Health Services

COVID-19 Vaccine

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is getting the COVID-19 vaccine important?

The virus that is causing the COVID pandemic is related to several viruses including the virus that causes the common cold. These family of viruses are called Corona Viruses and the name is due to the crown-like or “corona-like” pattern on the surface of the viruses. COVID-19 is a “novel” (new) corona virus, so our bodies do not have antibodies to recognize and defend against this new virus. Because COVID-19 spreads quickly and significant numbers of people can become seriously ill or lose their life due to COVID infection, getting vaccinated will slow down and prevent the spread of infection. This will help keep hospitals such as Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital from being overwhelmed, and it will save lives.

What can I expect when getting the vaccine?

There will likely be several vaccines and they will likely differ from each other in how they work and how many doses are needed. The first vaccine being administered by Cherokee Nation Health Services requires two separate doses (vaccinations). Both doses are injected in the arm just like the flu shot and the shots are given 21 days apart. After you receive the first dose, you will need to return in 21 days to receive the second dose. It is crucial that you return for the second dose in order for the vaccine to be most effective.

What studies have been conducted on mRNA vaccine technology?

Multiple studies of mRNA vaccines in humans have taken place over the last few years. The Pfizer vaccine, which is the first vaccine being administered by Cherokee Nation Health Services, is the first to show the proven benefits necessary for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The approval process for new vaccines requires rigorous safety checks before they can be recommended for widespread use. The approval process for the COVID vaccine was more abbreviated than the routine approval process due to the urgent need for a COVID-19 vaccine. The approval process still included careful safety checks, and no significant risks from the vaccine were discovered in these studies.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No. The vaccine contains a piece of the virus's genetic material - or RNA. Injecting RNA into a person does not affect the DNA of a human cell and does not alter the DNA sequence of a human body. It only presents the body with the instructions to build immunity directed at the COVID virus.