Get your COVID-19 Vaccine. All Delawareans 12+ are now eligible.

Questions? Email us: Vaccine@delaware.gov

The general public will have an important role in COVID-19 prevention. While the majority of the general public will not be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine until late spring or early summer, it is important that everyone follows guidelines until then such as practice hand hygiene, social distancing, and wearing face coverings. When the vaccine does become available, you should plan on getting two doses. Below are resources to assist you in your planning efforts.

 

Johnson & Johnson Materials

Moderna Call Center:

1-866-MODERNA (1-866-663-3762)

General Moderna Questions  Healthcare Provider Questions (clinical) Product Quality or Technical Questions Pregnancy Registry

Note: Call center volume, per Moderna has an approx. call volume of 200 calls/hour during peak operational hours of 8:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m. EST

CDC & FDA Resources


Vaccine FAQs

Availability

The vaccine is available from Primary Care Providers, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, hospital systems, events coordinated by Public Health or its partner Curative Inc, and community-based organizations that are partnering with vaccine providers. The best source of information about availability is https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/vaccine/where-can-i-get-my-vaccine/.

While some places require an appointment, more and more are accepting walk-ins such as Division of Public Health clinics. A list of clinics and other community locations and Federally Qualified Health Centers accepting walk-ins can be found at https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/vaccine/where-can-i-get-my-vaccine/.

Those without computer access may call the COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-643-1715 (option 3) and a call center operator can assist you in finding a location near you.

Do you or someone you know want to get the vaccine and need assistance? Contact our call center at 1-833-643-1715

While youth under age 18 are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine at this time, the Division of Public Health recommends that all other adults take any of the vaccines that are available. However, we understand that you may want to compare vaccines. You can see a comparison chart here.

Vaccine provided at each site is dependent upon supply received. Choice of vaccine is not available as certain locations are only distributing one vaccine. If you have a preference in vaccine, you can contact the location you are receiving your vaccine beforehand to discuss which vaccine is available. When you receive the vaccine, you will receive a card that states which vaccine was provided, including company name, lot number, date received and location.

 

Development/Safety/Effectiveness

A vaccine is a substance that teaches your body to recognize that a foreign invader such as a virus or bacteria has entered the body. Once the body recognizes the invader, the body’s immune system is activated, and fighter cells and proteins fight the virus or the bacteria. A vaccine is much like a decoy, it tricks the body into thinking it is the virus, but it does not actually cause the disease. It helps your body fend off the virus.

All three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson are highly effective at preventing COVID-19 related death and hospitalization. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are 95% effective against all forms of COVID infections, and the J&J/Janssen vaccine is 74% effective. In comparison, the annual flu vaccine is typically between 40% and 60% effective in preventing influenza. It is unknown how long the COVID vaccine’s effectiveness will last, so an annual vaccine (much like the flu) may be required.

The vaccine was developed in a much shorter period of time, due to the obvious need to address the public health threat the pandemic posed to the nation. A shorter development and review time does not mean the vaccine is unsafe.

Scientists had a head start: COVID-19 vaccines are built on years of work to develop vaccines for similar viruses. All available vaccines use technologies that researchers have been studying and working with for decades – which included technology advances to map the virus’s DNA. A lot of the groundwork was already laid during the search for vaccines to fight Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is part of a broader family of coronaviruses – and related to SARS and MERS. Researches have been engaged in searching for vaccines for those closely related viruses for several years, so they were not starting from scratch with COVID, according to the Mayo Clinic. Researchers also benefited from a budget of $4.5 billion from the US government, which gave vaccine manufacturers all the resources they needed to accelerate their process.

Additionally, the clinical trial process was accelerated by enrolling more people in trials to enhance rapid data collection and earlier analysis of safety data for demographically diverse populations. This also sped up the FDA review process as they have been monitoring the data all along. 

And, delivery/distribution time was shortened by allowing manufacturing to occur at the same time as instead of after, vaccine approval.

Over 250 million doses of the vaccine have been given in the U.S. since December 2020. According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective!

All vaccines are rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness.

