ANSWERS TO YOUR LATEST QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINATION, TESTING, AND TREATMENT
With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, should I cancel my doctor’s appointment?
If appropriate, consider a telemedicine or telehealth appointment with your physician. Telemedicine appointments do require an Iris account. For more information on telemedicine or telehealth appointments, please click here.
What are monoclonal antibody infusions?
Monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs, are laboratory-made proteins that help the body fight the virus that causes COVID-19. MAbs infusions can help ease severe COVID-19 symptoms and potentially reduce hospitalizations and deaths. The mAb therapy is the first COVID-19 treatment granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for outpatient use. A Phase 3 clinical trial showed that the antibody therapy reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 70% in patients who received the drug intravenously compared to those who received a placebo.
If administered within 10 days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, the one-time therapy is highly effective in neutralizing the virus and preventing symptoms from worsening. The emergency use authorization provides information on eligibility for mAb treatment. The infusion treatment can take from 20-70 minutes, with an observation time afterward. More information about mAbs is available on our Cough & Fever Clinic page.
Who is eligible to get a booster dose of the vaccine?
The booster is available six months after being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer® and Moderna®, and two months after being fully vaccinated with Johnson and Johnson Janssen® vaccines for patients ages 18 and older.
The Pfizer COVID-19 booster is available for patients ages 12 – 17 who have completed their primary COVID-19 vaccination series.
In accordance with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HealthWorks Immunization Clinic, a service of Hattiesburg Clinic and Forrest General Hospital, is offering Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
If you have additional questions, please contact your primary care physician.
I have a surgery scheduled soon. Will I still have my surgery?
Due to the high demand on our hospitals to care for patients, and hospitals now being strained for resources once again, certain surgeries as defined by the MSDH are considered “elective” and require an overnight stay – could be postponed. For more information about which types of surgeries, click here.
Should I start wearing a mask again when I am inside public places?
Due to our high levels of transmission of COVID-19, MSDH recommends everyone (including those who are fully vaccinated) wear a mask in public indoor settings. Click here for full information.
Can I still get Covid-19 if I am vaccinated?
Yes. The vast majority of those who are getting Covid-19 are not vaccinated, and we are seeing extremely high rates of those unvaccinated individuals who are ending up hospitalized and, unfortunately, we are seeing many deaths in unvaccinated patients. While those who are vaccinated are experiencing milder symptoms, you are still a carrier of the virus and can still spread the virus.
What should I do if I test positive?
If you test positive for COVID-19, even if fully vaccinated, you should isolate for at least 10 days from the beginning of your symptoms or from your test date if you have no symptoms.
What should I do if I am exposed to someone with COVID-19?
If you are vaccinated and are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days following exposure. If you are not fully vaccinated, you should quarantine for at least 10 days after exposure (fully vaccinated persons do not have to quarantine after exposure, but should get tested).
Should I begin avoiding large gatherings?
It is recommended:
- If you are 65 years of age or older, you should avoid all indoor mass gatherings, even if you have been vaccinated.
- If you have a chronic medical condition, you should avoid all indoor mass gatherings, even if you have been vaccinated
For more information regarding the MSDH’s recommendations, please click here.
Who is eligible for vaccination?
- Individuals 5 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine, and those 18 and over can receive the Moderna vaccine.*
- Those under 18 should see their physician or a private medical provider about vaccination rather than visiting am MSDH drive-through site.
- Pregnant women, lactating women and those who are immunocompromised may take the vaccine; however, consultation with your healthcare provider is recommended.
- You can be vaccinated if you have tested positive for COVID-19 if you wait until your isolation period is over and your symptoms have significantly improved.
For more information on vaccinations at drive-through sites around the state, please visit the MSDH for a full list of vaccination sites, eligibility, and appointments.
Do the vaccines work?
Yes. The Pfizer trial was shown to produce an antibody response in 95% of recipients beginning one week after the second dose. The Moderna trial proved to be 95.2% effective. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 85% effective in preventing severe disease. The responses were the same across age, gender, race, and ethnicities. The Moderna vaccine produced antibodies that were present in the blood for up to three months, but immunity may last longer.
Who should get vaccinated?
