Select vaccine related FAQs from the dropdown.
Q. What are the most important things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine?
A. Now that there are recommended and authorized vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States, here are eight things you need to know about the CDC's new COVID-19 Vaccination Program and COVID-19 vaccines.
To read more about these eight topics, please read the CDC article “8 Things to Know about the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program”.
Q. What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
A. We understand that some people may be concerned about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine now that COVID-19 vaccines are available in the United States. According to the CDC, more COVID-19 vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, and routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. Safety is a top priority, and there are many reasons to get vaccinated. To read more about the benefits of being vaccinated, please read this CDC article.
Q. Where can individuals go for more information about the vaccine they will be administered?
A. Please visit the CDC’s webpage, Different COVID-19 Vaccines (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html), to learn more about the various vaccines in Phase 3 Clinical trials. You can also learn more about U.S. COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, including vaccines in earlier stages of development, by visiting clinicaltrials.gov.
Q. What agency is responsible for the overall plan?
A. The Coast Guard is participating in the Department of Defense (DoD) COVID-19 Vaccine distribution operation. Agencies included in this partnership include, among others, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Coast Guard. On 22 January 2021, the President issued a National Strategy for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf.
Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for service members?
A: Any COVID-19 vaccine that becomes available under pre-licensure status, such as an FDA emergency use authorization (EUA), will be voluntary for service members, though highly encouraged for priority populations. Once formally licensed by the FDA, a vaccine may become mandatory for military personnel, as is the case for the influenza vaccine.
Q. What are the different types of COVID-19 vaccines?
A. As COVID-19 vaccines are authorized and then recommended for use in the United States, it’s important to learn about the vaccines that are available. The CDC provides information on who is eligible and recommended to receive each vaccine and what to expect after vaccination, as well as ingredients, safety, and effectiveness. To read more from the CDC about the different COVID-19 vaccines, please read this CDC article. Currently, three vaccines are authorized (under an Emergency Use Authorization) and recommended to prevent COVID-19:
Q. How was the COVID-19 Vaccine developed so rapidly, in record time?
A. Due to the urgency and critical need to produce the vaccine and provide it to the public safely and quickly, our country expended every resource and made development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines a top priority. Authorization to use the vaccine came quickly because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accelerated the vaccines to the front line at every step. No compromises on safety or effectiveness were made during their development.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developing a vaccine and bringing it to market often takes many years. But because of work that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was already doing when the COVID-19 pandemic began, researchers were able to come up with vaccines for this new virus much more quickly. You can read more about the COVID-19 vaccine development effort here: COVID-19 Vaccine Development: Behind the Scenes.
Q. What is an Emergency Use Authorization?
A. Drugs and vaccines have to be licensed or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that only safe and effective products are available to the American public. In situations when there is strong scientific evidence that a product is safe and is likely to treat or prevent disease, the FDA may authorize its emergency use under specific circumstances.
This type of FDA pre-licensure approval is considered for treatment or prevention of diseases that are very serious and occurring during an outbreak or pandemic scenario. For the COVID-19 vaccines, the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) indicates that the FDA has found the vaccine to be safe, however, studies regarding the full duration of protection against disease will continue.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers choose whether to make a request for EUA or routine licensure based upon the circumstances. The processes used to evaluate the current COVID-19 vaccines for their safety and effectiveness were no less rigorous than if the manufacturers had requested an adjudication for a licensed vaccine. EUAs are permitted only during emergent circumstances.
Q. How is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) different from full approval?
A. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) announcement, the issuance of an EUA is different than an FDA approval (licensure) of a vaccine. The FDA is able to grant a special type of interim approval called an EUA during public health emergencies. Just like full approval/licensure, an EUA looks at the totality of data and does a risk-benefit analysis. The FDA does a rigorous safety analysis and then looks at the how effectively the vaccine is at preventing disease in the context of a pandemic, when the disease is widespread and many people are routinely being infected.
If issued an EUA, vaccine manufacturers are obligated under FDA rules to continue their clinical trial monitoring and gather more data to fully understand how long the vaccine protection will last. Additionally, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collect reports from those who receive the vaccines to develop the best understanding of common side-effects.
