SAN ANTONIO INDIAN NURSES ASSOCIATION
SAN ANTONIO INDIAN NURSES ASSOCIATION
Questions about COVID-19 vaccines? We’ve put the answers in one place.
Looking for guidance on how to talk to patients? We’ve rounded up culturally sensitive conversation advice.
The American Nurses Association, together with leading nursing and healthcare organizations, launched this site as a nurse’s hub for critical, current, and credible COVID-19 vaccine information. We hope it is both helpful to you and helps you educate patients and members of the communities you serve.
The American Nurses Association and its collaborating organizations are solely responsible for the data and related content associated with this campaign. The campaign’s commercial sponsor was not involved in development of this content.
Now that there are several authorized COVID-19 vaccines available, accurate information is critical.
There’s a lot of it out there—and nurses are busy. Below, we’ve curated answers to key questions.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Yes. All COVID-19 vaccines in use went through rigorous clinical trials for safety and effectiveness. Based on results from those trials, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorizations.
FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to closely monitor vaccine safety.
How were vaccines developed so quickly without compromising safety?
The pandemic spurred a global response and cooperation in both vaccine research and distribution.
Researchers shared their data with other scientists, and the ability to fast-track clinical trials was a direct result of this cooperation.
In the U.S., Operation Warp Speed (OWS) partnered with multiple institutions (including the NIH and CDC) to develop, manufacture and distribute vaccines. In doing so, it increased the odds of developing one or more safe and effective vaccines. The result: several authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. and abroad.
What are mRNA vaccines and how do they work?
mRNA vaccines deliver our cells instructions for making bacterial or viral protein. Our immune systems respond to these proteins and develop the ability to react to future infections.
In contrast, most vaccines use weakened or inactivated versions or components of the disease-causing pathogen to stimulate the body’s immune response to create antibodies.
mRNA vaccine technology is not new as it has been studied for decades. Beyond vaccines, numerous preclinical and clinical studies have used mRNA to encode cancer antigens to stimulate immune responses targeted at clearing or reducing malignant tumors.
Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting COVID-19?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine works by teaching the immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19—protecting you from getting sick.
Being protected is important because even though many people with COVID-19 have only mild symptoms, others get severely ill, may experience long-term health effects, and/or expire. There is no way to know how COVID-19 might affect you.
What PPE should I wear while vaccinating patients?
According to CDC, it is recommended that healthcare personnel administering COVID-19 vaccines wear a facemask and eye protection. Gloves are not required for vaccinations and should be utilized based on risk of exposure and contact with potentially infectious body fluids or the presence of open lesions for the provider or the patient.
Some vaccines require the use of gloves for vaccine preparation so it is also important to check the manufacturer’s recommendations prior to administering vaccines. Staff must also perform hand hygiene between each vaccination administration. Urge the importance of hand hygiene for patients and visitors that includes the use of soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Check with your workplace for specific requirements in your area.
Can infected people receive the vaccine? What about those who have previously been infected?
Data from clinical trials indicate that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines can safely be given to individuals with evidence of a prior COVID-19 infection.
Vaccination of an individual with a current COVID-19 infection should be deferred until they have recovered and are no longer self-isolating. This recommendation also applies to those who develop COVID-19 after the first dose but before the second.
What if I miss a vaccine dose? Would the series need to start over?
The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, the second dose may be scheduled for up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose.
There are currently limited data on efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window.
What should I know about allergic reactions? What are the warning signs and how should I monitor?
In rare cases, anaphylaxis has been reported following COVID-19 vaccination.
Anaphylaxis signs and symptoms:
What should I tell patients after vaccination? How long do we have to social distance and wear masks?
Be transparent with patients that the vaccine is not foolproof. Everyone must continue to wear masks, social distance, wash hands, and follow other hygiene guidelines until public health officials say otherwise. Side effects are normal and the body’s way of telling us our immune system is working. But, it’s important to recognize warning signs of a severe reaction and when to seek medical care. After vaccination, individuals will receive information on how to track and report any side effects.
How much of the population needs to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity?
Herd immunity means that enough people in a community are protected from getting a disease because they’ve already had the disease or they’ve been vaccinated. Herd immunity makes it hard for the disease to spread from person to person, and it even protects those who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns.
While experts don’t yet know what percentage of people must get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, vaccination is a safer way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19.
How do I address questions about the Tuskegee experiment and Henrietta Lacks unethical studies from the past as well as current inequities and injustice?
Acknowledge and honor those concerns, be transparent with patients, and share knowledge about vaccine development. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color including Black, Hispanic and Native Americans, so vaccination is especially important for those groups.
What do I tell those who are of child-bearing age and status about getting the vaccine?
For those who hope to become pregnant, they may receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Based on current knowledge, experts believe COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to anyone trying to become pregnant in the short or long term. Scientists study every vaccine carefully for side effects immediately and for years afterward.
What do I tell those who are pregnant about getting the vaccine?
Those who are pregnant may receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) jointly state that given clear evidence of the dangers of COVID-19 during pregnancy and absence of data demonstrating adverse effects associated with the vaccine in pregnancy, In the interest of patient autonomy, those who are pregnant should be free to make their own informed decisions regarding COVID-19 vaccination.
What does the Catholic Church say about receiving a vaccine?
We must acknowledge the importance of religion in decision making regarding vaccination. In a formal statement, the Vatican said it is morally acceptable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one’s own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good.
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