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Information About COVID-19 Vaccine


Updated January 19, 2021

Esperanza Health Centers has started vaccinating its patients 65 and older in accordance with city and state guidelines, but still has only very limited supply of vaccine to distribute. If you are a patient of Esperanza and are 65 or older, please know that you are on our vaccine priority list and will be contacted as soon as we're ready to see you.  If you are a patient of Esperanza who is not 65 or older, please continue to check our website and social media for updates on when you might be able to get a vaccine appointment with us.  If you are not a patient of Esperanza, please continue to follow us online or contact your primary care provider for information on when and how you might receive a vaccine against COVID-19.

Is there a vaccine against COVID-19?

Scientists have been working for almost a year to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19. There are currently two – one by Pfizer and one by Moderna – that show very promising results and have received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the public. Additional vaccines currently in development may be approved once their safety and efficacy data is known.

Are these vaccines effective?

According to data from the clinical trials, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were shown to be around 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection among trial participants. This is a remarkably high degree of efficacy and an exciting turning point in our fight against the pandemic.

Are these vaccines safe?

Over the past few months, thousands of people have received a vaccine as part of the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials. Both vaccines were well tolerated by most recipients and are considered safe. It is important to remember that the FDA looks very carefully at trial safety data before authorizing a vaccine’s use in the public.

Are these vaccines safe for children?

Because children were not included as part of any initial clinical trials, it is too early to determine whether the vaccine shows efficacy in children. However, Pfizer and Moderna have begun clinical trials for children in the U.S.  The emergency use authorization currently applies to adults 18 years of age and older.

How does the vaccine against COVID-19 work?

Vaccines have existed for hundreds of years and they all work by activating our immune systems to create defenses against specific diseases. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines act in the same way. They use a molecule (called mRNA) that instructs our bodies to create a single, harmless protein that is found in the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  When our immune system detects this protein, it will begin to create antibodies capable of destroying it, thus giving us immunity against the COVID-19 virus and keeping us healthy.

Can these vaccines make me sick with COVID-19?

The only thing that can make you sick with COVID-19 is live SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not use any live virus and, therefore, cannot make you sick.

Will I experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

Side effects are not uncommon when you receive any vaccine and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are no exception. While most side effects are mild and tend to resolve in about a day, severe side effects can result when you have a strong immune response to the vaccine. In the Moderna trial the most common side effects were fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, and headache while among those who received the Pfizer vaccine, severe side effects included fatigue and headache.

How long will I be protected from COVID-19?

Some vaccines give us lifelong immunity while others protect us for only a short period of time (that is why we get a flu shot every year). While we do not yet know how long immunity lasts from a COVID-19 vaccine, remember, any amount of protection could make a huge difference in keeping us and our families healthy and slowing the spread of the pandemic.  As we learn more about COVID-19 immunity, we will update with more information.

When will I be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

It takes a long time to produce the millions and millions of doses needed to protect everyone, so some people may have to wait longer than others do. Currently, we expect vaccines to be made available to health care workers, first responders, and older populations first. We are waiting to hear more information about when more vaccines will be available and when they will be widely available to you and your family.

How much will the vaccine cost?

Federal health officials have said that any approved COVID-19 vaccine will be free to everyone who wants one in 2020 and 2021, regardless of your insurance status. Vaccines will be covered under Medicare and Medicaid.

How are the vaccines delivered?

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require TWO (2) doses administered three to four weeks apart to give you immunity against COVID-19. The shot is administered in your upper arm/shoulder area.

REMEMBER: a vaccine is not a treatment for COVID-19 and it is not a cure. It is designed to protect you from getting COVID-19 and becoming sick. Just because we will soon have a vaccine does NOT mean you can start to ignore mask wearing, social distancing, or public health guidance on indoor gatherings. Now, more than ever, we are asking you to take these measures seriously.