We’ve heard a lot about the potential of a COVID-19 vaccine in the news lately. As we wait for updates on the reality of what a vaccine may look like, we understand you may have a lot of questions. Columbus Regional experts are keeping up with the latest information about the vaccine. These experts include infectious disease and vaccine experts, teammates from community health and more. Here, they review how safe and effective the approved vaccines are, and make recommendations to keep our patients and the communities we serve safe.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine from Christine Turley, MD, vice-chair of research at Atrium Health Levine Children’s and principal investigator of the STRIVE Vaccine Research Program by reading these frequently asked questions.
1. What do we know about COVID-19 vaccines? There are currently 135 COVID-19 vaccines being studied in clinical trials worldwide. At the moment, two are close to being ready to be approved.
Vaccine trials study how patients are affected by the vaccine. Experts then compare that information with patients who get a placebo (medicine that won’t affect the patient). This will help prove the vaccine is effective and will work.
|COVID-19 Vaccine Trials|
|What is it? Experts test and compare patients who get a vaccine or a placebo
Why? To see if it is it safe and effective
|Both sets of patients are tested for:
Experts check to see if patients get sick or have reactions from the vaccine. They compare this to patients who get the placebo.
Questions like these are studied:
The answers to these questions help experts see if the vaccine is safe.
|How are vaccines made available to the public?|
|Ongoing vaccine trials||
|Vaccines available via FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)||
|Recommended and approved vaccines||
2. Is Columbus Regional planning to give the COVID-19 vaccine to teammates and patients?
Experts across Columbus Regional are still studying and reviewing information on the vaccine. They want to make sure giving vaccines to our teammates and patients is the right thing to do.
3. Is a COVID-19 vaccine necessary?
The best way to prevent infection for our teammates and patients is to find an effective vaccine for the virus. At the same time, we promote COVID-Safe Behaviors like social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks.
4. Is a COVID-19 vaccine safe?
For a vaccine to be approved, it must work in a lot of people and must be safe to use. Normally, vaccine trials take a long time. While this vaccine trial is shorter than most, experts are still making sure it will work and be safe. The FDA considers a vaccine effective if it can lower the number of infections by at least half in those who get the vaccine.
5. How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
Many different COVID-19 vaccines are in different stages of development. To receive EUA (Emergency Use Authorization), companies must show the vaccine can lower infections by at least 50 percent. This means that if there are 100 people infected by the disease per day, the vaccine should lower that to 50 per day. It is likely the vaccines will work in a different way in different types of people. This is why testing a diverse group of people is essential to the success of a vaccine. Columbus Regional is committed to creating a vaccine registry with representatives across all communities, populations and ethnicities in the footprint we serve, to ensure that everyone has an equal chance of receiving an effective vaccine.
6. How will Columbus Regional decide who gets the vaccine?
Once a vaccine is released, each state will at first be given a limited supply. Columbus Regional has been asked by North Carolina to decide who should get the vaccine first based on national and state guidance. While we strongly recommend teammates to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Columbus Regional is not making the vaccine mandatory at this time. However, it could be in the future as more information on the vaccine becomes available.
|Who gets the vaccine?|
7. How many doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?
The first COVID-19 vaccine being made available is expected to be taken in 2 doses. This is per manufacturer.
8. How long before a COVID-19 vaccine takes effect?
Researchers are hoping people will start to have immunity to COVID-19 1 to 2 weeks after the second vaccination.
9. Will the COVID-19 vaccine need to be given every year?
It is likely the COVID-19 vaccine will be given every year (like the flu vaccine). However, we’re still studying this to better understand it before making a decision.
10. If someone had COVID-19, do they need to get the vaccine?
Some people do not have antibodies to fight the disease even after testing positive for COVID-19. There is still a lot to learn about this disease. Positive COVID-19 antibodies do not mean you are totally immune. To develop immunity (or protection) against a virus, you need the antibodies to fight the infection. A vaccine, like the flu shot, helps you to build that immunity.
11. If I get the COVID-19 vaccine, can I stop wearing my mask ?
For now, people are mandated by their respective governor to wear a mask while in public. Even those who get a vaccine will still need to wear a mask.
12. How much will the vaccine cost?
Just like the flu vaccine, there will not be a cost for Columbus Regional teammates to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As for the general public, this information has not been determined.
13. Will I have to get the flu vaccine AND the COVID-19 vaccine?
The flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine are for different viruses. In the future, people may have to get both vaccines every year. A recommedation has not been made yet. Once we know more about the COVID-19 vaccine, we will share more information.