ABC15 spoke with experts Wednesday morning to answer some of your most pressing questions about the coronavirus vaccine, the process of getting vaccinated, and more.
The mission of ABC15's Health Insider series is to dive deeper into the things impacting your health and the health of those around you. We're going in-depth with expert advice from people who know it, see it every day in their work and study it. Have a story idea? Contact the team at HealthInsider@abc15.com.
Q: Can you be a "carrier" of coronavirus even after getting both doses of the vaccine?
A: The vaccine provides "systemic" immunity, but not yet clear if it provides "mucosal" immunity -- it could still enter your body, multiply and replicate, and while you may not get sick or infected, it could still be spread to others. -Dr. Piyush Gupta with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Q: What protection is provided by the first of two doses? When should you get the second dose?
A: The vaccine works by teaching your immune system to recognize and fight the virus. There is some protection about two weeks after getting your first dose, but real protection about two weeks after getting your second dose.
It doesn't matter what vaccine you get, just remember the brand name -- if you get the Pfizer shot, there is a 21-day interval between doses, while Moderna is 28 days. -Dr. Piyush Gupta with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Q: After completing vaccinations, when can we travel safely? Do we still need to wear a mask and distance?
A: We still don't know how effective the vaccine is against transmitting the virus. We are nowhere close to achieving herd immunity and are still in the beginning phases of vaccinating the community. Do not change your behavior -- continue to distance, wear masks, etc. -Dr. Piyush Gupta with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Q: I have a first vaccination appointment scheduled at State Farm Stadium. How do I get the second vaccine?
A: Both state-run sites will ask you to wait for a period of observation after you get your vaccine. At that time, they will schedule your next appointment. You should have a screenshot of that appointment date and time before you leave for peace of mind. -ABC15's Cameron Polom, who has been covering all things pertaining to vaccines and vaccination sites in Arizona
Q: How does online vaccination appointment scheduling work, or are there any useful tips to schedule an appointment?
A: Go to AZDHS.gov/findvaccines, which will bring you to a site that allows you to see locations (county and state). The site will make you create a username and password that will give you access to your personal dashboard.
A new update on Feb. 3 gives a new look to the site that is more user-friendly, allowing you to see more locations/appointment times.
The biggest issue is how slow the website runs when new appointment times open up and many people are online at once. You may have to try a few different times to finish your scheduling, as someone else may have taken your slot before you're finished with the registration process. -ABC15's Cameron Polom, who has been covering all things pertaining to vaccines and vaccination sites in Arizona
The state has finally changed its vaccine website design! When you reach the scheduling page you will be able to click on a date and it will display available appointments! We have been hounding them for this. @abc15 21k appointments up for grabs Wednesday @ 9am! pic.twitter.com/3Tum2tjYSy— Cameron Polom ABC (@cpolom) February 2, 2021
Q: I am 67 years old with underlying health conditions and have been unable to get a vaccine appointment. When will more appointments realistically open up to more people in Arizona?
A: You are already in the population being currently vaccinated by state-run sites (and in some counties depending on availability), so you are eligible.
For 1C, or those with health conditions under 65 years old, essential workers, etc, we're likely to move toward vaccinating that group in March.
The federal government is working to distribute millions more doses per week, so we should see more availability and more locations to get the vaccine soon. - ABC15's Cameron Polom, who has been covering all things pertaining to vaccines and vaccination sites in Arizona
Q: I got my first vaccine dose at Chandler Dignity but have not received an email to get my second dose. When should I get that?
A: The best place to look is Maricopa.gov under their COVID-19 vaccine section. They post updates on when to expect email notifications. As of Feb. 3, the site says 45,000 emails have been sent out for second shot scheduling for those vaccinated before Jan. 20. As more appointments become available, they will be sending more emails. -Dr. Janice Johnston, MD, AHC Medical Director, family practice provider with 15+ years of experience
If you were vaxxed at Chandler or Goodyear before 1/21 and:— Public Health (@Maricopahealth) February 2, 2021
👉did not get an email for a 2nd dose event yet; or
👉got a 2nd dose invite & scheduled, but others who used that same email can't access appts.;
📢Please let us know so we can help. Go to https://t.co/jU3MROhmuu pic.twitter.com/hXUJYtUU2X
Q: Does Medicare get charged for the vaccine? My Medicare card number was asked for when I signed in for my first injection.
A: Medicare will be billed for the administration portion of the vaccine. There are no out-of-pocket costs for Medicare participants. -Dr. Janice Johnston, MD, AHC Medical Director, family practice provider with 15+ years of experience
Q: Is the second injection the same as the first one, or are they different?