  • More than 100,000 people volunteered in clinical trials for three vaccines—Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—to make sure the vaccines were safe and worked to prevent COVID-19.
  • Experts and scientists from the Food and Drug Administration and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices reviewed the vaccine development data. Extensive post-monitoring efforts were implemented to safeguard those immunized.
  • The clinical trial data, along with post trial safety monitoring, showed that the vaccines help prevent COVID-19, serious illness from the disease and are highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death.
  • There were no serious safety concerns in the clinical trials with any vaccine. Reactions are temporary and most often result in a sore arm, fever, headache, or feeling tired and achy for a day or two.

Learn more by watching this YouTube video from the CDC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bBmQaX2k4w

The side effects have been minimal and temporary for all three vaccines, generally going away within 24 hours. Side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection. The CDC reports it has seen no trends of serious or long-term side effects. To report serious side effects, call 1-800-822-7967 or vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent .

  • Pfizer-BioNTech Side Effects: Injection site pain, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, injection site swelling, injection site redness, nausea, feeling unwell and swollen lymph nodes.
  • Moderna COVID-19 Side Effects: pain and tenderness at the injection site, swelling of the lymph nodes in the arm of the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea, vomiting and fever.
  • Johnson & Johnson Side Effects: pain, swelling and redness at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, nausea and tiredness within a day or two of receiving the vaccine.

Rare Severe Allergic Reactions: In some rare cases, severe allergic reactions have occurred within minutes to an hour of receiving both the Pfizer BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include trouble breathing, swelling of face and throat, rapid heartbeat, dizziness and a rash that covers the whole body. If you experience any of these symptoms call 9-1-1 immediately or go to the nearest hospital.

You should not get the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction (within 4 hours – includes hives, swelling, wheezing) – to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine
    • If you have an allergy to polysorbate 80, do not take the J&J vaccine; discuss with your medical provider if you should receive Pfizer or Moderna instead
    • If you have an allergy to polyethylene glycol (PEG), do not take Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, you may receive the J&J vaccine

    If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction after getting the first dose of the vaccine, you should not get a second dose of either of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

    An allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen© or if they must go to the hospital. Learn about common side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and when to call a doctor.

    Children and adolescents outside these authorized age groups should not receive COVID-19 vaccination at this time.

    • Pfizer-BioNTech: approved for ages ≥12 years
    • Moderna: approved for ages ≥18 years
    • J&J Janssen: approved for ages ≥18 years

No permanent long-term side effects of any of the three current COVID-19 vaccines have been identified. Serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely following any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination. Fortunately, we have decades of vaccine safety data from other vaccines and we know that long-term side effects are quite rare.

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.

CDC continues to closely monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. If scientists find a connection between a safety issue and a vaccine, FDA and the vaccine manufacturer will work toward an appropriate solution to address the specific safety concern (for example, a problem with a specific lot, a manufacturing issue, or the vaccine itself).

All viruses change over time, and these changes (or variants) are expected. Scientists are working to learn more about new COVID-19 variants and their effects on vaccines. Recent studies suggest that the germ-fighting cells created by vaccination are also able to fight against many of the variants.

We do know that some of the new variants spread more easily, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. Learn more about COVID-19 variants here.

It has been estimated that up to 25% of adults have a fear of needles, with most needle fears developing during childhood. If you are anxious about receiving the vaccine and may experience lightheadedness, dizziness, or pass out, it is important to inform the vaccinator before receiving your shot. It is especially important to inform your vaccinator of your anxiety if you are at a drive-thru event so you can take extra precautions to avoid a potentially dangerous traffic situation. Additionally, you should consider having someone else drive you if you have a history of any of these symptoms.

Some things you can consider to calm your anxiety:

  • Distracting yourself with a video or song.
  • Practice deep breathing or meditative techniques.
  • Wiggle your toes.
  • Do not look directly at the needle.
  • Focus on the benefits of the vaccine.

Remember, the vaccination will be over in a matter of seconds and will provide long-term protection from a potentially deadly virus.

On Aug. 23, 2021, The U.S. Food & Drug Administration granted full approval to the COVID-19 Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for individuals 16 and older. The vaccine will now be marketed to individuals 16 and older under the brand name COMIRNATY (Koe-mir-na-tee).

