Vaccine Questions and Concerns
The COVID-19 vaccines have offered hope to people around the world that the global pandemic may soon be brought to an end. Yet understandably, many of you are uncertain about the vaccines’ efficacy and the effects they might have on your health. Some are concerned the vaccine was developed too quickly, while others remain cautious about trusting hospitals and doctors. We understand your reservations and concerns.
You might have even heard something that sounds questionable and want to know if it’s true or not, you can look it up in NewsGuard’s report on the top COVID-19 vaccine myths.
At Mount Sinai, we want you to be aware of all of the information available so that you are able to make an informed decision about being vaccinated.
Vaccine Information Articles
Mount Sinai has researched COVID-19 and the vaccines so everyone can have all available information. Please read some of the COVID-19 information contained in these articles.
- What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccination in 12 to 15 Year Olds
- What You Need to Know About Covid-19 Vaccines
- How Will We Know Any New Covid-19 Vaccine Is Safe?
- What Older Adults Need to Know About Covid-19 Vaccines
- Why Testing New Medicines in a Diverse Population Is Important
- "Esteemed Vaccinologist Weighs In on New Vaccines and the Beginning of the End of the Pandemic"
- mRNA Vaccine Technology Makes Its Extraordinary Debut
Information From Our Unions
The major unions representing Mount Sinai Health System employees have published their own statements and background information about COVID-19 vaccines.
Patients and medical personal across the United States have already been vaccinated. They include many of our Mount Sinai patients and staff. Learn more about their journeys to vaccination here:
- Mount Sinai Employees Explain Why They Were Excited to Receive the New Covid-19 Vaccine
- NYEE Employees Receive the Covid-19 Vaccine
Social Media Personal Stories
Our Mount Sinai employees have shared their experiences with the COVID-19 vaccine across social media. Read their testimonials about receiving the vaccine below:
- Lauren McNoble, PA-C, Physician Assistant in Neurosurgery at Mount Sinai Morningside, received the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine—while 8 months pregnant!
- Sandra Cabrera, a support associate at The Mount Sinai Hospital Endoscopy Center shares why she got her COVID-19 vaccine.
- At 35 weeks pregnant Dr. Julia Eicher. a Resident in Family Medicine, received dose two of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Dr. Roopa Kohli-Seth, Director of the Institute for Critical Care Medicine, received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Dorothy Adams, an associate in The Mount Sinai Hospital Medical ICU, receives her COVID-19 vaccine.
- Althea Reid, a Patient Care Associate on one of our behavioral health units at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, received her COVID-19 vaccine because she wants to do her part to help this pandemic come to an end.
- Luis Coello, a security guard at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, shares why he decided to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Best friends Beth Mella and Jenna Morgan, ICU Nurses at Mount Sinai Morningside, share their story.
- Dr. Jason Feinman shares his story.
- Residents from the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 to received the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Dr. Matthew Carr, a Neurosurgery resident, shares why he is thankful.
- Mehrin Islam, MD, Emergency Medicine Resident, received a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Corey Pigott, a registrar in the emergency room at The Mount Sinai Hospital, share why he got vaccinated.
- The first "Frontline Heroes" at Mount Sinai South Nassau received the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Dr. Christopher Strother, at the Mount Sinai Emergency Medicine, shares his reason for getting vaccinated.
- Jamie Piekarski, NP, was one of the first Mount Sinai Beth Israel employee to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Derek Mohammed, one of the transporters at Mount Sinai Beth Israel gives his reason why he received the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Michele Miller, BSN, RN, CNOR, at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai shares her thoughts about the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Jeanette Robles, Patient Coordinator at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, shares whey she got vaccinated.
- George Wanna, MD, Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai and Mount Sinai Beth Israel, was among the first employees to receive the vaccine.
Frequently Asked Questions
For general information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines, please see a full list of COVID-19 vaccine FAQs on our Vaccine Information page.
The FDA reviews all vaccines for safety before allowing them onto the market. In New York State, the Governor’s Clinical Advisory Task Force, which includes highly respected scientists like Adolfo García-Sastre, PhD, Irene and Dr. Arthur M. Fishberg Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, also offers an independent opinion about each vaccine’s safety and efficacy.
If problems are discovered with a vaccine after its release, the FDA can recommend a pause in its use, as it did with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports of rare but significant blood clots in several people who had taken the vaccine. After reviewing the data, the FDA decided to continue allowing its use with a warning about the rare clotting events on the label.
