COVID-19 Vaccines for Patients Frequently Asked Questions* (FAQ)

 Q – Which vaccines are available?

  • At this time, two vaccines have been submitted for United States Food and Drug (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
  • Vaccine availability in Maryland will depend on a number of factors including availability as well as vaccine storage capabilities.
  • General information published about each vaccine includes:
    • The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: Contains a tiny fragment of the virus’s genetic code made in the lab – called messenger RNA, or mRNA – that codes for a part of the virus called the ‘spike protein’, which sits on the outside of the virus. When the mRNA is injected into the body it can instruct cells to produce these proteins, priming the immune system to be able to recognize and destroy the coronavirus, without exposing the body to the virus itself. This vaccine must be stored at -70°C (-94 oF). This vaccine received FDA EUA approval on December 11, 2020.
  • Moderna vaccine: Like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine contains mRNA that codes for the virus’s spike protein. It can be stored at –20°C

(-4oF; normal freezer temperature) for up to 6 months. This vaccine received FDA EUA approval on December 17, 2020.

 

Q – Which vaccine is most appropriate for me?

  • All the vaccines that are approved by the FDA may be considered.

 

Q – Is the vaccine effective against COVID-19?

  • Detailed information about the effectiveness of each vaccine is available from the respective manufacturers, the FDA and the CDC. Based on clinical trials reviewed by the FDA:
  • The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective 7 days from the 2nd dose.
  • The Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective 14 days from the 2nd dose
  • Ongoing studies to assess how well the vaccine works in real-world conditions will continue.

 

Q – How do we know the vaccine is safe?

  • FDA EUA approval requires the same rigorous review of clinical trial data as any other FDA approval.

 

Q – Is the vaccine safe if I am receiving immunotherapy?

  • Based on information studying the influenza vaccines, it appears that vaccines are safe to use in this population of patients. Further information on the COVID-19 vaccines, is not available currently.
  • We will continue to monitor for information and guidance on immunization in special populations including patients on immunotherapy.

Q – Has it been studied/is it safe in immunocompromised individuals? What about in pregnancy and children?

  • The EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is for ages 16 and older.
  • There is no published data in the studies on this; however, we will continue to monitor for published guidance.
  • There have been no published studies to include pregnant women or children <12 yrs. of age. These data points are still being collected.

 

Q – What are the common side effects?

  • Each vaccine manufacturer has identified various possible side effects for its respective vaccine. Information about side effects is available from each manufacturer, but some reported side effects include:
  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
    • Fatigue 3.8%
    • Headache 2.0%
    • Older adults demonstrated fewer side effects
  • Moderna vaccine
    • Injection site pain 2.7%
    • Fatigue 9.7%
    • Myalgia (muscle aches and pains) 8.9%
    • Arthralgia (joint pain) 5.2%
    • Headache 4.5%
    • Pain 4.1%
    • Erythema (superficial redness of the skin) 2.0%

 

Q – Will vaccination help or hinder my response to treatment?

  • There is no published data in the studies on this; however, the decision to receive the vaccine should be made after consultation with your health care provider.

 

Q – What happens if I refuse to receive the vaccine?

  • You as a patient always have the right to refuse any treatment. Your provider should provide adequate education to ensure you can make an informed decision.

 

Q – How soon after I get the vaccine will I become protected from contracting COVID-19?

  • According to the manufacturer, the Pfizer vaccine provides optimal immunity 7 days after the second dose.
  • According to the manufacturer, the Moderna provides optimal immunity 14 days after the second dose.
  • Other COVID-19 precautions such as mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing should be continued after vaccination. It has not been clearly established at what point after vaccination it is safe to discontinue other COVID-19 precautions.

 

Q – Can I get COVID-19 from getting the vaccine?

  • Per the CDC you cannot develop COVID-19 from vaccines that do not use the live virus.
  • There are several different types of vaccines in development. The goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.

 

 

 

*These FAQs consolidate into one document information published or otherwise provided by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration, professional societies, academic centers, and other experts. Any recommended courses of action made by the foregoing agencies or experts and included in this document are only recommendations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Covid19 Vaccine Update

December 22, 2020

To Our Valued MOH Patients:

Many of you have seen in the news that the COVID-19 vaccine approvals were recently
announced by the FDA. The arrival of vaccines is good news in the fight to defeat COVID-19,
but now the challenge begins in the distribution and administration of the vaccine. Although
the Maryland Department of Health has a draft mass vaccination plan (click here), MOH has not
been provided information regarding COVID-19 vaccine availability for our practice and
patients.

