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COVID Vaccine information Session - Frequently Asked Questions

City of Whittlesea has hosted multiple online vaccine information and Q&A sessions to help the community stay safe during these challenging times. Our health experts like Dr Craig Aboltins from Northern Health and registered nurses from the Council have provided the facts to help you make an informed decision about COVID-19 vaccination for you and your family. This page highlights the clinical advise from health professionals to most frequently asked questions for COVID vaccines.

That's the component of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. RNA is a message the body uses to make things, so the mRNA vaccine delivers a message to the body's cells, like a ‘WANTED!' poster. It gives the ability to make a little picture of the coronavirus. It doesn't make the virus, but a picture of the surface of it, so that the body's immune system knows how to recognise it and prevent us from getting the COVID infection. The RNA is the way our body sends messages around.

Working out whether the symptoms are from the vaccine or not depends on a few things. If someone got a headache, felt tired, hot and sweaty – is that went away after a few days, it’s very likely to be from the vaccine. If they got those symptoms as well as a cough and runny nose, that's not something caused by the vaccine. That could be from the flu or from COVID. If you have those symptoms, shortness of breath and so on, we would say go and get tested for COVID.

If someone develops these symptoms a few weeks the vaccine, then it’s very unlikely to be related to the vaccine. Regarding the unusual blood clots – it is very few people we’ve seen who get this - they develop a headache 4 days or a few weeks after, and it's a very noticeable and unusual headache that doesn't go away. We're good at diagnosing this condition and treating it, however.

Whether that's a better interval to increase the chance of the vaccine working, that's going to be studied and we'll have information probably in a few months’ time. Likewise, we’re not sure if it would reduce the chances of the heart inflammation. Just remember that that side effect is very uncommon, maybe in 3 or 4 people out of 100,000 who receive the Pfizer dose. It tends to effect younger men more but pretty much everyone who gets it, gets better within a few days.

Most common types of blood clot that we've seen are those in the legs, called DVT. Sometimes the clots can involve the lungs. People who've had strokes in the past – those can be caused by blood clots too. They happen for very different reasons than what happens with the blood clots caused by AstraZeneca in rare cases. It’s a very different type of blood clot. So you can still safely get both vaccines if you've had one of those blood clots before.

However, the preferred vaccine for a 28-year-old is the Pfizer vaccine. But if the preference is AstraZeneca and it’s available, then it’s a great choice too.

If you've had COVID before or had the vaccine before, you'll have antibodies to the virus. Antibodies don't mean you're completely protected. We can test for it, but it doesn't really help us to tell if you're safe from getting infected again in future.

When you get vaccinated, you're making your body work a bit harder to respond to it, like a bit of exercise or training. Like if you had a mild cold, you might feel the same as after the vaccine, but it’s not actually an infection. It’s your immune system working a bit harder. Everyone's immune system acts differently, some feel tired and some don't.

For those who don't know, herd immunity is where enough people are vaccinated or immune through infection, in the community, so that it stops the virus actually spreading because enough people are protected. With the coronavirus the initial thoughts with original strain were that if we got more than 80% of people vaccinated, we might get herd immunity and not get any outbreaks at all. With the Delta variant it's changed a bit. It will be harder to achieve herd immunity with Delta. However if 90 or 95% can be vaccinated for COVID, it's much less likely we'll have these big outbreaks around Australia.

If we can get to 80% of the population double vaccinated, that's going to reduce the effect on our society and hospitals. If we can get that even higher, to 95%, which is possible because we have that level of uptake of the Measles vaccine, then we are going to see a big reduction in outbreaks of COVID.

Firstly, I don't think people will be absolutely forced to get the vaccine. But the government has chosen to make vaccination a requirement for travel, entry to venues and so on in future. The reason, I think, is the impact of COVID and how dangerous it is. It's much more dangerous than flu and spreads more easily than flu as well, so the government has done this because of the impact on all of us. If people choose to get the vaccine, they want to get back to life. If someone hasn't been vaccinated, they might put everyone else at risk. That's a philosophical debate itself but I think that's why they've chosen that.

The AstraZeneca initial studies were 12 weeks apart. To get us all protected better, because we need 2 doses for full protection against Delta, they shortened to 6 weeks. To get full protection. Later the Pfizer vaccine was studied with a 3-week gap. Then there was shortage of Pfizer so the government decided to get everyone started on their first dose and spread it out to 6 weeks, as they knew more Pfizer was coming in at that 6 month mark. The important thing is – whether having doses at 6, 12 or 3 weeks – it's important to have the 2 doses to get full protection, it doesn't matter so much about the gap.

A group of autoimmune conditions where people are vaccinated and fine. But often people with these conditions take medicines to suppress their immune systems. Also people who have had cancer, their immune systems are lowered as well. But those with really low immune systems won't have as high protection from vaccines as the average person. Which means for them it's even more important to get vaccinated.