The FDA based its approval on Pfizer’s Biologics License Application (BLA), and its updated analysis of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in people aged 16 and older. The analysis studied 20,000 individuals who received the vaccine and 20,000 individuals who received a placebo and found that the vaccine is 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.  The FDA found the most common side effects to be pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever.

The FDA did find that the vaccine does present a higher risk of myocarditis and pericarditis in males under the age of 40, the highest risk being for males ages 12 to 17. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle and pericarditis is inflammation of the outside lining of the heart. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and a fast-beating heart. Individuals with symptoms should seek medical attention.  The FDA is requiring Pfizer to continue post-marketing studies.

The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, as well as the vaccine under its new name COMIRNATY, will continue to be available to individuals requiring a third dose of the vaccine due to a compromised immune system and for individuals between the ages of 12 and 15 under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has not been granted EUA for children under the age of 12 yet.  The Pfizer and COMIRNATY vaccines are the same.  They have the same formula

 

Rumor Control/Myth Busting

Health officials must respond to many rumors, and debunk several myths. Your best course of action is visit trusted federal resources for information, including the CDC (cdc.gov). Other sources such as FEMA have a rumor control section: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/rumor-control#vaccinations . See some common myths below, and responses from the Division of Public Health.

No. Information about the studies and the candidates can be found on the following website https://coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org/understanding-clinical-studies/ or by visiting the manufactures websites.

  • Johnson and Johnson: Genetically engineered. Does not contain the virus.
  • Moderna: Genetically engineered. Does not contain the virus.
  • Pfizer: It contains a small part of the genetic code but does not contain the live virus.

No, they cannot give someone COVID-19. mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.

No. They do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Your body naturally breaks down everything in the vaccine. There is no COVID-19 virus in the vaccine, and none of the vaccines can change your DNA.

People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines. In fact thousands of women were pregnant during clinical trials or have since gotten pregnant after getting the vaccine.

No loss of fertility has been reported among vaccine trial participants or among the millions who have received the vaccines since their authorization, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

ACOG also says there is no evidence that the vaccine can lead to loss of fertility, saying “it is scientifically unlikely.”

Women in the clinical trials successfully became pregnant following vaccination and there have been no safety data to suggest that the vaccines impact the ability of a woman to get pregnant. Similarly, the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology recommends that men who desire fertility should be encouraged to get vaccinated when they are eligible.

 

How do Vaccines Work? What are they Made of?

The ingredients in Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are listed on page 2 here.

The ingredients in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine are listed on page 2 here.

The ingredients in Janssen/Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine are listed on page 3 here.

 

See DPH’s list of ingredients and allergy information for all three vaccines here.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, both FDA-authorized for Emergency Use, require two shots. Individuals need to receive the same brand of vaccine for their second dose to be effective. The second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be given three weeks after the initial dose. Moderna requires its second shot to be given one month after the original dose. The second dose should be received as close as possible to the 21 day/28 day time, but does not have to be on the precise day and can be administered later without repeating the series. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose. People are encouraged to take whatever vaccine is being offered to them rather than wait for a specific brand.

mRNA vaccines, which are what the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are built on, ​safely teach our cells how to make a protein that ​in turn teaches your body how to make an antibody that fights the virus that causes COVID-19. This is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

Specifically, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Once a person receives the vaccine, the instructions (mRNA) are inside the muscle cells and the cells use them to make the protein piece. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them. It does not alter or interact with your DNA in any way.

Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begins making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain this protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.

Read this Infographic from the CDC on How mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Work.

The J&J vaccine uses a viral vector (or virus-based platform) to protect you. Learn more about this in this CDC Infographic on How Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines Work.

All three vaccines have slight differences, but all have been proven 100% effective in preventing death from COVID-19, based on data obtained in clinical trials. The Division of Public Health recommends that you take whichever vaccine becomes available to you rather than waiting for a specific brand, however, we understand that you may want to compare the vaccines yourself. You can see a vaccine comparison chart here.

Only in certain situations. The CDC has recently updated its guidance regarding the use of face masks after being fully vaccinated (that’s two weeks after your second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a dose of J&J). Check out their guidance on choosing safer activities here.

