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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

Vaccination Process

Who is eligible to receive the vaccine?

  • Everyone 6 months of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • If getting a vaccine for a child under 5, check eligibility with the vaccination location before visiting.

Who is eligible for a booster?

First Booster

Everyone ages 5 and older is eligible for a booster shot.

Second Booster

  • Adults ages 50 years and older
  • People ages 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised
  • People who got 2 doses (1 primary dose and 1 booster) of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

How do I schedule to receive the vaccine?

Click here to schedule your vaccine at Baton Rouge General.

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Vaccine Safety

Which vaccine will I receive at Baton Rouge General?

Baton Rouge General is currently administering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Can you mix and match the vaccines?

For people who received either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine series, a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine should be used. A person should not receive more than three mRNA vaccine doses. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.

What is in the vaccine? Is it a live virus?

The Pfizer vaccine is a mRNA vaccine. They use a genetic molecule called RNA to cause your own cells to make a viral protein, as opposed to a live virus working to get the protein in your cells. Your immune system then makes antibodies and immune cells that recognize the protein quickly and jump into action.

The Moderna Vaccine is also an mRNA vaccine and works similar to Pfizer but has a few different ingredients.

The Johnson & Johnson is a viral vector vaccine that uses a weakened or harmless virus called an adenovirus to carry the genetic code to the cells to trigger an immune response.

How was the vaccine development accelerated while still being safe?

The COVID vaccine is the fastest vaccine developed in the history of vaccines. But, that doesn’t mean researchers bypassed safety protocols or performed inadequate testing. Here’s how the vaccines were safely developed on a quicker timeline:

  • The genetic sequence of COVID 19 was made public January 11, 2020, allowing researches to begin designing vaccine candidates before cases had even been confirmed in the U.S.
  • mRNA vaccines are faster to produce than traditional vaccines.
  • Researchers ran clinical trials simultaneously, rather than sequentially. In a traditional development cycle, researchers wait until each phase is complete before they begin the next phase.
  • Researchers also used existing clinical trial networks to begin conducting COVID-19 vaccine trials.
  • Manufacturing started while the clinical trials were still underway. Normally, manufacturing doesn’t begin until after completion of the trials.
  • Because of the national focus on COVID, the FDA and CDC have prioritized authorization and recommendation of COVID-19 vaccines.

Are the vaccines FDA approved?

The FDA has granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine and has granted an Emergency Use Authorization for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

What is the difference between FDA Emergency Use Authorization and full FDA Approval?

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) helps make certain medical products available quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic. In certain emergencies, the FDA can issue an EUA to provide access to medical products that may potentially be used when there are no adequate, approved, and available options.

The EUA process is different than an FDA approval or clearance. Under an EUA, in an emergency, the FDA makes a product available to the public based on the best available evidence, without waiting for all the evidence that would be needed for FDA approval or clearance.

Full Approval grants the vaccine manufacturers permission to advertise their products and allow them to continue selling them after the public health emergency around COVID-19 ends. For doctors, full approval also allows them to use vaccines off-label, potentially as booster shots.

For more information, visit

Were the COVID-19 vaccines developed using fetal tissue?

The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 were not created with, and do not require, the use of fetal cell cultures in the production process. In fact, the technology used in mRNA vaccines doesn’t require any cells at all.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed using fetal cell cultures, a method used since the 1960s to manufacture vaccines, including current vaccines against rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis A, and shingles. They have also been used to make approved drugs against diseases including hemophilia, rheumatoid arthritis, and cystic fibrosis. The J&J vaccine, in particular, used a fetal cell line that came from an aborted fetus in the 1970s in the development and production of the vaccine.

How long does the vaccine last?

Some early research suggests protection will last for at least 6-12 months.

Should individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions get the vaccine?

CDC recommends that people get vaccinated even if they have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications—such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies. People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions may also get vaccinated.

Can the vaccine cause fertility problems?

A false reported generated on social media claimed that the vaccine caused fertility problems in women. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the CDC have both debunked this myth sharing that there is no evidence that any vaccines, including the COVID vaccine, cause fertility issues. The vaccine does not interact with a woman’s reproductive organs or have any interaction with an egg that has been released or fertilized. Our Baton Rouge General Obstetrics and Gynecology clinic and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) support vaccination and encourage patients to get vaccinated.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine change my DNA?

The COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer/Moderna) sends messenger RNA (mRNA) into your cells, but not into the nucleus of your cells where DNA lives. The mRNA causes the cell to make protein to stimulate the immune system, and then it quickly breaks down – without impacting your DNA. The messenger RNA vaccine technology has been in development for decades and was created to respond quickly to new pandemic illnesses, just like COVID-19.

What are the possible side effects?

Possible side effects will differ for each person and will depend on the vaccine administered, but feedback shows notable symptoms may include fatigue, headache and low grade fever. Some may experience muscle aches, soreness, mild fever, redness and/or swelling at the site of administration. These responses are expected and are signs of the body's immune system at work. Like any vaccine, allergic reactions can occur.

If I have side effects after receiving the vaccine, am I contagious to those around me?

If you do have side effects after vaccination, it doesn’t mean you are contagious to your family, patients or community. You cannot develop COVID-19 from these vaccines. As always, you should continue to follow all safety measures like mask-wearing, handwashing, etc.

What are the ingredients of the Pfizer vaccine?

  • Active Ingredient
    • nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS-CoV-2
  • Lipids
    • (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis (ALC-3015)
    • (2- hexyldecanoate),2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide (ALC-0159)
    • 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine (DPSC)
    • Cholesterol
  • Salts
    • potassium chloride
    • monobasic potassium phosphate
    • sodium chloride
    • basic sodium phosphate dihydrate
  • Sucrose

What are the ingredients of the Moderna vaccine?

