FAQ  Covid-19 Vaccination

Frequently asked questions about the vaccines against COVID-19


1. How do vaccines work against COVID-19 disease? In general, vaccines act by preparing the human immune system (the body’s natural defenses) in order to recognise specific viruses and protect against them and the disease they cause. Most of the research into vaccines against COVID-19 is to induce a response of the human organism against a specific protein found only in the SARS-CoV2 virus (coronavirus) which causes the COVID-19 disease. An immune response is created when a person is vaccinated. If the person is later infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the immune system is able to identify it and is already prepared to attack it. 


2. Could I contract SARS-CoV-2 because of the COVID-19 vaccine? No. None of the COVID-19 approved and recommended vaccines by the European Medicines Agency contains the live SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 disease. COVID-19 vaccines teach the immune system how to recognise and fight the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. Sometimes this process can cause mild symptoms, such as fever, headache and myalgia. These symptoms are normal and indicate that the human body develops protection against the virus. 


3. I may be vaccinated and still get sick with COVID-19? And since the vaccine doesn't offer 100 % protection from the coronovirus disease, why should I be vaccinated? The data available so far show that vaccines reduce the risk of symptoms and the risk of serious virus disease. This is very important because it reduces at the same time the risk of hospitalisation, the risk of loss of human lives and the risk of long-term complications caused by the virus in some patients, such as cardiovascular and respiratory complications. All vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency so far provide high efficacy. They reduce the likelihood of someone suffering from COVID-19 disease and protect against serious or fatal complications of the disease. However, because no vaccine is 100 % effective, a small proportion of fully vaccinated individuals may get SARS-COV-2 and become sick with COVID-19 even after receiving all the required doses of the vaccine. In addition, after the administration of the 1st or 2nd dose of the vaccine it takes a few weeks to develop immunity and be protected. This means that it is possible for a person to contract the coronavirus, shortly before or shortly after receiving the vaccine, and to become sick. This is because the vaccine did not have sufficient time to develop the necessary immune protection.


4. How long does the vaccine protection against COVID-19 last? Should I repeat a booster dose of the vaccine after completion of the COVID-19 vaccination? Based on the data available so far, we do not know the duration of protection that vaccines against coronavirus offer us. The duration of protection provided by vaccination is expected to be longer than the natural immunity acquired after the natural infection. Persons who have been vaccinated in the framework of clinical trials will continue to be monitored in order to obtain more information on the duration of protection and whether and when a booster dose will be needed. In addition, with the vaccination of more people, we expect to have more data on the duration of the immunity offered by the vaccine. 


5. Can a positive result be produced in a test for the detection of the virus due to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine? No. None of the COVID-19 approved and recommended vaccines produces a positive result in a test for the detection of coronavirus (molecular method of PCR or rapid test). The coronavirus detection test is used to determine whether someone is infected with the virus itself. After vaccination one may have a positive result on some antibody tests due to an immune response of the body. Antibody tests indicate if someone is infected with the coronavirus and has been ill and that there is, possibly, some level of protection from the virus. 


6. I've been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. Do I need to get vaccinated? According to current recommendations, a person should be vaccinated regardless of whether he or she has already contracted the coronavirus, as it is likely that he/she may be infected again. Previous illness with COVID-19 disease may provide some protection, known as natural immunity, which however does not seem to be enough to protect against a potential re-infection with the virus. Current data suggest that recontamination with SARS-CoV-2 virus is not common in the months following the initial infection but may increase over time. Vaccination following an illness with COVID-19 is carried out within three (3) months after recovery and after at least 42 days after recovery/seranegacy in diagnostic tests. In people who have been seriously ill and treated with specialised therapies, it is recommended that vaccination is carried out after 90 days. In any case, it is recommended that people who have been ill and wish to be vaccinated consult their Personal Physician. 


7. Do vaccines with mRNA technology affect my DNA? No. Messenger RNA (mRNA) is not the same as DNA and cannot be combined with our DNA to change our genetic code. The mRNA contained in the vaccine does not enter the nucleus of the cell where our DNA is located. It simply commands our cell to produce a special virus protein against which our immune system then reacts and is eventually trained to react to the virus.


8. Could adverse side effects occur in the future due to COVID-19 vaccines? COVID-19 vaccines are safe and protect against severe infection and death from COVID-19 disease. Some mild side effects, which may occur after vaccination, are indications that the body develops immunity. Side effects usually occur in the first days after receiving the vaccine. Most are mild or moderate in intensity and retreat within a few days. In some cases, they may be more serious or last longer. Serious side effects that could cause long-term health problems are extremely unlikely after any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination. Monitoring of vaccines has historically shown that adverse reactions generally occur within six (6) weeks of receiving the vaccine dose. Vaccines are continuously monitored to detect any side effects. 


9. Can a woman who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy be administered the COVID-19 vaccine? There are currently limited data from the use of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women. However, based on their mechanism of action, they are not expected to present any risk to pregnant women or the foetus. Clinical trials studying the safety and benefit of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women are ongoing or planned. Data from women, in completed clinical trials, who received the vaccine and became pregnant are collected and tested. It is recommended that women who are pregnant should discuss the benefits and risks of the vaccine with their attending physician. In addition, there is currently no indication that COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility and do not require that pregnancy be avoided after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Animal studies did not indicate direct or indirect reproductive toxicity. 


