COVID Vaccines and Pregnancy

Briana Livingston, MD, FACOG, OB/GYN, discusses COVID-19 vaccinations and pregnancy.

COVID-19 Webinar

A team of MemorialCare clinical leaders share the latest data from the CDC and scientific community about the Delta variant, vaccine efficacy, and breakthrough cases emerging among the vaccinated population.

Delta Variant & New Visitation Policy

There are many questions about the COVID-19 Delta variant and the increased spread of infection. In an effort to provide you with important facts, watch a brief video message from MemorialCare’s President & CEO, Barry Arbuckle.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on all of our lives and those of our loved ones. And now, the highly contagious Delta variant has quickly become the predominant cause of COVID-19 and is responsible for the overwhelming majority of current cases.

We all want to get back to a time when we can feel safe and protected so that we can return to doing the things we enjoy. The only way for that to happen is for the spread of this virus to be stopped. That point will occur when we achieve something called “herd immunity” meaning enough people are immune that the virus is unlikely to be spread from one person to another because those people have immunity already. This typically occurs when 60-70% of the population has been vaccinated, but because of the increased infectivity of the COVID-19 Delta variant, this number is estimated to be 80%. This is why as a health system, we are doing everything we can to protect our patients, staff and community. 

We know that some of you still have questions about COVID-19, the Delta variant and the vaccine, so we’ve put together the answers to frequently asked questions. We want you to feel informed and make the right choice for you, your family and our community.

About the Vaccines:

Please see the most common questions and answers related to COVID-19 vaccines.

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Which COVID-19 vaccines are available?

Currently, there are three vaccines approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Each is administered similar to a flu shot and given in the muscle of the upper arm:

The Pfizer and German partner BioNTech Vaccine was the first to receive EUA from the FDA on December 11, 2020.

  • 95% efficacy
  • Requires two doses, 21 days apart
  • Recommended for ages 12 and above (On May 10, 2021, the FDA expanded this vaccine's EUA from age 16 and above to now include adolescents 12-15 years of age.)
  • Must be stored in special low-temperature refrigeration (-80 degrees to -60 degrees Celsius / -112 degrees to -76 degrees Fahrenheit), making it more likely to be used at hospitals
  • Uses Messenger RNA (or mRNA) technology 

The Moderna (in partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) Vaccine received EUA from the FDA on December 18, 2020. 

  • 94.5% efficacy
  • Requires two doses, 28 days apart
  • Recommended for ages 18 and above
  • Requires standard refrigeration (-25 degrees to -15 degrees Celsius / -13 degrees to 5 degrees Fahrenheit), making it possible to be used in smaller health clinics or local pharmacies 
  • Uses Messenger RNA (or mRNA) technology 

The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine (developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson) received EUA from the FDA on February 27, 2021.

  • The J&J trial determined that after 28 days of receiving the shot, the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID‐19 in all regions studied, 85% effective in preventing severe‐to‐critical COVID‐19 in all regions studied, and 72% effective in preventing moderate‐to‐severe COVID‐19 in the United States.*
  • Single-dose vaccine
  • Recommended for ages 18 and above
  • Can be stored at standard refrigeration temperatures for up to 3 months 
    (2.2 degrees to 7.8 degrees Celsius / 36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), making it possible to be used in smaller health clinics or local pharmacies 
  • Uses genetically engineered common cold virus at its base
  • Fetal cells aided in the development of this vaccine but are not present in the final product. Fetal cells were from laboratory-grown cell lines derived from a single 1985 aborted fetus cell.

* There has been a lot of misinformation circulating about the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine and its efficacy as compared to Pfizer's and Moderna's. Our clinical experts have studied this issue and advise that it’s not possible to accurately compare the effectiveness of the J&J vaccine against these other two vaccines. The vaccine developers of each designed their clinical trials to test for different outcomes. J&J’s trials tested whether one of its doses protected against moderate to severe COVID illness and the Pfizer and Moderna trials tested for symptomatic COVID infection. In addition, the J&J vaccine was tested in different geographic locations around the world and against the variants that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were tested earlier in the pandemic, prior to the emergence of the new variants. In the end, all three vaccines do what they are designed to do—prevent severe complications, hospitalization and death due to the coronavirus.

IMPORTANT UPDATES ON THE JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE:

April 2021
On April 13, 2021, the CDC and FDA temporarily put a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Concerned about reports of rare blood clots that developed in six individuals
out of the almost seven million people who had already received this vaccinethese agencies paused its use to conduct a thorough safety review. After ten days, they concluded that while the J&J vaccine caused the blood clots, it was an extremely rare occurrence and therefore, the benefits of receiving this vaccine far outweigh the risks. On April 23rd, they lifted the pause and recommended resuming the use of this vaccine. See their report.

July 2021 FDA Announcement: 
The FDA announced revisions to the vaccine recipient and vaccination provider fact sheets for the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine to include information pertaining to an observed increased risk of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) following vaccination. GBS is a neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, or in the most severe cases, paralysis. Based on an analysis of Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting (VAERS) data, there have been 100 preliminary reports of GBS following vaccination with the Janssen vaccine after approximately 12.5 million doses administered. Of these reports, 95 of them were serious and required hospitalization. There was one reported death. Each year in the United States, an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS. Most people fully recover from the disorder. GBS has also been observed at an increased rate associated with certain vaccines, including certain seasonal influenza vaccines and a vaccine to prevent shingles.  Although the available evidence suggests an association between the Janssen vaccine and increased risk of GBS, it is insufficient to establish a causal relationship. No similar signal has been identified with the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. 

