COVID-19 vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority while federal partners work to make a COVID-19 vaccine(s) available.
In public health emergencies, such as the current pandemic, the vaccine development process may be atypical. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) has authorized the use of a COVID-19 vaccine after careful and rigorous testing and trials.
None of the factors that contributed to the accelerated development of a COVID-19 vaccine imply that safety, scientific or ethical integrity are compromised, or that short-cuts have been made. The COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested, with clinical trials evaluating tens of thousands of study participants to generate the scientific data and other information needed by the FDA.
To learn more about the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, including vaccines in earlier stages of development, visit clinicaltrials.gov.
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 vaccines are authorized for use and distribution. The DoD has full confidence in the safety, transparency and efficacy in the latest COVID-19 vaccine(s) authorized by the FDA .
After vaccination, it is possible for some side effects to occur during the process of building immunity. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Per FDA requirements, the DoD will be monitoring and tracking vaccine reports of side effects through various surveillance activities both internal and external to the DoD.
The Department of Defense remains committed to protecting service members, civilians, and families around the world.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, a COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool in stopping the pandemic.
The vaccine will be offered on a voluntary basis due to its FDA emergency use authorization, but all eligible personnel are encouraged to receive the vaccine when it becomes available to protect their health, their families and our community.
When formally licensed by the FDA, the DoD may require a vaccine for military personnel or personnel in specific fields, as is the case for the influenza vaccine, but that has not been determined at this time.
For individuals who have already had the disease, the vaccine may have value in continuing to protect people because the duration of immunity from natural infection with COVID-19 is unknown. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but the CDC says more studies are needed to better understand this. Talk with your provider if you have been previously infected with COVID-19.
Read more at the CDC site here.
COVID-19 vaccines will be given in a two-dose series separated by about four weeks and the 52nd Medical Group will track vaccine administration through existing medical reporting systems.
You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.
Some common side effects include pain or swelling in the arm, and other mild symptoms like fever, chills, tiredness or headache.
Since mild symptoms are normal and expected, members who receive the vaccine and experience mild side effects should not call the COVID/Sick Hotline unless you feel the symptoms are severe.
If you are experiencing an adverse reaction to the vaccine, you can self-report your symptoms by using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at www.vaers.hhs.gov. Registration with the V-Safe app provided by the CDC to monitor COVID-19 vaccine side effects is currently presenting issues for non-US residents, therefore we recommend using the VAERS until a solution for the V-Safe app becomes available.
After you complete the vaccination, it will still be necessary to wear face coverings, maintain physical distancing and continue other hygiene measures.
COVID-19 vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible to face an unprecedented need, and we understand there may be some concern. To combat misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, this list highlights some common myths associated with receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory.
Fact: The COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed on a voluntary basis, which is consistent with the normal process when a vaccine is first issued under Emergency Use Authorization. When formally licensed by the FDA, the DoD may require a vaccine for military personnel or personnel in specific fields, as is the case for the influenza vaccine, but that has not been determined at this time.
Source: DOD COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan transcript
Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine can give you COVID-19.
Fact: None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine is too new or too rushed to be safe.
Fact: There are processes and procedures put into place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized for use. Vaccines for COVID-19 are only available after they are demonstrated to be safe and effective in large phase three clinical trials and authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Though the COVID-19 vaccine has been developed in record time, the development process was in-depth. See Operation Warp Speed for more information.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Myth: You do not have to wear a mask after you receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
Fact: The CDC recommends that during the pandemic people wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth when in contact with others outside your household, when in healthcare facilities, and when receiving any vaccine, including a COVID-19 vaccine. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. It will still be necessary to wear cloth face coverings, maintain physical distancing and continue other hygiene measures until a large proportion of the population is vaccinated and the vaccine is proven to provide long-term protection. For more information, visit considerations for wearing masks.
Myth: I do not need to get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have already had COVID-19.
Fact: Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have had the COVID-19 disease before. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person.
Myth: I can begin traveling once I receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fact: You cannot immediately start traveling upon receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Host nation and installation guidance will still apply. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
Myth: Vaccines approved through the Emergency Use Authorization are not safe.
Fact: Drugs and vaccines have to be approved by the 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, like COVID-19.
Myth: COVID-19 vaccine will alter your DNA.
Fact: COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and can most easily be described as instructions for how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.
Myth: The potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are too risky.
