Covid 19

LATEST INFORMATION ON

The COVID-19 Vaccine
The COVID-19 Vaccine

This page was last updated on March 18, 2021.

The vaccine is an essential tool in the fight to end the global Coronavirus pandemic. The information below reflects our current recommendations based on our understanding of eligibility, effectiveness, risk factors, and the process to get your shot. Please note that as a rapidly evolving situation, this information may change. Contact your provider if you have questions specific to your status or health.

Our Site Status:

CMMD and Associates has applied to be a vaccination site, but have not yet received approval. We do not currently have any doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

You should NOT wait until our practice has the vaccine to get your dose; if you fall into the current group eligible for a vaccine, please sign up on the Chester County Health Department website here so that you can receive the vaccine as soon as a dose is available for you.

Patients of CMMD and Associates do NOT need to send us a request for a vaccine at this time. We are not collecting names and we are not creating a waitlist; the order of vaccination eligibility will be determined by state and local health department guidelines and availability of doses.

Local pharmacies including Wegmans, CVS and Rite Aid are now offering appointments for vaccines on their websites, though timeslots are limited. Read this piece for tips for scheduling an appointment > and if you need assistance, or can offer assistance to someone else in booking an appointment online, considering joining the PA COVID Vaccine Matchmaker Facebook Group here.

If you have been seen at one of the three local health systems (Main Line Health, Penn Medicine, or Tower/Brandywine) it is important that you activate/sign up for the patient portal they use. They'll use that system to notify you when you are eligible for the vaccine, based on the conditions that are documented in your patient chart. Click here to sign up for our portal >

VISIT THE

Chester County
Health Department
Vaccine Information Page

The vaccine roll-out in our area is being managed by the Chester County Health Department. Their website has the latest information on on eligibility, groups, and access to the vaccine.

REQUEST A

Health Condition Validation Letter

If you are asked to bring proof of a pre-existing condition to your vaccine appointment, please submit your request through our online form here (please, no phone calls). We will reply to your request in our patient portal, with a validation letter that includes all conditions documented in your medical chart. If you do not have access to the portal, we will contact you with an invite to the portal and/or make arrangements to get the letter to you by another method. 

Our COVID-19 Searchable Question Bank

Below we provide answers to the most common questions we receive about the vaccine. This information was originally created on January 10, 2021 and was last updated on January 11, 2021. As the pandemic and vaccine roll-out is a rapidly evolving situation, newer information may be available; contact your provider if you have questions specific to your status or health.

Side Effects

Will taking Tylenol (or Motrin or ibuprofen) prior to being vaccinated help with any post injection symptoms?


At this time, we do not recommend pre-medicating with Tylenol or other medicines because they may suppress your immune system's response to the vaccine. Instead, monitor your side effects and medicate as needed. (Updated 1/21/2021)




What is considered a history of anaphylactic shock? Some more problematic than others? Allergy shot reactions?


Anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis) is a serious allergic response that often involves swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure and in severe cases, shock. This is much more than just an allergic reaction such as rash, etc.




My 16 year old has a history of anaphylaxis d/t a shellfish allergy. Is the shot safe for those with food allergies?


The Pfizer vaccine carries a warning about those with anaphylaxis. They are not absolutely excluded but should have a discussion with their allergist and make the immunizing team aware. The Moderna vaccine doesn't have this warning. Unfortunately, it is not indicated in those under 18 (as of now.) Lastly, remember, that ANAPHYLAXIS is the issue. Not just allergy. Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction causing trouble breathing, low blood pressure, etc. This requires emergency treatment and an Epipen. Those are the patients that must take precautions and speak with their allergists.




For those who have a history of severe reactions to flu shots...is a reaction likely with this covid shot?


I would say to expect a reaction even though the mechanism is very different. Pre-medicating with Tylenol etc will help depending on the reaction to the flu vaccine. I would definitely check with your personal doctor and make sure the team immunizing you is aware of the reaction.




If you are high risk and have a history of anaphylactic shock, are there precautions to be taken in order to still get the vaccine?


Yes. First, absolutely discuss it with your allergist. Most of the time, having your Epipen, and making sure the team immunizing you is aware, is enough. It might be worthwhile to also pre-medicate with antihistamines or steroids but definitely a discussion to have with your doctors.




What are the side effects of the vaccine?


After you receive the vaccine, an immune response will occur. This does not mean you are sick – it means your immune system is activated and working to produce antibodies that fight off infection, should your body be exposed to that particular virus. This is a good thing! Side effects to be expected/prepared for with the COVID vaccine include a sore injection site, body aches, and less frequently a mild headache or low-grade fever. When they do occur, they usually last about 24 hours. Medicines like Tylenol can be taken as needed to alleviate these symptoms.





Effectiveness

Is it correct that the vaccine doesn’t completely protect you against getting and transmitting COVID-19, but it is 95% (+/-) effective in preventing you from getting sick from the virus?