Immunity:

For Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines—Maximum immunity reached 5-6 weeks after both doses. In general, after a person receives the first dose of a vaccine, they will start to develop some immunity within 2-4 weeks, but this is not full or sufficient immunity to protect against disease. The vaccines require the second ‘booster’ dose to reach full 94.5% or 95% immunity which can take an additional one-two weeks after receiving the second dose. 

For the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine—Maximum immunity reached within four weeks (28 days). This vaccine's protection against moderate to severe disease starts about two weeks after a person gets vaccinated. By four weeks after the shot, data from the clinical trials showed there were no hospitalizations or deaths.

As for how long the immunity lasts for any of these three vaccines, this is still not fully known. At this point, we cannot say whether repeat vaccination, for instance on an annual basis, will be necessary.

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Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

More than 165 million Americans have been fully vaccinated with one of the available vaccines and are now protected against COVID-19. Additionally, more than 4.58 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide. The CDC has carefully monitored and kept track of any and all potential side effects or complications from the vaccines provided in the US. That data clearly shows that these vaccines are both safe and highly effective. The vaccines were developed to do exactly what they do – help prevent you from developing severe illness or dying from COVID.

How effective? According to the latest data from the CDC (August 2021), less than 0.004% of people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 experienced a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization, and less than 0.001% have died from the disease. That’s about 6,600 severe breakthrough cases out of the millions of fully vaccinated people in the U.S. That degree of protection is a remarkable achievement for any vaccine.

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The vaccines were developed too fast. Can I trust the science?

Although it’s hard to believe that these vaccines were able to be developed, tested and produced without cutting corners, it’s true. These vaccines went through the standard 3 phases of clinical trials to assess their safety, appropriate dosing levels and ability to prevent disease. Health experts took all the usual and necessary steps to produce safe vaccines. They weren’t authorized for emergency use until after tens of thousands of people had received them and were monitored closely for months to ensure the vaccines were safe and effective. In fact, vaccinated participants in those trials continue to be followed to watch for the development of any late complications; none have been reported with the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). 

Related to the specific live virus vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, monitoring of those receiving the vaccines after the trials picked up the rare occurrence of a specific kind of blood clot occurring in women from 18 to 50 years of age. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has a special system for monitoring any post-vaccination side effects, and they are continuing to watch for any additional cases of these blood clots.

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Do the vaccines protect against the Delta variant?

Yes. The vaccines have proven to be very effective in reducing the risk of symptomatic infection with the Delta variant. While there is some “breakthrough” in vaccinated people, the majority of those individuals are either asymptomatic, though could be shedding the infection, or have mild-moderate symptoms that feel like a cold or flu.

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Are there any possible side effects or concerns I should be aware of with any of the COVID-19 vaccines?

It is possible you may experience side effects after vaccination. This can be normal and is often a sign that your body is activating to protect you. For most people, the symptoms are typically mild and last only a day or two. For others, the after-effects of vaccination can be more serious. Below provides information on both the common side effects as well as rare but more serious ones.

COMMON SIDE EFFECTS:

Most people who get vaccinated will have mild side effects that may last at most a couple of days. Some may feel one or more of the following common side effects after vaccination, while many don’t notice anything at all beyond a sore arm near the site of the shot. 

On the arm where you got the shot--

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

And throughout the rest of your body--

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Please note:
If you receive a 2-dose vaccine such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, the side effects after your second shot may be more intense than the ones you experienced after your first shot. These side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection and should go away within a few days.

If, on the other hand, you had a severe or immediate allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get a second dose of either of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Talk with your doctor about getting a vaccine that is not mRNA-based, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely following any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccine monitoring has historically shown that side effects generally happen within six weeks of receiving a vaccine dose. For this reason, the FDA required each of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines to be studied for at least two months (eight weeks) after the final dose. Millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccines, and no long-term side effects have been detected.

How to treat common side effects:

If you do experience any of the common side effects after vaccination, the best course of action is to talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for any pain or discomfort you may be feeling. You can take these medications to relieve post-vaccination side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally.

It is not recommended you take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects.

  • To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot you may find it helpful to apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area. It is also recommended that you use or exercise your arm.
  • To reduce discomfort from fever, it is recommended that you drink plenty of fluids and 
  • dress lightly.

If you received a two-dose vaccine such as the Pfizer or Moderna, the side effects after your second shot may be more intense than the ones you experienced after your first shot. These side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection and should go away within a few days.
 

RARE SIDE EFFECTS:

While most people will only experience the common side effects, there are some side effects that are rare but more serious that one should be aware of.

  • Allergic Reaction - All Vaccines
    People who have a history of anaphylaxis to another vaccine or injectable medication should be carefully monitored for 30 minutes if they choose to get the vaccine. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic overreaction of the body’s immune system, which can be life-threatening. Those concerned or who have been told by their healthcare provider to carry an EpiPen should speak with their physician before receiving the vaccine.

    Additionally, one may have an allergic reaction if they are allergic to an ingredient in the vaccine. For a list of ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines, see the FAQ question: “Are there any groups of people who should or should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine?”
     
  • Rare Blood Clot - Johnson & Johnson Vaccine 
    After thoroughly investigating the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC and FDA concluded that there is a plausible causal relationship between this vaccine and a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS) occurring primarily in women between the ages 18-49. However, due to its rarity (7 individuals per every 1 million vaccinated), the two agencies continue to recommend the use of this vaccine for all people, stating that the benefits outweigh the very small risk. For more information, look for the question: "About the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, should I be concerned about the risk of blood clots or Guillain-Barré Syndrome? What are the symptoms to look for?".  
     
