Questions answered on distribution of vaccine

  • FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2021, file photo, healthcare worker receives a second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shot at Beaumont Health in Southfield, Mich. With frustration rising over the slow rollout of the vaccine, state leaders and other politicians are turning up the pressure, improvising and seeking to bend the rules to get shots in arms more quickly. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) Paul Sancya

  • A nurse prepares a vaccine prior to the vaccination of elderly people at a nursing house in Athens, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Vaccinations were expanded from 9 to 50 hospitals nationwide on Monday. (Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool via AP) Lousia Gouliamaki

  • Dr. Christopher Fore, an emergency room doctor and Chief Quality Officer at Concord Hospital, gives the thumbs up sign after getting the first vaccine on Dec. 16, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

  • A nurse holds a phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, as the U.K. health authorities rolled out a national mass vaccination program. U.K. regulators said Wednesday Dec. 9, 2020, that people who have a “significant history’’ of allergic reactions shouldn’t receive the new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine while they investigate two adverse reactions that occurred on the first day of the country’s mass vaccination program. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool) Frank Augstein

  • Dunbarton school nurse Emily Kotkowski is greeting by Master Sgt. John McDowell as she prepares to get her COVID vaccine at the old Sears Auto Center at the Steeplegate Mall in Concord on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 1/7/2021 5:20:22 PM
Modified: 1/7/2021 5:19:38 PM

As COVID-19 vaccines are shipped out across the country, the state is distributing them to first responders and nursing homes, marking the beginning of the end of a brutal pandemic. While the vaccines bring hope and excitement, they also prompt questions about the science behind them and the logistics of distribution.

Here are some commonly asked questions about the vaccine. If you still have unanswered questions, you can visit the state’s dashboard at, view all the Monitor’s coverage at or email your questions to

Will annual COVID-19vaccines be needed?

We don’t know yet. The first vaccines were administered during clinical trials in July and we only have data from the five months since then. Some optimistic studies have suggested immunity to the virus could last years, or even decades. The jury is still out and it’s possible the COVID-19 vaccine might become a yearly event, like the flu shot.

Have the vaccines been approved?

Sort of. Two vaccines — from Pfizer and Moderna — have been granted Emergency Use Authorization in the United States. This classification allows a drug to be made available to the public, even if the evidence typically required for full approval isn’t available. EUAs are granted during an emergency when there is a strong public need for a certain medication, like Tamiflu, during the H1N1 pandemic.

The vaccines are still rigorously tested for efficacy and safety. Each vaccine must go through multiple stages of clinical trials with thousands of participants. In order for the Food and Drug Administration to grant a vaccine EUA, scientists must show the benefits of the drug outweigh any risks — participants in trials are closely followed for several weeks after their vaccination to track any adverse reactions.

Will the vaccines be required?

Employers could make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory.

In the same way the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission allows companies to mandate the flu vaccine, companies will likely be able to require employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine. There are some notable exceptions — those with certain medical conditions and religious beliefs may be granted an exception.

Proof of vaccine might also be required to travel. Some major airlines, including United and JetBlue, plan on releasing an app that tracks the status of COVID-19 test results and, potentially in the future, vaccinations.

How much will vaccines cost?

Vaccination providers may charge patients an administration fee, though most public and private insurance companies will cover the cost. If you do not have insurance, the vaccine will be provided for free, according to the N.H Department of Health and Human Services.

Where will vaccines be offered?

Currently, the vaccine is being offered to first responders, long-term care facilities, and health workers. Health care providers, pharmacies, and vaccination clinics will administer the vaccine as it becomes available to the general population.

How effective are the vaccines?

Both Pfizer and Moderna have presented data that show their vaccine is about 95% effective.

Researchers recruited tens of thousands of participants and divided them into two groups — those who received the vaccine and those who received a placebo. Participants are sent into the world and when some contract the virus, researchers record which group they came from.

The efficacy is the difference in infection between the two groups. If 50 participants in the vaccine group became infected and 50 participants in the placebo group became infected, the vaccine’s efficacy would be 0%. Conversely, if no one in the vaccine group tested positive, the efficacy would be 100%.

Will I still need to wear a mask after getting the vaccine?

Yes. While the vaccines have been shown to protect you from the disease, it’s not yet clear whether it will prevent you from spreading the virus to others. While we wait for a large majority of the population to be vaccinated, coming in close contact with others without a mask can spread coronavirus through the community.

When will I get the vaccine?

The state is currently distributing vaccines to those in Phase 1a, which will likely take several more weeks. Within each phase, vaccines will first be distributed to areas with many cases of COVID-19.

These categorizations are based on a draft of the state’s vaccination plan. The next group of people will likely be vaccinated between January and March. This group includes those 75 or older, those with severe medical vulnerabilities, staff in correctional facilities, and residents and staff at facilities that serve those with intellectual and developmental disabilities

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