Q. What has been done to ensure the vaccine(s) being distributed is safe?
A. The U.S. expended every available resource to make development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines a top priority due to the urgency and critical need to produce the vaccine and provide it to the public safely and quickly. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was able to authorize the use of the vaccine under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) because they accelerated the vaccines to the front line at every step of the approval process. No compromises on safety or effectiveness were made during vaccine development.
For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being administered by the Coast Guard, the vaccine manufacturers completed all of the required phases and trials. During the standard Phase 1 through Phase 3 trials, researchers evaluated vaccine safety and effectiveness on increasingly larger populations, monitored any side effects, assessed potential risks, and compared vaccines to alternative treatments. The results of the Phase 1 through Phase 3 trials were then submitted to the FDA for review before they were authorized for use and distribution. We are currently in Phase 4, which occurs after the FDA has granted a license or an EUA for a vaccine (or any new drug) because they are deemed safe, effective, and the benefits outweigh any risks. Researchers continue to collect data on the vaccines long-term benefits and side effects. By January 27, 2021, over 26 million doses have been received by persons in the U.S. Over 320,000 of those have been provided to Department of Defense/TRICARE beneficiaries.
Based on briefings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes for Health (NIH), Defense Health Agency (DHA) and our Coast Guard medical experts, the Coast Guard is confident in the safety and the effectiveness of these vaccines.
Additional information regarding vaccine safety and development, to include standard steps for the development of vaccines and therapeutics, can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.html.
Q: Will a COVID-19 vaccination affect COVID-19 test results?
A. No, COVID-19 vaccination will not affect the results of viral tests (polymerase chain reaction [PCR] or antigen). Vaccination may affect an antibody test; a positive COVID-19 antibody test could indicate vaccination OR previous infection.
Q. Should healthcare personnel who have been vaccinated be tested for COVID-19 if they develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19?
A. It depends. The COVID-19 vaccine is a two-dose series and high efficacy (or protection) is expected 10-14 days after the second dose. Thus, a member could potentially become infected with COVID-19 before, during or after the vaccination series and display symptoms in the post vaccination period. Providers should consider the following when making testing decisions:
Q. How is the CDC ensuring the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States?
A. According to the CDC, the U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority while federal partners work to make this and other COVID-19 vaccines available. For more information about safety measures, clinical trials, and monitoring systems, please read this CDC article.
Q. Can someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
A. No, it is not possible to get COVID-19 from vaccines. Vaccines against COVID-19 use inactivated virus, parts of the virus, or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.
Q. Should I get the vaccine for influenza (flu shot)?
A. Yes, it is important to get the influenza vaccine, particularly this season when both influenza viruses and COVID-19 will infect people. However, the Coast Guard has prioritized administration of the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the influenza vaccine.
Q. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine after receiving another vaccine?
A. Yes, as provided it has been 14 days since the last vaccination. Those receiving the COVID vaccine must wait 14 days after completing the COVID vaccine series before other immunizations are given. Please consult your primary care physician or health care professional if you have specific questions about your circumstances.
Q: Do members need to be tested for COVID-19 prior to getting the vaccine?
A. No. It is not recommended to test a member solely for the purpose of vaccine decision making.
Q. Which vaccine will the Coast Guard be issuing?
A. The Coast Guard expects to issue multiple vaccines that are authorized for use by the FDA as part of the DoD plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Q. Who will administer the vaccine?
A. Coast Guard medical staff will receive training on storage, handling, and administration of each vaccine.
Q. If I already had COVID-19, should I still get a vaccine?
A. Yes. Because the duration of immunity following COVID-19 disease can vary based upon the extent of exposure to the virus, eligible Coast Guard members are strongly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine is a safe and effective means for battling the disease, while at the same time keeping our families, friends, and communities safe and healthy.
Q: Is the Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine now available?
A: On April 23, 2021, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee recommended the resumption of administration of the J&J vaccine after a pause to analyze and investigate reports of rare but severe blood clots associated with low platelets in patients. The Coast Guard is now receiving limited doses of the J&J vaccine to administer to members, in addition to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently being administered.
