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.


  • 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

  • How long does the virus remain active on inanimate objects, such as clothing, currency, coins, and hard surfaces such as countertops and door handles?

    This is one of the topics that remains under study; it's still not certain exactly how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (at one point nine days was mentioned, which the latest studies suggest may be unlikely). Survival of the virus will vary under different conditions, including type of surface, temperature, humidity and moisture, exposure to sunlight, and other factors.

    If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. 

    Last modified on 3/14/2020

  • How to protect yourself
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

    If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

    Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

    Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • How does COVID-19 spread?

    COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

    The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

    These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

    Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • 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