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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

In response to the Delta Variant, late last month the CDC released updated guidance on the need to urgently increase COVID19 vaccination coverage and encouraged even fully vaccinated people in low vaccination areas to resume wearing masks when in public in-door spaces. The guidance was issued in response to two factors:

  1. A rapid increase in infections and hospitalizations across the country (the 7-day moving average of nationwide hospitalizations increased five fold from late June to late July).

  2. Research showing that the Delta Variant is nearly twice as contagious as previous variants.

Getting vaccinated is similar to wearing a helmet while riding a bike. Those with helmets may still risk getting bruised if they crash, but serious head injuries are much less likely, just like how vaccinated people may still get mild COVID-19, but are protected from serious cases. Just like a helmet, any of the three vaccines is much more effective at keeping you safe than no vaccine.

Recently, Addiction Policy Forum worked with leading physicians and researchers to get your questions about vaccines answered.

"Why are people with a substance use disorder more vulnerable to COVID-19?"

SUD can harm or weaken the body, including the immune system, heart, and lungs, which increases the risk of contracting and developing severe complications from COVID-19. For this reason, the CDC lists SUD as an underlying medical condition that increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Doctors recommend individuals with a SUD vaccinate for COVID-19 to protect themselves and their loved ones.

"How can the vaccine be safe when it was developed so quickly?"

Millions of people have safely received the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. These vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring and testing in U.S. history and continue to be monitored. Although the technology behind the vaccines may seem new, vaccines have been used for over a century. Viral vector vaccines (Johnson & Johnson) have been used since the 1970s and mRNA vaccines (Moderna/Pfizer) have been studied for over 20 years. One reason it was possible to develop the COVID-19 vaccines quickly was because viral vector and mRNA technology had already been studied. Additionally, unprecedented scientific cooperation, massive amounts of funding, and the widespread nature of the virus allowed development and clinical trials for the vaccines to occur more quickly, without compromising the FDA’s rigorous safety standards.

In partnership with the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts, last spring the Addiction Policy Forum launched the Vaccine Navigator Initiative to help people with substance use disorders and their caregivers find and receive COVID19 vaccinations.

If you have questions about COVID19 vaccines that aren’t answered in the FAQs, or if you need help finding or scheduling a vaccine appointment, please reach out to a vaccine navigator today by completing this support request form or by calling / texting 833-301-HELP.


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