In Delaware, face masks are required in the following settings for those Kindergarten age and up regardless of vaccination status:

  • Public transportation (includes buses, paratransit, taxi, rideshares)
  • Health care facilities (includes hospitals, medical clinics and offices, specialty medical care, labs, dentists, pharmacies, blood banks/drives, veterinary care)
  • Home health care staff
  • State facilities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Homeless shelters
  • Childcare facilities
  • Schools

Unvaccinated people are encouraged to wear face coverings wherever they go. In addition, businesses and municipalities can set stricter requirements than the state guidelines which can be found here: https://governor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2021/05/29th-Modification-of-the-Declaration-of-a-SOE-State-of-Delaware-051821.pdf.

 

If I Have or Had COVID

Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Ask your health care provider for recommendations.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts are still learning more about how long vaccines protect against COVID-19 in real-world conditions. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteriafor discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated.

If you’ve already had a COVID-19 infection, the CDC strongly recommends that you get vaccinated. It gives you longer-lasting and more robust protection, which is needed to conquer the variants currently circulating in this country. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19.

 

Special Populations

Yes. Recognizing the importance of testing within minority populations, vaccine developers worked with community engagement partners to enroll a diverse pool of volunteers in the clinical trials. Thirty-seven percent of volunteers from one manufacturer’s clinical trials alone were from racial and ethnic minority groups.

Here are the racial and ethnic breakdowns of participants in Pfizer and Moderna’s clinical studies Johnson & Johnson’s study also included volunteers from diverse racial and ethnic minority groups:

Pfizer BioNTech:

  • Diverse subjects in study: 42%
  • Asian: 5%
  • Black: 10%
  • Hispanic: 26%
  • Native American: 1%

Moderna:

  • Diverse subjects in study: 31%
  • Asian: 4%
  • Black: 10%
  • Hispanic: 26%
  • Native American: 1%

J&J Janssen

  • 62.1% White
  • 17.2% Black or African American
  • 8.3% American Indian or Alaska Native
  • 5.4% Multiple races
  • 3.5% Asian
  • 0.3% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

Find more information on the demographic breakdowns in each vaccine’s clinical trials on the Vaccine Safety and Monitoring page.

Persons 12+ and older with an intellectual, developmental or physical disability can be vaccinated anywhere but some settings are better suited for these individuals, including the patient’s primary care provider or a hospital system (if you receive services there). Additionally, Division of Public Health clinics are wheelchair accessible. Find a list of clinics here: https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/vaccine/where-can-i-get-my-vaccine/. If your physician is not vaccinating, they will refer your name to a hospital system.

You are encouraged to check with a pharmacy directly to identify their accommodations, or contact the DPH Vaccine Call Center to inquire about accommodations you may need. The Vaccine Call Center can be reached at 1-833-643-1715 (press option 3) or vaccine@delaware.gov.

DPH-coordinated vaccination sites (drive-thru or indoor sites) that are open to the public meet ADA requirements.

The State’s vaccinating partner Curative can help coordinate accommodations at its sites in Delaware (primarily Delaware Technical Community College). Contact their customer support line at 888-702-9042, or email them at support@curative.com with questions about accommodations available at their sites.

More information about accommodations for persons with disabilities or access and functional needs.

The Division of Public Health has contracted with two providers to offer free transportation to DPH Clinics for vaccine appointments. Contact the DPH Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-643-1715 (press option 3) to make your free transportation arrangements.

Clients of DART Paratransit are also not being charged for transportation to vaccine appointments. Call them for more details.

Eligible Delaware Medicaid clients in need of non-emergency transportation should contact Modivcare at 1-866-412-3778. You can also contact your case manager from your Managed Care Organization (Highmark or Amerihealth Caritas) for assistance with Modivcare transportation.

If you are unable to leave your home due to a disability, you should contact the Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-643-1715 (press option 3) or email vaccine@delaware.gov to ask about options for vaccination in your home.

If you are pregnant, you should consider being vaccinated against COVID-19. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problem with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta.

  • Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta.
  • Current safety data on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy does not indicate any safety concerns.
  • Through the v-safe safety monitoring system, the CDC is observing pregnant women who have received the vaccine. Through mid-April, there have been no issues observed from the more than 94,000 pregnant women who were monitored through v-safe after getting the vaccine.
  • Breastfeeding is rarely a safety concern with vaccines, and the three authorized COVID-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to a breastfeeding infant. When breastfeeding mothers get vaccinated they produce antibodies that can be passed through breastmilk and help protect their children from the virus.
  • Pregnant women are at increased risk severe illness, and hospitalization from COVID-19. Vaccination can significantly reduce or even prevent these risks.

 
If you have questions about getting vaccinated, talking with a health care provider may might help you make an informed decision. Learn more in DPH’s Fact Sheet on Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Fertility, and the CDC’s vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you received a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant, we encourage you to enroll in v-safe. It’s the CDC’s smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after vaccination. A v-safe pregnancy registry has been established to gather information on the health of pregnant women who received a COVID-19 vaccine. If those enrolled in v-safe report that they were pregnant at the time of vaccination or after vaccination, the registry staff might contact them to learn more. Participation is voluntary, and participants may opt out at any time. REGISTER ON YOUR SMARTPHONE AT vsafe.cdc.gov/en/.

The CDC is advising people who are due for a mammogram to speak with their medical provider on how long they should wait until after they receive their vaccine to get their mammogram. The vaccine can cause lymph nodes under the arms to swell, which can cause a false reading on a mammogram. According to the CDC, some experts recommend getting a mammogram first before receiving the vaccine or waiting four to six weeks after being vaccinated to get a mammogram. For more details on this and how the vaccine affects other medical procedures visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/other-procedures.html#

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. Please consult with your health care provider if you have specific questions about the COVID vaccine and your health.

Clinical trials for all approved vaccines included participants identified as having at least one condition that put them at increased risk of severe complications of COVID-19. See information from the manufacturers for more detailed information on conditions of persons in clinical trials at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html

The Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized for use in persons aged 12+. Pfizer is also conducting clinical trials among younger children with results expected in the fall. Moderna is next expected to apply for EUA for use of its vaccine in teens under age 18.

While children appear to be less affected by COVID-19 than adults, they are still at risk. Children ages 11-17 account for 1.5 Million cases of COVID in the nation, and nearly 13K cases of COVID have been found in Delaware children ages 5 – 17. Children who cannot be vaccinated yet will be more susceptible to the virus if they do not continue to wear face coverings and keep their distance from other people.

DPH continues to review statewide data to determine areas of low vaccination rates and compare it with areas that are considered vulnerable per the CDC’s social vulnerability index. It also ensures that vaccination sites, including individual provider sites and pharmacies, are located in areas that are accessible to all. DPH clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers serve traditionally underserved populations in communities. Additionally, both Delaware’s COVID Vaccine Task Force and the Communications subcommittee, include representation from organizations representing communities of color and incorporate their feedback into planning. Similarly, DPH participates in many community-based coalition meetings to answer questions, and gather feedback which aids in decision making.

 

Miscellaneous

Vaccines are free to everyone, and providers may not charge out-of-pocket costs to someone getting a vaccine. However, vaccination providers may be able to charge an office visit fee (only if other services were provided) and will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the vaccine – but can seek reimbursement through the vaccine recipient’s insurance company, Medicare, Medicaid or the US Health and Rural Services Administration. Learn more about your rights as a patient to a free COVID-19 vaccine here: https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/vaccine/covid-19-vaccines-are-free/.

It is still unknown at this time, how long that would take, but the more people who choose to get the vaccine, the greater chance of reaching herd immunity there will be.

 

 

Preguntas frecuentes sobre la vacuna contra el COVID-19

Una vacuna es una sustancia que le enseña al cuerpo a detectar el ingreso de un invasor extraño, como un virus o una bacteria. Una vez que el organismo reconoce al invasor, se activa el sistema inmunitario, y las células y las proteínas combativas atacan al virus o la bacteria. Una vacuna es una especie de señuelo, que le hace creer al cuerpo que es el virus, pero en realidad no causa la enfermedad. Ayuda al organismo a defenderse del virus.

