COVID-19 VACCINE INFORMATION
The COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses add a layer of protection against the COVID-19 virus. Transylvania Public Health is working to provide accurate, fact-based information about the vaccine as quickly as we can to help you make the decisions that are right for you and your family. If you have further questions or concerns, please call 828-884-3135. For more information, visit the CDC COVID-19 Vaccines page or the NCDHHS COVID-19 Vaccine Information page.
The CDC recommends the updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccine that protects against more variants of the virus for everyone ages 6 months and older. People ages 6 years and older who have already received a bivalent mRNA vaccine do not need to take any immediate action, unless they are 65 years or older or immunocompromised.
The FDA has amended its emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines to use the bivalent versions (original and omicron BA.4/BA.5 strains) for all doses for people 6 months and older, including as an additional dose or doses for certain populations. As of April 18, 2023, the original monovalent Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are no longer recommended or authorized for use in the U.S.
- Most people who have already received a single dose of the bivalent vaccine are not currently eligible for another dose.
- People ages 65 and older who received a single dose of a bivalent vaccine (in addition to any number of monovalent doses) may receive one additional dose of a bivalent vaccine, at least 4 months after their first bivalent dose.
- Most immunocompromised people who have received a bivalent vaccine may receive one additional dose of a bivalent vaccine, at least 2 months after their last bivalent dose. Additional doses may be administered at the discretion of their healthcare provider, in intervals to be determined by their healthcare provider. (For immunocompromised people ages 6 months through 4 years, eligibility for additional doses depends on the vaccine previously received.
- Most people who received doses of a monovalent COVID-19 vaccine and who have not yet received a dose of the bivalent vaccine may receive a single dose of bivalent vaccine from either manufacturer.
- Children ages 6 months to 5 years who received 1, 2, or 3 doses of a monovalent vaccine may receive a bivalent vaccine, but the number of doses will depend on the vaccine manufacturer and their vaccination history
- Most unvaccinated individuals may receive a single dose of either bivalent vaccine, rather than multiple doses of the original monovalent mRNA vaccines.
- Unvaccinated children ages 6 months through 5 years may receive a 2-dose series of the Moderna bivalent vaccine or a 3-dose series of the Pfizer bivalent vaccine (for ages 6 months through 4 years).
- Unvaccinated children ages 5 years or older may receive 2 doses of the Moderna bivalent vaccine or a single dose of the Pfizer bivalent vaccine.
The FDA intends to make decisions about future vaccinations after receiving recommendations on the fall strain at an advisory meeting in June.
Vaccination is the best protection against severe illness and death from COVID-19. People who have been vaccinated are also less likely to get COVID-19 and less likely to develop symptoms, especially if they have received a booster dose. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe to take at the same time as other vaccines, including the annual flu shot. Parents should talk with a health care provider to make sure their child is up to date on all recommended vaccines, including COVID-19.
Transylvania Public Health is offering all COVID-19 vaccines by appointment. Appointments for COVID-19 vaccines can be made by calling 828-884-4007. People who have received previous doses of any COVID-19 vaccines should bring their previous vaccination card(s) if available.
More information about COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC:
- Vaccines for COVID-19
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens
- COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised People
People with questions about COVID-19 symptoms, testing, guidance, or vaccines can call 884-4007 during the health department’s normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm).
ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINES
COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness.
Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection. But with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future. It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection. Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal signs the body is building immunity.
People who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses have lower risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 than people who are unvaccinated or who have only received the primary series. Updated COVID-19 boosters can help restore protection that has decreased since previous vaccination. The mRNA bivalent boosters combine the original vaccine with ones that target the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants to offer better protection against COVID-19 infection with newer variants.
CDC will continue to provide updates and new recommendations as we learn more.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What’s the difference between the vaccines? Currently, there are three main types of COVID-19 vaccines that are approved or authorized for use in the United States: mRNA, viral vector, and protein subunit. Each type of vaccine prompts our bodies to recognize and help protect us from the virus that causes COVID-19.
- mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna): These vaccines use mRNA created in a laboratory to teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. The mRNA from the vaccines is broken down within a few days after vaccination and discarded from the body. Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades, for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) and in cancer research that uses mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells. Click here for more information about the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines.
