COVID-19 vaccines: What you need to know

According to the state Jan. 13, 59,723 Hoosiers between 70 and 79 had signed up to be vaccinated.
According to the state Jan. 13, 59,723 Hoosiers between 70 and 79 had signed up to be vaccinated.(WAVE 3 News)
Updated: Jan. 14, 2021 at 5:28 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - WLBT has pulled together information from numerous sources to answer some frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have any questions we haven’t answered, please email us at

If you live in Mississippi, you’re going to have a wait a while. The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) recently stopped allowing patients to make appointments, saying the current stock of vaccinations is already spoken for. The state will likely start allowing people to make appointments again in mid-February.

MSDH provides an updated list on its website. Some 52,000 vaccine appointments have been set up through the next two weeks.

MSDH: “Numerous studies over the last several months have been thoroughly conducted ... COVID-19 vaccine has gone through the same rigorous process for evaluating safety and effectiveness as any other vaccine approved for use by the FDA.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for two COVID-19 vaccines which have been shown to be safe and effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials. These data demonstrate that the known and potential benefits of this vaccine outweigh the known and potential harms of becoming infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

A chart showing vaccination percentages by state is shown below:

MSDH: “No, you can NOT catch COVID-19 from the vaccine.”

CDC: “mRNA vaccines do not contain a live virus and do not carry a risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person.”

CDC: “mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines.”

A local employment attorney said there could be a job criteria for a certain position requiring...
A local employment attorney said there could be a job criteria for a certain position requiring the candidate to get the COVID vaccine in the future.(Ben Williams (Custom credit) | Flickr)

CDC: “COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

“COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the immune cells, the cells use them to make the protein piece. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them. Next, the cell displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies.”

WLBT: State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said the vaccines contain no robotics. Instead, “small, little balls of fat” are used to deliver vaccine materials into recipients’ cells.

MSDH: Like most vaccines, you should expect some soreness and fatigue for up to a day after vaccination, a sign that the body is developing a proper immune response.”

WebMD: “People should expect to have some side effects, similar to what some people report after getting a flu vaccine ... Experts said to expect temporary side effects such as soreness in your arm where you got the shot, fatigue, body aches, and perhaps a fever.”

(State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs was the first person in the state to receive the vaccine. He experienced “minimal soreness at injection site.”

On January 12, Bloomberg reported that “Pfizer and federal health officials are investigating the death of a healthcare worker 16 days after the person received the first dose of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.”

Bloomberg goes on to state that “the evidence doesn’t suggest a connection ... (and that) the Florida-based physician (who died) developed a rare disorder called severe thrombocytopenia that decreases the body’s ability to clot blood and stop internal bleeding.”

(WLBT will update this information as more data is available.)

At an MSMA meeting on January 15, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said he had seen one person have a severe reaction, and that the woman had a history of severe allergies. Said Dobbs, “(She) had some welts on her arm, that was it.”

At the same meeting, State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said he had heard of three or four cases of severe reaction in Mississippi. However, he had not heard of any cases of anaphylaxis.

NBC News: As of January 6, the CDC had reported at least 21 people having a severe allergic reaction after receiving the first shot. “The reaction, called anaphylaxis, can be life-threatening, and must be treated immediately with an emergency injection of epinephrine, often given via EpiPen.”

MSDH says you should NOT take the vaccine if you are allergic to any of its components and that you should talk to your doctor prior to receiving the vaccine if you have a history of anaphylaxis.

This chart shows the ingredients in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination.
This chart shows the ingredients in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination.(Technology Review)

CDC: “After a vaccine is authorized or approved for use, many vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for adverse events (possible side effects). This continued monitoring can pick up on adverse events that may not have been seen in clinical trials. If an unexpected adverse event is seen, experts quickly study it further to assess whether it is a true safety concern.”

The CDC is using a combination of systems, including V-safe, a “new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines, (which uses) text messaging and web surveys from CDC to check in with vaccine recipients following COVID-19 vaccination.”

The center also is using the National Healthcare Safety Network to monitor what happens at acute and long-term healthcare facilities, and information from large insurance companies and payer databases.

MSDH: “COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.”

MSDH: “It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination.”

WebMD: “That happens ‘about a week after the second dose,’ says Naor Bar-Zeev, Ph.D., an associate professor of international health and vaccinology and deputy director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.”

WebMD: “Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are believed to be around 50 percent effective after just one dose.”

Moderna: “Vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 was 94.1 percent; vaccine efficacy against severe COVID-19 was 100 percent.”

BBC News: “The Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which started being rolled out in the UK last month, offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19.”

CDC: “Vaccine efficacy and vaccine effectiveness measure the proportionate reduction in cases among vaccinated persons.”

The Conversation: “The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine reports 90% efficacy, which means that – of the 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 – their vaccine prevented COVID-19 symptoms for 90% of those who received the vaccine compared with placebo.”

Johns Hopkins: “A few people who have had COVID-19 have apparently had a second, often milder case of the disease, and researchers are exploring what this means in terms of how long immunity from the coronavirus lasts. Vaccine developers are looking at ways to boost the effectiveness of a vaccine so that it provides longer immune protection than a natural infection with the coronavirus.”

Pfizer: On January 9, Pfizer Inc. announced that its vaccine does protect against mutated strains of the virus.

MSDH: “Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, (the) vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection.”

CDC: “At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.”

MSDH:You should wait until the isolation period is over (10 days after the onset of symptoms or 10 days after the test was done if you had no symptoms). You should not have a fever, and if you do have symptoms they should have improved significantly before getting vaccinated.”

*Note: This is a stock photo.
*Note: This is a stock photo.(

MSDH: Pregnant women and lactating women and those who are immunocompromised may take the vaccine; however, consultation with your healthcare provider is recommended.”

MSDH states that individuals who are 16 and older are eligible for the Pfizer vaccination, while individuals 18 and older are eligible for the Moderna shot.

Deborah Fuller, a vaccine expert at the University of Washington, told the Associated Press no. She said it’s not yet known if the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines protect people from being infected or simply from suffering from the virus’ symptoms. That means vaccinated people might still be able to get infected and pass the virus on, although it would likely be at a much lower rate, she explained.

World Health Organization: “The percentage of people who need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80%. The proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is not known.

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