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All Summit Health patients ages 12+ may schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments through the patient portal or by calling their provider’s office. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

COVID-19 VACCINE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Updated April 15, 2021

Please visit this page regularly for updates.

Summit Health is committed to safeguarding the health of our patients and team members and stopping the spread of COVID-19. Vaccination is an important step in this process and likely our best hope for ending this pandemic.

GENERAL VACCINE INFORMATION

A vaccine provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease – meaning it helps your immune system fight viruses or bacteria. When most people in a community are vaccinated against a disease, the ability for the disease to spread is limited. This is known as herd immunity.

There are hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines in development, but all are designed with the same objective - to trigger the immune systems response of antibodies against the virus.

VACCINE USE AUTHORIZATION

The FDA has given three vaccines Emergency Use Authorization for administration to eligible persons. This authorization is based on extensive evidence from clinical trials showing both effectiveness and safety of the vaccines. The three vaccines that have received authorization are made by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. On April 13, the CDC and FDA recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. Of the nearly seven million doses administered so far in the U.S., a small number of cases of a rare and severe blood clot have been reported. Learn more on the CDC page.

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is quick facilitation during a public health emergency. For an EUA to be issued for a vaccine, the FDA must determine that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine. Two vaccines are currently available (Pfizer, Moderna)and authorized for emergency use. On April 13, the CDC and FDA recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. Of the nearly seven million doses administered so far in the U.S., a small number of cases of a rare and severe blood clot have been reported. Learn more on the CDC page.

Summit Health is administering the Moderna and/or Pfizer BioTech vaccine based on weekly allotments from the state. Both vaccines have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.

VACCINE, ELIGIBILITY AND DISTRIBUTION

The New Jersey Department of Health is rolling out COVID-19 vaccines step-by-step to serve all adults who live, work, or study in the state. For the most up to date information and additional details on who is included in each of the categories below, please visit the NJ COVID-19 vaccine eligibility website.

Beginning Monday, April 19, COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available for individuals aged 16 and older who are established Summit Health patients. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Eligible Summit Health patients can book online at our Patient Portal.

Please note: There are other vaccination location options people can consider, including state and local vaccine sites and retail pharmacies listed on the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub. Many larger sites receive far more vaccine doses than Summit Health does.

Beginning Monday, April 19, COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available for individuals aged 16 and older who are established Summit Health patients. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Eligible Summit Health patients can book online at our Patient Portal.

To maximize your chances of receiving the vaccine, we encourage you to consider other vaccination location options and sign up on the various registries available.

Summit Health does not have a waitlist for the vaccine.

 

Beginning Monday, April 19, COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available for individuals aged 16 and older who are established Summit Health patients. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Eligible Summit Health patients can book online at our Patient Portal.

 

To maximize your chances of receiving the vaccine, we encourage you to consider other vaccination location options and sign up on the various registries available.

First and second dose appointments are scheduled together. You should have received an email confirmation and portal notification with your scheduled dates and times. If you have not, please reach out to your provider so they can confirm the appointment. If you received your first dose outside of Summit Health, state protocols require you to go to the same site for the second vaccination. 

Our Florham Park Urgent Care located at 140 Park Avenue in Florham Park has been converted to a COVID-19 vaccine center. Regular urgent care services are not being offered at this location until further notice. 

We recommend that you register on the state portal as well as the various other sites that are offering appointments. Beginning Monday, April 19, COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available for individuals aged 16 and older who are established Summit Health patients. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Eligible Summit Health patients can book online at our Patient Portal.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccine each require two doses. The second Moderna dose is administered 28 days after the first. The second Pfizer dose is administered 21 days after the first.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.  At this time, Summit Health is not receiving any Johnson & Johnson vaccines. On April 13, the CDC and FDA recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more on the CDC page.

Each appointment will take approximately 35-45 minutes, including:

  • registration and review of pre-vaccination information
  • vaccine administration
  • 15-minute observation period after receiving the vaccine.

 Please bring a government issued ID such as a driver’s license and your insurance card.

Yes, you will receive an Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet developed by the CDC, and documentation of receipt of vaccination. In addition, you will receive a reminder card for your second vaccine appointment.

In keeping with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, no patient will be charged for the vaccine or its administration. The federal government will provide the vaccine itself, and the health care providers who administer the vaccine will be reimbursed by the patient's insurance. You will still need to present your insurance card at your appointments.

Many people do develop a sore arm, muscle aches and/or fevers, especially after the second dose. OTC Fever reducing and pain relieving medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be taken for the treatment of post-vaccination symptoms, if medically appropriate.

Since these vaccines are new, we do not know the impact of using OTC pain relievers before vaccination. Therefore, preventive use of these medications prior to vaccination is NOT currently recommended. 

SAFETY AND EFFECTIVENESS

The Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines currently available at Summit Health are mRNA vaccines. These  vaccines use a piece of genetic material from the virus called messenger RNA (mRNA), surrounded by a protective lipid (oily) shell. When the vaccine is injected into the muscle, it gives the muscle cells instructions on how to make a harmless piece of the s-protein, a spike-like structure found on the surface of coronaviruses. Your body’s immune system will recognize that the spike protein doesn't belong, and it will begin building an immune response by making antibodies. 

Shortly after the mRNA has done its job the body will rapidly degrade the proteins and the lipid shell so there are no vaccine components that remain in your body.

In the future, if your body is exposed to the COVID-19 virus, these antibodies will quickly attack and kill the virus. The vaccines do not use live virus organisms and cannot cause COVID-19.

Testing for antibodies is not recommended after vaccination.

No. Because there are no virus particles in the vaccine, it cannot cause infection in your body.

All vaccines must be proven safe and effective in large (phase III) clinical trials designed to identify side effects or other safety concerns before being approved for use. Vaccines must also undergo a series of independent reviews for safety and efficacy. After any vaccine is introduced to the public, health officials closely monitor for any safety concerns. In extensive studies thus far, the currently available COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) have been found to be safe and highly effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19—and there have been no major safety concerns. Scientists and medical professionals around the world who have reviewed the evidence support vaccination of all eligible people.

The two mRNA vaccines available at Summit Health are more than 90% effective. Studies show that individuals start to develop antibodies about one week after receiving the vaccination. One week after the first dose, you will have a somewhat reduced risk, and two weeks after the second vaccine, the risk is reduced by more than 90%. Since these are new vaccines, we don’t know how long immunity will last. From current evidence, immunity is likely to last longer than if you get antibodies from infection. We will know in a few months if this will be a seasonal vaccine.

While some new strains of the virus are more contagious, current evidence suggests that getting the vaccine will still protect you from those new strains. In addition to getting the vaccine, you should continue wearing your mask around people who are not members of your household, as well as washing your hands and practicing proper social distancing.

The vaccines contain no preservatives.

Some recipients did report side effects, usually fever and aches lasting a day or two. Side effects were generally worse after the second dose of the two-dose regimen. Side effects were also more common among persons between 18 and 55 years of age than in those over the age of 55.

You can learn more about the clinical trials here.

Breast Imaging

Vaccines can cause normal reactive enlargement of lymph nodes on the side of the injection. This can be interpreted as an abnormality on the screening mammogram or sonogram and cause the patient to have to return for additional imaging and/or follow up exams.

Timing of Breast Imaging Before and After COVID-19 Vaccination

To reduce the need for avoidable follow-up exams, our breast imaging experts are recommending the following:

  • Schedule routine screening mammograms and screening ultrasounds either:
    • Before the first dose of the vaccine or
    • 4 weeks after the second dose of the vaccine
  • Let imaging staff know about recent COVID vaccine date and side of injection.

Of course, breast imaging should not be delayed in anyone who has symptoms or when it may negatively impact their outcome. 

If you are already overdue for your screening exam or cannot reschedule within the next few months, you should keep your screening mammogram appointment and keep your COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Summit Health is working with our breast imaging, marketing, and legal teams to develop information for patients. A questionnaire will be handed to patients before imaging to identify those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Reference: Society of Breast Imaging: Screening Mammography Recommendations for Women Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine

Bell’s palsy is a temporary one-sided facial weakness thought to be caused by inflammation of a nerve in the face. It most commonly occurs after viral infections and resolves in a few weeks in almost all patients.

Three participants who received the vaccine did have Bell’s palsy, but given the size of the population, this is not an unusual number and FDA experts believe it was not likely to be related to the vaccine. The FDA does not exclude people with a history of Bell’s palsy from getting the vaccine.

Given what we know now, the theoretical risks of the new vaccine are by far outweighed by the potential benefits. If you are worried about a possible allergic reaction, we recommend you speak to your health care provider before scheduling your vaccination. Additionally, it would be reasonable to remain at the medical facility where the vaccine is administered for 30 minutes (as opposed to the standard 15) after getting vaccinated. Serious allergic reactions almost always occur within the first 30 minutes. 

Yes. Firstly, you do not gain full effects of the vaccine until about one week after the second vaccine dose, so you must practice all safe habits to protect yourself.

Secondly, we know that getting vaccinate protects you from getting sick. However, the evidence around possibly contracting an asymptomatic infection is not as strong, and therefore we must continue to protect others by abiding by all recommended precautions.

For these reasons, please continue safe habits such as masking at all times around others, avoiding large social gatherings, and practicing distancing.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS, IMMUNE SYSTEM & CIRCUMSTANTIAL INFORMATION

You should weigh the risks of your medical condition with the benefits of reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19. People with conditions that impact the immune system, or who take immunosuppressive medications, are likely to be at increased risk for severe COVID-19. While current data has not specifically addressed this population, the CDC recommends that these individuals may still receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It is possible that these individuals may have a reduced immune response, but still gain some protection. It is best to discuss with your health care provider to make an informed decision. For persons at increased risk for contracting the infection due to their occupation or those who are at increased risk for severe disease, the benefits of the vaccine may outweigh any potential downside.

