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These Are the Top 5 Vaccine Questions on Google. We Have the Answers.

March 30, 2021

Online search interest in “vaccine” is at all-time high, according to the latest data compiled by Google.

Now we know the Top 5 vaccine questions of the past week in the United States:

Here are the answers, with some specifics for Connecticut residents:

1. Where to Get COVID Vaccine?

Anyone in an eligible group can get vaccinated at a Hartford HealthCare vaccine clinic.

Effective April 1, people 16 years old and up who live or work in the state are eligible. An appointment is required to ensure safety. Patients 16 and 17 years old must have a parent or guardian with them at their vaccine appointment.

If you’d prefer to schedule your appointment by phone, call the Hartford HealthCare Access Center at 860.827.7690 or toll-free at 833.943.5721.

Please note: Due to very high demand for COVID-19 vaccines, there may be delays reaching scheduling websites and call centers.

2. Which COVID Vaccine Is Best?

Don’t waste your time trying to determine good-better-best. The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are the best you can get, as in best-best-best.

A real-world study released this week found the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines reduced the risk of infection by 80 percent at least two weeks after the first of two shots. The risk, in the study of about 4,000 U.S. healthcare workers and first responders, dropped to 90 percent at least two weeks after the second shot.

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the Food and Drug Administration, is 86 percent effective at preventing severe COVID-19 cases and 72 percent effective at preventing all cases.  (Click here to find out the differences in the vaccine technologies.)

“Our clinical team has reviewed the submission (to the FDA) for the J&J vaccine,” says Eric Arlia, Hartford HealthCare’s Senior Director of Pharmacy. “Their vaccine is equally effective as other vaccines at preventing serious illness and death. No patients in their study, post-28 days, were hospitalized or had passed away. So we have tremendous faith in their vaccine. And as a one-dose vaccine, it offers certain advantages in ease of administration.”

3. Where Can I Get The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine?

Hartford HealthCare has offered a vaccine choice to people making an appointment through MyChartPlus, but cautions that requesting a specific vaccine might be difficult because of limited supply as the 16-and-up eligibility starts this week. Get vaccinated as soon as you can with whatever vaccine is available.

4. Which Vaccine Is Better?

See answer to question No. 2.

Here’s another perspective from Dr. Anuj Vohra, Medical Director of Emergency Services at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington:

“The worst-case scenario of COVID illness is death. . . . The vaccine reduces all the high-risk and high-mortality issues and puts us more into the flu-like illness category, where it’s safe. It doesn’t feel good, but they’re temporary side effects. [The vaccine] is here to save our lives and help prevent the spread to others we care about and love. So it’s very important to get the vaccine.”

5. How Long Does the COVID Vaccine Last?

Soon, more than 100 million people in the United States will have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s still unknown how long the protection will last. In clinical trials, vaccine protection lasted at least three months — the period when participants were monitored. Protection can last much longer, though federal health officials have not offered specifics.

How our immune system responds to future virus variants ultimately could determine how long the protection lasts. An immune response to a vaccine produces antibodies that reject a known virus. But what happens when a variant eludes those same antibodies?

Current vaccines could become ineffective within a year, according to most epidemiologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists in a survey published Tuesday by the People’s Vaccine Alliance. Already, the FDA has issued guidance to vaccine makers for approval of booster shots against variants.