Se espera que para principios de diciembre haya una cantidad limitada de vacunas destinada a los grupos de alto riesgo, incluidos los trabajadores de la salud, personal de servicios de emergencia y empleados de centros de atención a largo plazo. Es muy probable que la segunda ronda de vacunas sea para los proveedores de atención primaria, el personal de atención de urgencias, personas con enfermedades subyacentes y aquellas que vivan en ciertos entornos multitudinarios. Es posible que el público en general recién tenga acceso a la vacuna en la primavera de 2021. La vacuna solo se ha probado ampliamente en adultos, excepto mujeres embarazadas; por lo que es probable que al principio no se la recomienden a embarazadas o niños.

La División de Salud Pública (DPH), en colaboración con el Grupo de Trabajo de Vacunación contra el COVID del estado, lidera el trabajo de planificación de la vacuna en Delaware. Primero se reunió el personal de la DPH en forma interna para desarrollar una respuesta ante el pedido de información de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC). La respuesta se compiló en una Guía que se puede consultar en https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/vaccine/.

Por su parte, el Grupo de Trabajo se ha reunido cada semana para garantizar que tanto los colaboradores como otras partes interesadas reciban la información más actual; se han reunido los subcomités que se crearon para diferentes funciones específicas; el Comité de Ética del Estado se reunió con el fin de brindar recomendaciones iniciales sobre los grupos prioritarios para recibir la vacuna; la DPH realizó un ejercicio de simulación para identificar lagunas en la planificación; se contrataron proveedores médicos para administrar la vacuna una vez que esté ampliamente disponible; y se capacitó al personal del Programa de Inmunizaciones en el uso del sistema nacional de seguimiento de vacunas (Tiberius) para prever la asignación de vacunas, hacer un seguimiento de los pedidos de vacunas, llevar un registro de la asignación de recursos, etc.

La vacuna se administrará al pueblo estadounidense de manera gratuita. No obstante, es posible que a los proveedores del servicio de vacunación se les permita cobrar honorarios de consulta y un cargo de administración por la aplicación de la vacuna. Dichos proveedores pueden obtener un reembolso de este costo.

En un principio, cuando la vacuna esté disponible solo para ciertos grupos específicos, los sistemas hospitalarios y los organismos de servicios médicos de emergencia vacunarán al personal. Cuando el acceso a la vacuna se haga extensivo al público, podrán administrar la vacuna los proveedores de atención primaria, las farmacias, los Centros de Salud Aprobados por el Gobierno Federal (FQHC) y los organismos de salud pública. Un localizador basado en la Web llamado Vaccine Finder (https://vaccinefinder.org/find-vaccine) incluirá los lugares que la provean tan pronto como estén disponibles.

Actualmente, tres de las cuatro vacunas contra el COVID-19 que se encuentran en la fase final de investigación en los Estados Unidos requieren dos inyecciones para ser eficaces. La cuarta requiere una sola dosis.

Según se informó, las dos candidatas principales tienen una eficacia (éxito) del 90 %, con unos pocos efectos secundarios leves. En comparación, la vacuna antigripal anual suele tener una eficacia de entre un 40 % y un 60 %. Se desconoce la duración de los efectos de la vacuna contra el COVID, por lo que es posible que se requiera una dosis anual, como es el caso de la vacuna antigripal.

Sí. Según los CDC, los especialistas siguen aprendiendo sobre la protección de la vacuna en condiciones reales. Por ese motivo, es necesario seguir respetando los lineamientos de los CDC, como usar una mascarilla que cubra la boca y la nariz, lavarse las manos con frecuencia y mantener una distancia mínima de seis pies de los demás.

El proceso de aprobación de vacunas en los EE. UU. consta de cinco pasos: 1) ensayos clínicos; 2) revisión y aprobación, o autorización de uso de emergencia, por parte de la FDA; 3) fabricación; 4) distribución, y 5) control posterior de la seguridad de la vacuna. El Centro para la Evaluación e Investigación de los Productos Biológicos de la FDA es responsable de la regulación de las vacunas en los Estados Unidos. Cuando una compañía quiere introducir una nueva vacuna al mercado, primero debe presentar una solicitud a la FDA que incluye una descripción de la vacuna, el método de fabricación y las pruebas de control de calidad. El proceso de aprobación para las vacunas es el mismo que para el resto de los fármacos.

