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The decision to vaccinate or not, is a very personal one. To help Bronx residents make their best vaccination decision Bronx Health REACH seeks to provide science based information from trusted sources to address the questions and concerns people may have. Over the past year, we have listened to community members, Bronx Imams, pastors, teachers, parents, salon and barbershop owners share their concerns about COVID-19 and flu vaccines. With their guidance and the continued leadership of 7 Vaccine Community Advisory Board members, we’ve done outreach and education to address Bronx residents’ vaccine concerns.
The goal of our COVID-19 and Flu Vaccination Initiative is to increase the number of people getting COVID-19 vaccinations in the Bronx. Through Bronx Health REACH’s efforts and partnerships, thousands of community members have been vaccinated for COVID-19. This effort has been made possible with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Currently, Bronx residents can access vaccines at times and places most convenient for them in a number of ways including using the Vaccinefinder or calling 877-VAX-4NYC.
While the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 illness have many similarities, they are caused by two different viruses. Both viruses can be life-threatening, but SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 illness, has proven to be highly infectious, spreads quickly, and can lead to severe illness, hospitalization and even death. This virus can also have long-term effects on overall health. While the flu tends to have the most severe effects on children under five, people over 65 or those with chronic diseases, anyone can experience severe illness if they get the COVID-19 virus.
The body’s immunity to the vaccine decreases over time, leaving a person vulnerable to highly infectious variants of the virus. Research has shown that the bivalent vaccine protects against both the original virus as well as Omicron, a variant. Being up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations is the best way to stay protected against COVID-19 infection, severe illness, and death.
There are four main ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines: salt, sugar, fatty-lipids (or a bubble of fat around the main ingredient) and the main ingredient (M-RNA or an inactive cold virus carrying the spike protein.) Don’t panic. Explanation of m-RNA and spike protein is below.* There are no blood products, antibiotics, DNA, Fetal cells, pork products, egg proteins, preservatives (e.g., thimerosal), or metals in the vaccines. (Ingredients in COVID-19 Vaccines).
The answer is, “Yes, you should get the COVID 19 vaccine.” We don’t know how long someone is protected from COVID-19 after getting sick with the virus. Vaccines are the best source of protection from getting seriously ill from COVID-19. This is true for both those who have been sick with COVID-19 and those who haven’t. (CDC).
None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. The vaccine teaches your body to fight off infection by telling the body it is infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 illness. Getting the vaccine may cause such side effects as tiredness, headaches, muscle pain, chills, fever, nausea, and soreness, redness and swelling at the site of vaccination. These symptoms should go away in 1-2 days. If symptoms don’t go away after a few days, contact your doctor or the healthcare provider who gave you the shot. (Try to schedule your vaccination for a weekend or days when you are not working so if you have any short-term side affects you can be off from work if missing work is a concern.)
Please note: The COVID-19 vaccine takes two weeks to build resistance to COVID-19 illness in your body. This means that it is possible to get sick within two weeks of getting the vaccine. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who is sick, get a COVID-19 test before getting the vaccine.
A small number of people have had a severe reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine called anaphylaxis. All healthcare staff are prepared to treat this reaction immediately if it should happen. This is the reason everyone must wait 15-30 minutes after getting the vaccine so the healthcare staff can monitor you for a reaction to the vaccine. If you have a severe reaction, please consult with your physician before getting additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines. (Only people who are immunocompromised or over 65 are eligible for a second bivalent dose after two months.)
Overall, the vaccines are safe for people with underlying medical conditions and even people with insect or food allergies. However, you should let the person giving you the vaccine know if you have any of these conditions before receiving the vaccine. (Learn about other rare reactions: myocarditis and pericarditis and Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome.) (Post-vaccination information).
Reports of cases of myocarditis (swelling of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (swelling of the outer lining of the heart) after Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations are very rare and have only affected men under 30 years old. Myocarditis and Pericarditis can be mild and treatable. Most young men who developed the heart conditions after getting vaccinated made a full recovery with treatment and rest. CDC continues to study COVID-19 vaccines for possible long-term effects of myocarditis. Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome, which causes blood clots, is also a rare reaction to Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. Only 4 in 1 million women of child-bearing age have experienced it. It should be noted that blood clots are also common in people who have COVID-19 illness.
Learn about other rare reactions.
We know the vaccine is safe based on thirty years of research on other coronaviruses, the information gained from studies of 55,000 adults, 2000+ 12-15 year olds and 3,100 5-11 year olds in the US. The larger study of adults proved the vaccine can protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. The studies of children determined what is the lowest dose possible a child can get that will both protect them from the worst symptoms of COVID-19 while having the least side effects. Read more about vaccine safety for parents at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website or American Academy of Pediatric’s Healthychildren.org.
COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips. All the ingredients can be found by clicking here (Ingredients in COVID-19 Vaccines.)
The ingredients in a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination. All COVID-19 vaccines are free of metals. (Ingredients in COVID-19 Vaccines.)
COVID-19 vaccines don’t change or even send instructions to our DNA. Both mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) and viral vector (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines give instructions (genetic material) to our body to teach it how to fight off the virus that causes COVID-19. The message (genetic material) is in contact with the surface of the cell, not the center (where our DNA lives.)
A study by the National Institute of Health discovered a small, temporary increase in menstrual cycle length following two doses of COVID-19 vaccines. This study provides positive evidence that COVID-19 vaccines do not stop or interrupt menstrual cycles. The vaccines may temporarily increase cycle length by two days.
There is no scientific proof that COVID-19 vaccines effects male or female fertility and the ability to have children. Also, a study published in JAMA of urology research found no change in sperm counts in healthy young men receiving the vaccine. Read more about COVID-19 vaccine and fertility myths. Similarly, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects puberty.
The vaccine can protect not only you but also your baby during pregnancy and while being breastfed. Research has shown that the mother transfers COVID-19 antibodies to the baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding which will protect a newborn child from illness. Also, tens of thousands of women have safely received the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you are already pregnant and have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccination, call Mother To Baby (866) 626-6847, or text to (855)999-8525. (Click here for more information or visit Every Mother Counts’ Resource Hub).
Long COVID are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after being infected with COVID-19. Long-COVID can affect both children and adults. A doctor may be able to determine a long-COVID diagnosis based on a person’s health history, testing for COVID-19 antibodies and doing a health examination.(For more information about COVID-19, visit CDC or AMA.
While COVID-19 vaccines protect you from severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19, it doesn’t mean you can’t get COVID-19 even if you have no symptoms and pass it on to someone else. Wearing a mask when in public protects those around you who aren’t vaccinated from getting COVID-19. Regardless of these changes in NYC, CDC advises everyone to consider the following points when deciding whether or not to wear a mask: are there any health risks to you or your family members, are you are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations and are there any children who are too young for vaccination.
What we already knew about other coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 gave us a head start. COVID-19 vaccines were developed based on decades of existing research about other coronaviruses. Researchers, the federal government, and drug companies came together to focus, cooperate, and share resources to create a COVID-19 vaccine. This kind of large-scale effort has helped make completing the different phases of testing more efficient. Usually, the process to recruit people for studies is very slow. Under Emergency Use Authorization, a rule that allows clinical trials, there was some overlap between phases of the study so that thousands of people were tested to study the effectiveness of the vaccine on a larger scale more quickly using a process called Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) available during public health emergencies. (Source: Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines Explained)
The FDA-authorized process, called Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) allows the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize the use of unapproved medical products like vaccines to diagnose, treat or prevent life-threatening conditions when there are no adequate, approved and available options. Scientists follow people for at least 2 months after they are given the vaccine to observe its safety and effectiveness. For FDA-approved vaccines, scientists follow people for at least six months to observe safety and efficacy. As it has been more than two years since Pfizer was authorized for public use, Pfizer applied and was approved to provide the Pfizer COVID-19 to people 16 years older as an approved FDA vaccine. (Learn more about EUA here.) (Source: Association of Immunization Managers)
As of May 11th, the federal government and New York City Department of Health have made significant changes to the COVID-19 program throughout NYC. Vaccination, testing and treatment for COVID-19 will continue to be available regardless of insurance or immigration status at: 3 NYC Health + Hospitals’ urgent care facilities and 3 Gotham Health clinics in the Bronx.
Get tested if you meet one or all of the following categories:
Neither the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) nor the CDC will have access to or release identifiable patient information. No immigration enforcement can occur at vaccination sites. Also, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 won’t affect current or future immigration status or ability to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Here‘s Health and Hospital Corporation’s statement on immigrant confidentiality.
Take a photo for your records or use New York State Department of Health’s Excelsior Passport System to have your COVID-19 vaccine and negative testing records on your phone. If you lose the card and don’t have a copy, contact the vaccine provider where you received your COVID-19 vaccine and ask for a new card or contact NYS Department of Health Immunization Information System.
Please note: NYS Passport has received reports from New Yorkers that additional doses (formerly referred to as boosters) are not appearing on Excelsior Passport System. For questions, call the Excelsior Help Desk at 844-699-7277 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Between us about Us Video Series (English/Spanish)
Myths & Facts about COVID-19
Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination
Vaccinate Your Family
Ask the Experts
COVID-19 Resource Page of CDC Foundation
Our COVID-19 Resource Page