What is New Jersey doing to plan for the COVID-19 vaccine?
The first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in New Jersey on December 15, 2020. The Department of Health has a COVID-19 Vaccination Plan you can view in detail.
When will Drug Mart receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
We plan to receive the vaccine during Phase 2 of the rollout. We do not have an exact date, but it is anticipated at some time in February or March. Our staff is receiving frequent updates from CDC and McKesson. We will provide you with more information once we receive it.
How much will this vaccine cost me?
Zero dollars ($0). The government has paid for all the vaccines in the country. There is an administration fee. In most, if not all cases, it's covered by insurance. And those without insurance, the State plans to cover those costs. So we can all get the vaccine without worrying about the economics of it.
Of the potential Coronavirus candidates, which one should I take? Is one better? Should I take all three to maximize efficacy?
The bottom line is they're all great. They block 100% getting very ill or hospitalized to the virus, which is the goal. And they are all remarkably safe, with the same safety profile across the board. It is recommended that you take the first one you can get.
If I take the vaccine, does that mean I can travel, roam around freely with no mask, and do all the things I did pre-COVID?
No. When you take the vaccine, you will dramatically reduce your risk of getting the virus, and also eliminate the chance of being hospitalized. But you still, there's a small percentage that may get a little runny nose or a little cold, and you can spread the virus. So it is critical that we all wear the masks until the virus numbers come down dramatically, which probably will be the beginning of the summer 2021.
If I already had COVID-19 and I have antibodies, do I still need the vaccine?
Yes. We don't have a test, really, for what we call neutralizing antibodies. So the antibodies you have are general. And it doesn't mean you have immunity to the virus. So everyone who previously had the virus needs to get this vaccine to build antibodies and T cells to fight it.
I have allergies, or I'm on different medications. Is it okay to get this vaccine?
The answer is uniformly yes. There is no interaction with medications in this vaccine. So it is really important that we all get it, especially people with other medical conditions.
If I have a suppressed immune system, is it safe to take this vaccine?
Yes. Mainly because there is no live virus in this vaccine. So if you have cancer, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Guillain-Barré syndrome, autoimmune diseases, it is safe to take this vaccine.
Is this vaccine safe for children?
We just don't know yet. In the United States, we do clinical trials first in adults. And if it's safe, we then will try it in pregnant women and children. And so that stage is coming now. We have to test the safety first in younger kids and pregnant women before we say it's okay for them to take it.
What are some normal side effects and how long could they last?
This is critical. Most people get side effects, which is good. It's your immune system reacting to this vaccine. A pain in the arm in the injection site, fever, chills, fatigue — all of which are common. All of which go away after 24 to 48 hours. So it is critical that you are aware of this. If you feel bad the next day, that's pretty normal, and it will get better. And Tylenol is a remarkable antidote for most of the side effects related to this vaccine.
How long after getting the vaccine do we know we are protected? How long will the protection last?
It is one week after the second shot. So the second shot in most of them is a day 21. With the Moderna, it's day 28, a week later. So 3 or 4 weeks after the first shot, you will have immunity.
How long will it last? Well we know it lasts at least 6 months. It may last at least a year though hopefully significantly longer. So probably a year or two, and then we may need a booster shot, it's not clear, but we at least buy that immunity. Just like the flu shot, it may be mixed in. So every year, you would get a flu shot with a bit of the COVID-19 vaccine.
If we get the vaccine, is there a chance you will be asymptomatic and transmit the virus?
With the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, the answer is no. With the other two vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer, they did not test this, so we don't know yet. And so that's why wearing a mask is still going to be critical after the vaccine is out.