COVID-19 vaccines have been manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Many other COVID-19 vaccines are currently being developed and tested.
For information about the COVID-19 vaccine, please see:
- The CDC Website
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration website
- Provost Clabo’s vaccine distribution announcement
- Interview with Dr. Teena Chopra
Has WSU mandated the COVID-19 vaccine?
Although WSU has not made the vaccine mandatory, all members of the Wayne State community are strongly encouraged to get it when it is their turn. Large segments of the population receiving the vaccine is key to being able to move past COVID-19. The vaccine has a very high efficacy rate and side effects have been rare and mild. It remains the best available protection against the virus.
When will CHC/WSU have the COVID-19 vaccine to begin vaccinating the WSU community?
Following the CDC Recommendation for Vaccine Administration, the Campus Health Center is administering the COVID-19 vaccine to students and faculty members in health professions who are currently in a clinical rotation. Only Wayne State students, faculty and staff who have been directly contacted by the CHC are able to receive their immunization at this time.
When will all medical students and other students working directly in health care settings be expected to be vaccinated?
Students who are scheduled for work in clinical settings will be invited to receive the COVID-19 immunizations in the next several weeks. Vaccination of this group has already started.
What will the schedule of vaccination be within the WSU community and what is the expected timeline to get all of the community vaccinated?
The first round of vaccinations will go to students and faculty in clinical positions and rotations. These include pharmacy, nursing and medical students and faculty. This process is already underway. Next on the list to receive the vaccine will be front line essential workers, including the Wayne State police department staff, custodians and others who are on campus overseeing daily operations. This also includes individuals who are 65 years of age and older.
Will people with pre-existing conditions (e.g., asthma, COPD) be prioritized for getting the vaccine?
In accordance with the state’s plan, people with pre-existing conditions will be part of the 1C group. They will be eligible to receive their vaccines after the first two groups of prioritized individuals receive theirs. Although we can’t say exactly when that will be, it should be sometime within the next two months.
Will the campus community have access to choose between receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine?
Not at this time. What brand of COVID-19 vaccine is carried by the Campus Health Center is mostly dependent on available supply at this time.
Are our spouses and dependents eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from WSU?
Distribution of vaccines has begun for WSU faculty, staff and students. Spouses and dependents of WSU faculty, staff and students has not started. Stay tuned for further information on your eligibility in the coming weeks and months.
Will Canadian/International students be eligible to receive the vaccine from WSU?
Yes. All members of WSU community will be eligible to receive the vaccine when it is their turn.
How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?
COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.
Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.
Can you explain how mRNA vaccines differ from other existing vaccines?
mRNA vaccines contain a short sequence of genetic material from the virus. This material instructs our cells to make only one protein part of the virus, called spike protein. As the protein is made, the mRNA is used up and naturally degrades and is destroyed over several days.
Our immune system is doing 24/7 surveillance, and when it detects this new spike protein on the surface of the muscle cells, our body’s T-cells and B-cells begin communicating with each other. In this process, our B-cells will first make IgM antibodies and later IgG antibodies after the first dose of vaccine.
It is the IgG antibody that is most important because it can strongly neutralize the virus if you become exposed and infected in the future. We call IgG the neutralizing antibody.
With the second dose of vaccine, your body makes even higher levels of IgG antibodies, which makes it more likely that you will maintain protective levels of antibodies for several months after completing the two-dose vaccine series.
In the future, if you should be exposed to the virus, your body will recognize the spike protein on that virus and immediately react to stop the invading virus.
The vaccine also causes our immune system to create a population of T-cells that help B cells remember the virus. This means that several months down the road, your body will be able to react much faster, and the memory cells will help your body make more neutralizing IgG antibodies.
Do the COVID-19 vaccines require two injections?
The Pfizer vaccine approved for use in the U.S. is a two-dose series, requiring a second dose 21 days after the first to complete the series. The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose series as well, with the doses given 28 days apart. Both are about 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness once the series is completed.
How important is the second dose of vaccine?
The second dose is extremely important. Two doses of vaccine bring the efficacy rate up to 95% and receiving the second dose is the only proven way to get the efficacy rate up that high.
Does the first dose provide any protection?
Although some protection appears to begin as early as 12 days after the first dose, two doses of the vaccine — separated by three weeks for Pfizer or four weeks for Moderna — is the only regimen that proved to be 95% effective in Phase 3 trials.
Will there be enough vaccine to ensure people will get the second dose?
It is anticipated that there will be adequate vaccine supplies to handle second doses.
How long after the injection does the vaccine work?
Based on trials, the best protection will come seven days after the second dose, but there will be some level of protection about 12 days after the first injection.
How long will the vaccine last? Will I need boosters?
We don’t know for sure, but based on the antibody response seen in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are both mRNA vaccines, it appears that it is unlikely we will need the COVID-19 vaccine every year. We need the flu vaccine every year because flu viruses change at a rapid rate. On the other hand, coronaviruses do change, but not with the same speed as flu viruses. We may need boosters, but they may not be annual.
If I had confirmed COVID-19, should I still get the vaccine or allow others to take precedence?
If you’ve already had a clinically verified case of COVID-19, you likely have developed antibodies to the illness. While this does offer some protection, you should still plan on getting the vaccine at some point, although there is less urgency for you to get it.
Vaccine Safety and Efficacy
It is a new vaccine. Is it really safe?
The COVID-19 vaccines are held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines in the U.S. The mRNA technology used for the two vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) has taken years of research and development. The difference is the COVID-19 development time was concurrent, rather than one after the other. For example, Phase 1 and 2 trials have been conducted concurrent to Phase 3 trials, expediting the process. This was possible because of an abundance of financial resources allocated to the COVID-19 vaccine development.
How effective are the vaccines?
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 95% efficacious. Efficacy is a term referring to how many cases of infections of a disease are prevented in the clinical trial. We have yet to find out whether the vaccine helps in preventing disease transmission.
Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?
The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19, nor will it make you test positive on a COVID-19 viral test. However, because the goal of the vaccine is to help your body develop antibodies against the virus, you may test positive for antibodies on certain tests after you receive the vaccine. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development contain complete SARS-CoV-2 virus, so it is impossible for the vaccine to cause COVID-19.
Is there a difference in safety and efficacy between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?
No. Both vaccines have an efficacy in the mid- to high-90s percent range, and what side effects we’ve seen so far have been mild.
What are some of the possible side effects after the injection?
Side effects reported by some include soreness at the injection site, fatigue and occasionally a low-grade fever— all of which have been previously reported with other vaccines. While side effects are fairly common, especially after the second dose, they are mild and tend to disappear within a day or two.
These are not really side effects but reactions, which mean that the vaccine is doing what it is supposed to do — induce an immune response in our body. So, while these reactions may make you feel uncomfortable — or even miserable — for a couple of days, the good news is that your immune system is working.
If I have had known reactions to other vaccines in the past, should I avoid taking the vaccine for COVID-19?
When you receive the vaccine there will be medical professionals on hand to treat any reaction you might experience. Side effects have typically been mild. You should discuss this with your primary care provider.
Should I avoid taking the vaccine if I am taking other daily medications for other issues, such as blood pressure?
No. The vaccine won’t interfere with other medications. You should discuss any concerns you have with your primary care provider.
Can the vaccine alter or interfere with my DNA?
The vaccine cannot alter or interfere with your DNA.
Is the vaccine safe for my child?
The approved Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized for use in people aged 16 years and older. The approved Moderna vaccine is authorized for use in people age 18 and older. The current vaccines were not tested and are not indicated for children. Trials in children are now beginning. Pfizer has begun testing in children 12 and older, and Moderna recently announced plans to test its vaccine in 3,000 teens. Hopefully, by the end of 2021, we will have a vaccine available for children.
After I’m vaccinated, can I still catch the virus?
The vaccine is very effective. There may be some people who get the vaccine, but still may not be protected against infection, but we may not know who those people are. Hence, it is even more important that we vaccinate as many people as possible to build up herd immunity.
How can I help influence others to get the vaccine when it is their turn?
Be honest and talk about how this will help everyone return to their normal lives. Provide easy-to-understand answers on how the vaccine works, what to expect when you are vaccinated, and how the vaccine will help the person vaccinated as well as their family and people in their community.
Be careful of the sources you use or recommend for vaccine information. Trusted sites are listed at the top of this page. Take great care when considering information found on social media that may come from unknown sources or non-verified sources.
When does WSU anticipate welcoming staff, students and faculty back in person?
If all goes well, we hope to welcome everyone back to campus by the beginning of the fall 2021 semester, but this will be contingent on the smooth and rapid delivery of vaccinations to as many campus community members as possible.
After I’m vaccinated, can I be immune but still pass the virus to someone else?
We don’t know the answer to this question yet. We need to wait for additional studies to answer that.
Once I receive a vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask and practicing social distancing?
No. Vaccine is an added tool to our prevention toolbox. We still need to mask, wash hands and socially distance. Remember, we still don’t know whether vaccinated individuals can transmit the disease. It’s possible that when vaccinated individuals are exposed to the virus, it replicates within them and doesn’t cause the disease, but they can still spread to others.
Once immunity levels are established, what safety precautions — such as social distancing, classroom spacing, cleaning protocols and online class offerings — will continue to be followed?
This remains to be seen. Cleaning protocols will be maintained and there will be more options for on-line instruction, but no firm decisions about these matters have been made.
Will a vaccine solve everything?
A vaccine is not the answer, but vaccination is! Vaccination acceptance by the community will help us achieve herd immunity or community immunity. The number to achieve herd immunity is typically close to 80%, which will help slow transmission and gradually end the pandemic. We must wait to evaluate whether COVID-19 vaccines prevent disease transmission, how long the immunity lasts, and which type of people it will not work on before we can know that number.