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What You Need To Know: COVID-19 Vaccines Opened to State Residents 12 and Older

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Author name: Lee Health

COVID-19 Update Graphic

Editor's Note: This blog was updated May 13

Are you vaccinated? If not, and you’re a Florida resident aged 12 and older, public health officials encourage you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as prescribed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Getting vaccinated not only protects you but also the health of vulnerable people in our community.

“Widespread vaccination is the best path to end the pandemic and a return to normalcy, and I encourage everyone in our community to get the vaccine as soon as possible,” said Larry Antonucci, M.D., MBA, Lee Health President & CEO.

Vaccination Questions? Get Your Answers Here

As Lee Health COVID-19 vaccines open to Florida residents ages 12 and older, we’re exploring common questions and concerns about vaccinations. Our infectious disease expert Dr. Stephanie Stovall, interim chief of quality and patient safety for Lee Health, helps us out.

Q: When did the CDC OK Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in 12- to 15-year-old kids?

Answer: On May 10, the FDA approved Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine for use in young teens on an emergency use basis. This was followed up by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices endorsing the change on May 12.

According to CDC officials, there were no serious adverse events associated with the Pfizer-BioNTech shot in 12- to 15-year-olds out of more than 2,000 children in the companies’ clinical trial.

Health officials and experts believe vaccinating children is crucial to ending the pandemic. According to health experts, we’re unlikely to achieve herd immunity — when enough people in a given community have antibodies against a specific disease — until children can get vaccinated.

Q: Should I get the vaccine if I already had COVID and/or if I tested positive for COVID antibodies?

Answer: Yes, we encourage you to get the vaccine even if you already had COVID or tested positive for antibodies. You will be eligible to receive the vaccine after you complete your isolation period after infection or after your quarantine period ends after an exposure. Regarding antibodies, they may only stay in our bodies for a limited time, so the vaccine provides further protection.

Q: Will I be able to stop wearing a mask after I am vaccinated?

Answer: Until we reach herd immunity, we will all need to continue to wear a mask and social distance in public. The CDC has provided some guidance for fully vaccinated (more than two weeks after completion of vaccine) people to start doing some activities without masks. We don’t know at this point if we can still spread the virus even if we are vaccinated.

Q: Can I choose which vaccine I receive?

Answer: When Lee Health has multiple brands of COVID-19 vaccines in stock and available, you will be given a choice of which vaccine you receive. If only one brand is available at the time of your appointment, you will receive that vaccine. (At press time, Lee Health is prioritizing administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to people between 12 and 18 years of age.)

Q: Should I be concerned about other brands of vaccine after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused?

Answer: Neither Pfizer nor Moderna vaccines have shown signs of an increased risk of blood clots. Your risk of a blood clot if you contract COVID-19 is exponentially higher than the risk involved with vaccines. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated at their earliest opportunity.

The temporary suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been lifted by the FDA and CDC after announcing the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. For some patients, their healthcare provider may recommend a specific vaccine type, but most people can receive any of the three safe vaccines approved in the U.S.

Q: Should I get the vaccine if I am pregnant?

Answer: While there is limited data available on how the vaccine interacts with pregnant women, both the Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists note that pregnancy increases the risk of severe disease with COVID and that pregnant women can be vaccinated without specific approval. It is always advisable to discuss vaccination with your obstetrician before being vaccinated.

Q: Do any of the COVID-19 vaccines lead to infertility?

Answer: The current vaccine studies have not indicated any fertility-related complications due to COVID-19 vaccination.

Q: What if I have an underlying health condition or a history of adverse reactions to other vaccines or medications?

Answer: Those with underlying health conditions or severe allergies should consult with their doctor before receiving the vaccine.

Q: When should I get vaccinated at a hospital rather than a retail pharmacy?

Answer: If you have a history of adverse reactions to other vaccines or medications or have an underlying health condition, you may feel most comfortable getting your vaccination in a hospital setting where urgent and emergency care is nearby. At Lee Health, we administer vaccines to the community at Gulf Coast Medical Center and are ready to provide any care needed after vaccination.

We monitor all vaccine recipients for 15 minutes after the inoculation.

If you, your friends and your family are interested in the COVID-19 vaccination at Lee Health, you may schedule online at LeeHealth.org or by calling 239-343-0999.

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