10. Can a breast-feeding woman receive the COVID-19 vaccine? There are currently no published studies on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in breast-feeding women or the effect of vaccination on the breast-feeding child. Based on their mechanism of action, it is not expected that COVID-19 vaccines pose any risk to breast-feeding women or to the breast-feeding child. Recent studies have shown that in breast-feeding women receiving the mRNA COVID19 vaccines, antibodies were detected in breast milk. At present, it is not known how long these antibodies can be excreted in breast milk and whether they provide some protection to the breast-feeding child. Current recommendations are that women who are breast-feeding may receive a COVID-19 vaccine. In any case, it is recommended that women who are breast-feeding and wishing to be vaccinated discuss the benefits and risks of the vaccine with their treating physician. 


11. As the use of vaccines increases, how quickly can we return to our normal way of life? Vaccination is one of the tools for dealing with the pandemic. However, at the same time, health protocols and personal protective measures need to be complied with. As the pandemic continues, we must take all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus and prevent more deaths. We must continue to observe social distancing measures and follow all preventive measures that have been proven to be effective and keep us safe (use of mask, regular and thorough hand hygiene, cleanliness of the area where we live or work). At the same time, we must support and encourage vaccination in order to increase population coverage. The sooner the greater percentage of the population is vaccinated, the sooner there will be immunity in the community and we will be able to gradually return to our normal way of life. 


Young people – Answers to basic questions


Now the RoC vaccination plan is focused on young individuals aged 20-29, who have expressed a keen interest in being vaccinated.  Below are answers to frequently asked questions that concern young people in relation to vaccinations: 


1. If I get vaccinated, will I be able to use a solarium? There are no specific recommendations. 


2. If I get vaccinated will I be able to go out for a drink? If not, for how many days? No studies have been conducted to date, on whether alcohol affects or causes any side effects after vaccination against COVID. There is no evidence that alcohol consumption within the recommended weekly limits will have any effect on the efficacy of the vaccine. 


3. If I get vaccinated, will I be able to go for coffee and consume caffeine? If not, for how many days? There is no contraindication to caffeine consumption after vaccination. Therefore, you can go for coffee whenever you want, even immediately after vaccination if you feel well. 


4. If I get vaccinated, will I be able to exercise or do strenuous physical exercise, such as crossfit? If not, for how many days will I not be able to? Depending on how one feels, one can resume normal activities. Generally, it is recommended that intense physical exercise is avoided in the first days after vaccination. 


5. Should I stay home for a few days after my vaccination? If so, for how many days and why? It is not recommended to stay at home after vaccination except for rest or other reasons, such as having a side effect such as fatigue, headache, etc. 


6. Can one return to normal activity after vaccination? Depending on how you feel, you can continue your normal activities, while observing the current precautionary measures against coronavirus and the health protocols that are applied to each building. If you feel unwell or tired, it is recommended that you rest and avoid using machinery or driving. 


7. Do you need to abstain from certain foods after the vaccine? There are no recommendations for avoiding certain foods after the vaccine. 


8. I have a headache, but not because of the vaccine. Can I take a painkiller after the vaccination? It is not recommended to differentiate the usual way of treating a headache due to vaccination. There are no reports of vaccine interactions with common painkillers, such as paracetamol, and their use is not contraindicated. 


9. Are SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus vaccines safe or do they have side effects? If so, which ones? SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus vaccines are safe and, based on the latest safety data, the benefits outweigh the risks. Prior to any approval, vaccines are subjected to rigorous testing and clinical trials to ensure that they meet internationally agreed safety and efficacy reporting standards. Competent regulating Authorities are constantly monitoring the use of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that they remain safe. As with all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them. The side effects reported for COVID-19 vaccines are mostly mild to moderate and short-lived. The most common ones include redness and pain at the injection site, fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, nausea, diarrhoea and swelling. In some cases, they may be more severe or last longer. The chances of any of the above side effects occurring after vaccination vary depending on the particular COVID-19 vaccine. More information can be found in the Package Leaflet: User Information, which is available for each vaccine on the website of the EMA. 


10. Do I need to take precautions against coronavirus after vaccination? If so, why and for how long? Vaccines are one of the tools to tackle the pandemic. However, as the pandemic continues, we must take all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus and prevent more deaths. We must continue to adhere to social distancing measures, stay at home if necessary and follow all preventive measures that have been shown to be effective and keep us safe (use of mask, regular and meticulous hand hygiene, cleanliness of the area where we live or work). At the same time, we need to support and encourage vaccination in order to increase population coverage. The sooner the greater percentage of the population is vaccinated, the sooner there will be immunity in the community and we will be able to gradually return to our normal way of life. 


11. Can people who have had allergies in the past be vaccinated? COVID-19 vaccines should not be administered to people with hypersensitivity to the active substance or to any of the excipients included in the vaccine. People who have had a severe allergic reaction or respiratory problems after any other vaccine or medicine, or after having been given the COVID-19 vaccine in the past, should contact their Personal Doctor before any decision on the administration of the vaccine.


* The answers to the above questions are based on the data available so far and the current recommendations of European and global public health organisations, which are constantly updated.

Sources: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus, www.who.int, www.ec.europa.eu, www.ema.europa.eu; https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/uploads/13052021_vaccinationquestionsyouthEN.pdf
https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/uploads/05052021_FAQsonvaccinesEN.pdf