First, mRNA vaccines are new, so we must take all information as it is available and one day at a time, and be open to new findings. Second, in studies, the COVID vaccines were over 94% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID disease. That is great news. Third, in general, vaccines work by recognizing a virus upon its entry into the body (by the nose, mouth, or another orifice) and block it from replicating and thriving in the host. A dead virus can't make you or others sick. The big question is about timing: HOW LONG will it take for the immune response to attack the virus in an immunized person and shut it down? We know it is plenty fast enough to keep that person from becoming sick. However, if a few pesky viruses enter the nose of an immunized patient and are sneezed out before they are blocked, could they make another person ill? In theory, yes. Now, we have to remember that while mRNA vaccines are new, our study of viruses and vaccines is not. We know that you are most contagious when your viral load is high. An immunized person, once fully immune, will be able to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 practically better than any other vaccine we have seen. So, should all immunized people run free and cough and sneeze with abandon? Of course not. Should we all hibernate under the wet blanket of this uncertainty, after hibernating for 8 months under the wet blanket of NO VACCINE AT ALL? NO. These vaccines work-arguably better than any vaccines we have ever had. They are very well tolerated. We need to get them into as many people as fast as possible. The fewer people that get sick, the fewer people they will make sick. It is that simple. But we need to remember: immunization is not an iron-clad door. It's more like a storm door—with a screen—that your kids sometimes leave open in a flurry of haste and self-importance. Yes, some unwanteds may get in through the cracks, but with care, attention, and diligence, that risk, as far as what we know now, is small.




I received the first dose of Pfizer today, and need to return for a second dose. Am I still at risk now? Will I be at risk after the second dose?


About one to two weeks after the first dose, you do have some immunity but could still become infected. In studies, the highest efficacy rates were demonstrated after the second dose. So, it is certainly better than no vaccine, but not as good as it could be.




Can you still transmit the virus to others once you have received both doses of the vaccine?


It would be extremely, extremely unlikely. The vaccines will shut down the ability of the virus to multiply within the host's cells. You must have a living "breathing" virus to infect others. It is NOT correct the vaccine ONLY produces reduced symptoms. Vaccinated people who are exposed to the virus block it from invading their cells therefore, they do not get sick and can't make others sick.




Is there any data on how long we can expect the vaccine to effective / provide protection?


The most recent study I read demonstrated antibody immunity for 8 months. However we also can get T-cell immunity, which can last decades. This is really great news. Stay tuned for more information we will share as it becomes available.





Risk Factors

What is your guidance on pregnant women receiving the vaccine?


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women DO get the vaccine. While the trials did not include pregnant women, the risk to expectant mothers who get CoVID is higher. So, the benefits, right now, appear to outweigh the risks.




I have an immune disorder (multiple) and regularly on immunosuppressive therapy. The side effects seem complicated and I'm not sure how to approach research and decisions about getting the vaccine I am slated for.


Based on my reading, the risk of CoVID in your case is much higher than the risk of a reaction to the vaccine. I would have a serious discussion with your doctor/rheumatologist or immunologist who manages your treatment.




What is the recommendation for women who are breastfeeding?


There is not a contraindication to the vaccine in nursing moms who meet the other criteria for vaccination.





Timing

How long after the 2nd dose of the shingles vaccine should you wait to get the covid vaccine?


I have read 30 days from the timing of another vaccine, but the rationale is not clear. I will read more about it and work to update this answer as soon as possible.




Is there any truth in a waiting period between receiving other vaccines such as pneumonia, shinrax, mmr, etc. and when you can get a covid vaccine?


There is a recommendation I have seen to wait at least 30 days from the time of another vaccine, but I don't know the rationale. I will return to this question to update the answer, but in the meantime please contact your provider so we can review your case individually.




My dad’s assisted living facility in ChesCo has scheduled their vaccines 2 weeks apart instead of the 3-4 weeks CDC recommends. Should I worry about this?


There is a window depending on which vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is 9-21 days. Moderna is precisely 28 days. I have no idea why though. I believe that to maintain state requirements they vaccinators need to stick to those guidelines.




If you have had COVID-19, how long do you have to wait before getting the vaccine?


One of my colleagues had CoVID in April and just got her first dose. She did have significant side effects. The closer you are to the disease, the more likely you will have a strong immune reaction (side effects) to the vaccine. Currently, the recommendations are to wait 90 days from the end of your COVID illness until you get the vaccine.





Eligibility

Would the caregiver/spouse (69+) of high risk over 75 be permitted to be vaccinated at the same time?


I am not sure, but I will find out. I think that unless the caregiver also fits another of the 1C categories, they may not be eligible. Again, some of these decisions will be made on a case by case basis by the medical team.




When it becomes available, what are your thoughts on the vaccine for late teen/early 20's women with no other risk factors? Are there potential fertility issues?


