COVID-19 Vaccine Information

VACCINE SMARTS 


Vaccine Smarts is written by Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences faculty members Drs. Megan Berman, an associate professor of internal medicine, and Richard Rupp, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch.


  • COVID-19 vaccine odds on favorite

    We Americans are not good at calculating risk. Some feel that if something bad is going to happen, it will happen to them.

  • Understanding COVID-19 variants

    The development of SARS-CoV-2 variants isn’t a surprise. The shocking thing, based on what we thought we knew about coronaviruses, is the speed at which variants developed and spread. The question remains: Should we be worried?

  • What to know about pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines

    Much more is known about COVID-19 and pregnancy now that we’re a year into the pandemic. Fortunately, in the majority of cases, SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy turns out well. COVID-19 can be worsened, however, by the extra work of breathing and stress on the heart that occur with pregnancy.

  • Sore lymph nodes and itchy splotches — is this normal?

    We’ve received many questions from readers anxious about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Several questioned reactions they experienced after receiving their shot. I hope our responses help answer the questions you may have as well.

  • Here are answers to a few of your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine

    We’ve received many questions from readers anxious about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Several questioned if they should be vaccinated at all while others wondered if they need to continue wearing masks once vaccinated. I hope our responses help answer the questions you may have as well.

  • Benefits outweigh risks of COVID-19 vaccines

    Texans are lining up to receive their COVID-19 vaccine and many more are patiently waiting their turn. The good news is that while COVID-19 can be life-threatening, the only medical risk to vaccination is for those with a history of allergic reactions to these vaccines or their ingredients.

  • Which COVID-19 vaccine should you get?

    In front of the press, President-elect Joe Biden rolled up his sleeve for the Pfizer vaccine and Dr. Anthony Fauci for the Moderna vaccine. While some tried to read something into their choices, these vaccination events were likely arranged to instill public trust in both vaccines. Regardless, the public wants to know which vaccine is best.

  • When will it be my turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

    It’s music to many physicians’ ears to hear people clamoring for their COVID-19 vaccine. The virus has damaged the economy and taken far too many lives. A year ago, it was unbelievable that effective, safe vaccines could be delivered in less than a year from the first identification of a new pathogen.

  • Here are some answers about new COVID-19 vaccines

    Two COVID-19 vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization in the United States. They’re commonly referred to as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Both are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and use a technology developed over the last decade.

  • Volunteers to purposefully get COVID-19 to help you

    It may seem crazy, but in some clinical trials volunteers are purposely infected with diseases like the flu, cholera and malaria. These types of trials are referred to as challenge studies.

  • Yes, you should get the flu vaccine annually

    The current flu vaccines aren’t similar to the swine flu vaccine of 1976; you should absolutely get your flu vaccine (and this cannot be emphasized enough with the current pandemic); and the best vaccine for you depends on your age.

  • Volunteers vital in finding effective COVID-19 vaccine

    Several vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have entered the final clinical trials required for licensure. The primary goal of the trials is to test the vaccine candidates’ effectiveness and gather further information on safety.

  • Vaccines can keep your liver healthy

    In this week’s column, doctors Megan Berman and Richard Rupp talk about the important role a person’s liver plays in keeping them healthy. They also discuss the causes of hepatitis, the term for inflammation of the liver, and the vaccines that can prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

  • Well-designed studies filter truth from hype

    In this installment of their popular column, Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp explain why high quality studies are necessary when researching drugs and their usage. The highest quality are randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies, according to the doctors.

COVID-19 General FAQs

FAQs

  • What is COVID-19

    Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus, now known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

    While COVID-19 causes only mild illness in some infected individuals, it may cause serious lower respiratory infection leading to hospitalization and even death.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this factsheet highlighting important information you should know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).

    Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • How do I help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if I am sick?
    • Stay home unless you need medical care
    • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
    • Call ahead before visiting a clinic
    • Wear a mask
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes
    • Clean your hands often
    • Avoid sharing personal household items
    • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day
    • Monitor your symptoms

    Last modified on 3/10/2020

  • Can I get tested for the coronavirus? What’s the process?

    Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, can schedule online or contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.


    • Patients should follow recommendations for testing, self-isolation and management of symptoms.
    • Any patient experiencing a worsening of symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—a few days after first becoming ill should contact the Access Center IMMEDIATELY. To keep our patients and employees safe, UTMB tests our patients for COVID-19 in advance of any procedure or hospital admission.
    • To keep our patients and employees safe, UTMB tests our patients for COVID-19 in advance of any procedure or hospital admission.
    • You may also wish to check with your local county health officials for testing available through local government. In Galveston County, Health District testing information is online.

    Please note: Our process and procedures may be updated as the COVID-19 situation develops in our region.

    Last modified on 10/16/2020

  • Can COVID-19 spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects?

    It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

    How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

    The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

    Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

    Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
    • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
    • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

    Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • If someone has minor symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19, can they be isolated at home instead of a hospital?

    At this time, patients testing positive for COVID-19 who have mild symptoms, are not over age 60 and do not have an underlying medical condition are advised to isolate at home. If a patient with COVID-19 is concerned, begins to experience shortness of breath, starts feeling worse a week or so into the illness, is over age 60 or has an underlying medical condition, they are strongly encouraged to call their doctor or the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

    Last modified on 3/16/2020