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COVID-19 Vaccine

With the delta variant spreading across North Carolina and the United States, now is more important than ever to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Information about COVID-19 Vaccines

 All FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen) have been shown to be safe and effective.  Pfizer has received full FDA approval.  Vaccines are extremely effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19; they also reduce the risk of mild-moderate illness from COVID-19.  Find answers to some common questions about vaccines as well as why other Veterans in the Durham VA Health Care System decided to get vaccinated here.  All Veterans, their spouses, and caregivers may be vaccinated through VA thanks to the SAVE LIVES Act.  Unenrolled Veterans, spouses, and caregivers must register through eligibility before they can be vaccinated.

Vaccine clinics are open Monday through Friday. Walk-ups are available 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

  • Durham Medical Center – Pfizer and Janssen
  • Greenville HCC – Moderna and Janssen
  • Hillandale 1 CBOC – Janssen
  • Raleigh 1 CBOC – Janssen
  • Raleigh 3 CBOC – Moderna
  • Morehead City CBOC – Janssen 

Please contact your health care team if you have any concerns about transportation.  Vaccine clinics are eligible for travel pay; please schedule the appointment ahead of time to ensure you get full reimbursement.  If you cannot get to a VA clinic, vaccines are free and available in the community; you can search for a vaccine site in your area by going to COVID-19 Vaccine Information | NC COVID-19 (ncdhhs.gov).  If you get your COVID-19 vaccine outside the VA, please notify your health care team and provide the date(s) and type of vaccine you received so your medical record can be updated.

FDA and CDC recently recommended that certain immunosuppressed people receive 3 doses of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines instead of 2 doses to achieve better protection against COVID-19.

Durham VA is offering 3rd doses of these vaccines to Veterans who meet the criteria recommended by CDC including:

  • Active treatment for cancer
  • On immunosuppressive medications after solid organ transplant or stem cell transplant
  • Having a stem cell transplant in the last 2 years
  • Advanced or untreated HIV
  • Active treatment with high-dose steroids (e.g. prednisone 20mg/day or higher), TNF blockers, biologic medications, and certain other immunosuppressive medications

If you think you may meet one of these criteria or have questions about whether you qualify, please reach out to the provider who is treating you for that condition. They can inform you about your eligibility for a 3rd vaccine dose. Your doctor may need to place an order in your VA medical record for you to receive the 3rd dose of COVID-19 vaccine through the VA.  You should get the same type of vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) that you received for your first two doses. Please bring your original vaccination card with you when you arrive. 

 

Data continues to be reviewed for Janssen (J&J) recipients, but at this time, FDA and CDC have not recommended additional doses for immunosuppressed people who received the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine. 

It is our honor to provide your medical care and we are continually grateful for your service! Take care and thank you for getting vaccinated!  Together, let’s take care of each other and end this pandemic.
 


Congress has passed the SAVES Lives Act, allowing VA to offer COVID-19 vaccines to Veterans not enrolled in VA care, along with some spouses and caregivers.

VACCINATIONS FOR THESE GROUPS ARE AVAILABLE. All available vaccines are authorized for use by the FDA and are safe and effective.

 All enrolled Veterans are now able to receive the COVID-19 Vaccines. Vaccination appointments are open to enrolled Veterans despite age, medical condition, or profession.

The Pfizer vaccine is being offered at the Durham VA Medical Center. The Moderna vaccine is being offered at the Greenville Health Care Center (GHCC). We are expecting to receive more of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) single dose vaccine in the coming weeks.

We strongly recommend taking whichever vaccine is available to you first as all the available vaccines are FDA-authorized and have been shown to be safe and effective. They all prevent illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 and reduce the risk of spreading infection to others.

Vaccinations are available at the following locations:

Durham VA Medical Center – Pfizer and Janssen  
Hillandale 1 CBOC – Janssen 
Raleigh 1 CBOC – Janssen 
Raleigh 3 CBOC – Moderna 
Greenville HCC – Moderna and Janssen 
Morehead City CBOC – Janssen

When you have a spot, take your shot! Mask up and sleeve up! Let’s end this pandemic.

 


Questions -

Were any steps skipped in the vaccine development and authorization process?

All the usual steps were taken to ensure the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness through a series of clinical trials. Some of the steps were overlapped to save time instead of waiting to do each step one at a time. The technology used in the vaccines was already developed before the pandemic and they take less time to produce than some other types of vaccines.

Does getting sick from COVID-19 provide better protection than the vaccine?

No. Both vaccines and natural infection provide protection again future COVID-19 illness, but vaccines are safer and studies show they provide more protection. There is a risk of severe illness with hospitalization and death among all age groups with COVID-19 infection. Even those who experience mild infection can still spread COVID-19 to others who may become very sick and die. Vaccines also lower the risk of spreading the virus to others.

What is the urgency to taking the vaccine now?

When enough people get vaccinated, we can stop the virus from spreading so easily and end the pandemic. If people wait to get vaccinated, the virus will have more chances to spread and mutate (change) which will cause more people to get infected and die and it will make vaccines less effective over time.

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine even if I have underlying health conditions?

Yes! The vaccine protects people who are at higher risk for complications from COVID-19because of their underlying health conditions. The only reason you should NOT take the vaccine is if you have a severe allergy to the vaccine or its ingredients (e.g. polyethyleneglycol/Miralax or polysorbate). People who have a history of severe allergy to other things like peanuts or bee stings should be monitored for 30 minutes after vaccination for signs of an allergic reaction. We are not sure how well the vaccine works in people with a weakened immune system but it will likely provide some protection and is not dangerous for those groups of people. If you have more questions, you can contact your VA healthcare provider.

Is it possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No, there is no live virus in the vaccine, therefore it cannot cause COVID-19 infection.

Will I get a blood clot if I take the vaccine?

The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine was paused because of reports of rare blood clots, mostly in younger women. This condition is thought to occur in less than 1 in 100,000women and less than 1 in a million men. Women under 50 may consider taking the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which have not been associated with the rare immune system-related blood clotting syndrome.

Do COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility?

There have been no reports of infertility in the safety monitoring system among vaccinated individuals. Women have become pregnant after vaccination. There is no evidence that the vaccine targets a protein needed to create placenta. Fever can lead to pregnancy complications; however, the risk of fever from COVID-19 is much greater than the risk of fever from vaccine. Pregnant women can take Tylenol if their temperature rises after vaccination.

Do any of the vaccines contain fetal tissue?

No. All vaccine ingredients are listed in the Emergency Use Authorization fact sheets and there is no fetal tissue in the vaccines. No fetuses were harmed in the vaccine development process. Some existing cell lines were used for early research in development of the Janssen vaccine. This is not the case for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Do COVID-19 vaccines change your DNA (genetic code) and how long do they stay in your body?

No. Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines use a different kind of genetic code called mRNA that tells your body to make a protein that your immune system can target so that if/when you are exposed to COVID-19, your immune system will attack the virus before it can cause a serious infection. The mRNA does not get into the part of your body’s cells where DNA is stored and does not change your genetic code. The mRNA only lasts in your body for a day or two and the protein it makes only stays in your body for a few weeks. Your immune system will remember the protein and provide protection for at least 6 months and likely years.

Does the vaccine have a tracking device?

No.

Can my family get vaccinated through VA?

All Veterans, spouses, caregivers, and CHAMPVA survivors/dependents are eligible for vaccination under the SAVE LIVES Act. Anyone who is not currently enrolled in VA should go to www.va.gov/covid-19-vaccine to see if you are eligible and to sign up. Eligible individuals should wait  20 minutes after signing up before calling 919-286-5231 to schedule an appointment or come to one of the vaccine clinics during walk-up hours.

COVID-19 vaccines
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