A: The first dose is exactly the same as the second dose, whether Pfizer or Moderna. The components are the same. Some people may experience more side effects with the second dose, though, even though the vaccine is the same. -Dr. Janice Johnston, MD, AHC Medical Director, family practice provider with 15+ years of experience
Q: How do I know where to go for the second shot?
A: Once you get your first shot, each site differs. Some locations will book your second shot at the time you get your first shot, but others email you when they are ready for you to sign up for your second.
Regardless, you should expect to go to the same location for first and second doses. -Dr. Janice Johnston, MD, AHC Medical Director, family practice provider with 15+ years of experience
Q: I was told that if you get the second dose within 8 months, I will still be protected. Is this correct or is there another period of time in which people are protected after their first shot?
A: Ideally, your second shot should be administered 21 or 28 days (depending on the brand of vaccine you receive) after the first. The CDC says there is a window for about 6 weeks between shots, but there could still be delays due to supply, appointment times, etc.
If there is a delay, there is no need to restart and get re-vaccinated the first time again. -Dr. Janice Johnston, MD, AHC Medical Director, family practice provider with 15+ years of experience
Q: Who takes responsibility for problems with the vaccine rollout in Arizona?
A: All states have done it differently and all states have had their own issues. This is something we've never done before.
At this point, we are one of the fastest states to roll out vaccines, especially with a large priority group in the state.
In the end, it will fall on the state to make sure it is done correctly. However, it's on all of us to play a role in helping each other. ABC15's Cameron Polom, who has been covering all things pertaining to vaccines and vaccination sites in Arizona
Q: Different websites are saying different things in terms of age groups who are eligible to get the vaccine in Arizona. Who can get it right now?
A: As of Feb. 3, vaccines are available to those in Phase 1A and Priority Phase B, which include education and child care workers, protective services occupations, and adults 65 and older. ABC15's Cameron Polom, who has been covering all things pertaining to vaccines and vaccination sites in Arizona
Q: I am a long-haul semi-truck driver delivering food to western states. I live in Pinal County, am 67 years old, and am an African-American woman. I have tried to get an appointment and am on waiting lists. I am concerned. Advice?
A: Pinal County, like many smaller counties, are limited in doses. She put herself on waiting lists which is a great idea and actually got an appointment after someone contacted her.
Waitlists do work and you have to keep trying. Give yourself every opportunity. ABC15's Cameron Polom, who has been covering all things pertaining to vaccines and vaccination sites in Arizona
Q: I recently had COVID, but not sure what strain. Do antibodies from one strain provide any protection against other strains?
A: Viruses tend to change and mutate by nature. There is not enough research to say whether those infected previously can be re-infected by another strain. You would likely have some protection, but how much is not clear. -Dr. Piyush Gupta with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Q: What concerns should people with shellfish allergies have? What if you have a reaction after getting the vaccine?
A: People with a history of allergies and anaphylaxis are able to get the vaccine. Any allergies to other vaccines, foods, medication, pollen, etc are not a problem.
You must be observed for 15 minutes (without being deemed high risk) after a vaccine. If you have a history of a severe allergic reaction, you could be deemed high-risk and will be monitored for 30 minutes.
You are instructed to honk your horn if you experience any issues or reactions. Emergency professionals are also on-site at all times during vaccinations in the event of a reaction. Volunteers and medical professionals will also be monitoring you and asking how you are doing during that period.
Reactions, however, are very rare. -Dr. Piyush Gupta with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Q: Is there a waiting period to be vaccinated after having coronavirus?
A: Those who have had COVID-19 can delay getting the vaccine after 90 days if they are concerned, but you can get it earlier.
Those who have an active COVID-19 infection should not get the vaccine. You should wait until your health care provider gives you a green light.
If you received an antibody treatment during severe infection, you have to wait 90 days. -Dr. Piyush Gupta with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Q: We've heard rumors about a high death rate in elderly people after receiving a second dose. Is that true?
A: When reviewing initial clinical trials, that was not the case. As we have monitored those patients post-trial, we are not seeing increases rate of deaths tied to the vaccine in any way.
We are surpassing 100 million vaccines administered worldwide, and if this was a trend or correlation related to the vaccine, we would have seen it by now. If that were true, we'd be hearing about it. -Dr. Piyush Gupta with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Q: Should a person be quarantined after getting the vaccine? Are you able to infect other people after getting the vaccine?
A: Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not "live" vaccines, so there is no "live" virus inside of you after getting the vaccine. However, you are not effectively protected until 2 weeks after the second dose, so the virus could still be transmitted during that time period. -Dr. Piyush Gupta with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Q: I am on a hydroxychloroquine treatment for arthritis. Am I able to get the vaccine?
A: Yes, there are no contraindications for patients receiving that treatment and receiving the vaccine. -Dr. Piyush Gupta with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona