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Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 vaccines

Covid vaccination process in Burundi
Covid vaccination process in Burundi

Is there a vaccine against COVID-19?

There are ten World Health Organization (WHO)-approved COVID-19 vaccines for which WHO issued recommendations for use. They are produced by the following manufacturers: Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Janssen, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Bharat, Novavax, Casino and Valneva. WHO continues to evaluate other vaccines in clinical and preclinical trials. In addition, the national regulatory authority (NRA) of some countries has authorized the use of other COVID-19 vaccines in their territory.

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How is a vaccine licensed for use?

1. Through the WHO Emergency Use List (EUL): The WHO EUL procedure is a risk-based procedure for evaluating and listing unlicensed vaccines, therapies and in vitro diagnostics with the objective of accelerating the availability of these products to people affected by a public health emergency. In addition, it allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines. After rigorous evaluation of the clinical data provided by vaccine manufacturers, the EUL process decides whether WHO will issue recommendation for the use of a specific COVID-19 vaccine in all countries of the world. If there are doubts about its safety or efficacy, the vaccine will not receive a recommendation.
2. Through a national regulatory authority (NRA): Manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines provide information on the results of clinical trials to demonstrate the efficacy of these vaccines in preventing the disease. National regulatory agencies then analyze these data and issue a license for the vaccine to be used in their territory. Without this national authorization, the vaccine cannot be used in the country. The efficacy and safety of vaccines continue to be closely monitored even after their introduction in a country. 


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How do mRNA vaccines work and are they new?

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines teach our cells to make a protein that will trigger an immune response in our bodies. Like all vaccines, mRNA vaccines benefit people by giving them protection against diseases such as COVID-19, without risking the potentially serious consequences of getting sick. The technology of mRNA vaccines is new but well understood. Researchers have been studying and working with them for decades for other diseases such as influenza and Zika.


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Are vaccines against variant viruses effective?

The WHO-recommended COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death against all strains of SARS-CoV-2 virus (i.e., the virus that causes COVID-19), including the omicron variant and its sub-lineages. In addition, vaccines are very effective in reducing transmission of the virus, although they may not completely prevent infection.

Through global laboratory networks, the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to be monitored to rapidly identify the emergence of any new variants. WHO is in close communication with researchers, health officials and scientists to learn how these variants may affect vaccine properties.


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Why do some vaccinated people still get sick?

Vaccines against COVID-19 are very effective and have made an important contribution to limiting transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus worldwide. However, no vaccine is 100% effective in preventing the disease. There will always be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who will become ill. However, symptoms are usually mild or absent in vaccinated persons who become infected.

In addition, full protection from the vaccine begins 14 days after administration of the second dose of vaccine. Thus, a person may contract SARS-CoV-2 virus immediately before or shortly after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and, therefore, will not be fully protected despite vaccination during this period.


Where can I get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Many Clinics in Minnesota and pharmacies offer vaccination services for Covid-19 please your health provider to provide you more details.

Is there a WHO COVID-19 vaccination certificate?

PAHO/WHO does not keep a record of persons who have been vaccinated in each country. Therefore, WHO does not issue an international certificate of vaccination or a prophylaxis card for vaccines received against COVID-19. The vaccination document issued by the government of each country is the only proof of vaccination against COVID-19 that is currently available.


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