  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome - Johnson & Johnson Vaccine:
    In July 2021, the FDA revised the vaccine recipient and vaccination provider fact sheets for the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine to include information pertaining to an observed increased risk of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) following vaccination. GBS is a neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, or in the most severe cases, paralysis. Based on an analysis of Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting (VAERS) data, there have been 100 preliminary reports of GBS following vaccination with the Janssen vaccine after approximately 12.5 million doses administered. Of these reports, 95 of them were serious and required hospitalization. There was one reported death. Each year in the United States, an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS. Most people fully recover from the disorder. GBS has also been observed at an increased rate associated with certain vaccines, including certain seasonal influenza vaccines and a vaccine to prevent shingles.  Although the available evidence suggests an association between the Janssen vaccine and increased risk of GBS, it is insufficient to establish a causal relationship. No similar signal has been identified with the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. 
     
  • Myocarditis and Pericarditis - mRNA Vaccines
    Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. In both cases, the body’s immune system causes inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger. One trigger is the COVID-19 vaccine. The symptoms are chest pain, shortness of breath, or an abnormal heartbeat (fast, fluttering, or pounding). It is recommended that one seek medical care if you have any of these symptoms within a week after the COVID-19 vaccination.

    Because this occurs rarely, the CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 12 years of age and older. Visit the CDC website for more information.

    Confirmed cases have occurred:
  1. Mostly in male adolescents and young adults age 16 years or older
  2. More often after getting the second dose than after the first dose of one of the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna)
  3. Typically within several days after COVID-19 vaccination
     
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Are there any groups of people who should or should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

Age Restrictions:
Currently, the vaccines are not recommended for all ages. While the Pfizer vaccine is not recommended for those below the age of 12, both the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not recommended for those below age 18.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women:
The CDC issued this statement on August 11, 2021: COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people aged 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19. Visit the CDC website for more information.

Fetal cells and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine:
The Catholic Church has issued an ethics statement regarding the involvement of a cell line derived from a 1985 aborted fetus in the original development of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (noting that there is no fetal tissue or product in the vaccine itself). While some U.S. Catholic leaders have issued opinions opposed to use of the vaccine, a statement from the Vatican recognizes the greater good for use of the J&J vaccine to prevent disease and death and considers it morally acceptable.

Additionally, the local Diocese of Orange has addressed the issue of the vaccines in the following video:
Click here for English
Click here for Spanish subtitles

Those with allergies to any of the vaccine ingredients:
The following three vaccines do not contain eggs, preservatives or latex. The ingredients for each vaccine are listed below, but for more information on each vaccine along with individual vaccine fact sheets, please visit the CDC's vaccine webpage.

  • Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine ingredients:
    mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine ingredients:
    Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose.
  • Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine ingredients:
    Recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, citric acid monohydrate, trisodium citrate dihydrate, ethanol, 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD), polysorbate-80, sodium chloride.
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About the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, should I be concerned about the risk of blood clots or Guillain-Barré Syndrome? What are the symptoms to look for?

Following the CDC and FDA’s recent recommendation that the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine resume after what had been a 10-day pause for investigation, the CDC’s website concluded the following:

  • There is a plausible causal relationship between J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS). However, after reviewing all available safety data, CDC and FDA recommend use of this vaccine resume in the United States given that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks.
     
  • This adverse event is rare, occurring at a rate of about 7 per 1 million vaccinated women between 18 and 49 years old. For women 50 years and older and men of all ages, this adverse event is even more rare.
     
  • For three weeks after receiving the vaccine, you should be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot with low platelets. These include:
  1. Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Chest pain
  4. Leg swelling
  5. Persistent abdominal pain
  6. Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site


New July 2021 FDA Announcement - Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Johnson & Johnson Vaccine:

The FDA announced revisions to the vaccine recipient and vaccination provider fact sheets for the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine to include information pertaining to an observed increased risk of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) following vaccination. GBS is a neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, or in the most severe cases, paralysis. Based on an analysis of Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting (VAERS) data, there have been 100 preliminary reports of GBS following vaccination with the Janssen vaccine after approximately 12.5 million doses administered. Of these reports, 95 of them were serious and required hospitalization. There was one reported death. Each year in the United States, an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS. Most people fully recover from the disorder. GBS has also been observed at an increased rate associated with certain vaccines, including certain seasonal influenza vaccines and a vaccine to prevent shingles.  Although the available evidence suggests an association between the Janssen vaccine and increased risk of GBS, it is insufficient to establish a causal relationship. No similar signal has been identified with the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. 

Signs and symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome may include:

  1. Prickling, pins and needles sensations in your fingers, toes, ankles or wrists
  2. Weakness in your legs that spreads to your upper body
  3. Unsteady walking or inability to walk or climb stairs
  4. Difficulty with facial movements, including speaking, chewing or swallowing
  5. Double vision or inability to move eyes
  6. Severe pain that may feel achy, shooting or cramplike and may be worse at night
  7. Difficulty with bladder control or bowel function
  8. Rapid heart rate
  9. Low or high blood pressure
  10. Difficulty breathing


If you have any concerns about your health, whether related to vaccination or otherwise, please contact your primary care physician immediately. Of course, if you feel you are having a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.

For more information on this vaccine, visit the CDC’s J&J vaccine update webpage

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Should the reports of this side effect with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine cause concern about receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines?

No. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a completely different method of causing immunity to the COVID-19 virus than the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Neither the blood clotting problem nor the Guillain-Barré Syndrome side effects have been reported in the tens of millions of people receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

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Once I am vaccinated, will I still need to follow precautionary measures?