No. It is NOT possible to get COVID-19 from any of the vaccines that have received emergency use authorization or are in advanced clinical trials.
No. The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group of medical and public health experts that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also assesses the safety and efficacy of vaccines. They will also develop recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine use.
Additionally, in New York State, the Governor’s Clinical Advisory Task Force will independently review the vaccines as they are made available. According to the Governor’s plan, “The Task Force’s independent review of any federally authorized COVID-19 vaccine will help address publicly reported concerns about the scientific process and rush to market. The Task Force will rely on numerous data sources including public information and the findings of expert third party independent organizations.”
In the United States, vaccines must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they can be used. The FDA bases its decision on data from clinical trials. In a clinical trial, the vaccine is given to volunteers—sometimes tens of thousands of them—while others get a placebo, meaning an injection that doesn’t contain any vaccine. Scientists observe whether the people who got the vaccine get fewer cases of the disease than those who got the placebo. This means that the vaccine appears to work in those people; this is called the vaccine’s “efficacy.” The scientists also watch out for unexpected side effects that the vaccine might have caused. This is called the vaccine’s “safety.”
If the clinical trial data shows enough evidence of efficacy and safety, the FDA will approve the vaccine and license it for use in the United States.
Sometimes, the FDA will allow a medical product that has not yet been fully approved to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent a serious illness. This is called “emergency use authorization” or “EUA”.
An EUA may be issued when the FDA determines that the product “may be effective” against the disease based on all the available scientific evidence. This is a lower standard than required for full approval of a product; it uses early data gathered from clinical trials.
More information on EUAs is available from the FDA website.
Like all vaccines, the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects. These rarely interfere with daily activities, and often go away with over-the-counter pain medications. It is common to have these types of side effects after a vaccination. They mean your immune system is working and making antibodies as it’s supposed to.
The following side effects were common for all three vaccines:
Pain at injection site
These are not all the possible side effects you may have when taking the vaccine. If you experience any side effects not listed here, tell your health care professional.
In mid-April, the FDA said that six cases had been reported in the United States of a rare and severe type of blood clot in patients who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA advised that people who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.
Pregnant and breastfeeding persons and those who are considering pregnancy are encouraged to speak to their health care providers about the potential benefit of vaccination, especially if they are a health care worker or an essential worker, or have underlying medical conditions.
Do not get the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines if you have had a severe allergic reaction (i.e., anaphylaxis) to vaccines or the components of that vaccine. If you have a history of severe medication allergies, please discuss with your health care provider.
While vaccines work the same in people of different races or ethnicities, it is important to make sure vaccines are tested in diverse population groups before they are released. The phase 3 clinical trials conducted by Pfizer and Moderna included significant numbers of participants from the population groups most at risk for COVID-19.
In Pfizer’s U.S. trial, 13.1 percent of participants are Hispanic/Latinx, 10.1 percent are Black, 5.5 percent are Asian American, and 1 percent are Native American. About 45 percent of U.S. participants are 56-85 years of age.
For comparison, in the most recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.4 percent are Hispanic/Latinx, 12.8 percent are Black, 5.7 percent are Asian American, and 0.9 percent are Native American. The Census uses slightly different age groups than the drug companies, but says that 27.4 percent of Americans are between ages 55 and 84.
Of the patients in Moderna’s trial, 9.7 percent identified as Black or African American, 20 percent as Hispanic/Latinx, 4.7 percent as Asian, and 0.8 percent as Native American. Also, 25.3 percent were over the age of 65 (compared to 16.5 percent in the general population), and 22.3 percent had at least one high-risk chronic disease, such as diabetes, severe obesity, and cardiac disease.
In Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide trials, 59 percent of patients were white, 45 percent were Hispanic and/or Latinx, and 19 percent were Black or African American. In their trial in the United States, 74 percent were white, 15 percent Hispanic/Latinx, and 13 percent Black/African American. Forty-one percent of participants in the Johnson & Johnson study had health conditions associated with an increased risk for severe COVID-19.
Medical researchers have not found any evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine will impact the menstrual cycle. Fluctuations in the menstrual cycle are quite common and have a variety of causes including stress, weight gain, changes in physical activity, and underlying medical conditions. Susan S. Khalil, MD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, encourages patients who notice irregularities in their cycle to contact a gynecologist.