In an effort to answer as many of your pertinent questions as we can about the COVID vaccines, Western's Dr. David Hansen, Western's Associate Medical Director, will address common questions or misconceptions here each day. Have a question for Dr. Hansen? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and don't forget to review Western's existing vaccine FAQ on its coronavirus website, here.
I have been vaccinated but my spouse just tested positive. Do I still need to quarantine?
DH: Yes, you do. Vaccination does not change the quarantine requirements, and only prevents recipients from getting seriously ill from COVID. At this time, there is insufficient evidence whether the vaccination will prevent individuals from transmitting the disease to others, so all the quarantining and testing rules would apply.
Do I really need the second dose?
DH: Some protection may be conferred after a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines but this protection is far less than after two doses. The second dose acts as a booster which allows the immune system to better fight infection. All people should receive two doses of these vaccines.
How do I know the vaccine is safe?
DH: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials and meet the FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. Over the past two months, 52 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the United States. These vaccines will undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.
Can I still get COVID-19 or transmit the virus to others after I am vaccinated?
DH: Although COVID vaccines do not completely prevent infection, they do prevent the infection from spreading within the body and from causing serious disease. The vaccine is not 100% effective and we still do not know if someone who was vaccinated can develop asymptomatic infection and transmit the virus.
Is it possible to contract coronavirus from the vaccine itself?
DH: No, it is not possible to get Covid-19 from vaccines. Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 use inactivated virus, parts of the virus (e.g., the spike protein), or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause Covid-19.
What are the differences between the vaccines currently available?
DH: Right now, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have similar levels of efficacy and safety. The key differences for patients are that the Pfizer vaccine is approved for people aged 16 and up, whereas the Moderna vaccine is approved for people aged 18 and up. Additionally, the time you need to wait between the first and second dose is 21 days for Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna.
If I'm a student and have been vaccinated, will I still have to participate in the COVID testing program?
DH: "Yes. Even though the student has been vaccinated, they could still become an asymptomatic carrier and transmit the virus. Our surveillance testing program at Fraser Hall allows us to identify those asymptomatic carriers and isolate them so the virus is not transmitted to others."
Will I still have to wear a mask after I get vaccinated?
DH: "Until we substantially reduce community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and see hospitalizations and deaths dramatically decrease, we still need to wear masks and practice physical distancing even after vaccination. The vaccine is not 100% effective and we still do not know if someone who was vaccinated can develop asymptomatic infection and transmit the virus."