Thank you for all your great questions about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines. I will use this blog to answer the top questions from those yet to be vaccinated and those who have received both doses of their vaccine. Get ready for solid information and lots of web links.
Key Points About Authorized COVID-19 Vaccines
All three authorized COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer & J&J) are effective in significantly reducing the risks of severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalizations, and death. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) does not state a preference for any of the three authorized vaccines. Physicians should recommend that patients receive the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine that is available to them. We are advising patients that the best vaccine is the one going into your arm.
Phase III clinical trial data from Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines should not be used to compare effectiveness of the vaccines for these reasons:
- Trials were held at different times, with different background incidence of COVID-19.
- Trials were held in different countries with different circulating variants.
- Trials were not designed or conducted to compare COVID-19 vaccines head-to-head.
For People Who Are Fully Vaccinated
People are considered fully vaccinated: 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer, Moderna) or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine (J&J)
The CDC published guidance for individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As of April 2, 2021, this guidance includes:
- You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
- You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
- If you travel within the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
- You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States. You do not need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it. You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States. You should still get tested 5 days after international travel. You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
Finally, I have two audiovisual resources for you.
This is an excellent podcast that explains the science and challenges that exist between today and the end of the pandemic. Listening to this podcast is 30 minutes well spent. Click here to listen.
And this is a YouTube video that explains why it is not possible to compare the effectiveness rates of the 3 vaccines approved in the U.S. It is only 7 minutes long and does an excellent job discussing the science of vaccines. Click here to watch.