- Protein subunit vaccines (Novavax): Protein-based vaccine technology that has been used for more than 30 years to prevent diseases such as shingles, hepatitis B, influenza, and whooping cough. Protein subunit vaccines contain pieces (proteins) of the virus that causes COVID-19. These virus pieces are the spike protein. The vaccine also contains another ingredient called an adjuvant that helps the immune system respond to that spike protein in the future. Once the immune system knows how to respond to the spike protein, the immune system will be able to respond quickly to the actual virus spike protein and protect you against COVID-19. Click here for more information about the Novavax vaccine.
- Viral vector vaccines (Johnson & Johnson under its Janssen Pharmaceuticals Company label): These vaccines use a harmless, modified version of a different virus (a vector virus), and not the virus that causes COVID-19. The vector virus delivers important instructions to our cells on how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Viral vector vaccines have been studied for decades for Ebola, Zika, flu, and HIV; they have also been studied for gene therapy, to treat cancer, and for molecular biology research. The mRNA and Novavax vaccines are preferred in most circumstances due to the risk of serious adverse events, but the J&J COVID-19 vaccine may be considered in some situations. Click here for more information about the J&J Janssen vaccine.
Tested, safe, and effective. While COVID-19 vaccines were developed rapidly, all steps have been taken to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Bringing a new vaccine to the public involves many steps including vaccine development, clinical trials, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization or approval, and development and approval of vaccine recommendations through the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC. The COVID-19 vaccines had to pass three phases of clinical trials like other drugs and vaccines before receiving FDA authorization. This includes testing the vaccines in volunteers to see if they are safe and if they work to prevent COVID-19 illness. As vaccines are distributed outside of clinical trials, monitoring systems are used to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe. More information.
Scientists had a head start. The COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly because they are built on decades of research on vaccines for similar viruses. A big investment of resources and focus made sure they were created without skipping any steps in development, testing, or clinical trials. More information.
No serious side effects were reported in clinical trials. Temporary reactions after receiving the vaccine may include a sore arm, headache, feeling tired and achy for a day or two or, in some cases, fever. In most cases, these reactions are good signs that your body is building protection. Like all drugs, vaccines continue to be closely monitored after they are approved for use and healthcare providers are required to report serious side effects. The CDC and FDA have been monitoring rare cases of allergic reactions, blood clots, myocarditis, and Guillain-Barre Syndrome among people who were vaccinated, but have determined the extremely low risk of one of these severe adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination is still lower than the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection among people who remain unvaccinated. More information.
You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. Since the vaccines do not use any live virus, they cannot cause infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 or other viruses. They cannot make you sick with COVID-19 or cause you to “shed” the virus. COVID-19 vaccines 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 signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. More information.
The vaccines do not affect or interact with our DNA. These vaccines do not enter the nucleus of the cell where our DNA (genetic material) is located, so it cannot change or influence our genes.
The vaccine does not affect fertility. There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone, including people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners. Vaccination for those who are pregnant or wanting to become pregnant is recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology. The CDC issued an urgent health advisory on September 29, 2021, urging vaccination for people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might be pregnant in the future. More information.
People who have had COVID-19 still need to be vaccinated. People who have recovered from a past COVID-19 infection do have some protection against getting COVID-19 again but we don’t know how long that protection lasts or if your body responded well enough to create natural immunity. The currently circulating Omicron variants are particularly good at evading immunity from previous infections. Vaccination after infection — including booster doses — can provide stronger protection against future infections and may better protect you against certain variants of the COVID-19 virus. However, if you currently have COVID-19, you should wait to get a vaccine until you are no longer infectious to others (to protect those giving the vaccine) and your symptoms have completely resolved. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. More information.
Vaccines are available from many providers. COVID-19 vaccines were first available in hospitals, local health departments, and long-term care facilities, and then in a variety of settings like clinics, pharmacies, and vaccination events in prioritized settings and in the community. Resources are available if you need to be vaccinated at home, or if you need a ride to a vaccination provider. COVID-19 vaccines are currently free to everyone, whether or not you have health insurance. No government ID is required and everyone can be vaccinated, regardless of immigration status. Some providers may ask for information to verify who you are, where you live, or what health insurance you have, but providers should not withhold vaccinations because you cannot present identification. Find out where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.