Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccines

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccines

As the number of adults in this country who’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine continues to climb, concerns about its safety and effectiveness linger. From cost to side effects, people still have many questions.

To help you and a senior loved one make an informed decision about getting vaccinated, we pulled together some commonly asked questions. We share answers from public health experts.

5 Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccines

  1. Since the vaccines were approved so quickly, are they safe?

The first two vaccines, developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, were indeed rolled out quickly. But both met the criteria for receiving an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

Simply put, that means each vaccine went through a three-phase clinical trial and at least half of the phase three participants were followed for two months or more after the trial’s completion. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has more information on their website. Visit Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines Explained to learn more.

  1. How much will I have to pay for the vaccine?

Unlike other recommended vaccines, this one is available at no cost. According to the CDC, that’s because the COVID-19 vaccine doses were purchased using taxpayer money.

Vaccine providers, however, may charge an administration fee for giving a patient the shot. According to the CDC, a vaccine clinic host organization “can be reimbursed for this by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay the vaccine administration fee.”

  1. Does the vaccine use a live virus to build immunity?

This is a myth that keeps people from getting vaccines. No, the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a live virus. While you may experience minor side effects for a day or two after being vaccinated, it is usually means the body is building immunity.

The most common side effects include some swelling and redness at the injection site, fever and chills, or fatigue. These symptoms last for a few hours or up to a few days. Some people have experienced severe allergic reactions.

  1. Do you need the vaccine if you had the coronavirus?

Because the science isn’t clear yet on how long natural immunity lasts after a person has had the coronavirus, the general recommendation is yes. You should still be vaccinated unless your primary care physician advises against it.

Researchers seem to believe the body’s natural immunity varies from person to person and may not last more than a few months. As we learn more about COVID-19, this recommendation may change.

  1. Do you still need to wear a mask after being vaccinated?

Yes, you will still need to wear a mask. While the vaccine offers you protection, experts don’t know if you can still transmit it to others if you are exposed. This is another area of ongoing research and recommendations from the CDC may change as scientists learn more.

Learn More about COVID-19

The CDC has a dedicated COVID-19 resource center on their website. You will find guidelines on topics ranging from whether you need to quarantine to where to find vaccine clinics in your area.

Residents and staff at Heritage Senior Communities were fortunate to begin receiving their vaccines in January and February. Visit our Facebook page to see how excited our residents were to be vaccinated and why. From wanting to see a new great-grandchild to being able to volunteer at the community again, you’ll see a lot of smiling faces as vaccines are administered!

How to Find a Virtual Volunteer Project

How to Find a Virtual Volunteer Project

Dear Donna:

My mom has always been very social. After my father passed away three years ago, she struggled without him. Just when she was getting back on her feet, the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. Since then, she has been forced to remain mostly isolated.

While she recently received her first COVID-19 vaccine, we know it will take a few months until she can be out and about again. Our family members routinely check in with her using Zoom and Skype, but it’s just not enough. I’m trying to find something she can do from home that will help her feel connected and purposeful.

Do you have any suggestions? I’m sure you’ve probably heard this question before and have some ideas.

Kind regards,

Krista in Saginaw, MI

Encouraging Virtual Volunteerism during National Volunteer Week

Dear Krista:

Your question is a timely one! National Volunteer Week begins on April 18. Research shows seniors who lend their time and talent to a cause close to their heart reap a variety of mental and physical health benefits. From fewer incidences of depression to less risk of heart disease, volunteering might be the perfect solution for your mother.

There are plenty of organizations looking for virtual volunteers. Since your mother seems comfortable using technology, there will be even more opportunities open to her. Here are a few suggestions for connecting.

First, contact the United Way agency nearest to your mother’s home. They might know of local nonprofits looking for remote volunteers. When the coronavirus is behind us, she might be able to lend her time to the organization in person.

If you don’t have any luck with that option, there are a variety of national organizations you can explore. Two with easy-to-navigate volunteer websites are:

  • VolunteerMatch: This nonprofit organization has been matching volunteers with agencies in need since 1998. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, their number of virtual volunteer opportunities increased to over 600,000 nationwide! Your mom could choose to be an eBook Buddy to a child who needs help reading. She might also be interested in writing social media posts for a nonprofit animal rescue or anti-bullying organization. There are volunteer projects for every interest imaginable.
  • Points of Light Foundation: A global leader in nonprofit development, Points of Light Foundation also works to inspire and expand volunteer communities. They, too, have expanded the number of virtual projects volunteers can connect with. You can search their database for both short-term and long-term tasks your mother might be interested in.

I hope this gives you and your mother some useful ideas, Krista!



Heritage Senior Communities in Michigan and Indiana

A family-owned senior living provider for four generations, Heritage Senior Communities has locations throughout Michigan and one in Indiana. If you have questions about independent living, assisted living, or memory care, call the Heritage community nearest you to talk with one of our team members. We are always happy to help!