COVID-19 Vaccine: Frequently Asked Questions
Are children eligible for the shot?
Yes. Louisiana children ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines following CDC’s formal recommendation on 11/2/2021. Prior to this announcement, the Pfizer vaccine was recommended and authorized for people ages 12 and older.
What's the difference between a supplemental third dose and a booster shot?
Based on CDC recommendations, third vaccine doses are available now for people who are considered moderately or severely immunosuppressed, while booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are available to adults with high risk medical conditions for COVID, or are at high risk for getting COVID due to their occupation. Learn more here. You can also find out if you're eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose or a third dose here.
How Can I prove my vaccination status?
For answers to questions related to proof of vaccination status, using LA Wallet and replacement vaccination card, click here .
How can someone report an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine?
Any COVID-19 vaccine reaction that requires hospitalization should be immediately reported to the Office of Public Health (OPH) at 1-800-256-2748.
In addition, anyone can make a report to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reaction System (VAERS). This is a national early warning system designed to detect possible safety problems in U.S.-licensed vaccines. VAERS accepts and analyzes reports of adverse events (possible side effects) after a person has received a vaccination. Anyone can report an adverse event to VAERS at this link: https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html
What is the current state guidance for using a mask?
Effective October 27, Gov. John Bel Edwards lifted Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate in all settings except for K-12 schools, after sustained improvement across the state in terms of new cases, test positivity and hospitalizations.
Who should take a COVID-19 test, and when should they be tested?
All people should take a COVID test immediately after an exposure to someone with COVID-19
- If the test is positive, they should isolate immediately
- If negative, they should retest again between five and seven days post-exposure.
- If they COVID-19 symptoms develop, they should test and isolate pending the results.
If you are exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until you receive a negative test result.
Who needs to quarantine?
The COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Calculator takes the stress out of figuring when, and for how long, people with COVID-19 and close contacts need to stay home, get tested, and wear a well-fitting mask. It also provides important information about what precautions people can take to protect loved ones and slow the spread of COVID-19. Click here for Quarantine and Isolation (Q&I) Calculator.
How common is a COVID-19 infection for people who are fully vaccinated?
Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to others.
Why are the vaccines so important?
COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 7,600 Louisianans died from COVID in 2020 — that’s more than the number of deaths caused by accidents, stroke and diabetes combined in Louisiana in 2017. The vaccines are critical to ending the pandemic and getting our lives back to normal.
Who is eligible for the vaccines?
Everyone in Louisiana ages 5 and older is eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Having a large portion of the population vaccinated is our best shot at a return to some form of normalcy. Based on conversations with our federal partners, we are encouraged that Louisiana will receive enough doses to vaccinate everyone who wants a shot.
Can the vaccines affect my fertility?
There is zero evidence that COVID vaccines affect fertility. The vaccines tell the body how to fight the protein that is on the outside of the coronavirus, but this protein is completely different from the protein that allows for successful reproduction. The antibodies your body produces to fight the coronavirus will not attack reproductive proteins.
How do the vaccines work?
Unlike many vaccines, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines do not contain a dead or a weakened virus that triggers an immune response. Instead, these vaccines contain a genetic instruction manual that tells your immune system how to respond and protect you from exposure to the actual virus.
The technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is not new. It is called mRNA, or messenger RNA, and it has been around for decades. This is the first time mRNA has been used in a vaccine, but the effect is the same as other vaccines: Your body gets protection without the serious consequences of a severe illness due to COVID-19 exposure.
The J&J vaccine works like many vaccines you are already familiar with. It uses an adenovirus vector, (in this case, a harmless cold virus) that carries the blueprint for the spike proteins on the virus’s surface. This virus works like a Trojan horse, infecting cells and replicating the coronavirus spikes. If you later become infected with the coronavirus, these replicated spikes are how your immune system recognizes and knows how to fight the real thing.
Are the vaccines effective?
Based on evidence from clinical trials, all three vaccines are 100% effective at preventing serious hospitalizations and deaths. That’s our most urgent, important goal. A recent CDC study of essential workers in real-world conditions found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines reduced the risk of infection by 80% after 1 dose and 90% after 2 doses. The CDC will continue to provide updates as it learns more about how the vaccines work in real-world conditions.
Are the vaccines safe? What does FDA authorization/approval mean?
Yes, the vaccines are safe and effective. FDA grants “full approval” for a vaccine after the manufacturer demonstrates the product is “safe, pure, and effective” which generally means completing robust, well-controlled clinical trials. By contrast, an “authorization” for the emergency use of a vaccine is granted to allow an otherwise unapproved product to be used during a public health emergency.
All three COVID-19 vaccines used in the US were authorized last year to be used to address the pandemic. Authorization for these vaccines followed clinical trials and an extensive review of the results of those trials.
Today, the Pfizer vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA. This approval is expected soon for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Are the vaccines OK if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
The CDC advises all pregnant people be given access to the vaccines. In Louisiana, anyone currently pregnant is currently eligible to be vaccinated.
While specific studies are ongoing, there has been no indication that there are negative effects for this population. Pregnant and breastfeeding people should discuss whether they should receive their vaccine with their providers.
Where and how do I get my child vaccinated?
Use Vaccines.gov to find a pediatric vaccination provider near you, then call or visit their website to make an appointment.
For a person younger than age 18, parental/caregiver consent is needed to get the shot. LDH has developed a consent form that can be found on its website at ldh.la.gov/Covid-19K-12.
Families can also call 211 or the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 with general questions or to find a vaccination location near them that has ordered COVID-19 pediatric vaccine.
What is the risk of COVID-19 to children?
COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, MIS-C (multi-inflammatory syndrome in children) and long-term complications, such as “long COVID,” in which symptoms can linger for months. The spread of the Delta variant resulted in a surge of COVID-19 cases in children throughout the summer. During a 6-week period in late June to mid-August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased fivefold.
COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Louisiana. Since the beginning of August, 25% of all new COVID-19 cases in Louisiana were in children.
Tragically, LDH reported 9 pediatric deaths tied to the recent Delta surge alone. A total of 18 children in Louisiana have died of COVID since the pandemic began.
Nationally, according to the FDA, at least 94 children ages 5 to 11 have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and 8,300 have become so sick they needed to be hospitalized. In fact, COVID was the eighth-leading cause of death in the age group over the past year, after accidents, cancer, malformations, murder, heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, and flu or pneumonia.
MIS-C is most common in children between the ages of 5 and 13. Since July 1 of this year, 107 cases of MIS-C have occurred in Louisiana children. (Nationally, by early October, 5,217 kids had come down with MIS-C, including 2,034 between 6 and 11, according to the CDC.)
Why should you consider getting your child vaccinated?
Vaccination, along with other preventative measures, can protect children from COVID-19 using the safe and effective vaccines already recommended for use in adolescents and adults in the United States. Similar to what was seen in adult vaccine trials, vaccination was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 among children ages 5-11 years. In clinical trials, vaccine side effects were mild and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children. The most common side effect was a sore arm.
COVID-19 vaccines have undergone - and will continue to undergo - the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Vaccinating children will help protect them from getting COVID-19 and therefore reducing their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, or developing long-term COVID-19 complications.
Getting your children vaccinated can help protect them against COVID-19, as well as reduce disruptions to in-person learning and activities by helping curb community transmission.
What if you have more questions?
That’s understandable. Families can call the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 to find a provider in their area and to speak to medical professionals with clinical experience who can help answer their questions.