In early clinical trials for various COVID-19 vaccines, only non-pregnant adults participated. However, clinical trials continue to expand those recruited to participate. Based on data from the expanded clinical trials, groups recommended to receive the vaccines could change in the future. As of now, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is recommended that you discuss the benefits and potential unknown risks of vaccination with your health care provider to determine what’s best for you and your baby. More information will be available from the vaccine manufacturers. Learn more on the CDC page.

There is a lot of vaccine misinformation on the internet and on social media, so we encourage you to use reliable sources such as CDC.gov when learning about the vaccine. There is a false rumor that the antibody produced by the vaccine to fight COVID-19 infection can impact the placenta in the womb. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that the antibody has an impact on fertility, pregnancy, or the ability for the fetus to grow in the womb. 

We know that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Black, Latinx, Native Americans, and other minority communities. Vaccine trials have made active efforts to include people of all races and ethnicities for testing of safety and effectiveness. Efficacy has been consistent across race, ethnicity, and gender demographics.  Given that Black and Latinx people are at higher risk for severe COVID-19, the benefits may be even greater.

You can still receive the vaccine if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking a blood thinner. It does not exclude you from receiving the vaccine. The vaccine is not associated with serious bleeding risk. It is possible that you experience light bruising and/or light bleeding at the injection site which is a common side effect with any vaccine and generally resolves the same day.

Chronic medical conditions can place people at increased risk for severe COVID-19, compared to individuals without these conditions. Clinical trials have demonstrated similar safety and effectiveness in people with underlying medical conditions.

The risk of allergic reactions to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine are approximately the same as for other vaccines such as the flu shot. The CDC does not disqualify people with a history of allergies to food, medications, pollen, stings, or other substances from getting the vaccine. If you have a history of allergies to specific foods or medications, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the vaccine with your health care provider. Based on your risk factors for developing severe disease if you contract COVID-19, you and your provider can decide whether you should take the vaccine now or wait a little longer.

The FDA has noted only two populations who should not receive the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine:

  • Those who have had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine.
  • Those who have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of this vaccine.

If you are not feeling well, it is recommended that you wait until you are feeling better to get the vaccine. If you have scheduled an appointment to receive the vaccine and are not feeling well on the day of vaccination, it is best to reschedule your appointment. If you have symptoms and/or signs of respiratory infection, evaluation is recommended.

No, the COVID-19 vaccine does not take the place of the pneumonia vaccine or the flu vaccine. We strongly recommend a flu shot for all employees if you have not had one yet. Also discuss whether you need a pneumonia vaccination with your health care provider.

No other vaccine should be taken for 14 days before or after the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Studies in children are ongoing. At this point, the Pfizer vaccine is approved for persons 16 years of age or older. The Moderna vaccine is approved for persons 18 years of age or older.  

PREVIOUS INFECTION AND ANTIBODIES

People who have had the infection or positive antibodies can still get the vaccine. Results of antibody testing should not be used for the purpose of vaccine decision-making, and the CDC does not recommend testing for infection before vaccination. Individuals with documented acute infection in the preceding 90 days can get the vaccine if their symptoms have resolved and they have completed their isolation period.  Since reinfection seems to be uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection, individuals may defer vaccination until the end of this period, if desired.

For now, it is recommended that if you have received monoclonal antibody or plasma for treatment of COVID-19, you should wait 90 days before receiving the vaccine. This recommendation is based on known half-life (how long antibodies last in the body after they are infused though an IV) of such treatments. It is likely that if you received these, you have some protection for three months and the delay will help ensure the vaccine leads to a strong immune response.

This is not a live vaccine so there is no risk of viral shedding, which is when a virus replicates inside your body. You do not need to practice any special infection control processes after vaccination. However, you should continue to practice all the usual safety guidelines, including wearing a mask and social distancing.

Infection control protocols will likely continue throughout the country until a significant portion of the population has been vaccinated (70%+). We may be wearing masks and distancing for a large portion of 2021.

Whether vaccinated or not, everyone should still be following CDC guidelines which include:

  • Staying home if not feeling well
  • Washing hands frequently
  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Wearing a mask
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing

COVID-19 TESTING

Asymptomatic patients who have an established Summit Health provider may call (908) 273-4300 M-F between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. to schedule an appointment to be tested. If you need assistance on the weekend, our Nurse Triage Line (option 1) will be available for scheduling.

Asymptomatic patients who do not have an established Summit Health  provider may go to one of our CityMD sites for evaluation and testing.

Please note: If you have had close contact with a known COVID-19 positive person:

  • It takes time after exposure to turn positive. Getting a test within the first few days of exposure is of limited value as it takes time for the test to convert.
  • Anyone who has had close contact should isolate in their home for 14 days per the New Jersey Department of Health even if their test is negative.
  • Other NJ Testing Options

 

To learn more about the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccination,
visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.