Q: Is the Coast Guard planning on administering the Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine?
A: Yes. The Coast Guard is receiving limited doses of the J&J vaccine to administer to members, in addition to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently being administered. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide additional information on the J&J vaccine here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/janssen.html.
Q: Are there any advisories related to the Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine?
A: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added a warning to the J&J vaccine regarding rare clotting events that have been reported among vaccine recipients. The FDA advisory on the J&J vaccine can be read here: https://www.fda.gov/media/146305/download.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide information on the J&J vaccine here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/janssen.html.
Q: Should women under the age of 50 receive the Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine?
A: Women under the age of 50 can receive any Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized COVID-19 vaccination. However, they should be aware of the rare risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after receiving the J&J vaccine, and the availability of other FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
Q: Do I need to stop taking aspirin or anticoagulants prior to receiving the Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine?
A: No, you do not need to stop taking these medications. However, it is not recommended to take aspirin or anticoagulants prior to receiving the J&J vaccine, or any other Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.
Q. Who can I contact with specific questions about the vaccine?
A: In addition to speaking with Coast Guard health care professionals, you may also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) CDC-INFO site (https://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/ask-cdc.html). The CDC-INFO site allows you to ask questions via web (https://wwwn.cdc.gov/dcs/ContactUs/Form) or phone (800-CDC-INFO [800-232-4636]).
Q. What should I expect when I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
A. It is important to understand how your body responds to vaccines. According to the CDC’s article “Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work”, we must first look at how our bodies fight illness. COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future. According to the CDC, getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for some people, it can cause severe illness or death. Within the U.S., over 568,000 people have died after developing COVID-19, the majority prior to COVID-19 becoming a vaccine preventable illness.
Q. Will vaccines be available at Coast Guard medical clinics? When will they be available?
A. Yes. The Coast Guard is implementing a phased delivery of COVID-19 vaccine following FDA Emergency Use Authorization under the Coast Guard plan, which is part of the Department of Defense (DoD) plan. The initial vaccination sites were selected by DoD based on the capacity to receive ultra-cold vaccines, population, participation of each military service (including the Coast Guard), and availability of an Immunization Healthcare Specialist. Vaccination distribution prioritization follows the DoD prioritization and the national prioritization set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Q. Where will the Coast Guard doses be distributed?
A. Initial distribution sites were selected by the Department of Defense (DoD) COVID Task Force from sites recommended by the military services and U.S. Coast Guard.
Q. Who will receive the vaccine once it becomes available and when?
A. Our goal is that every member of the Coast Guard (active, reserve, civilian, auxiliary), our family members, and retirees, will be able to receive a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine through one of several methods. The Coast Guard will use a phased approach to allocate the initial limited quantities of the vaccine under the Department of Defense (DoD) plan for active duty and reserve military members. The Coast Guard will offer to vaccinate civilian employees as the vaccine becomes available. DoD’s prioritization is aligned to the national prioritization directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Q. Why is the vaccine not available in my area?
A. In the initial phase, a limited number of sites were selected to receive vaccine(s) at first to ensure successful vaccine administration. When we shift to the next phase under the DoD plan as more vaccine becomes available, distribution will expand to more Coast Guard locations to be able to reach across the force. The Coast Guard will follow DoD prioritization for distributing the vaccine across the United States.
Q. Will the Coast Guard require all service members to receive the vaccine?
A. Currently, the vaccine is offered on a voluntary basis. Priority populations are highly encouraged to receive the vaccine. When formally licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a vaccine may become mandatory for military personnel, as is the case for the influenza vaccine.
Alternately, if the White House issues an order mandating vaccination for members of the armed forces, the vaccine may become required as a matter of policy.
Q. Why should I get the vaccine?
A. Getting vaccinated will help prevent you from becoming infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. While many people who become ill with the COVID-19 disease have only a mild illness, others may have serious, life-threatening complications, develop a severe illness, or die. There is no way to know how the COVID-19 disease will affect you, your family, colleagues, neighbors, or shipmates. Even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications, 60% of all infections are transmitted to others unwittingly by persons without symptoms. We still do not fully understand the long-term health consequences of the COVID-19 disease.
