Frequently Asked Questions
There are many definitions. In the law, freedom is usually defined as essentially life with no restrictions. This is why the First Amendments talks about “Freedom of Speech” – it’s meant to be without restriction. Liberty is generally defined as the freedom within those restrictions a group of people – say the USA – have agreed to be bound by. For example, criminal offenses represent acts people have agreed are not okay within a society even though they are restrictions on one’s freedom. (WYMD, Senior Legal Council)
My understanding is Pres. Trump’s administration believed in order to speed vaccine development to combat the COVID pandemic, the Government had to give manufacturers immunity from subsequent lawsuits for the vaccine. Essentially, they weighed the risk of taking years to develop a new vaccine against the risk there could be actionable side-effects for some people. This was done under an existing 2005 law. Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/16/covid-vaccine-side-effects-compensation-lawsuit.html (No DOD endorsement of linked website intended or implied).
Generally, this is a hotly debated issue in our country, not just for the military. The core legal issue is at what point can public health and safety concerns overrule personal choice. For the military, the issue is simpler legally despite this profound societal issue. For readiness, mission effectiveness, and health and safety of the force, the military can and does mandate a number of items people out of the military make personal choices about such as fitness, education, and vaccines. For example at Basic Training, new recruits automatically receive COVID, Hepatitis A and B, Influenza, Measles/Mumps/Rubella, Meningococcal, Poliovirus, Tetanus/Diphtheria and Varicella vaccines currently.
Unfortunately, health and safety requirements for unvaccinated member such as mask wear and regular testing do set the unvaccinated apart. Our Command is concerned about this and will take steps to curtail any “shamming.” However, Command is also committed to education and transparency about COVID, the COVID vaccine and its impact on military readiness. While one could see this as “coercive,” it is necessary in this extraordinary situation.
Generally, under Federal law, “domestic terrorism” is defined as acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State that appear intended to intimidate or coerce a people or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion. The domestic part is simply that the activities occur within the territorial limits of the USA.
For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:
• 65 years and older
• Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
• Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
• Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings
*This applies to people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and were vaccinated two or more months ago.
(Booster Shots, CDC, Oct. 21, 2021)
Yes, COVID-19 booster shots are the same formulation as the current COVID-19 vaccines. However, in the case of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, it is half the dose of the vaccine people get for their initial series. (Booster Shots, CDC, Oct. 21, 2021)
Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others, may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots. If you have lost your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card or don’t have a copy, contact your vaccination provider directly to access your vaccination record. Additional information about your COVID-19 vaccine record can be found here. (Booster Shots, CDC, Oct. 21, 2021)
COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone at no cost, including the booster shot. Vaccines will continue to be given to all people living in the United States, regardless of insurance or immigration status. (Booster Shots, CDC, Oct. 21, 2021)
Individuals can self-report that they are eligible and receive a booster shot wherever vaccines are offered. This will help ensure there are not additional barriers to access for this vulnerable population receiving their booster shot. (Booster Shots, CDC, Oct. 21, 2021)
No. At this time, people are still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine. (Booster Shots, CDC, Oct. 21, 2021)
For those eligible, getting a booster shot is convenient, and as simple as visiting your local pharmacy or doctor’s office. If you are unable to get the booster at your original vaccine location, vaccines.gov can make the process easier. This free resource provides accurate and up-to-date information about vaccination services in your area. You can also text your zip code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you in the U.S. (Booster Shots, CDC, Oct. 21, 2021)
Yes, if a patient is eligible, both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit, as recommended by CDC and ACIP. In addition to flu vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine can be given with other vaccines as well. (Booster Shots, CDC, Oct. 21, 2021)
COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with DNA in any way. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA resides. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems in women or men. The mRNA vaccines are processed by your body near the injection site and activate immune system cells that then travel through the lymph system to nearby lymph nodes. In this manner, they are not affecting hormone levels, nor are they traveling throughout the body or affecting other body organs. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
Vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body. Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened live version of the virus. None of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
It is common for vaccine names to change after receiving full Food and Drug Administration approval for branding purposes. COMIRNATY and Pfizer-BioNTech are biologically and chemically the same vaccine. The FDA approved Pfizer-BioNTech for licensing and branding as COMIRNATY August 23 for people 16 years and older. Critically, the Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine continues and covers the 12-15 year old population.
In accordance with FDA guidance, COMIRNATY has the same formulation and can be used interchangeably with the FDA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Providers can use doses distributed under the EUA, to administer the vaccination series as if the doses were the licensed vaccine. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause problems with breast tissue or would lead to breast cancer. The mRNA vaccines are processed by your body near the injection site and activate immune system cells that then travel through the lymph system to nearby lymph nodes. In this manner, an individual may experience swelling under the arm where the vaccine was administered due to swelling of the lymph node. The vaccines are not affecting hormone levels, nor are they traveling throughout the body or affecting other body organs, such as breast tissue. Swollen lymph nodes can show up in a mammogram even if women can’t feel them. Hence, the Society of Breast Imaging recommends women delay any routine mammography scheduled within four weeks after their most recent COVID-19 vaccination. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
The COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. have gone through the typical FDA approval process — no steps were skipped — but some steps were conducted on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster.