On July 28, 2021, the state of California's Department of Public Health updated their masking guidelines, superseding all prior covering guidance. The updated mask guidelines reflect the recent significant rise in COVID-19 cases as a result of the prevalence of the highly transmissable Delta variant. 

Masking Requirements:

Masks are required for all individuals in the following indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status:

  • On public transit (examples: airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares) and in transportation hubs (examples: airport, bus terminal, marina, train station, seaport or other port, subway station, or any other area that provides transportation)
  • Indoors in K-12 schools, childcare
  • Emergency shelters and cooling centers

Masks are required for all individuals, in the following indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status (and surgical masks are recommended):

  • Healthcare settings
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
  • Homeless shelters
  • Long Term Care Settings[9] & Adult and Senior Care Facilities

Additionally, masks are required* for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses (examples: retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, state and local government offices serving the public).

Exemptions to masks requirements:

The following individuals are exempt from wearing masks at all times:

  • Persons younger than two years old. Very young children must not wear a mask because of the risk of suffocation.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.

For more information, see this CDPH's webpage.

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I heard one should not have a mammogram if they get the vaccine. Is this true?

The COVID-19 vaccine, like other vaccinations, stimulates your immune system. This can cause a temporary enlargement of lymph nodes near where the person was vaccinated. Those lymph nodes can sometimes be seen by the radiologist reading your mammogram and make it appear to be abnormal even when you are OK and there is no indication of cancer. Since enlarged lymph nodes can result in a “false positive” on your mammogram, you could get a request to return for further testing — a call-back — which can be unsettling.

Therefore, mammograms should be scheduled before your first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination or four to six weeks after the last dose. That way, there is time for your lymph nodes to return to their normal size. As with any testing recommended by your healthcare provider, women age 40 and above should not delay recommended mammographic screening.

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Can “vaccine shedding” cause side effects in unvaccinated people?

No, for multiple reasons. The first is that these vaccines stay locally in the muscle in which they are injected. They do not enter the bloodstream and circulate so they cannot cause you to shed anything. In addition, none of the vaccines contain any of the actual components of the virus, let alone a whole virus itself. The spike protein your body makes in response to the vaccine is primarily made locally in the muscle where the vaccine is administered and may possibly be seen in low levels in the blood, but it should not be shed in significant quantity in respiratory or other secretions.

On the other hand, someone who has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 WILL shed virus and are contagious. People with COVID-19 shed large amounts of virus from respiratory secretions, which is how COVID-19 spreads.

Shedding can’t happen without a live-virus vaccine. The mRNA vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – are not live-virus vaccines and do not replicate. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is considered a live vaccine because it contains adenovirus (but NOT the coronavirus.) Still, the adenovirus in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can’t replicate (multiply or reproduce), so there’s no way they can shed. 

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Do I need a booster if I am fully vaccinated?

On September 24, 2021, the FDA, CDC, and State of CA approved a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after completing the primary series of Pfizer for people aged 65 years and older, people age 18-64 who are at the highest risk for severe/complicated COVID-19, and people age 18-64 whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure (including healthcare workers and teachers) puts them at high risk. You can refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html for more information on who should or may receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine. MemorialCare is now offering the Pfizer booster and will be making clinic spots available on a first-come, first-serve basis. We are happy to help prior Pfizer recipients get scheduled with us, or you can find available slots on https://myturn.ca.gov/ in many locations across the area.

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How long does the Moderna vaccine last? I hear it is only for 6 months. I want to make sure because I got Moderna at the beginning of the year.

The short answer is that currently available studies suggest that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work longer than 6 months. The most recent studies show that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine maintains similar levels of neutralizing antibodies, and therefore is effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19, for at least 6 to 8 months. Another study looked at immune memory cells in the bone marrow after vaccination with the mRNA vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer). These are cells that remember the virus and lie in wait for another, future exposure. This study, which went out to 8 months, showed that these protective cells are ready to jump into action with a rapid immune response if a vaccinated person were exposed to the virus in the future.

It is important to note that the 6 to 8-month timeframes in these studies reflect the limited amount of time that has passed since large numbers of people were first vaccinated. We’ll continue to see data on longer time frames as more time passes, so we expect to learn more on how long the vaccine effect actually lasts. Based on these and other studies, though, immunology experts believe the vaccine coverage will last much longer, perhaps even up to years. Studies are ongoing, and we will be tracking those closely.

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Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the flu vaccine?

Yes. According to the current guidance from the CDC on administration of COVID-19 vaccines, you may be administered the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines, including flu vaccines.  If given at the same time, COVID-19 vaccines and flu vaccines should be administered in different arms if possible, to minimize a local reaction.

Vaccine Boosters and Third Doses

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Is MemorialCare offering third doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine?

Based on the CDC recommendations from August 13, 2021, MemorialCare is still offering the 3rd dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine to people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. The CDC and California Department of Public Health advise patients who received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine and have moderately to severely compromised immune systems to receive an additional vaccine dose. They specifically did not recommend an additional shot of any kind for people that received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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Who is approved for a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine?

The FDA has authorized the use of a third dose of either mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for at-risk immunocompromised individuals who fall into one of the categories listed below.

Individuals considered immunocompromised are:

  • People receiving chemotherapy for solid tumors and blood cancers
  • People with solid-organ transplants taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • People who are within two years of a stem cell transplant, or currently taking immunosuppressive medications or CAR-T-cell therapy
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (people born without a fully functioning immune system like DiGeorge or Wiskott-Aldrich syndromes)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., > 20mg prednisone or equivalent, per day), or other drugs/agents that are classified as severely immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory (e.g. TNF inhibitors)
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When can someone approved receive the third dose of Pfizer or Moderna?