Fact: Most people will not have serious side effects after being vaccinated. Your arm may be sore, red, or warm to the touch. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. Some people report getting a headache or fever when getting a vaccine. These side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. It is working and building up protection to disease. See more here: What to Expect after a COVID-19 Vaccination
Myth: I don’t need the flu shot if I receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
Fact: The CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading at the same time. That means that getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever. A flu vaccine will not protect you from getting COVID-19, but it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. This can keep you from having a more severe illness.
Q. Is the COVID vaccine safe?
A. Yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration only authorizes the use of a COVID-19 vaccine after careful and rigorous testing and trials. The DoD has full confidence in the stringent regulatory process and requirements of the FDA, as well as the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.
Q. Can someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
A. No, it is not possible to get COVID-19 from vaccines. Vaccines against COVID-19 use inactivated virus, parts of the virus, or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.
Q. How will 52 MDG track personnel who receive a COVID vaccine?
A. The 52 MDG will track COVID vaccine administration through existing medical record reporting systems.
Q. I am a high-risk civilian/retiree who utilizes off-base providers. Can I visit a host nation physician for my vaccine?
A. Members eligible to receive the vaccine from either base or local providers can monitor both and are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Q. Should children get the vaccine?
A. The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends everyone 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19.
Q. If I already had COVID-19, should I still get a vaccine?
A. Yes, because duration of immunity following COVID-19 infection is unknown, and the vaccine may be effective in protecting previously infected people.
Q. Can I take the influenza vaccine at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine?
A. No, a vaccine for different diseases or illnesses (e.g. influenza) should be administered separately from the COVID-19 vaccine, by at least 14 days.
Q. What is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)?
A. 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. In situations 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 emergency use under specific circumstances. Vaccines authorized for emergency use are offered on a voluntary basis.
Q. Will DoD require all service members to receive the vaccine?
A. Not at this time. Currently the vaccine will be offered on a voluntary basis only due to its FDA emergency use authorization. Priority populations are highly encouraged to receive the vaccine. When formally licensed by the FDA, the DoD may require a vaccine for military personnel or personnel in specific fields, as is the case for the influenza vaccine, but that has not been determined at this time.
Q. Will TRICARE beneficiaries including military retirees have access to the vaccine?
A. Yes. TRICARE beneficiaries empaneled at a DoD Military Treatment Facility (MTF) are eligible to receive the vaccine at a DoD MTF. TRICARE beneficiaries who receive care at DoD MTFs on a space-available basis can alternately receive vaccine through their local civilian health care system.
Q. Can U.S. members get the vaccination off base at a local provider or vaccination center?
A. Personnel who receive care at host nation medical facilities are advised to contact their primary health care provider for information about the availability of a vaccination in the local community. For beneficiaries who are enrolled at a Military Medical Treatment Facility (MTF), to the greatest extent possible, they should come to the MTF to be vaccinated.
Q. Will we still need to wear masks and practice physical distancing once a vaccine is available?
A. Yes. The intent of the vaccine is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will still need to wear face covings in some settings, practice physical distancing, and other protective measures to limit the spread of the virus.
Q. Does getting the COVID-19 vaccine allow you to travel and avoid quarantine or other restrictions?
A. In some situations. There are several factors that affect restriction of movement and quarantine (vaccination status, travel destination, U.S.-German-Destination policies, etc.) We encourage you to do your research and engage your chain of command to pinpoint quarantine requirements for your situation.
Q. Why is this a series shot? What changes from the 1st to 2nd dose?
A. The second dose is for the body’s immune system to get a second look at the vaccine protein that resembles the virus. Just like reading material twice for an exam can help you remember, it is the same for our immune system. In order to be fully effective, both doses of the vaccine must be taken as prescribed. The Moderna vaccine requires patients to wait 24-28 days after receiving the first dose before they get the second dose. The period between doses for other varieties of the vaccine may differ.
Q. Individuals are being asked whether or not they have any autoimmune disorders. What autoimmune disorders are cause for concern with the COVID vaccine?
A. Autoimmune disorders should not prevent individuals from receiving the vaccine. If you have concerns, please contact your PCM. We also have providers at the vaccination line to answer specific questions you may have.
Q. Will people with allergies be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
A. The only contraindication would be for those allergic to a component of the vaccine; discuss with your provider if you are concerned about allergies.
Q. What conditions are considered high-risk of COVID-19?
A. The CDC outlines a list of conditions which are considered high-risk on their site here.
If you are receiving the vaccine, please review the following COVID-19 vaccine screening and immunization documentation"
NEW! The 52nd MDG now offers the Janssen vaccine for COVID-19 as a single dose option. For several facts about the vaccine Click Here.
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