First, the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were created with a method that has been in development for years, so the companies could start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic. Second, vaccine projects received large resources. Governments invested in research and/or paid for vaccines in advance, which enabled a faster approach. Third, some types of COVID-19 vaccines were created using messenger RNA (mRNA), which allows a faster approach than the traditional way that vaccines are made. Fourth, the capabilities of social media reaching numerous people enabled companies to find and engage study volunteers at a faster than typical pace. Finally, COVID-19 is so contagious and widespread, therefore it did not take long to see if the vaccine worked for the study volunteers who were vaccinated. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
COVID-19 has taken a heavy and disproportionate toll on people of color, particularly Black adults. Historically, people of color have been underrepresented in clinical trials. Therefore, ensuring racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials for development of COVID-19 vaccines has been particularly important. Diversity within clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine also ensures safety and effectiveness across populations. Findings show that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine safety and efficacy were similar for people of color and white participants.
The FDA offered nonbinding recommendations that strongly encouraged the enrollment of populations most affected by COVID-19, specifically racial and ethnic minorities. Both Pfizer and Moderna worked to ensure that people of color were included in their trials, with Moderna even slowing down enrollment to enroll more racial and ethnic minorities. There have also been efforts on the community side. Historically Black colleges and universities participated in COVID-19 vaccine trials and encouraged participation among their communities. The purposeful encouragement to increase racial and ethnic groups in these trials have achieved greater diversity than many previous trials for other drugs. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain fetal cells. Specifically, COMIRNATY and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines did not use a fetal cell line to manufacture their vaccine. However, a fetal cell line was used in early research efficacy of these vaccines.
The use of these fetal cell lines in research and/or production of vaccines and medication is not new. Some over-the-counter medications for which a historic fetal cell line was utilized in research and/or production and manufacturing include: Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Aspirin, Tums, Senokot, Motrin, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Sudafed, Preparation H, Claritin, and others. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone. Vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. Additionally, breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breast milk, which could help protect their babies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommend that lactating women receive the vaccine and that breastfeeding should not be stopped around the period of vaccination. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
VAERS data alone cannot determine if an adverse event was caused by a COVID-19 vaccination. Anyone can report individual events to VAERS, even if it is not clear whether a vaccine caused the problem. These events are studied by vaccine safety experts who track for trends, then validate significant adverse concerns. Recently, the number of deaths reported in VAERS has been misinterpreted and misreported as if this number means deaths were proven to be caused by COVID-19 vaccination. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
You cannot get COVID-19 disease from the COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. If you do not have side effects, that does not mean your body’s immune system is not responding. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals and will not make anyone magnetic. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain eggs, gelatin, latex, or preservatives. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
COVID-19 vaccines do not contain manufactured electronic or microchips. Vaccines are developed to fight against disease and are not administered to track your movement. Vaccines work by stimulating your immune system to produce antibodies. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.
Airmen, Guardians and family members who still have questions and concerns are encouraged to reach out to their primary care provider. Additional information, including the DoD mandate, can be found here. (Air Force Surgeon General Congressional, Sept. 22, 2021, Myths and facts about the vax — debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths)
Generally, “informed consent” in medicine has three fundamental elements: 1) given information to make an ‘informed’ decision, 2) opportunity to ask questions from a provider; and 3) being given the voluntary choice to proceed. (Source: https://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/regulations-and-policy/guidance/faq/informed-consent/index.html). The federal government and the DOD have decided that public health and safety (and readiness for the military) concerns overrule the third element in informed consent of voluntariness of the decision given the pandemic. They do however provide for the first two elements
Each person must examine the information available to them and consider their own religious beliefs to determine whether or not there is a conflict that requires accommodation. Even within a particular segment of a specific religion there are different beliefs based on interpretation of Scripture, personal experience, etc. Though rare, there are some religious organizations that eschew vaccination. If a Service Member sincerely believes their religion prohibits immunization, they should seek a Religious Accommodation.
In a recent publication, the National Guard Bureau Office of the Joint Chaplain concluded that, “The use of fetal stem cell lines or genetic material in research and development, manufacture, or testing is a legitimate religious and moral concern for some.” This does not validate any proposition that aborted fetal tissue was used, but simply that the concern is valid and may be religious in nature. Determination of whether aborted fetal tissue was used is a medical science question, and cannot be answered definitively by the Office of the Chaplain.
Can refer to question above: Does the COMIRNATY vaccine contain fetal cells?
Again, this is medical science question, and cannot be answered by the Office of the Chaplain. Concerned Service Members should investigate the subject and consider authoritative data and analysis. If they determine that there is a connection with aborted fetal cells, and that they cannot in good conscience accept the vaccine, they may have a valid reason to seek a Religious Accommodation.
Can refer to question above: Does the COMIRNATY vaccine contain fetal cells?
Where can I find a COVID-19 Vaccine in Wyoming?
- Visit Vaccines.gov to search and find a vaccine near you.
- Text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) to find up to three locations near you that have vaccines available.
- Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 for phone-based support locating a vaccination site.
- Public health nursing services can be found across the state. Find the public health nursing office nearest you.
- Learn more at the Wy Department of Health website