This third dose may be administered at least 28 days following the two-dose regimen of the same vaccine the individual has already received. 

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How can I schedule a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna?

Eligible MemorialCare Medical Group patients may schedule an appointment for a third dose at any of our vaccine clinics by calling the MemorialCare Navigation Center at 877-MYMEMCARE (696-3622) or through the MyTurn platform. Immunocompromised individuals will not need to provide written proof of their medical conditions, but they will be required to complete a self-attestation form before receiving the third dose.

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What if I received the J&J vaccine? Is that approved for a second dose?

No, the FDA has not yet approved or recommended a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for anyone, whether or not they are immunocompromised. The FDA is continuing to collect and review data to determine if those who received the J&J vaccine need an additional dose or booster. Gathering that data may still be weeks away as the J&J vaccine was authorized in the U.S. more than two months after the first Pfizer shot.

MemorialCare only administers the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Should the FDA approve a second dose of the J&J vaccine, those interested in receiving it should schedule their appointment through the MyTurn website.

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Is MemorialCare offering the booster shot?

On September 24, 2021, the FDA, CDC, and State of CA approved a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after completing the primary series of Pfizer for people aged 65 years and older, people age 18-64 who are at the highest risk for severe/complicated COVID-19, and people age 18-64 whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure (including healthcare workers and teachers) puts them at high risk. You can refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html for more information on who should or may receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine. MemorialCare is now offering the Pfizer booster and will be making clinic spots available on a first-come, first-serve basis. We are happy to help prior Pfizer recipients get scheduled with us, or you can find available slots on https://myturn.ca.gov/ in many locations across the area.

Vaccine Hesitancy:

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I have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines. Why should I get vaccinated?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on all of our lives and those of our loved ones. And now, the highly contagious Delta variant has quickly become the predominant cause of COVID-19. We all want to get back to a time when we can feel safe and protected so that we can return to doing the things we enjoy. The only way for that to happen is for the spread of this virus to be stopped. That point will occur when we achieve something called “herd immunity,” meaning enough people are immune that the virus is unlikely to be spread from one person to another because those people have immunity already. This typically occurs when 60-70% of the population has been vaccinated, but because of the increased infectivity of the COVID-19 Delta variant most common in the U.S., this number is estimated to be 80%.  This is why as a health system, we are doing everything we can to protect our patients, staff and community.

We understand if you have concerns about getting vaccinated, especially since there is a lot of misinformation circulating about these new vaccines. To help answer some of those questions and address vaccine hesitancy concerns, you may want to visit our “Get the Shot” webpage. We encourage you to learn for yourself what medical experts have told us about these vaccines and, ultimately, make the right choice for you, your family and our community.

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I’m terrified of needles. How do I get over the fear?

Trypanophobia or fear of needles is fairly common. The needles used for these vaccines are typically some of the thinnest that are used so many people have commented that they didn’t even feel the injection. If you’re worried, please let the person administering the vaccine at the clinic know so that they can help you through this.

One helpful tip is to practice slow, deep breathing and focus your attention there. Breathing exercises have been used in eastern medicine for thousands of years. Slow, deep breaths can decrease the release of stress hormones and slow heart rate. When you are stressed, your body revs up, but when you take slow, deep breaths, it is like you are engaging the brake.

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I’ve already had COVID-19. Do I still need to get vaccinated?

Medical experts recommend that people who have had COVID-19 still get vaccinated. It isn’t clear yet how long immunity lasts after an actual infection and some people that are infected with COVID-19 don’t make a lot of something called neutralizing antibodies. These are antibodies that directly block the ability of the virus to enter your cells. The vaccines help you to develop a high level of those neutralizing antibodies and stimulate your body to remember this for later so that you should have immunity for even longer. There are cases where a person has had COVID-19 and recovered and later gets re-infected. Getting vaccinated will help prevent that.

If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, when should you get the vaccine? The risk of re-infection after having had COVID-19 is very low in the first 90 days, so you may choose to wait that long, although waiting is not necessary. Of course, people with current COVID-19 symptoms should wait until their acute illness has resolved before being vaccinated, which is about 10 days after the start of symptoms or a positive test.

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I’m not worried about or don’t think I will get COVID. And if I do, I’m young and healthy and will recover quickly. Why should I get vaccinated?

Being young and healthy does not guarantee that you will be asymptomatic or experience a very minor case of the virus. COVID-19 has proven to be unpredictable, and although the majority of those who get it do recover within a few weeks, and those that have more severe cases do tend to be older or already have compromised immune systems, there are also cases where someone young and healthy has become very ill or even died. Younger people are one of the most commonly infected age groups and, on top of the risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19, they can also be a source of spread to others.

In addition, some people who have had COVID-19, even if their case was mild, have developed a syndrome known as “long COVID-19.” These people recover from their initial infection, but then continue to experience symptoms long after their initial recovery. In some of these individuals we have also seen long-term damage done to organs such as the heart, lungs and brain.

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I want to wait until more people are vaccinated. What is the harm in that?

Time is of the essence. Waiting too long to be vaccinated allows the coronavirus to continue spreading throughout the community, and new variants are emerging. Getting COVID-19 can be very dangerous to you and can spread the disease to others. The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner you are protected from the virus and can safely resume activities you love. Vaccines can only save lives if people are getting vaccinated. 

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I am uncomfortable with the vaccines only receiving Emergency Use Authorization. That sounds 'experimental' to me.