As with other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccination protects you by creating an antibody response without having to experience the infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide additional information and resources regarding COVID-19 vaccine safety, and how vaccine help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html.
Q. How will I know when I am eligible to get the vaccine?
A. Your unit will be notified when portions or all of your unit are eligible to get the vaccine.
Q. Are military members permitted to obtain the vaccine off-base if the opportunity presents itself?
A: Yes, military members are permitted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine off-base if the opportunity presents itself. We encourage members to obtain the vaccine at their servicing clinic, but they are not required to do so. However, if a member is vaccinated off-base, they will be responsible for informing their servicing medical clinic in order for that to be recorded in the member's medical record.
Q. If military members receive the vaccine off-base, will TRICARE cover the expense of the vaccine and will the VA cover if there are any complications down the road?
A. Yes, Tricare will cover any costs associated with the COVID-19 vaccine if obtained on the outside. If you are charged for the vaccine, you should keep your receipt and file a claim with TRICARE. If you experience any long-term issues from receiving an authorized vaccine, whether you obtained the vaccine from a Coast Guard clinic or from a civilian health care provider, the VA will cover for any long-term disability issues caused by the vaccine.
Q: When will COVID vaccines be administered to Coast Guard recruits?
A: The Coast Guard will vaccinate recruits at Training Center Cape May who desire to be vaccinated as soon as vaccine is available. Eligible Coast Guard members, to include recruits, are strongly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for their health and the health of others.
Q: How long will protection last following vaccination?
A. We do not know how long protection will last following vaccination but it will be critically important to measure long-term protection in the phase 3 trials and in other groups prioritized for early vaccination. We are still learning about the duration of protection following infection with COVID-19 and it is too early to tell how long protection will last.
Q. Can a vaccinated person still transmit the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease?
A. Additional studies have shown that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines not only prevent people who are exposed to the virus from contracting COVID-19, but also prevent them from spreading the virus to others.
More data is currently being collected to provide definitive answers regarding infectiousness and transmissibility of COVID-19 by those who have been vaccinated. However, large studies have demonstrated that vaccinated persons have significantly fewer coronavirus infections, both asymptomatic (89.4%) and symptomatic (93.7%) based on nasal swab PCR tests, than found among unvaccinated persons.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends continuing to practice public health protective measures like washing your hands, wearing a mask, physical distancing, and frequently cleaning common areas.
Q: Can I still get sick with the COVID-19 disease once I have been vaccinated?
A: Yes, even though the vaccine is highly effective (has a high efficacy), it’s still possible for a vaccinated person to become ill. The protection provided by the vaccine is not immediate after receiving the second dose. Current information indicates it takes time for a person’s immune system to fully respond to the vaccine and produce antibodies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), evidence from clinical trials indicates that the Pfizer vaccine reaches full potential, 95% efficacy, at least 7 days after the second dose. At the 95% effective rate, approximately 5% of those who receive both doses of the vaccine may still get the COVID-19 disease. Clinical trial data for the Moderna vaccine indicate that it reaches full potential, approximately 94% efficacy, at least 14 days after the second dose.
You can read more from the CDC about the different COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html.
Q. Will the Coast Guard vaccinate civilian employees?
A. Yes, all Coast Guard civilian employees, including Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF) employees will have an opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. These vaccines will be administered at your local Coast Guard clinic as the vaccine becomes available. The Coast Guard planned for its service allocation from DoD to include all Coast Guard civilian employees (including NAF employees), and we are ready to enter required information on the vaccine into authoritative DoD and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention databases for any civilian employee who volunteers to be vaccinated by the Coast Guard.
Q. Will the Coast Guard vaccinate contractors?
A. Mission essential Coast Guard contractors working onsite and in close proximity to their civilian and active duty counterparts in critical operations support activities and mission support functions are authorized to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered by their local CG clinic as it becomes available and their tier priority is reached. Further guidance for contract employees on how to obtain the vaccine from a Coast Guard clinic, including processes for requesting a vaccination, reporting procedures, general information, and other human resources policy matters will be provided through the chain of command.