Por lo general, los ensayos clínicos de las vacunas constan de tres fases.

  • Primera fase: En esta fase se prueba la seguridad de la vacuna. Se la administra a una pequeña cantidad de personas para identificar los efectos secundarios y ver si el cuerpo puede tolerarla. Algunas personas del grupo de estudio reciben un placebo, que no tiene ingredientes activos.
  • Segunda fase: En esta fase, se administra la vacuna a más personas. El objetivo de esta fase es recopilar más información sobre los efectos secundarios comunes a corto plazo y la relación entre el tamaño de la dosis y la reacción del sistema inmunitario.
  • Fase 3: La vacuna se administra a una gran cantidad de personas, y se realizan pruebas minuciosas. En esta fase se observa si la vacuna realmente funciona y previene nuevas infecciones, o si ayuda a las personas infectadas a controlar la infección y evitar síntomas graves. De manera aleatoria, se asignan más personas para recibir la vacuna o el placebo.

En cualquier etapa de un ensayo clínico, si los datos indican problemas de seguridad o eficacia, la FDA puede detener los ensayos clínicos o solicitar más información y estudios. Si la compañía pasa las tres fases de manera satisfactoria, puede solicitar una licencia para productos biológicos, que se somete a la revisión de un equipo integrado por funcionarios médicos, microbiólogos, especialistas en bioestadística y otros profesionales. Después de la revisión, la compañía farmacéutica y la FDA presentan sus conclusiones ante el Comité Asesor de Vacunas y Productos Biológicos Relacionados de la FDA.

El desarrollador también tiene la opción de solicitar una autorización de uso de emergencia (EUA). El proceso de EUA fue establecido por el Congreso después de los ataques del 9/11 a fin de permitir a los desarrolladores acelerar la disponibilidad de un producto para el público en condiciones de emergencia, cuando los beneficios conocidos superan los riesgos potenciales.

Conscientes de la importancia de las pruebas en las poblaciones minoritarias, los desarrolladores de las vacunas trabajaron junto a colaboradores especializados en campañas de participación comunitaria para inscribir a un grupo diverso de voluntarios en los ensayos clínicos. El 37 % de los voluntarios del ensayo clínico de uno de los fabricantes pertenecían a grupos de minorías étnicas y raciales. Se dará a conocer más información a medida que esté disponible.

Teniendo en cuenta las recomendaciones del Grupo Asesor de Salud Pública y Ética Médica de Delaware (en adelante, el Grupo de Ética), la DPH revisará la lista de los CDC de poblaciones prioritarias y determinará la asignación y distribución de las vacunas. Las recomendaciones del Grupo de Ética se basarán en los grupos de mayor riesgo debido a la forma de contagio del virus (contacto estrecho, espacios cerrados), el índice de gravedad del virus en la comunidad, y las poblaciones prioritarias. Los miembros de las comunidades afroamericanas trabajan en muchas de las industrias identificadas para la vacunación de nivel 1 y nivel 2. Asimismo, tanto el Grupo de Trabajo de Vacunación contra el COVID de Delaware como el subcomité de comunicaciones incluyen integrantes de organizaciones que representan a las comunidades afroamericanas e incorporan sus observaciones en la planificación.

Los dos desarrolladores con más probabilidades de producir primero una vacuna contra el COVID-19 indicaron que existen muy pocos efectos secundarios, y que ninguno de ellos es grave. Los más comunes son dolor en el lugar de la inyección, fatiga, dolores musculares y dolor de cabeza, y suelen durar poco tiempo. La Administración de Medicamentos y Alimentos (FDA) y los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) continuarán supervisando la seguridad de las vacunas contra el COVID-19 para garantizar que se identifiquen hasta los efectos secundarios menos frecuentes.

La vacuna se desarrolló en un período mucho más corto debido a la obvia necesidad de abordar la amenaza a la salud pública que enfrenta la nación a raíz de la pandemia. Un tiempo de desarrollo y revisión más breve no implica que la vacuna no sea segura.