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) does NOT mean experimental. In order to achieve EUA, the medication needs to pass the same data for safety and efficacy that it would for full approval. The Director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Dr. Peter Marks, said “...all three Covid-19 vaccines currently authorized for emergency use in the United States have been thoroughly evaluated and have met, and continue to meet, the F.D.A.’s rigorous standards. If we truly want our lives to return to normal, the fastest way to do so is simple —get vaccinated right now.”

Full FDA approval for the vaccines may still be months away. To begin, full approval for the vaccines cannot be submitted until at least 6 months of follow-up on all participants in the study, even those that crossed over from placebo to vaccine. Currently, both Pfizer and Moderna have applied for full FDA approval and Johnson & Johnson is expected to soon, but the process is a lengthy one and requires the FDA to review much more data that has been compiled over a longer time period. Full approval also requires months of data on the different vaccine manufacturing facilities all over the world.

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Truth or Myth: Can receiving a COVID-19 vaccine cause you to be magnetic?

No. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals.

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Truth or Myth: Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.

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Truth or Myth: Will getting a COVID-19 vaccine cause me to test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response to vaccination, which is the goal, you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus.

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Truth or Myth: Won’t getting vaccinated just promote more mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus, similar to antibiotics promoting resistance in bacteria?

No. It’s actually the opposite. When a person is infected with the actual virus, the virus makes lots of copies of itself, including the recipe to make more viruses. The more copies it makes, the greater the chance that it makes an error. Most of the time, those errors either don’t change how the virus works or make it weaker, but sometimes, by our bad luck, that change can make the new copies of the virus more infectious or stronger. We call those variants. People that are vaccinated can block and clear the virus faster so it doesn’t have as much time to make copies and errors, reducing the chance of variants.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, like other RNA viruses, is more likely to mutate. The concerning variants out there now (Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta) all came about in countries where the people weren’t vaccinated yet. The Delta variant, for example, was first identified in India in October 2020 –2 months before the first vaccines became available.

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Truth or Myth: I’ve heard that 99.98% of patients who get COVID-19 survive. With odds like that, why should I get vaccinated?

The “99.98%” survival figure is not correct. To date, with all the widespread testing that has been done in the U.S., out of 35,762,495 cases, there have been 616,828 deaths –meaning 98.28% survive, with a 1.72% case-fatality rate. That may not sound like much, but it means nearly 1 in 50 people who get COVID-19 die from it. It also doesn’t consider the 6.9% of people hospitalized or those that survive with long-lasting effects.

Yes, the chances of dying are much higher in older people. But even for younger people in whom the risk of death is much lower, it’s not zero. Many of those being hospitalized with the Delta variant are in the younger age group – and the overwhelming majority are unvaccinated. We’re also finding that at least 10% of people with COVID-19 – even mild forms – have symptoms that last more than 3 months, including fatigue, poor concentration, cough, headaches, muscle pain, and/or persistent loss of taste and smell.

Lastly, getting vaccinated is not only about protecting you; it’s about protecting the vulnerable and higher risk people with whom you come in contact.

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Truth or Myth: Is there a connection between the mRNA Vaccines and Cancer?

No. This false claim was first promoted by NaturalNews.com, a network of health misinformation sites that repeatedly published false content. The March 2021 NaturalNews.com article was based on a Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) study published in August 2018 in the journal Nature. Although that study did find that changes in mRNA can inactivate tumor-suppressing proteins, the research was not connected to mRNA vaccines like those used against COVID-19.

  • In fact, the cancer center August 2018 press release made it clear that the research did not involve mRNA vaccines.
  • According to a March 2021 article on Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s website, “It’s important to know that none of the COVID-19 vaccines interact with or alter your DNA in any way. They cannot cause cancer.”
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Truth or Myth: Are irregular periods a side effect of COVID-19 vaccines – for example, heavier bleeding than normal, early periods, late periods – and do mRNA vaccines cause infertility?

Right now, there’s no scientific evidence that suggests COVID-19 vaccines are making periods irregular nor was this identified in any of the clinical trials of the vaccines. There’s also no biological mechanism, based on how the vaccines work, that would explain these occurrences. While abnormal periods can happen after a person receives the COVID-19 vaccine, it is most likely due to chance and does not necessarily mean the vaccine caused the abnormal period.

There is also no evidence that the vaccines cause infertility. This rumor was based on the idea that the spike protein encoded by the mRNA vaccines overlaps with syncytin-1, a protein found in the human placenta

  • This is not true! Syncytin-1 is made up of 538 amino acids and the spike protein encoded by the vaccine only overlaps at 4. Given that there are only 20 amino acids in protein synthesis, this is like saying that 2 phone numbers are the same because they both contain the number “7.” There has also not been any evidence of decreased fertility in vaccinated women to date.
  • In addition, if the above were true, the same risk would arise from having an actual COVID infection
     

How to Get the Vaccine:

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Does MemorialCare have COVID-19 vaccine?

Through a contract with the state of California, Blue Shield of California oversees the vaccine allocation and distribution to the different health systems, pharmacies, supermarkets, and others who are administering the vaccine to individuals. MemorialCare remains in close communication with Blue Shield to ensure we receive a steady supply of vaccine. In general, we get a limited shipment of vaccine delivered to our hospitals and select vaccine MemorialCare Medical Group health centers clinics on a weekly basis, although it is not guaranteed that we will always get the vaccine supply or brand we request. 

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Do I have a choice as to which of the COVID-19 vaccines I can have?

When you are scheduling your vaccine appointment, in most cases you will find that clinics provide information on which vaccine brand they are administering. Simply choose a clinic with your preferred vaccine brand.

