COVID-19 vaccine: Answers to frequently asked questions
China has started offering free shots of COVID-19 vaccines among some key groups of individuals, and will expand the range to others as more vaccines become available. Here we've provided answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines.
Q: Is it necessary to get the COVID-19 vaccination?
A: Yes. At present, almost everyone in the country is not immune to the novel coronavirus and is susceptible to the virus. Some cases of COVID-19 infection can, and do, develop into severe or critical cases, even resulting in death.
After vaccination, the vast majority of people will become immune to the virus. Moreover, through an orderly COVID-19 vaccination process, an immune barrier will be gradually established in the population, interrupting the spread of the disease.
Q: What people are in the priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination?
A: Vaccines will be given first to priority groups with a high potential risk of infection including:
Inspection and quarantine staff handling cold-chain products
Workers loading, unloading and transporting cargo at ports
People whose work is related to transportation
Staff at border ports
Public security officers, firefighters and community workers
Workers at water, electricity, heating and gas utility companies
Those who work in logistics, elderly care, sanitation and cremation and burial industries
Those who will work or study in countries and regions with a medium- or high-risk of exposure to the virus
Q: Who should delay getting vaccinated?
A: Vaccination should be postponed for the following groups of people:
Those who are younger than 18 or older than 59
People allergic to any component of the vaccine or those with severe allergies to other vaccines
People suffering from fever, acute illness, severe chronic diseases or in the acute phase of chronic diseases
Pregnant women, lactating women or women have plan to have a child within three months of vaccination
Those with a history or family history of convulsions, epilepsy, encephalopathy or psychiatric disorders; those with uncontrolled epilepsy or other progressive neurological disorders; and those with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome
Those who have been diagnosed with a congenital or acquired immune deficiency, HIV infection, lymphoma, leukemia or other autoimmune diseases
Those suffer from or are suspected to have severe respiratory diseases, severe cardiovascular diseases, liver and kidney diseases, malignant tumors
Those who use immunomodulators such as anticancer drugs
Those who have been infected with the novel coronavirus
Those considered not suitable for vaccination according to clinicians or vaccination workers
Any other individuals specified in the manual of the vaccine
Q: What types of COVID-19 vaccines are currently available? Which one is the best?
A: There are hundreds of institutions developing COVID-19 vaccines. There are many different types according to the technology being used, such as inactivated vaccines, recombinant vaccines, vector vaccines and nucleic acid vaccines.
At present there is no evidence to conclude which vaccine is better. All COVID-19 vaccines approved for use are effective at preventing the disease. The vaccines given to priority groups in China are inactivated vaccines.
Q: How do you get vaccinated and how many doses are needed?
A: Two doses of the vaccine are recommended for immunization, within an interval of at least 14 days. The vaccine is injected into the deltoid muscle in the upper arm.
Q: If I miss or have to delay the second vaccine dose, what should I do?
A: No clinical research data is available regarding different immunization procedures, so the maximum interval between the two shots is currently not known. You should complete the vaccine doses as soon as possible if you have deviated from the recommended schedule.
Q: Can I use different COVID-19 vaccines interchangeably for the two shots?
A: It is recommended that you use vaccines produced by the same manufacturer to complete the series.
Q: How long does it take to produce antibodies after vaccination?
A: Clinical studies have shown that antibody production generally begins seven days after the first dose of the inactivated COVID-19 vaccine, and the antibody positivity rate is about 60-90 percent in 14-28 days. The antibody positivity rate reaches more than 90 percent 28 days after the second dose of vaccine and provides continuous protection.
Q: Do I need to check if I have generated antibodies? If test results are negative, do I have to restart the vaccination procedure from the first shot?
A: There's no need to check if you have generated antibodies unless there is a special requirement for it. For those who voluntarily take an antibody test and receive negative results, it's also not recommended to restart the vaccination procedure.
Q: Can I take the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine, flu vaccine or rabies vaccine?
A: The COVID-19 vaccine is a new vaccine, so it is not recommended that you get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as any other vaccine.
Q: Is it safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which was developed in a short time?
A: The COVID-19 vaccine, like any other vaccine, has undergone animal testing, human pre-clinical testing, and population phase I, II and III clinical trials before going to the market. The safety of the vaccine has repeatedly been proven.
Q: What are the likely side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Common side effects include headache and fever, coughing, redness at the injection site, as well as loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.
Q: Why did I get a cold or fever after vaccination?
A: Some people may, by coincidence, have a cold, fever or other illnesses after vaccination. Such illnesses are not caused by the vaccine.
Q: What are the dos and don'ts before and after vaccination?
A: People should report their health condition to medical workers before they are vaccinated, and stay at vaccination sites for about 30 minutes for observation after vaccination.
Keep the injection site dry, pay attention to hygiene and get proper rest on the day of vaccination.
In the week after the vaccination, avoid exposure to allergens, try not to consume spicy food or seafood, eat lighter foods and drink more water.
Q: What should I do if I have side effects after vaccination?
A: Severe side effects usually occur in 30 minutes after receiving the shot, when the recipients are at vaccination sites for observation. You should immediately report any adverse reactions to the staff at the site.
The site staff will provide vaccination recipients with the contact information for a contact person. Should any side effects occur after returning home, report this to the contact person and go to the hospital for treatment if necessary.
Q: Does vaccination fully protect me from the disease?
A: So far, no vaccine is 100 percent effective in protecting against a disease, so there may be a few people who don't fully produce a protective immune response and have the potential to get infected by COVID-19.
Q: How long can the protective effect of the vaccines last?
A: The current evidence suggests that the vaccine can protect an individual for at least half a year.
Q: Will a nucleic acid test give a positive result after vaccination?
A: In China, the nucleic acid test targets the virus antigen, and the domestic inactivated vaccines use a "killed" pathogenic microorganism that has completely lost its ability to infect and replicate. As such, vaccinated individuals will not get a positive test result.
Q: Can women get vaccinated during their period?
A: Yes, women can be vaccinated during their period.
Q: After getting vaccinated, do I need to get a nucleic acid test? Can proof of vaccination replace a nucleic acid test report?
A: Vaccination can reduce the rate of getting infected to a certain extent, but it cannot offer 100 percent protection. Those who have been vaccinated still have to cooperate with authorities for necessary nucleic acid tests in some cases.
Q: After receiving a vaccine, what should I do if a serum antibody test comes up positive during entry-exit inspection?
A: When those who have been vaccinated receive a positive serum antibody test but negative result in other tests, they should show their proof of vaccination to authorities for further diagnosis.
Q: Is it still necessary to wear masks after vaccination?
A: Since no vaccine can provide 100 percent protection, a few people could still be infected. The population immune barrier has not been established at present.
Therefore, prevention cannot rely entirely on vaccination. People should wear masks, maintain social distancing and practice good hygiene.
Q: Can individuals bring vaccines overseas?
A: There are strict approval procedures for the entry and exit of vaccines. Individuals are not allowed to carry vaccines out of the country without permission, otherwise they may risk violating domestic and foreign laws.
Q: When can the general public begin vaccination?
A: After vaccines are approved by authorities to enter the market, the public could receive vaccination according to policies and the supply.
Q: Is it necessary for people who had COVID-19 or were asymptomatic carriers to get vaccinated?
A: While there were some cases of COVID-19 reinfection around the globe, most people who have had the virus produced the corresponding antibodies, similar to getting a vaccine, and therefore they are not advised to get vaccinated.
Q: Can people allergic to seafood, eggs or penicillin take the vaccines?
A: Seafood, eggs or penicillin are not vaccine ingredients, and there is no special contraindication for those with allergies. Such people can get vaccinated.
Q: Can people with asthma, rheumatism or diabetes, or who have had surgery get vaccinated?
A: Individuals with chronic diseases are not advised to get vaccinated, especially if they are acutely ill. But those whose condition is not acute could receive a vaccine.
Q: Does the coronavirus mutation have any impact on the vaccines?
A: It is natural for a virus to mutate. Current research has shown that the mutation of the new coronavirus is still within a normal range, and its impact on the effectiveness of the vaccine has not yet been determined. More research is needed to determine the impact of the mutation.