COVID-19 Vaccine Q & A with Jill Lilley, PharmD
Hello, Lea County! I am Jill Lilley, a pharmacist at Lea Regional Medical Center,
and I have been asked quite a few questions about the new COVID-19 vaccines for
the protection against COVID-19. I hope that by sharing the answers to those
questions I may be able to help the people in our community make an informed
decision about the vaccine. You should refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site
(www.cdc.gov) for the most up to date information as this continues to be a rapidly developing topic.
Q: What vaccines are available and how do they differ?
A: The vaccines available are the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. Both
vaccines require two injections, but the Pfizer doses are three weeks apart and the Moderna
doses are four weeks apart. They also have different storage requirements.
Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccines cause me to get sick with COVID-19?
A: No, it is impossible for the approved vaccines to give you the COVID-19 infection. The
vaccine contains the messenger RNA (mRNA) for the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Think of this
mRNA as a delivery man that is passing out an instruction manual that says “Hey! There is this
virus that has a special weapon (the spike protein) that allows it to get into our cells and infect
them.” Our cells read this instruction manual and make antibodies to the spike protein to fight
off the virus. Our cells then throw out the instruction manual (like most people do) once they
know how to make the antibodies. The instruction manual (mRNA vaccine) does not stay with
us or get incorporated into our DNA.
Q: What are the most common side effects of the vaccine?
A: The most common side effects reported are injection site pain and soreness. Other side
effects include: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, and injection site
swelling and/or redness.
If you have an adverse event that is not on the list of known side effects or that is severe, it
should be reported to the VAERS program by calling 1-800-822-7967. Anyone can report to
VAERS including patients, caregivers, or healthcare providers. V-safe is another option for re-
porting any side effects for people who have chosen to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a
smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and surveys to monitor people who have re-
ceived the vaccine. Users will also receive a reminder for their second dose. Reporting is very
important as we are still learning about the effects of the vaccine.
Q: Who should NOT receive the vaccine?
A: People should not receive the vaccine if they are allergic to any of the ingredients of the
vaccine. These ingredients can be found on the fact sheet for the vaccines and are located at
www.cvdvaccine.com. If a person has a severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis to the first dose
of COVID-19 vaccine, then they should not receive the second dose.
Q: How long does it take for the vaccine to give me protection or immunity from the virus?
A: In the Pfizer-BioNtech study,there was a 95% efficacy rate in participants 7 days after the
second dose. In the Moderna trial, there was approximately a 94% efficacy rate in participants
14 days after the second dose. We are still learning how long the immunity from the vaccines
will last and those participants in the study groups will continue to be followed to determine
the length of immunity from the vaccines.
Q: Will the vaccine cause me to test positive for the COVID-19 virus?
A: No, the vaccine will not cause a positive COVID-19 test. However, it can cause a positive
antibody test, depending on the type of antibody test used. The healthcare provider ordering
the antibody test should be notified of the patient’s COVID-19 vaccination status.
Q. Does receiving the vaccine mean masks and social distancing measures are no longer
A: No, even after receiving the vaccine it is recommended to continue to wear your mask and
adhere to safe-distance practices. The vaccines are currently only studied to detect a reduction
in symptomatic COVID-19 disease. We are still unsure about how effective they are against
asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 disease. We will need to rely on herd immunity from
extensive vaccination programs and future data to direct any changes in these measures.