Remember that depending on your age, you may not have a choice of vaccine. For example, if you are age 12-17, you may only receive the Pfizer vaccine. But if you are age 18 and above, you are eligible for all three vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. When scheduling an appointment through the MemorialCare myChart open scheduling feature, you will be asked your age so that you can be directed to a clinic administering the correct vaccine.

Which vaccine should I get?
The best vaccine is the one you have access to first. Each vaccine is virtually 100% effective in saving your life from COVID – and they will allow us to get back to the things we love and miss.

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Where can I get vaccinated by MemorialCare?

We have set up vaccine clinics in select MCMG health centers in Long Beach and Orange County.

For our MemorialCare Medical Group patients:
When a patient becomes eligible for the vaccine, we send them a notification on how to schedule their appointment. They can then choose a location, date and time to be vaccinated at one of our vaccine clinics.

A MemorialCare Medical Group (MCMG) patient is defined as an individual who has been treated at one of our facilities within the last 24 months. We follow the California Department of Public Health's vaccine eligibility guidelines which currently state anyone 12 years of age and above are eligible for the vaccine. MCMG patients who fit the criteria should have already received a communication from us through myChart, text message, telephone call or email to let them know how to schedule a vaccine appointment at one of our vaccine clinics. For patients who have not received a communication from us but are still interested in receiving the vaccine, please call our MemorialCare Navigation Center at 877-MYMEMCARE (696-3622).

For patients and for non-patients:
Anyone can schedule an appointment at select MemorialCare vaccine clinic locations through the state's website - My Turn.

Vaccine clinics outside of MemorialCare:
There are also a number of non-MemorialCare locations where one can get vaccinated. For more information, look for the question in this FAQ: "Are there additional sites outside of MemorialCare that are providing vaccinations?"

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What does a parent or legal guardian of a minor between the ages 12-17 need to know before the adolescent receives the Pfizer vaccine?

On May 10, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to include individuals 12 years of age and older. To learn more, see the FDA's Pfizer EUA Fact Sheet.  

Will parents be required to bring proof of the minor's age (birth certificate, etc.)? 
No, we are not requiring parents to bring birth certificates. 

Does an individual under the age of 18 need to be accompanied by an adult to get the COVID Vaccine?
Individuals under the age of 18 need a parent, legal guardian, or agent to give consent for the COVID Vaccine.  

  • For patients under the age of 16.  Individuals between the ages of 12 through 15 must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or authorized agent when presenting for the vaccine. For more information of an agent, see below.
     
  • For patients between the ages of 16 through 17.  We encourage either a parent, legal guardian and/or authorized agent to accompany their child to all appointments.  

    Individuals between the ages of 16 - 17 years of age do NOT have to have their parent, legal guardian or authorized third-party agent present.  The parent or legal guardian must review the FDA's Pfizer EUA Fact Sheet.  The parent or legal guardian may sign the Covid-19 Vaccine Consent Form in advance and have their child bring it to the COVID Vaccine appointment. Staff will call the parent and/or legal guardian to confirm consent over the phone at the time the teenager presents for the COVID vaccine. 

Can a parent send an adult friend or family member (agent) to give consent for the Covid Vaccine?

  • A parent or legal guardian may authorize an adult (18 and older) to consent to the medical care of their child.  If the parent or legal guardian cannot accompany the minor, they can complete the Third-Party Consent Form to authorize a third-party agent (the agent) to accompany the minor and consent to the vaccination.
     
  • This person is often referred to as an agent and should be someone that the parent trusts.  The completed and signed Third-Party Consent Form must be brought to the vaccine appointment.  
     
  • The agent named in the Third-Party Consent Form can complete the Covid-19 Vaccine Consent Form on the parent’s behalf.  Minors presenting with third-party agent MUST bring the signed Third-Party Consent Form each time they present for a vaccine dose.

Prior to the minor receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, what forms must be completed?

  • For Parents or Legal Guardians:
    Please sign the COVID Vaccine Consent Form on behalf of your minor child. 
     
  • When Authorizing Third-Party Agent:
    If the parent or legal guardian cannot accompany the minor, they can complete the Third-Party Consent Form to authorize a third-party agent (the agent) to accompany the minor and consent to the vaccination. A third-party agent (example: aunt, grandma, neighbor) must be an adult of 18 years or older. 

    The completed and signed Third-Party Consent Form must be brought to the vaccine appointment.  The agent named in the Third-Party Consent Form can complete the Covid-19 Vaccine Consent Form on the parent’s behalf.  Minors presenting with third-party agent MUST bring the signed Third-Party Consent Form each time they present for a vaccine dose.

If a minor arrives for their Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine without an adult, is it possible for the parent or legal guardian to provide verbal consent? 

  • For patients under the age of 16.  
    For patients under the age of 16, the parent, legal guardian and/or authorized agent must accompany the minor to the vaccine clinic to provide consent in person and support the child.  

    If the parent or legal guardian is sending an agent to consent on their behalf, the parent or legal guardian must complete the Third-Party Consent Form which authorizes another adult (18 or over) to accompany the minor to the clinic and consent to the vaccine. The signed Third-Party Consent Form must be brought to the clinic at the time of the vaccination.  While at the clinic, the agent will be able to sign the COVID Vaccination Consent Form on the parent and/or legal guardian’s behalf. 
     
  • For minors 16 and above.
    We encourage either a parent, legal guardian and/or authorized third-party agent accompany their child to all appointments.  