  • Active Ingredient
    • nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS-CoV-2
  • Lipids
    • SM-102
    • (1,2-dimyristoyl-rac-glycero3-methoxypolyethylene glycol-2000 [PEG2000-DMG]
    • 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine (DPSC)
    • Cholesterol
  • Tromethamine
  • Tromethamine hydrochloride
  • Sodium acetate (Salt)
  • Acetic Acid
  • Sucrose

What are the ingredients in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

  • Active Ingredient
    • Incompetent adenovirus type 26
  • Citric acid monohydrate
  • Trisodium citrate dihydrate
  • Ethanol
  • 2-hydroxypropyl-B-cyclodextrin (HBCD)
  • Polysorbate-80
  • Sodium chloride (Salt)

What happens if I feel sick after receiving the vaccine?

Contact your doctor if you feel ill or experience severe side effects. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911. It's important to note that most vaccine side effects — which could include a sore arm or muscle aches — are a sign of the immune response, not a mild form of the illness. They are a positive sign that your body is producing antibodies that can fight the real infection.

Can I still get COVID-19 if I get the vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines are effective. However, a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus that causes it. These are called “vaccine breakthrough cases.” This means that while people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to get sick, it will still happen in some cases. It’s also possible that some fully vaccinated people might have infections, but not have symptoms (asymptomatic infections). Experts continue to study how common these cases are.

Does the vaccine mean that other safety measures and restrictions can be relaxed?

While vaccine distribution is an essential part of our COVID-19 response, it will take many months before a large portion of the population is able to be vaccinated. Efforts like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and practicing hand hygiene remain essential to reduce the spread.

What happens if another COVID-19 vaccine is made available?

It is very likely that there will be many vaccines that will be made available to the public in the coming months. We will be closely reviewing their safety and effectiveness data and whether we will be able to offer additional vaccines to team members and our community.

What is the published scientific evidence for the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine?

FDA Briefing Document - Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

The New England Journal of Medicine - Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine

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Choosing the Vaccine

Will my name be reported/published as having received the vaccine?

Yes. Everyone who receives the vaccine will be entered into a Public Health database for tracking and follow-up.

Can I have the vaccine if I have already had COVID-19?

Yes, you can.

Will a COVID-19 test be required to get the vaccine?

No, you do not need to get a COVID-19 test to receive the vaccine. If you are COVID-19 positive, you should follow the CDC guidelines to return to work.

Can I take the vaccine if I have a fever, runny/stuffy nose, or have a sore throat?

If possible, you should wait until you are symptom free when you take the vaccine.

Can I take the vaccine if I am taking OTC or prescription medication?

There are no documented side effects of the vaccine with other medications. However, if you have a history of severe or anaphylactic allergic reactions to certain medications, we suggest that you wait to take the vaccine.

If I have an underlying health condition, can I get the vaccine?

There is currently no data that suggests having an underlying health condition is a reason to avoid getting the vaccine. In fact, those with an underlying illness or health condition are at an increased risk of developing severe side effects or hospitalization due to COVID.

If you have any condition that weakens your immune system, you may not have protection against COVID-19. However, it is safe to receive the vaccine if you are immunocompromised. Talk to your primary medical provider.

Should children get the vaccine? Are there age restrictions?

Currently the Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 12 years or older.

Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes. The FDA has approved the vaccine for adults over 12 years old, with no restrictions for pregnancy or breastfeeding. Please consult with your OB before receiving the vaccine to discuss the best plan of action for you.

Does the vaccine have any effect on fertility?

Although there are internet rumors that the vaccine could affect fertility, there is no evidence or scientific concern that this is true. The vaccine mimics infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 by targeting a single protein of the virus, called the spike protein. The vaccine does not contain live virus. Research studies have shown, however, that the coronavirus can affect fertility.

What happens if I get the first shot but don't get the 2nd booster shot? And will I still be considered vaccinated?

Vaccine effectiveness requires a second booster shot 21-28 days after the initial immunization shot is administered. You ARE NOT considered vaccinated if you do not receive both shots.

When do I need to come back for the second vaccine? Will someone notify me?

You will be scheduled for your second dose at once you receive initial vaccination. For the second dose to be fully effective, you must come no earlier than 2 days before and no later than 2 days after your scheduled appointment.

How long will this vaccine protect me? When will I have to get another vaccine?

Because the virus and vaccine are so new, we don't know yet how long antibodies last. Some early research suggests protection will last for at least 6-12 months.

How effective is the vaccine and can I still become infected after being vaccinated?

After the second dose, the vaccine being administered has a 90% or greater efficacy of preventing you from becoming infected and has also demonstrated a significant reduction in risk of severe infection that would require hospitalization. The vaccine is not live; therefore, it cannot cause you to test positive via nasal swab or saliva test. Some patients may still become infected or develop symptoms following COVID-19 vaccination – it depends on your body's individual immune response.

After 28 days, the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine has a 72% or greater efficacy of preventing moderate to severe forms of COVID-19 and 85% or greater efficacy when it comes to preventing severe forms of COVID-19 that can lead to hospitalization and death.

Will the vaccines protect against new strains or variants of the coronavirus?

Yes, early research is showing that the vaccines will be effective against virus variations because they produce a variety of antibodies that fight off the virus. Virus mutations are expected and planned for when vaccines are developed, so it is unlikely that a mutation would be completely resistant to a vaccine. Click here for more information on COVID-19 variants.

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