Does the COVID-19 vaccine contain the virus? North Carolina health experts answer your COVID-19 vaccine questions

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Q&A: Your COVID-19 vaccine questions answered
Does the vaccine contain live virus? Do you need the vaccine if you've already had COVID-19? NC health experts have the answers to your vaccine questions.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- ABC11 has answers to your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine that could come to market as early as next week.

One of the biggest: Do any of the vaccines contain live virus, plasma, blood or stem cells? The simple answer is no.

"Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being made with what's calling messenger RNA so it's actually just a little snippet of the genes of the virus," said Dr. Betsy Tilson, state health director. "It's just a little snippet of that and your body then can make a protein that is similar to the virus and then it can mount that immune response. There is no live virus. There's no plasma, no stem cells. It's just a little tiny snippet of the part of the gene of the virus."

Another question viewers had: Will people who have already had COVID-19 need a vaccine?

Dr. Tilson said it's not clear how long natural immunity will last from a natural infection and it's likely that immunity will wane.

"So it may be a yes that even if you've had the infection that you've had the infection that you'd need the vaccine but we'll wait for some more data and recommendations from the CDC," Dr. Tilson said.

How will the COVID-19 vaccine interact with your body?

Some of you wonder if you'll have to get a vaccine every year? Experts said they're still not sure how long immunity will last.

Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? Send them to us here

Others asked: Will any of the COVID-19 vaccines potentially coming to market be safe for children or pregnant women?

Dr. Tilson said not quite yet. The groups haven't been part of the clinical trials. Until there's data about the safety and effectiveness, those groups won't be approved to get the vaccines.

Another person asked: Will immediate family members of high-risk individuals be able to get the vaccine in the same priority group?

"For right now, it's just the actual individual in that phase," Dr. Tilson said. "As we get more vaccine, we can think about that cocooning of those patients but in the beginning it's just the individual in high risk."

You won't have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine--all those costs will be paid by the government or your insurance company.

Can companies force employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses of the vaccine so some of you asked: "Does it matter when you get your second dose or which company's vaccine you get?"

"People need to remember that they're going to have to come back for the second dose at a set time," Dr. Tilson said. "If you start with the Pfizer vaccine, for example, you'll have to come back for the Pfizer vaccine. If you start with Moderna, you'll have to have the second dose for Moderna. That's really important."

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Duke said the second dose of the vaccine will be administered three weeks after the first.

According to data, North Carolina be able to vaccinate 85,000 people with the first two-dose vaccine allotment. While the timeline is still up in the air, we expect the first vaccines could be administered before the end of the year.

Health officials and experts continue to assure us that the COVID-19 vaccines are going through a rigorous review by an independent body of scientists, not politicians.