As frontline caregivers, our goal is to protect the health and well being of our patients, staff and
communities. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep you updated and
informed as more information becomes available on the COVID-19 vaccine via our website.
Please remember that until the population has been broadly immunized, we encourage you to
continue to protect yourself and others by wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and
washing your hands.

Know that your health and safety continues to be our top priority and we will get through this
together.

Thank you and Happy Holidays.

Joseph Haggerty MD

President

 

Jenny Elrod MSN, RN

Director Clinical Services
Maryland Oncology Hematology

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Office Weather Updates

Columbia: Columbia Office will be closing today at 2:30pm.  The office will reopen Thursday, December 17th at 10:30am.

Frederick & Mt Airy:  Frederick and Mt. Airy locations will be closing at 1pm today. Opening 11am Thursday, December 17th

Rockville, Germantown & Bethesda:  will be closing at 2:30pm today. Opening at 10pm Thursday, December 17th

Annapolis:  Opening at 10pm Thursday, December 17th

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Managing the Holidays with Cancer

Even people in perfect health often feel exhausted and overwhelmed during the holiday season; that feeling is often magnified when you’re battling cancer. You may not have the stamina to battle Black Friday crowds, deck the halls and entertain as lavishly as you have in years past, and that’s OK. If you’re a cancer patient try not to overexert yourself, but don’t isolate yourself either. Here are some ways cancer patients can manage and even enjoy the holidays while undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment.

Accept Help

When you were diagnosed with cancer and going through cancer treatment, you were probably inundated with offers of help and support. Now is the time to accept those offers. Whether you need help hanging Christmas lights or wrapping gifts, don’t hesitate to ask friends, neighbors and family members for help. Most people will feel honored that you asked, and you’ll probably enjoy both their help and their company.

Tweak Traditions

It’s easy to become caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and become overwhelmed. This year, try to focus on the underlying reason for your traditions: Celebrating relationships and enjoying spending time with loved ones. If your tradition involves gathering the family for Christmas dinner, you can achieve that without spending hours in the kitchen. Ask each guest to bring a dish and have a pot-luck, have the meal catered, meet at one of the many wonderful restaurants in Maryland, or move the dinner to someone else’s house.

Let Your Fingers Do the Shopping

One of the most daunting aspects of the holidays is battling traffic and crowds to buy gifts. You certainly don’t have to buy gifts. However, if you want to consider shopping online. You’ll save time and energy, and you’ll probably also save money. Visit sites such as Retailmenot.comOffers.com, and freeshipping.org for online coupon codes. Another benefit of online shopping is that many sites offer a gift wrapping option. You can buy your gift and arrange to have it wrapped and shipped directly to your loved one.

Carve Out Time for Yourself

It’s easy to become overwhelmed during the holidays, so take care of yourself by taking breaks to recharge your batteries. Take a walk, take a bath, or take a nap. This is a good idea for cancer patients, even when it’s not the holidays. But it’s almost critical during the holiday season.

If it becomes clear the festivities will carry on into the wee hours, it’s OK to excuse yourself and make an early exit. If you’ve accepted an invitation but aren’t feeling well, feel free to send your regrets at the last minute. The holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. Make your health top priority, and those around you will understand.

You Don’t Have to be Cheerful All the Time

When you have cancer, that fact is always on your mind. For most people, the holiday season is a time for reflection. As a cancer patient, it’s only natural that you’ll mourn your life before cancer and feel anxiety about the future. Anger, sadness and frustration are common, understandable emotions that don’t go away during the holidays. Express your feelings, as your honesty gives your loved ones permission to express their feelings, too. Cancer is a terrible disease, and it’s cathartic to acknowledge that. It’s OK to laugh and to cry.

Celebrate Life, Love and Happiness

You may have cancer, but cancer does not define you. Celebrate and enjoy your life. Whether you spend time with friends and loved ones, volunteer to help others or meditate in preparation for a brand new year, take time during the holiday season to celebrate all the wonderful things about your life, and know that our cancer specialist at Maryland Oncology Hematology are here to help you.

 

Sources:

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