Healthy Living: COVID-19 vaccine frequently asked questions

As distribution begins for both the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines, Oregon Medical Group is one of many healthcare organizations working to educate patients and inspire confidence.

Posted: Dec 23, 2020 2:16 PM

EUGENE, Ore.-- As distribution begins for both the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines, Oregon Medical Group is one of many healthcare organizations working to educate patients and inspire confidence.

Clinical pharmacist Natalie Gillespie is working to collect and answer frequently asked questions from patients and providers.

"The first couple of days we had over 20 questions, so people are using that forum and are interested," she said. "There's a lot of excitement. Some hesitancy, but we can work through some of those concerns."

Gillespie shared some of the top questions she has received.

Are allergic reactions common?

According to Gillespie, a high percentage of vaccine recipients report experiencing simple redness or pain at the injection site, which is normal.

"We like to say that it kind of shows that it's working. Your body is building that immune response," she said.

Other reactions like headaches or muscle aches are also normal but are being reported less commonly.

If I have severe allergies, should I take the COVID-19 vaccine?

There have been some reports of anaphylaxis in recipients of the Pfizer vaccine who have a history of severe allergic reactions. Gillespie said that there were no instances of anaphylaxis during clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine.

While some countries have begun telling highly allergic patients to not take the vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration recommends they still get the shot, but with increased supervision.

"Most patients we will monitor for 15 minutes after the vaccine. For patients with a history of allergy, we will increase the monitoring to 30 minutes," said Gillespie.

Does the vaccine contain preservatives or latex?

"Any time we have vaccines, there are always quite a few questions about, 'Does it have latex? I have a latex allergy. Does it contain preservatives?'" Gillespie said.

Though some vaccine misinformation points to preservatives as worrisome ingredients in shots, the CDC says preservatives are sometimes used in vaccines to prevent contamination and are safe and effective.

Regardless, neither COVID-19 vaccine contains preservatives. The vaccine and the vial stoppers do not contain latex.

Can I catch up on age-appropriate vaccines when I get the COVID-19 shot?

During the pandemic, some people have delayed receiving age-appropriate vaccinations out of coronavirus-related fears, and see getting the COVID-19 vaccine as a chance to catch up. 

According to Gillespie, the COVID-19 vaccine should be taken alone and not within 14 days of a different shot.

"They can't be given the same day just because we don't have enough data yet," she said.

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