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Pfizer Vaccine FAQ

As of Aug.23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee), for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

VACCINE INFORMATION FACT SHEET FOR RECIPIENTS AND CAREGIVERS ABOUT
COMIRNATY (COVID-19 VACCINE, mRNA) AND
PFIZER-BIONTECH COVID-19 VACCINE TO PREVENT CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19)

You are being offered either COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) or the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2.

This Vaccine Information Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers comprises the Fact Sheet for the authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and also includes information about the FDA-licensed vaccine, COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA).

The FDA-approved COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) and the FDA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) have the same formulation and can be used interchangeably to provide the COVID-19 vaccination series.[1]

COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) is an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer for BioNTech.

  • It is approved as a 2-dose series for prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older.
  • It is also authorized under EUA to be administered to:
    •  prevent COVID-19 in individuals 12 through 15 years, and
    • provide a third dose to individuals 12 years of age and older who have been determined to have certain kinds of immunocompromise.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has received EUA from FDA to:

  • prevent COVID-19 in individuals 12 years of age and older, and
  • provide a third dose to individuals 12 years of age and older who have been determined to have certain kinds of immunocompromise.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GET THIS VACCINE

COVID-19 disease is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. You can get COVID-19 through contact with another person who has the virus. It is predominantly a respiratory illness that can affect other organs. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness leading to death. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms may include: fever or chills; cough; shortness of breath; fatigue; muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; diarrhea.

COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine have the same formulation and can be used interchangeably to provide the COVID-19 vaccination series.1

For more information on EUA, see the “What is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)?” section at the end of this Fact Sheet.

Tell the vaccination provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

  • have any allergies
  • have had myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart)
  • have a fever
  • have a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner
  • are immunocompromised or are on a medicine that affects your immune system
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant

1 The licensed vaccine has the same formulation as the EUA-authorized vaccine and the products can be used interchangeably to provide the vaccination series without presenting any safety or effectiveness concerns. The products are legally distinct with certain differences that do not impact safety or effectiveness. 

  • are breastfeeding
  • have received another COVID-19 vaccine
  • have ever fainted in association with an injection

FDA has approved COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) for use in individuals 16 years of age and older and has authorized it for emergency use in individuals 12 through 15 years.

FDA has authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in individuals 12 years of age and older.

You should not get the COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) or the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine if you:

  • had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine
  • had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of this vaccine.

COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine include the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,Nditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine will be given to you as an injection into the muscle.

The vaccination series is 2 doses given 3 weeks apart.

If you receive one dose of the vaccine, you should receive a second dose of the vaccine 3 weeks later to complete the vaccination series.

In clinical trials, approximately 23,000 individuals 12 years of age and older have received at least 1 dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. Data from these clinical trials supported the Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the approval of COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA). Millions of individuals have received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine under EUA since December 11, 2020.

The vaccine has been shown to prevent COVID-19 following 2 doses given 3 weeks apart. The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown.

There is a remote chance that the vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose of the vaccine. For this reason, your vaccination provider may ask you to stay at the place where you received your vaccine for monitoring after vaccination. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face and throat
  • A fast heartbeat
  • A bad rash all over your body
  • Dizziness and weakness

Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart) have occurred in some people who have received COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) or the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. In most of these people, symptoms began within a few days following receipt of the second dose of vaccine. The chance of having this occur is very low. You should seek medical attention right away if you have any of the following symptoms after receiving the vaccine:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart

Side effects that have been reported with COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) or the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine include:

  • severe allergic reactions
  • non-severe allergic reactions such as rash, itching, hives, or swelling of the face
  • myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
  • pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart)
  • injection site pain
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain 5 Revised: 23 August 2021
  • chills
  • joint pain
  • fever
  • injection site swelling
  • injection site redness
  • nausea
  • feeling unwell
  • swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • arm pain

These may not be all the possible side effects of the vaccine. Serious and unexpected side effects may occur. The possible side effects of the vaccine are still being studied in clinical trials.

If you experience a severe allergic reaction, call 9-1-1, or go to the nearest hospital.

Call the vaccination provider or your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.

Report vaccine side effects to FDA/CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The VAERS toll-free number is 1-800-822-7967 or report online to https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html. Please include either “COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA)” or “Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine EUA”, as appropriate, in the first line of box #18 of the report form.

In addition, you can report side effects to Pfizer Inc. at the contact information provided below.

Website: www.pfizersafetyreporting.com
Fax number:  1-866-635-8337
Telephone number: 1-800-438-1985 

You may also be given an option to enroll in v-safe. V-safe is a new voluntary smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to check in with people who have been vaccinated to identify potential side effects after COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe asks questions that help CDC monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe also provides second-dose reminders if needed and live telephone follow-up by CDC if participants report a significant health impact following COVID-19 vaccination. For more information on how to sign up, visit: www.cdc.gov/vsafe.

Under the EUA, it is your choice to receive or not receive the vaccine. Should you decide not to receive it, it will not change your standard medical care.

Other vaccines to prevent COVID-19 may be available under Emergency Use Authorization.

Data have not yet been submitted to FDA on administration of COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) or the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine at the same time with other vaccines. If you are considering receiving COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) or the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine with other vaccines, discuss your options with your healthcare provider.

If you are immunocompromised, you may receive a third dose of the vaccine. The third dose may still not provide full immunity to COVID-19 in people who are immunocompromised, and you should continue to maintain physical precautions to help prevent COVID-19. In addition, your close contacts should be vaccinated as appropriate.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, discuss your options with your healthcare provider.

No. The vaccine does not contain SARS-CoV-2 and cannot give you COVID-19.

When you get your first dose, you will get a vaccination card to show you when to return for your second dose or if you have certain kinds of immunocompromise, your third dose of COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. Remember to bring your card when you return.

An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is a mechanism to facilitate the availability and use of medical products, including vaccines, during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. An EUA is supported by a Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) declaration that circumstances exist to justify the emergency use of drugs and biological products during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FDA may issue an EUA when certain criteria are met, which includes that there are no adequate, approved, available alternatives. In addition, the FDA decision is based on the totality of scientific evidence available showing that the product may be effective to prevent COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic and that the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product. All of these criteria must be met to allow for the product to be used in the treatment of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and COMIRNATY will end when the Secretary of HHS determines that the circumstances justifying the EUA no longer exist or when there is a change in the approval status of the product such that an EUA is no longer needed.