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Have COVID-19 vaccine questions? Harvard infectious disease experts provide some answers

We're continuing to bring you science-based answers from the nation's top experts.

HOUSTON — Friday was week one, day three of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccinations in Texas. And the Moderna vaccine just got the green light for emergency use from the FDA and those vaccinations could begin Monday.

A lot of you still have questions about the vaccines, including how many of us need to be vaccinated for the country to turn a corner?

We're continuing to bring you science-based answers. The answers below come from two infectious disease experts at Harvard.

QUESTION: IS THE VACCINE SAFE?

ANSWER: YES.

“If people had read the 53 pages of the FDA evaluation of the Pfizer vaccine and the 54 pages of the FDA Independent Advisory Committee of the Moderna vaccine and looked at all the data, I think they would all be very confident tomorrow to take the vaccine,” said Barry Bloom, Harvard public health research professor and former dean of Harvard School of Public Health. “The virus is out of control. So, your chance of getting sick or dying is a lot greater going to the grocery store than going to get a vaccine.”

QUESTION: IS THE VACCINE SAFE FOR SENIORS?

ANSWER: YES

“These vaccines have produced over 87, 88 percent protection in the over 65 group, which means that they're able to respond remarkably well,” Bloom said.

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QUESTION: HOW MUCH OF THE POPULATION NEEDS TO BE VACCINATED TO GET COVID UNDER CONTROL? 

“There is not a number that scientists are aiming at,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology and a faculty member in the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School. “But for the public to understand the point at which, it is going to be having a really significant effect upon transmission, I think that probably 50 percent or so, 40 to 50 percent is the kind of number that you would want to be that would be helpful to think about there.”

QUESTION: MY NEIGHBOR GOT VACCINATED, I HAVEN’T. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

“Once we are confident that it [COVID-19]  is under control and once we have got more data on whether or not individuals who have been vaccinated are able to become infected and transmit, then we can revisit these things,” Hanage said. “But right now, while everybody is being vaccinated. I would still say wear a mask."

QUESTION: CAN YOU GET COVID FROM THE VACCINE?

“There are very few things that in my world I can say with certainty. This is one of them,” Bloom said. “There is no virus in the vaccine. You cannot get it from this vaccine."