers. Vaccines are going to be critical to get rid of the pandemic.  It’s much safer to get the vaccine than to contract the disease.