    Individuals between the ages of 16 - 17 years of age do NOT have to have their parent, legal guardian or authorized third-party agent present.  The parent or legal guardian must review the Pfizer EUA.  The parent or legal guardian may sign the Covid-19 Vaccine Consent Form in advance and have their child bring it to the COVID Vaccine appointment.  Staff will call the parent and/or legal guardian to confirm consent over the phone at the time the teenager presents for the COVID vaccine. 
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What happens if one cannot get the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the recommended time frame?

The recommended interval between the first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are:

  • Pfizer vaccine requires two doses given 3 weeks (21 days) apart.
  • Moderna vaccine requires two doses given 1 month (28 days) apart.

If you receive either of these vaccines, you should get your second shot as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, your second dose may be given up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessary. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

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What if I lost my vaccination card?

If you have lost your vaccination card and don’t have a copy, contact your vaccination provider site where you received your vaccine to access your vaccination record. If you received your vaccine through MemorialCare, you can find your vaccine record in your MyChart account. Anyone who is vaccinated can also get a digital copy of their card through the State portal at www.myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov.

COVID-19/Delta Variant and Guidelines:

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What is the Delta variant?

The Delta is a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is much more contagious than previous strains. Current data suggests it might cause more severe illness than prior strains in unvaccinated people. 

While unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern, fully vaccinated people with Delta variant breakthrough infections can still spread the virus to others. However, fully vaccinated people appear to be infectious for a shorter period.
    
Given what we know about the Delta variant, vaccine effectiveness, and current vaccine coverage, layered prevention strategies, such as wearing masks, are needed to reduce the transmission of this variant.

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Do the vaccines remain the first line of defense, especially with the Delta variant?

Yes. The vaccines have proven to be very effective in reducing the risk of symptomatic infection with the Delta variant. And in those who do develop illness despite vaccination, these vaccines markedly reduce the development of severe illness.

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What data is being collected regarding vaccinations?

All hospitals and healthcare providers who administer the COVID-19 vaccination doses are required to report this information to the California Immunization Registry (CAIR) within 24 hours. In order to be able to do this, they must be registered with CAIR and have an immunization information system ID number.  Vaccine providers must also report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) any moderate and/or severe adverse events following a vaccination.

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Where can I find further information on COVID-19 and the vaccines?

For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccines, please visit the CDC website:
COVID-19
Vaccines

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Will MemorialCare require all employees to be vaccinated?

The vast majority of MemorialCare employees are fully vaccinated. MemorialCare will fully comply with the new California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Order, requiring all workers in hospitals and other health care settings either to show proof of having been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or to apply for and receive an exemption for medical or religious reasons, no later than Thursday, September. 30, 2021. Health care workers who are not vaccinated are required to be tested frequently and take additional safety measures to protect the community we serve.

COVID-19 FAQs for Employers

We’ve put together some important information for employers on what they need to know about COVID-19 and their workforce.

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What are the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards?

Cal/OSHA recently published approved emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 infection prevention that apply to the majority of workers (employees) within the state of CA who are not categorized under the Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standard.

For helpful information and resources for employers and workers please click here.

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Does MemorialCare Occupational Medicine offer COVID-19 testing for the employer workforce?

Yes, MemorialCare Occupational Medicine offers testing for your employees who are COVID-19 exposed, suspected, or have been tested and confirmed positive.

In consultation with a MemorialCare Occupational clinician, employers have the ability to add COVID-19 laboratory testing to an employee assessment. For more information about COVID-19 testing options, please call your local center.

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COVID-19 – CDC Guidance for TB Testing and other Vaccines
Update to Recommendations Regarding Immune-Based Testing for Tuberculosis and Co-administration of the COVID-19 Vaccine

On August 31, 2021 the CDC updated their special considerations for COVID-19 vaccination and announced that the COVID-19 vaccine and both the IGRA and TST tests for tuberculosis can be co-administered. There does not need to be a 4-week separation between them. This recommendation should streamline the health screening process and COVID-19 vaccinations for Healthcare workers and patients.

Coadministration of COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines

Studies to assess the safety and immunogenicity of coadministration of COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines are underway or in development. As detailed in general best practices, extensive research on the simultaneous administration of the most widely used live and inactivated vaccines has demonstrated seroconversion rates and rates for adverse reactions similar to those observed when the vaccines are administered separately.

COVID-19 vaccines may be administered without regard to timing of other vaccines. This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day. It is not known if the reactogenicity of COVID-19 vaccines is increased with coadministration, including with other vaccines known to be more reactogenic, such as adjuvanted vaccines. When deciding whether to administer an(other) vaccine(s) with a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccination providers should consider whether the patient is behind or at risk of becoming behind on recommended vaccines, their risk of vaccine-preventable disease (e.g., during an outbreak or occupational exposures), and the reactogenicity profile of the vaccines.

If multiple vaccines are administered at a single visit, administer each injection in a different injection site. For adolescents and adults, the deltoid muscle can be used for more than one intramuscular injection administered at different sites in the muscle.

Sign Up for a myChart Account

If you do not already have a myChart account, create one today. myChart is the fastest and easiest way to schedule appointments. If you already have a myChart account, please make sure your contact information is current.

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing Sites

Due to limited testing resources, MemorialCare is focusing our limited testing on those patients for whom the test result will alter treatment recommendations. Generally, this means patients currently experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. These symptoms can include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea. A positive test does not change the course of the illness, as there is no treatment for COVID-19 and it is not unusual for the test to return as negative before symptoms start despite an infection.

Both LA County and Orange County Public Health have expanding testing capacity, please see the links below for information about testing locations for patients without symptoms. If you elect to be tested without symptoms, please continue to take caution even if you receive a negative result.