At this time, the recommendation is for everyone 5 years and older to be vaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine can be given to those 5 years and older. The Moderna vaccine, as well as Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, can be given to those 18 years and older.
Even if you have had COVID-19, it is advised that you also get vaccinated. There is not enough information to say if or for how long someone is protected by natural immunity.
Who is considered at increased risk for severe illness due to COVID-19?
Older adults. According to the CDC, eight out of ten deaths reported have been those who are 65 years and older.
Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death. Those who are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
• Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
• Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
• Chronic kidney disease
• COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
• Cystic fibrosis
• Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
• Hypertension or high blood pressure
• Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
• Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
• Liver disease
• Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
• Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
• Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
• Sickle cell disease
• Type 1 diabetes mellitus
• Type 2 diabetes mellitus
• Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
Children with the following conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness: obesity, severe genetic disorders, severe neurologic disorders, inherited metabolic disorders, sickle cell disease, congenital (since birth) heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, asthma and other chronic lung disease, and immunosuppression due to malignancy or immune-weakening medications.
We do not yet know who is at increased risk for developing the rare but serious complication associated with COVID-19 in children called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), nor do we know what causes MIS-C.
Black Americans and the LatinX communities are also more susceptible to serious illness, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19. Per the CDC, Black Americans and Latino or Hispanic persons are 2.8 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to white non-Hispanic persons.
Are the vaccines safe?
Yes. Safety is a top priority for all vaccines. While the current vaccines were developed and approved at a much faster pace than other vaccines, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – as well as all vaccines approved by the CDC and FDA – are required to meet the same very strict standards for safety.
You cannot get COVID-19 from these vaccines. They are different because they are not weakened or inactive virus.
Vaccines today use only the necessary ingredients to be as safe and effective as possible. Each of these ingredients serves a specific purpose to provide immunity, keep the vaccine safe and long-lasting, and facilitate the production of the vaccine.
Learn more about the methods and monitoring systems that ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick?
The vaccines will not give you COVID-19. They may induce short-term, normal immune responses such as headache, chills, fatigue, muscle pain or fever that only lasts for a day or two. A very small percentage of people developed short-lived symptoms at the site of injection. These are normal, healthy responses that indicate your body is building immunity to COVID-19.
How many times do I need to get the shot?
At this time, the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines require two doses. The first dose primes your immune system to fight the disease and the second further boosts immunity. Despite feeling bad after the first dose, it is important that you return for your second dose. Participants in the trials said that while the symptoms were uncomfortable, and at times intense, they often went away after a single day.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose.
For more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the Centers for Disease Control at:
What are the COVID-19 vaccine ingredients?
The COVID-19 vaccine ingredients are both common and simple. Each of these ingredients serves a specific purpose to provide immunity, keep the vaccine safe and long-lasting, and facilitate the production of the vaccine. Though precautions should be taken for those with a history of severe allergic reactions to injectable medications, it is important to note that most vaccines do not include thimerosal, mercury, or antibiotics that most commonly cause allergic reactions. For more information, please visit the CDC to find out what’s in vaccines.
Were corners cut in development of the vaccine?
Each vaccine trial has gone through the same strict requirements that exist for all vaccine approvals. The federal government has been working closely with vaccine developers to make one or more COVID-19 vaccines available as soon as possible.
- Researchers used existing clinical trial networks to begin conducting COVID-19 vaccine trials.
- Manufacturing started while the clinical trials were still underway. Normally, manufacturing doesn’t begin until after completion of the trials.
- mRNA vaccines are faster to produce than traditional vaccines.
- FDA and CDC are prioritizing review, authorization, and recommendation of COVID-19 vaccines.
For more, visit the COVID-19 Prevention Network.
Who is paying for the COVID-19 vaccine?
There will be fees for administering the shots but the vaccine itself will be offered at no charge to the American people. Please check with your insurance provider before visiting to see what you may be responsible for paying.
Do I still need to wear a mask and social distance if I get vaccinated for COVID-19?
While we learn more about the protection provided by the COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends using all tools available to us to prevent the spread of this disease including the use of face coverings, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.
Will the vaccine give us herd immunity to COVID-19?
Herd immunity – the term used to describe when a virus is unlikely to spread – varies by disease. Experts do not currently know how many people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19.
If you have additional questions, please contact your primary care physician.
For more frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit: