Making an informed decision

People who may still be wary about the vaccines can learn more about them by speaking with their physicians.

KENANSVILLE — Since the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines began in North Carolina, more than 10.4 million doses have been administered. However the state hit a pandemic high on Aug. 26 with 912 adults in the ICU and the number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators also reached a record high at 574.

In Duplin County, as of Aug. 30, there are 22,065 people who have been vaccinated with at least one dose putting Duplin at 38%. And 19,286 people or 33% who are fully vaccinated.

As vaccine gained FDA approval, public health officials are urging Duplin residents to get vaccinated. Below are answers to some of the most common questions and concerns about the vaccines addressed by the CDC, the Mayo Clinic Health System and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Can COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?

COVID-19 vaccines encourage the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the surface of the coronavirus and “teach” the immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein. There was confusion when this spike protein was mistakenly reported as the same as another spike protein that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy. During the Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 female study volunteers became pregnant. The only one to suffer a pregnancy loss had received the placebo and not the vaccine.

Can COVID-19 vaccines change my DNA?

Both mRNA vaccines and viral vector vaccine, which is the technology for the Janssen vaccine, deliver genetic material to cells to start virus protection. The material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where DNA is stored. That means these vaccines do not alter or interact with DNA in any way.

Are the vaccines made using controversial ingredients?

The COVID-19 vaccines were not developed using fetal tissue, eggs, latex, or other allergens. In addition, they do not contain microchips or tracking devices.

Do any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States shed or release any of their components?

No. Vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body.

Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus. mRNA and viral vector vaccines are the two types of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines available.

Can a COVID-19 vaccine affect fertility or menstruation?

It’s recommended that you get a COVID-19 vaccine if you are trying to get pregnant or might become pregnant in the future. There is currently no evidence that any COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems.

A small number of women have reported experiencing temporary menstrual changes after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

A small study has also shown that some women experienced temporary menstrual changes after getting COVID-19. It’s not clear if getting COVID-19 or a COVID-19 vaccine causes these changes. Further research is needed. Keep in mind that many things can affect menstrual cycles, including infections, stress, sleep problems and changes in diet or exercise.

There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that female or male fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.

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.

Can COVID-19 vaccines affect the heart?

In the U.S., there has been an increase in reported cases of myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, particularly in male adolescents and young adults age 16 and older.

Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle, while pericarditis is the inflammation of the lining outside the heart. These reports are rare. The CDC is investigating to see if there is any relationship to COVID-19 vaccination.

Of the cases reported, the problem happened more often after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and typically within several days after COVID-19 vaccination. Most of the people who received care felt better after receiving medicine and resting

What is the connection between the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and Guillain-Barre syndrome?

Some people who received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine have developed Guillain-Barre syndrome. This is a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves. The chances of this happening are very low.

Symptoms most often appeared within 42 days of vaccination.

Seek immediate medical care after getting the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine if you have: Weakness or tingling sensations, especially in the legs or arms, that worsens and spreads to other body parts, difficulty walking, difficulty with facial movements, including speaking, chewing or swallowing, double vision or inability to move eyes, difficulty with bladder control or bowel function.

What are the symptoms of a blood clotting reaction to the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?

Use of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine might increase the risk of a rare and serious blood clotting disorder. Nearly all of those affected have been women ages 18 to 49, with the disorder happening at a rate of 7 for every 1 million vaccinated women in this age group. For women age 50 and older and men of all ages, the disorder is even more rare.

The FDA and the CDC have recommended that use of the vaccine in the U.S. can continue because the benefits outweigh the risks. Evidence of these blood clots haven’t been reported in the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Serious side effects of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine can occur within three weeks of vaccination and require emergency care. Possible symptoms include: Shortness of breath, Persistent stomach pain, Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision, Chest pain, Leg swelling, Easy bruising or tiny red spots on the skin beyond the injection site, Mild to moderate headaches and muscle aches are common in the first three days after vaccination and don’t require emergency care.

Do the COVID-19 vaccines protect against the COVID-19 variants?

In the U.S., the delta variant is now the most common COVID-19 variant. It is nearly twice as contagious as earlier variants and might cause more severe illness.

While research suggests that COVID-19 vaccines are slightly less effective against the variants, the vaccines still appear to provide protection against severe COVID-19.

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have an existing health condition?

Yes, if you have an existing health condition you can get a COVID-19 vaccine — as long as you haven’t had an allergic reaction to a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or any of its ingredients.

But there is limited information about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines in people who have weakened immune systems or autoimmune conditions.

COVID-19 vaccines also might not fully protect people from COVID-19 who have a weakened immune system that is caused by HIV, certain conditions or medications. It might be necessary to continue taking precautions.

Can taking a vitamin D supplement prevent COVID-19 infection?

There isn’t enough data to recommend use of vitamin D to prevent infection according to the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.

Several recent studies have looked at the impact of vitamin D on COVID-19. One study of 489 people found that those who had a vitamin D deficiency were more likely to test positive for COVID-19.

Other research has observed high rates of vitamin D deficiency in people with COVID-19 who experienced acute respiratory failure.

These people had a significantly higher risk of dying. And a small, randomized study found that of 50 people hospitalized with COVID-19 who were given a high dose of a type of vitamin D (calcifediol), only one needed treatment in the intensive care unit.

In contrast, among the 26 people with COVID-19 who weren’t given calcifediol, 13 needed to be treated in the intensive care unit. In addition, vitamin D deficiency is common in the United States, particularly among Hispanic and Black people. These groups have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Vitamin D deficiency is also more common in people who are older, people who have a body mass index of 30 or higher (obesity), and people who have high blood pressure (hypertension). These factors also increase the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms.

According to Mayo Clinic, because COVID-19 vaccines clinical trials only started in the summer of 2020, it’s not yet clear if these vaccines will have long-term side effects.

If you’re concerned, in the U.S., safety data on COVID-19 vaccines will be reported to a national program called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. This data is available to the public.

The CDC has also created v-safe, a smartphone-based tool that allows users to report COVID-19 vaccine side effects.