Q. As a civilian employee, if I receive the vaccine in a Coast Guard clinic, how will that vaccination be tracked and what next steps should I take?
A. As a civilian employee, if you decide to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in a Coast Guard clinic, you will be responsible for reporting this to your civilian health care provider so they can include the vaccine in your health care record. Also, if you receive the vaccine outside of a Coast Guard or DOD Military Treatment Facility (MTF), you are encouraged to voluntarily report receipt of the vaccine to your nearest CG clinic to assist the CG in assessing how much of the total workforce has been vaccinated.
Q. As a civilian employee, if I decline to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in a Coast Guard clinic, can I still choose to receive it?
A. Coast Guard civilian employees who decide not to be vaccinated by the Coast Guard may choose to receive the vaccine through their health care providers when the vaccine becomes available.
Q. Will the Coast Guard distribute the vaccine to the American public too?
A. The President has released a National Strategy for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness which includes direction for Federal government support to states and territories regarding national vaccine administration. The Coast Guard continues to vaccinate within the Service and stands ready to support national vaccination efforts as needed.
Q. Will the Coast Guard administer the vaccine to members/employees in the Department of Defense or other federal agencies?
A. Using the DoD approved prioritization schema and distribution plan, the Coast Guard is using a phased approach to allocate the initial limited quantities of the vaccine to active duty and reserve Coast Guard members. The Coast Guard will offer to vaccinate civilian employees as the vaccine becomes available. As additional quantities of vaccine are received, the Coast Guard will reevaluate its ability to vaccinate additional populations, in accordance with the approved DoD prioritization schema.
Q. Will reserve military members get the vaccine?
A. Once a vaccine is available, reserve members should anticipate receiving it the same way they would receive any other vaccine – either by Coast Guard healthcare professionals, or if they are not located near a Coast Guard medical facility, from their primary care provider.
Q: Is the CG vaccinating dependents?
A. Yes, the CG has now included dependents in the vaccination plan. CG dependent family members are key to the readiness of the Active and Reserve force. CG clinics will vaccinate dependents in communities where there is demand and the vaccine is not readily available from civilian providers , DoD Medical Treatment Facilities, or other sources. Dependents who request the vaccine from a CG clinic are required to provide proof of dependent status.
Q: How do I find out if my local CG clinic will vaccinate my dependents?
A. Please contact your local CG clinic to determine if they are administering COVID-19 vaccinations to dependents. To find the contact information for local CG clinics, download the Heath, Safety, Work-Life Service Center (HSWL SC) app. For iPhone users: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/uscg-hswl/id669218420?mt=8. For Android users: https://cglink.uscg.mil/9db8da1e.
Alternately, you may contact the clinics directly using the list below.
Pfizer sites open to 12 years old and up:
USCG Academy Clinic, New London
USCG Clinic Alameda
USCG Clinic Baltimore
USCG Clinic Base Miami
USCG Clinic Boston
USCG Clinic Cape Cod
USCG Clinic Cape May
USCG Clinic Mobile
USCG Clinic National Capitol Region
USCG Clinic New Orleans
USCG Clinic Petaluma
USCG Clinic Portsmouth
Moderna sites open to 18 years old and up:
USCG Clinic Air Station Miami
USCG Clinic Astoria
USCG Clinic Borinquen
USCG Clinic Clearwater
USCG Clinic Detroit
USCG Clinic Houston/Galveston
USCG Clinic Humboldt Bay
USCG Clinic Jacksonville
USCG Clinic Juneau
USCG Clinic Key West
USCG Clinic Kodiak
USCG Clinic LA/LB
USCG Clinic New York
USCG Clinic Port Angeles
USCG Clinic San Diego
USCG Clinic San Juan
USCG Clinic Seattle
USCG Clinic Traverse City
Q. Will TRICARE beneficiaries, including military retirees, have access to the vaccine?
A. Yes. TRICARE beneficiaries empaneled at a DoD Military Treatment Facility (MTF) are eligible to receive the vaccine at a DoD MTF. TRICARE beneficiaries who receive care at DoD MTFs on a space-available basis can alternately receive vaccine through the local civilian medical providers. Coast Guard clinics will not be directly vaccinating dependents, so Coast Guard dependents have the options of getting vaccinated through their TRICARE physician, civilian pharmacy, or DoD MTF.
Q. Are pregnant women who contract COVID-19 at an increased risk for severe illness and death?
A. For over a year, CDC identified pregnant women as a population at increased risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19, due to their naturally heightened inflammatory responses, when compared to non-pregnant peers. Further studies demonstrated pregnant women with symptomatic COVID-19 are at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19. In the U.S, over 86,877 pregnant women have contracted COVID-19 and 14,745 (17%) required hospitalization.
Q. Are the vaccines safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding?
A. There is no evidence that Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, or J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines pose risk during pregnancy, or infertility for animals that received a vaccine prior to becoming pregnant, or during pregnancy, on future ability to conceive. There is no history of any vaccine causing infertility. Protection against infection through maternal antibodies passed to infants during pregnancy or through breast-feeding can be conferred from mom to baby.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorses the Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for use in pregnant and lactating women. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protocols for new drug research prevented enrollment of pregnant women during the original Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials. However, hundreds of women enrolled in those studies during 2020 became pregnant, and birth outcomes were tracked without incident. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine advocated for vaccine availability and autonomy for pregnant and lactating women to choose whether to become vaccinated based on personal and community risk factors. To date, over 94,000 women report being pregnant and vaccinated to the CDC.
The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, meaning it uses a modified version of a different virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells. Vaccines that use the same viral vector have been given to pregnant people in all trimesters of pregnancy, including in a large-scale Ebola vaccination trial. No adverse pregnancy-related outcomes, including adverse outcomes affecting the infant, were associated with vaccination in these trials. Learn more about how viral vector vaccines work. Regarding the J&J/Janssen vaccine, the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks. However, women under age 50 should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots associated with low platelet count, and that other COVID-19 vaccine options are available where this risk has not been seen.
On 21 April, 2021, the New England Journal of Medicine published “Preliminary Findings of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons”, which can be read at the following link: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2104983.
Q. Should children get the vaccine?
A. As of May 10, 2021, according to The Food and Drug Administration, everyone 12 years of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination. People 12 years and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine. People 18 years and older can receive the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine.
Clinical trials for children younger than 12 are currently underway from both Pfizer and Moderna. That data could be submitted for FDA review as early as September.
Q. Will retired Coast Guard beneficiaries have access to the vaccine?
A. Once a vaccine is available, retirees should anticipate receiving it the same way they would receive any other vaccine – either through a Veterans Health Administration location, a DoD Military Treatment Facility (MTF), or from their primary care provider.
Q. If a Coast Guard military member chooses to receive the COVID-19 vaccine while it is under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and suffers lasting side effects, will the Veterans Administration (VA) cover any long-term issues caused by the EUA vaccine?
A. Yes. If a member chooses to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and suffers lasting side effects, long-term issues would be covered by the Veterans Administration (VA).
Q: I previously received the Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine. Should I be worried?
A. The syndrome that occurred in a rare number of cases is called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, also known as clotting associated with low platelet counts. The symptoms include headache, vision changes, or symptoms of a stroke. These events have been extremely rare. Most of the rare cases that occurred happened between approximately one to two weeks after receiving the shot. The following Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory provides additional information on the J&J vaccine, including what you should do if you experience side effects: https://www.fda.gov/media/146305/download.
Q: What should I do if I received the J&J vaccine and experience these rare symptoms?
A. If you received the vaccine in the last 14 days and develop stroke-like symptoms, have trouble breathing, or you are bruising easily, please contact your primary care provider. If your symptoms are severe, or if you are experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, or persistent abdominal pain, call 911. The following Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory provides additional information on the J&J vaccine, including what you should do if you experience side effects: https://www.fda.gov/media/146305/download.
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