La reducción de los tiempos de desarrollo es el resultado de los avances tecnológicos para mapear el ADN del virus y del uso de plataformas de vacunas creadas para otras enfermedades que estaban en funcionamiento para desarrollar y probar la vacuna. El coronavirus que causa COVID-19 es parte de una familia más grande de coronavirus. Está relacionado con el síndrome respiratorio agudo grave (SARS) y el síndrome respiratorio de Oriente Medio (MERS). Según la Clínica Mayo, los investigadores se han dedicado durante años a estudiar vacunas para estos virus relacionados, de modo que las investigaciones actuales no empezaron de cero.

El proceso de los ensayos clínicos se aceleró inscribiendo a más personas en los ensayos para mejorar la recopilación rápida de datos y el análisis más temprano de los datos de seguridad sobre poblaciones demográficamente diversas. Esto también aceleró el proceso de revisión de la FDA, ya que iba supervisando los datos en simultáneo. El tiempo de entrega/distribución se acortó al permitir que la fabricación tuviera lugar mientras se aprobaba la vacuna, y no después.

Especialistas y científicos de la FDA y el Comité Asesor sobre Prácticas de Vacunación (ACIP) revisaron los datos de desarrollo de la vacuna. Se llevará a cabo un exhaustivo trabajo de control posterior para proteger a quienes se hayan vacunado.

A continuación, se incluyen otras medidas que ha tomado el gobierno de EE. UU. para acelerar el desarrollo y la fabricación de la vacuna:

  • Estudios de mayor envergadura: El gobierno federal autorizó a los fabricantes a realizar estudios de mayor envergadura para alcanzar objetivos más rápido que si fueran de menor escala.
  • Inversión económica: El gobierno estadounidense asumió un compromiso financiero que permitió a las empresas fabricar grandes cantidades de vacuna sin absorber todos los riesgos financieros.
  • Administración de Medicamentos y Alimentos de los EE. UU.: La FDA aceleró los ensayos clínicos y ha asesorado e interactuado de manera oportuna con los desarrolladores.

Dichas acciones se llevaron a cabo de acuerdo con la iniciativa federal coordinada “Operación Velocidad de la Luz” (Operation Warp Speed), impulsada por el gobierno nacional para producir una vacuna segura y eficaz contra el COVID-19.

No. La información sobre los estudios y las vacunas candidatas puede consultarse en el sitio web https://coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org/understanding-clinical-studies/ o en los sitios web de los fabricantes.

  • Johnson and Johnson: Diseñada genéticamente. No contiene el virus.
  • Moderna: Diseñada genéticamente. No contiene el virus.
  • AstraZeneca: Contiene una versión atenuada del virus.
  • Pfizer: Contiene una pequeña porción del código genético, pero no contiene el virus activo.

Es demasiado pronto para saberlo. Por lo general, las vacunas previenen diversas enfermedades o reducen su gravedad. Durante décadas, las vacunas han controlado y contenido de manera exitosa enfermedades como la poliomielitis, la varicela, el sarampión, las paperas y la gripe estacional, pero no las eliminaron por completo. Sin embargo, una vacuna sí erradicó la viruela.

Aún no se sabe cuánto tardará, pero cuantas más personas elijan vacunarse, mayor será la probabilidad de alcanzar la inmunidad de rebaño.

Las vacunas ARNm contienen material del virus que causa COVID-19. Ese material les da instrucciones a nuestras células para que desarrollen una proteína inofensiva que es específica del virus. Después de que nuestras células hacen copias de la proteína, destruyen el material genético de la vacuna.

La División de Salud Pública recomienda que se vacune toda la población, pero no tiene intenciones de exigirlo.

Los dos desarrolladores con más probabilidades de producir primero una vacuna contra el COVID-19 indicaron que existen muy pocos efectos secundarios potenciales, y que ninguno de ellos es grave. Los más comunes son dolor en el lugar de la inyección, fatiga, dolores musculares y dolor de cabeza, y suelen desaparecer en el plazo de 24 horas. Dicho esto, ciertos organismos reaccionan diferente, y es posible que algunas personas tengan síntomas más fuertes que otras. La Administración de Medicamentos y Alimentos (FDA) y los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) continuarán supervisando la seguridad de las vacunas contra el COVID-19 para garantizar que se identifiquen hasta los efectos secundarios menos frecuentes.


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