In Alabama, anyone over the age of 12 is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who would like to receive the vaccine can schedule an appointment for themselves or eligible family members at https://c19vaccine.southalabama.edu through USA Health.
Employees are encouraged to provide verification of their vaccination status to Employee Health and Wellness, and students are encouraged to provide verification of their vaccination status to Student Health. This helps us gauge overall vaccinations on campus and herd immunity as we adjust our practices and guidelines.
To sign up for the vaccine and select the time that works best for you, visit: c19vaccine. southalabama.edu.
USA Health has provided the following information in response to many questions received about COVID-19 vaccines.
This vaccine seems rushed. Scientists must have “cut corners” to get the vaccine out quickly to the public?
USA Health is committed to ensuring vaccines provided to employees and the community are deemed safe and effective. The United States Food and Drug Administration closely monitored research by Pfizer and Moderna as the two companies worked toward their vaccines. The research suggests both vaccines have few side effects and are approximately 95 percent effective.
I’ve heard the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine will alter my DNA?
It does not alter your DNA. It injects a small part of the virus’s genetic code, DNA or RNA, to stimulate an immune response.
There are two shots with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Why do I have to get two shots?
All but one of the vaccines in late stage development require two doses, which are given a few weeks apart. Health experts still are not sure whether one dose will be effective enough to prevent COVID-19 or a severe case of the illness, so skipping the second shot is not a good idea. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first shot starts building protection; the second shot boosts that protection.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect me against the new coronavirus strains?
Experts are fairly certain that it will work against all the current strains. However, no vaccine is 100 percent effective. For the vaccine to work, you need to be vaccinated. Everyone around you needs to be vaccinated as well. This is why it is important to take the vaccine when it is offered to you.
I already had COVID-19, so I don’t need the vaccine, right?
While a previous coronavirus infection might provide people with antibodies against reinfection, experts are not yet sure how long this protection lasts. The vaccine stimulates the body to fight the specific protein that allows the virus to invade your body.
COVID-19 affects the immune system and makes blood clotting more likely. Will the vaccine do the same?
The virus causes these problems; the vaccine does not. Thousands of people have received the vaccine in clinical trials, and thousands more are getting it every day. They are being asked to track and report any symptoms they experience. As with other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine can cause temporary effects soon after entering the body, when it starts teaching the immune system to attack the coronavirus. The most common reactions include headaches, arm pain, body aches, chills or fevers. These symptoms may last a few hours to a few days. Taking over-the-counter painkillers can help with these symptoms. Health officials also have reported a few cases of severe allergic reactions. These have been extremely rare.
I am currently sick. Should I still go to my appointment to receive the vaccine?
We are specifically asking people to wait to get the vaccine if they have a fever. The reason is to prevent infecting others who are waiting for their shot and not to confuse the symptoms of the disease with a reaction to the vaccine. Experts recommend that you wait until you are fully recovered from your infection and are no longer in isolation before you receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Given the limited vaccine supply and your natural immunity following your COVID infection, you may wish to wait up to 90 days for the vaccine. However, you are not required to wait 90 days. This is especially true if you received an infusion for treatment of the virus.
USA Health has provided the following information in response to many questions received about COVID-19 vaccines, fertility and pregnancy, .
Is the vaccine safe for pregnant women?
Pregnant women may choose to get the vaccine. Health experts are confident it will provide considerable benefits to both the mother and the baby. Women should discuss the vaccine with their healthcare provider first in order to ensure they are well-informed about the potential risks and benefits.
Is the vaccine safe for women planning to become pregnant in the next two months?
Women planning pregnancy in the next two months may choose to get the vaccine. However, they should discuss the vaccine with their healthcare provider first in order
to ensure they are well-informed about the potential risks and benefits.
Is the vaccine safe for nursing mothers?
Yes, lactating mothers can receive the vaccine.
Could the vaccine cause infertility?
There is no data suggesting that the vaccine causes infertility, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine endorses the COVID-19 vaccine. There was inaccurate information saying that the vaccine created antibodies to proteins in the placenta known as syncytin. The spike protein, to which the antibodies are made, shares some common genetic material but not enough for the antibodies to attack syncytin.
Has a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine been used on pregnant women before?
No. mRNA vaccines have never been used on a large scale for any disease, although this technology has been studied for 15 to 20 years. COVID-19 vaccines created by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna use mRNA technology, a process that teaches our cells how to make a protein, or a piece of a protein, to trigger an immune response that protects the body from the virus.
I am newly pregnant. Could the vaccine cause me to have a miscarriage?
There is no data suggesting this. The mRNA rapidly disappears, and the antibodies that are formed are not linked to miscarriage. It is reassuring that women who had COVID-19 do not show an increased risk for miscarriage, and they have made the antibodies needed to target reinfection.
If I get the vaccine and I’m pregnant, does it protect my child from the virus as well?
The vaccine will prevent the mother from becoming infected with the virus and the serious illness that may result. Some researchers have said that the mother could pass along antibodies that may help protect the baby from the virus, but these studies are early and need to be researched further.
Were there pregnant women in the clinical trials for this vaccine?
No, not in the two largest studies to date. However, about 30 women became pregnant incidentally, and no adverse events were reported.