Photo of CoVID-19 vaccine medication bottleNote: This issue is evolving. We will update this post as news comes out. This post was updated on March 2, 2021. 

Three COVID-19 vaccines are available in the United States: the Pfizer/BioNTechModerna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are administered in two doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose.

Healthcare workers, essential workers, residents in long-term care facilities and people ages 75 and older are among the first groups of people to receive the vaccine. Teachers, law enforcement officers and mass transit workers are in the next group.

What about people with asthma and other respiratory diseases? Here’s what we learned…

 

Should people with asthma get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes! As soon as people with asthma are eligible for the vaccine, they should get it, says board-certified allergist Purvi Parikh, MD, national spokesperson for Allergy & Asthma Network.

People with underlying medical conditions such as asthma can receive the COVID-19 vaccine as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or any of its ingredients.

“I encourage everyone who is offered or has access to the vaccine to get it as soon as possible,” Dr. Parikh says.

 

Should people with asthma who use inhaled corticosteroids, oral corticosteroids or biologics get the COVID-19 vaccine?

People with asthma who use inhaled corticosteroids can get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). There is no evidence to indicate that taking low or moderate doses of inhaled corticosteroids for asthma weaken the immune system and impact the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.

People with asthma who take oral corticosteroids can get the COVID-19 vaccine, ACAAI says. However, more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine as there is a potential for a reduced immune response. It may depend on the patient’s daily dose and how long the patient has been on oral corticosteroids.

People who are on biologics for asthma can get the vaccine, but it’s recommended there be a 1-7 day waiting period between injections, according to ACAAI. Contact your doctor before getting the vaccine.

 

When are people with asthma eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Guidance for people with asthma is not yet clear. It will depend on the state where you live, your age, comorbidities and your profession. It may also depend on whether asthma is considered a high-risk medical condition.

People with asthma may not be considered high-risk in some states. A recent review of 57 studies involving 587,000 people revealed that people with asthma were not at higher risk of getting COVID-19 or being hospitalized with the virus. And there was no increased risk of death from COVID-19 in people with asthma.

Another recent study suggests the presence of asthma and use of certain asthma medications may offer protective benefits against COVID-19.

Here are the phases for vaccine distribution according to CDC:

  • Phase 1a: healthcare workers and residents in long-term care facilities.
  • Phase 1b: people ages 75 and older and non-healthcare frontline essential workers
  • Phase 1c: people ages 65–74, people ages 16–64 years with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers not included in Phase 1b.
  • Phase 2: All people ages 16 or older not already recommended for vaccination in Phases 1a, 1b, or 1c.

CDC recommended on Jan. 12 that states can begin to kick off phase 1c of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Most states are in Phase 1a or 1b at this time, with some integrating Phase 1c.

When you do get either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, it’s important to remember to schedule a time for the second dose. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is given 21 days after the first dose, while the second dose of the Moderna vaccine is 28 days

 

Can the COVID-19 vaccine make you sick with COVID-19?

No. You cannot become sick with the COVID-19 virus from any of the vaccines. The Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines do not contain the “live” virus, according to CDC.

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are Messenger RNA vaccines that contain a synthetic material that mimics the COVID-19 virus. It sends your body a message to produce antibodies and t-cells that build up an immune system defense against COVID-19.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine that uses a common cold virus with genetic code from COVID-19 introduced into it. The vaccine delivers the genetic code to our cells to train our immune system to defend itself against COVID-19.

When the vaccines start to teach our bodies how to recognize and fight the COVID-19 virus, this can cause you to experience symptoms:

  • fever
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • muscular or joint pain
  • dizziness

These symptoms are normal as the body builds protection against the virus. They usually go away within a day.

It can take a couple weeks for the body to build immunity. It is possible you could become infected with COVID-19 either just before you’re vaccinated or shortly after, before your body builds protection.

 

What should I do until I’m eligible for the vaccine?

Check the websites of your state and local departments of health for information about vaccine availability in your area.

While you wait, follow all guidance to protect yourself against COVID-19. This includes:

  • Wear a mask
  • Keep at least 6 feet away from others and avoid crowds
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

 

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If you have asthma, keep it under control by following your Asthma Action Plan and taking your medications as prescribed.