We know you have questions. We all have questions. And there will continue to be questions.
Below is what we know about the COVID-19 vaccine roll out. We will do our best to update this page when significant learnings or changes occur.
If you have any questions that are not addressed below, please feel free to message us on the Carbon app and we will do our best to address your questions.
There are three vaccines currently available in the United States
- one developed by Pfizer/BioNTech
- one developed by Moderna
- one developed by Johnson & Johnson (referred to interchangeably as Janssen Pharmaceuticals, their vaccines division)
Many others are still in development. The first two of the above represent a new type of vaccine that contains messenger RNA (mRNA) which carries instructions for making a harmless SARS-CoV-2 “spike” protein (a surface molecule that helps the virus attach to and infect our cells). Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine utilizes a specific virus, adenovirus type 26, as a vehicle for delivering DNA encoding for the same SARS-CoV-2 “spike” protein.
When the vaccine is injected, our immune system learns to recognize, fight off, and protect us from infection by SARS-CoV-2. Meanwhile, enzymes in our cells destroy the mRNA after it’s used, and because no live virus is involved, the vaccines cannot make us sick with COVID-19. Meanwhile, the adenovirus of the Janssen vaccine has been modified to be able to enter cells but cannot replicate or cause illness once inside, thus it too cannot make us sick.
In large clinical trials that enrolled tens of thousands of people, all three vaccines lowered the chance of developing COVID-19. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines prevented symptomatic COVID-19 infection by about 95% compared to placebo. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 72% protective against moderate to severe COVID-19 infection in the United States, and 85% effective overall in protecting against severe disease (with no hospitalizations or deaths in those who received the vaccine).
Importantly, the three clinical trials bear important differences in design that make comparisons of efficacy neither fair nor appropriate. A major consideration is that the first two trials took place earlier in the pandemic, before the emergence of coronavirus variants from Britain, South Africa, and Brazil, thus it’s unclear how well they protect against these new viral variants. The outcomes these trials measured differed as well — both of the earlier studies were testing for symptomatic cases of COVID-19 infection after vaccination (Pfizer started counting after 7 days of the second dose, while Moderna started after day 14), whereas Johnson & Johnson assessed for moderate to severe COVID-19 infection as defined by a positive test and one or more symptoms.
- Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
- involves two shots
- given 3 weeks apart
- available for ages 12 and older
- Moderna vaccine
- involves two shots
- given 4 weeks apart
- available for ages 18 and older
- Johnson & Johnson vaccine
- involves one shot
- available for ages 18 and older
Vaccines are being given at no cost because they were purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars. Due to ongoing limited availability, you will likely not be able to choose which vaccine you receive.
Common side effects include
- pain/swelling in the arm (80-90%; severe in only 1% of trial participants)
- fatigue (~60%)
- headache (50-60%)
- joint pains (~20-40%)
- chills (30-40%)
All side effects generally resolve within a few days.
The second shot does appear to induce more side effects than the first, but the risk of severe allergic reaction is rare (<0.01%).
When will I be able to get the vaccine?
While the supply of COVID-19 vaccine remains limited, the CDC is providing recommendations about who should be vaccinated first, with the following goals in mind
- Decrease death and serious disease as much as possible
- Preserve functioning of society
- Reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities
The planned phased allocation of COVID-19 vaccine is as follows
Where do persons with diabetes fit in?
As of late March 2021, the CDC is designating both type 1 and type 2 diabetes as conditions that put individuals “at increased risk of severe illness.”
More information here
Most importantly, however, each state, and ultimately each county, has its own plan for deciding who will be vaccinated first and how they can receive vaccines. For the latest news updates in your state and specific county, please refer to the following:
- Official website for California COVID-19 Response
- Vaccinate CA represents a community effort driven by a team of volunteers that lists where vaccinations are available and what groups are currently being accepted at those sites.
- My Turn is where you can find out if it's your turn to get vaccinated and schedule vaccination appointments. If it isn't your turn yet, you can register to be notified when you become eligible. https://myturn.ca.gov
- To review the public health website of your specific county, check out https://covid19.ca.gov/get-local-information/
What if I get COVID-19?
While vaccination is key, one still needs to be cognizant of how to avoid contracting COVID-19. Best practices include
- masking up
- washing your hands regularly
- social distancing
- avoid touching your face (nose, mouth, eyes)
If you to contract COVID-19, let us know. We can guide and help you find the appropriate care.
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off SARS-CoV-2 virus. Two options are currently available in the United States
Bamlanivimab with or without etesevimab
Casirivumab plus Imdevimab
Both have been shown to reduce viral load and the risk for hospitalization or need for medical treatment (by up to 70%), and may speed the recovery time for symptom improvement. They are intended to be given as soon as possible after symptoms emerge in people who test positive for infection and who are at high risk for progressing to severe disease and/or hospitalization. High-risk individuals include people aged 65 and older and those with diabetes mellitus, obesity (BMI 35 or greater), and/or immunocompromising conditions.
If you test positive for COVID-19 and develop any symptoms such as muscle aches, cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell, fever or chills, we recommend you go to your nearest emergency room to request these treatments.