New freezer
Delivery of new ultra cold vaccine freezer to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Dec. 12, 2020

As one of the region’s primary health care providers, you can count on Novant Health to monitor the situation closely and provide updates via Novant Health’s comprehensive COVID-19 treatment page and Healthy Headlines.

In the meantime, here are answers to some of the most pressing questions about those vaccines from Novant Health doctors and pharmacy experts.

What type of vaccines are used?

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. Synthetic mRNA vaccines are a new way to protect against infectious diseases. The mRNA vaccines do not put a weakened (inactivated) live germ into your body to trigger the immune response, like many other vaccines do. The approach is different with mRNA vaccines. Instead, this type of vaccine teaches your cells how to make a protein — or even just a piece of a protein — that triggers an immune response inside your body.

How many doses of the vaccines are required?

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses. Depending on the product, the second dose will be either 21 or 28 days after the first. You must receive two doses of  the same product. Novant Health will be partnering closely with the state to make sure we are able to support second doses, and this will inform how we prioritize administration within each phase.

What are the short-term, expected effects of the vaccines?

In the vaccine trials, some participants experienced common “expected effects.” This may include a sore arm, warmth in the arm, malaise, fatigue or a low-grade fever. Those expected effects typically only lasted a few hours. While not everyone will experience these effects to the same degree, it does show the vaccine is working, and your immune system is responding.

What are the long-term effects of the vaccines?

mRNA (the technology in two of the vaccine products) is very fragile and disintegrates in roughly 48 hours. It does not affect DNA at all, so it has no long term effects. It simply helps the body make a protein that looks like a protein COVID has so your immune system recognizes it. Therefore, we anticipate post-vaccination symptoms will only occur in the very short term if at all.

Can the vaccines give me COVID-19 when administered?

No. mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.

How long after the second dose should I consider myself immune?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection. Immunity to COVID-19 should begin one to two weeks after the second dose.

What is the cost of the vaccine?

The vaccine is free. 

For the most recent information and answers to more frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, please see Novant Health’s comprehensive COVID-19 treatment page.

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