From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Some common questions and answers about COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death. And now that the Delta variant is causing a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, those of you who are not vaccinated yet may have more questions about the vaccines.

Here are some common questions about the vaccines that may help in your decision-making. If you have more questions, I urge you to discuss them with a healthcare provider. The information below has been compiled from trusted sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and DHW subject matter experts, and they reflect some of the things I’m hearing on social media or in my community.

I hope you’ll consider the information below because it’s more important than ever to choose to get the vaccine. It is your best protection against this wily virus.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines experimental?

While the vaccines are still under investigation, an incredible amount of data has been submitted to FDA which is expected to result in full licensure in the coming months. In the meanwhile, the FDA has given the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines emergency use authorizations (EUA), which makes needed medications and vaccinations available during public health emergencies.

An EUA does not mean vaccine safety has been compromised. The same development processes are followed, including research, clinical studies, and the analysis of side effects and adverse reactions. Instead, it speeds up manufacturing and administrative processes so it is available more quickly and can potentially save lives.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for adolescents ages 12-15?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to more than 1,000 adolescents during clinical trials, and now there is growing experience and data from vaccinations that have been administered after the EUA was granted by the FDA. None of the adolescents in the phase 3 clinical trials had severe reactions to the vaccine. Of those in the trial who received the vaccine, none of them contracted COVID-19, while 18 in the placebo group contracted COVID-19.

Since 12-15-year-olds have been eligible for the vaccine, 22,640 have received at least one dose of vaccine in Idaho, and 16,973 are fully vaccinated. In the nation, 4,337,780 are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

While there have been adverse events reported in all age groups, serious adverse events are very rare, and the health benefits seen in reduced illness and hospitalization remain, including among adolescents.

What are the most likely side effects for adolescents?

For those who experience side effects from the vaccine, the most common ones among adolescents were similar to those for older adolescents and adults: sore arm at the injection site, swollen lymph nodes, headache, chills, mild fever, and fatigue. Over-the-counter pain medications can be given to adolescents after their vaccine to alleviate these symptoms if they experience side effects

What about if I have health conditions? Is the vaccine safe for me?

Many people with underlying health conditions are at increased risk of landing in the hospital if they do get COVID-19, so it’s really important to consider vaccination. Most people with underlying conditions may be safely given vaccine. More information is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/underlying-conditions.html.

Can COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility in men or women?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest the vaccine causes infertility.

Infertility is not known to occur from natural COVID-19 infection, further indicating that immune responses to the virus, whether by infection or a vaccine, are not a cause of infertility. One recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no evidence that vaccination reduced or impacted sperm counts among vaccinated men.

As always, we recommend you talk with your trusted healthcare provider to get more information if you have questions about your health, and the risks and benefits to you.

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