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Published: March, 2021; Vol 17, Num 11

 

Answering More of Your Questions About COVID-19 and COVID-19 Vaccines

Last month, we answered several of your COVID-19 vaccine questions. This month we’re back with more answers to common questions that you may have about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered below, please contact the Fund at lifelines@lhsfna.org.

What do I need to know about the new SARS-CoV-2 variants and mutations?

Many variants and mutations of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in the U.S. and globally. These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. This could lead to more cases of COVID-19. Studies suggest currently approved COVID-19 vaccines may be effective against these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.

What can I do to protect myself from the variants and mutations?

These variants and mutations spread the same way as the previous strain of COVID-19, so the best way to protect yourself is to continue wearing a facial covering, practicing physical distancing and hygiene practices like frequent handwashing. Along with testing and quarantining and isolating when appropriate, you can also get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to you.

What can I do to make sure my mask is protecting me?

Additional recommendations and finetuning have been made to the original guidance of “wear a mask.” Here are two important ways to make sure your mask works the best it can:

  1. Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask.
  2. Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets from getting inside your mask or escaping your mask if you are sick.

What can I do to make my mask fit better?

Look for a mask with a nose wire – a metal strip along the top of the mask that helps it stay in place and keeps it from sliding down your face. Nose wires can also help people who wear glasses by reducing lens fogging. The nose wires help prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask. Once the mask is on your face, bend the wire over your nose.

You could also use a mask fitter or brace. This item should be used over a surgical mask or cloth mask to reduce air leaking around the edges of the mask. Another option is to knot and tuck the ear loops. Here is a video that shows how it’s done.

Should I wear two masks?

Wearing two masks will provide better protection than just wearing one. Researchers say wearing a surgical mask and cloth mask provides maximal protection. If you decide to wear two masks, layer a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask; do not combine two surgical masks. Disposable masks such as surgical masks are not designed to fit tightly, so wearing more than one won’t improve the fit.

How do mRNA vaccines work?

MRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside the body. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters the body.

Will the mRNA vaccines used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines change my genes?

No, mRNA vaccines developed to protect against COVID-19 do not change your genes. The mRNA only lasts for a few days at most before your body destroys it.

How long does it take for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to provide immunity from the virus?

The Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine are 95 percent effective and 94 percent effective, respectively. This table summarizes the effectiveness of the two vaccines:

Manufacturer

Timing of Second Dose

Estimated Efficacy Between Dose 1 and 2

Efficacy After Second Dose

Pfizer-BioNTech

21 days after first dose

53%

95%, seven days after the second dose

Moderna

28 days after first dose

70%

94%, 14 days after the second dose

How effective is the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

 

At least 14 days after vaccination

At least 28 days after vaccination

Preventing moderate to severe/critical COVID-19

67%

66%

Preventing severe/critical COVID-19 symptoms

77%

85%

Wearing a properly fitted mask will protect you from the five to six percent chance of getting the virus after vaccination, protect you from spreading the virus and protect you from the variants of the virus. We’re all in this together, so do it for yourself and your community!

[Emily Smith is the LHSFNA’s Health Promotion Manager.]