Research on fertility is almost impossible to conduct as it would take years if not decades to gather information. So, it is true, we do not have studies showing that mRNA vaccines DO NOT cause infertility. However, based on all safety data and other well-established vaccinology science, there is absolutely NO evidence that suggests they do. The original question about Pfizer’s vaccine affecting female fertility is based on the theory that the mRNA vaccine instructs the immune system to recognize a protein on SARS-CoV-2 that is very similar to placental proteins. It is not hard to debunk this theory.
We are now seeing many women who have become pregnant successfully after contracting CoVID in the spring (apparently, not everyone was sewing masks and making bread.) Placenta is placenta. If natural immunity from having CoVID doesn’t destroy the placenta, why would the same immunity induced by vaccines?
As a scientist, I wish to God we had more time to answer these questions definitively. But, we are now forced to make the BEST possible decisions based on the information we have at hand. However, I understand the fear. If this pandemic had happened 22 years ago when we were first starting our family, I don’t honestly know WHAT I would do. Women between the ages of 18 and 35 are the most likely to “pass” on the vaccine. Presuming these women DO NOT become pregnant during the pandemic, their relative risk of serious disease is low (remember pregnant women are different.) Pregnant women should very seriously consider getting the vaccine. They have not been studied in pregnancy but the risk of severe CoVID in pregnancy is high. So, the American College of Gynecologists has advised that all pregnant women get the vaccine. So, if we, as a world beaten to death by this pandemic, have to give grace to a group with vaccine hesitancy, perhaps it should be given to young women fearing they might be sacrificing one of life’s greatest gifts.
Here’s what we all CAN do: Those of us who can get the vaccine should, as soon as possible. Those who are hesitant should stay informed, ask questions, and base decisions on reliable, medical sources. We need 75%-80% of us to develop herd immunity. We have to expect and accept that some people will decline. We shouldn’t blame these women who are scared. Instead, we should build an immunized ring of safety around them.




My in-laws are in their 80s and live in NJ. Could they get the vaccine in another state if it’s available sooner?


Every state and even county within our state of PA has slightly different rules. My team had to fill out an attestation that we lived or worked in Chester County prior to being able to get the vaccine at our local health department. I would doubt that unless they had a residence in the other state that they would be able to. Best to check with the local health department.




What criteria labels you “high risk” and eligible to receive a vaccine in group 1C?


The underlying conditions most often associated with high-risk categories are obesity, diabetes, COPD, chronic kidney disease, and heart disease. This is where it will be somewhat at the discretion of the medical team to determine eligibility. For example, while it is not on this list, I would consider my patients on immunosuppressive medications to be high risk.




When will there be a vaccine for children?


I have read the trials are to include children starting this month and next. I would not expect children to be eligible until summer time. By then, if enough adults have been immunized, it might be a moot point.




I have teenagers — a 19-year-old and a 16-year-old — that are both eligible to receive a vaccine in early phases due to a medical condition and work status. Should I be concerned with long term side effects, since they’re so young? Would you let your teens get vaccinated?


I would not be concerned! Your 16 year old though can only get the Moderna vaccine.




When will we get the vaccine?


Eligibility for the vaccine is currently being decided by local departments of health. Visit the Chester County Health Department website here to read about the groups that are currently eligible.




Is the vaccine currently available to all employees who work in a medical office in Chester County?


If you are employed in a patient-facing role in a medical practice, you should be able to get the vaccine through the Chesco Health Department.




Will you contact us when the vaccine is available for very high risk patients? And can their spouse get one as well?


The local health department is your best source for this. I would check their website often as the information changes. The risk groups right now just apply to the patients themselves, not their contacts/caregivers.




Where is the schedule of when the vaccine groups are available to get it?


Your local health department is your best source for this information. I would also check back on their website often, as the information can change. For Chester County residents, here is a link to the Chester County Health Department's COVID-19 Vaccine information page.




Will you have a waitlist or reserve doses at CMMD and Associates?


Our application to be a vaccine provider has not been approved yet. Once we are approved, we will have more details on how we will distribute vaccines.




If I had COVID-19, do I still need the vaccine?


Yes, but it is recommended that anyone who has recovered from COVID wait 90 days before getting the vaccine.





About

Is there live COVID-19 virus in the vaccine?


The vaccines currently approved do not contain the live COVID virus.




What is emergency use authorization (EUA)?


The Commissioner of the FDA can issue Emergency Use Authorization for medical products, so they can be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases caused by chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear (CBRN) agents when there are no adequate, approved and available alternatives. For more on EUA, please see the FDA's EUA page here.




Can I trust the vaccine? Is it safe?


While mRNA vaccines have not been used to date, they have been reseached for decades. Because they do not containe any viral particles (live or killed), they cannot cause a case of COVID-19.




Once I get the vaccination(s), will I have to do so every year like the flu vaccine?


At this time, noone knows for sure how long or how complete the immunity induced by the vaccine will be.




Will there be an out-of-pocket cost for the vaccine at CMMD and Associates?


At this time, there is no cost for COVID vaccines.




How many doses is the vaccine?


At this time, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.




What if I get only 1 of the 2 doses of the vaccine?


We know that one vaccine does provide a significant amount of immunity. However, at this time, two doses are recommended.




Which vaccine will you have at CMMD and Associates?


We will not know which vaccine we will have until our application has been approved.





Resources from the CDC:
What to Expect at your COVID-19 Vaccination
 
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How COVID-19 Vaccines Work
 
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Rare Allergic Reactions to COVID-19 Vaccine
 
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