In our clinic there has not been even one person who couldn’t get any of the vaccines because of a medical condition. It would take having a severe allergy to all available vaccines and that's a pretty uncommon occurrence.

It's very rare yes, 4 in 100,000 people. Most people might get some discomfort in the centre of the chest, a few days after and it lasts possibly 4 or 5 days. And might feel a bit feverish and unwell. Fortunately, it’s pretty uncommon.

Yes absolutely. Someone with a pacemaker has some heart problems to start with, so it's very important they get a vaccine. It can be AstraZeneca or Pfizer, it doesn't matter.

I don't know. Just today in the news they reported some trials regarding Pfizer vaccination for kids, but it was just the initial study. In Australia we need the full information regarding safety and efficacy before we make a recommendation about that. We've always waited for all the information to come out first before we make a recommendation of who should get vaccinated and which vaccine they should get.

There is no historical data about any vaccine having long-term side effects so potentially same applies to COVID-19 vaccinations. The vaccine only lasts for a day or two in the body of the vaccinated. There are symptoms produced by the body as an immune response to the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccination is a protection against coronavirus. In case, someone contracts the virus after they are fully vaccinated, the chances of transmitting the virus or falling severely ill reduce as compared to when someone is unvaccinated.

Potentially not. However, cats and some animals from commercial settings are described to have COVID-19 but not dogs or birds. Domestic animals have not been reported to contract or spread the virus at widespread scale so they need not to be vaccinated at this stage.

Breathing problem is reported being processed for a longer period in many cases even after recovery.

The vaccine isn’t transferred to the baby of a pregnant woman, it technically stays in the arm where it’s injected and the body’s immune system travels to that arm to do it’s work there, whereas the vaccine itself dissolves quickly. However the antibodies generated as a response to the vaccine can be potentially transferred to the baby and provide protection. This is not yet proven but in case of influenza vaccine, if a pregnant woman gets influenza vaccine, her baby is protected for a year from flu but for COVID-19 vaccines, further research is required.

There are some credible websites that suggest tips to overcome this fear. At vaccination centres like PRACC, the environment is quite friendly and people who have concerns are provided more support like provision of comfy chairs.

It does not make one more sick or more protected from the flu. Some people think that COVID-19 vaccine helps to boost the flu vaccine and vice versa. But both vaccines are separate and needed for immunity, health professionals advise to have one week interval between the flu and the COVID-19 vaccine.

When you get a vaccine, your body’s immune works a bit harder to recognise that vaccine. It’s like an exercise for the body due to which some people may feel tired but it’s not an infection but the body’s immune system working harder.

It’s very unusual for the body to show symptoms later, if it does then it’s the response of the body’s immune system when it recognises the vaccine. However, in most cases the most common symptoms to the vaccine are obvious within the first few days of having the jab.

This hasn’t been studied a lot yet. The advice based on ATAGI’s recommendation in Australia is to get two doses of the same vaccine for complete protection against the virus.

Herd immunity (also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or mass immunity) is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that can occur with some diseases when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through vaccination or previous infections, thereby reducing the likelihood of infection for individuals who lack immunity.

The statistics show that with more people fully vaccinated the spread of the virus obviously decreases, however, with COVID-19 delta variant herd immunity is harder to achieve. If 90-95% people are vaccinated in Australia then the likelihood of having a big outbreak decreases.

Yes, vaccination is to ensure long term protection against coronavirus. Even if your body has developed the antibodies to fight the virus earlier, it will only be effective for a short span of time and it’s recommended to get vaccinated to be fully protected from the virus for longer term. It is also advised that you should only attend your vaccination appointment when you test negative for coronavirus and have no symptoms.

There are some treatments available in the hospitals to try to treat and prevent coronavirus, these are specialized medicines which haven’t been shown to be useful for people who have coronavirus nor to protect people from catching it. But in hospital if someone is very sick, the doctors use one medicine which is an antiviral medicine which they can give through an intravenous infusion and they also have some anti-inflammatory medicines which they give to very sick COVID-19 patients to reduce the inflammation in their lungs. So, there are alternate treatments but they are very specialized and used in hospitals.

The health advise in this case is to get vaccinated as soon as you recover from the infection.

Yes, COVID-19 vaccination increases your immunity against COVID-19, however, you will still need to get tested if you have symptoms.

 

The current vaccinations are 90% effective against the original variant and 80% against the delta variant. With the delta variant, people will need to have two vaccine doses for complete protection against the virus. The scientists are working to develop more vaccines to deal with multiple strains of COVID-19 for future. 

The health advise in this case is to get vaccinated as soon as you recover from your symptoms. So, if you feel that your body is not showing any signs of symptoms then you should make a booking for your vaccination appointment and get vaccinated in a couple of weeks after recovery.