On December 11, 2020, the Food and Drug and Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the first COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. Since then, an EUA for a second vaccine was granted, and the CDC accepted recommendations on the rollout from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
“The LHSFNA strongly encourages all LIUNA members to get the vaccine when they are able to,” says LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni. “These vaccines were developed by leading medical and health scientists and are both safe and effective. By getting vaccinated, you protect yourself, your family and friends, your LIUNA brothers and sisters on jobsites and your community.”
With these two vaccines comes many questions about them, and we’ll continue to address these questions and others as the rollout continues. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered below, please contact the Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the approved COVID-19 vaccines?
The two approved COVID-19 vaccines are Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved for people 16 years of age and up. This vaccine consists of two shots given 21 days apart. The Moderna vaccine has been approved for people 18 years of age and up. It consists of two shots given 28 days apart.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Yes. All authorized COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same rigorous procedures and safety tests and met the same standard as vaccines for other diseases. A system called v-safe – an after vaccination health checker – is in place across the U.S. so the CDC can make sure the vaccines stay safe.
How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 95 percent effective and the Moderna vaccine is 94 percent effective at preventing mild and severe symptoms of COVID-19. This effectiveness holds across age, sex and racial and ethnic groups.
How were the COVID-19 vaccines developed so quickly?
There are several reasons that explain the speed at which the COVID-19 vaccines were developed. First, messenger RNA (the technology used in COVID-19 vaccines) enables vaccines to be developed faster. While no phases were skipped during the testing process, some stages were done at the same time. In addition, clinical trials took less time because there were so many people exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and clinical trial participation was high.
What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
In addition to helping protect against infection, the vaccine will help keep you from getting seriously sick if you do get COVID-19. It’s much safer than the natural protection that comes with getting and recovering from COVID-19. This disease can have serious, life-threatening complications and lasting health effects.
Can I transmit COVID-19 to others after I get the vaccine?
Potentially. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, but more research is needed before we can say for certain whether someone who has had the vaccine can still transmit the virus. So while the vaccine is key to helping stop the pandemic and returning our lives to normal, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
No. The vaccines in the U.S. don’t contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, so you can’t get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive on a viral test?
No. The vaccines in the U.S. can’t cause you to test positive. Viral tests only show a current COVID-19 infection.
Do I need to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I already had and recovered from COVID-19?
Yes, you should still get the vaccine. We don’t know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19; re-infection is possible.
When will I be able to get the vaccine?
Vaccine priority depends on a variety of factors like your age, job, health status and state of residence. The vaccine supply is limited right now, with those at the highest risk of getting the virus or becoming seriously ill receiving it first. There are federal guidelines, but the distribution plan is up to each state. New York State and Tennessee are two examples of states with vaccine eligibility tools.
When will construction workers be able to get the vaccine?
CDC recommendations put construction workers in group 1c. Group 1a consists of healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. Group 1b includes frontline workers such as firefighters, police officers, Postal Service workers and grocery store workers, as well as people who are 75 years of age and older. Group 1c includes people in other essential fields, people who are between 65 and 74 years of age and people who are between 16 and 64 with underlying medical conditions. Additional recommendations will be made as vaccine availability increases.
Do I still need to wear a mask and socially distance after I get the vaccine?
Yes. Vaccine availability will be limited at first, and immunizing enough of the population to stop the virus from spreading will take time. The vaccine is one tool in your toolbox to protect you from COVID-19; masks, distancing and hand hygiene are other tools.
What is herd immunity and when will it be reached?
Herd immunity is also called community immunity. This occurs when a large percentage of the people in a geographic area are immune to a specific disease. Herd immunity protects people who can’t get vaccinated, such as infants. It’s estimated that between 70 and 85 percent of the U.S. population will need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
Brighter Days Ahead
We ask you to continue practicing the precautions that we have become so familiar with: wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands. Vaccine approval and rollout marks a turning point in stopping COVID-19 and beginning a return to normalcy. And that is something we can all look forward to.
[Emily Smith is the LHSFNA’s Health Promotion Manager.]