News - COVID-19 update: Spring semester and vaccine FAQs

COVID-19 update: Spring semester and vaccine FAQs

As fears about COVID-19 continue to be prevalent, Greenville University has remained a safe constant for students, faculty and staff. 

This is due to required regular saliva-based testing of everyone on campus, being able to isolate any positive cases early, quickly quarantine those contact-traced, and following safety guidelines put in place by local and regional health departments. GU offered a college experience during the fall semester that was as close to normal during a pandemic as possible. Onboarding for the spring semester went very well and we continue to have a low number of cases on campus. 

GU is part of group 1C, which is projected to receive the vaccines around mid-March to early April. GU will rely on the local health department to inform any decisions as to whether the vaccine will be required on campus. We will keep our GU community updated as we learn more.

The following is a list of frequently asked questions about the vaccines with answers and information from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and USA Today. 


Where the COVID-19 vaccine is concerned, fear of the unknown often outweighs concerns about actually becoming sick with COVID-19. This is both normal and understandable. Some of the questions from people who are hesitant to get the vaccine include:

Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

There are several different types of vaccines, some still in development. All of them teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, headache or pain and/or swelling on the arm where you got the shot.

These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. 

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.


The vaccine was developed quickly. Were corners cut in testing for safety?

No. The vaccines have undergone rigorous safety testing, and monitoring for adverse effects continues every day. Early safety data from the first month of COVID-19 vaccination finds the shots are as safe as the studies suggested they'd be.

Although the rate of severe allergic reactions is higher than in the general population, everyone with an allergic response has been treated successfully, and no other serious problems have turned up among the first 22 million people vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The data was collected from several tracking systems, including a voluntary system where people who are vaccinated report their symptoms via text. Another allows people who believe they have been harmed by a vaccine to contribute their information and a third collects reports from medical records. 

Although it's never possible to prove something is completely safe, data from these tracking systems suggest the vaccines are not causing large numbers of unusual or dangerous results.


After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No. Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.​


How long will the vaccine provide immunity to COVID-19 infection?

It is not known how long the immunity provided by the COVID19 vaccines will last.  It is known that those who have had COVID-19 disease seem to be immune for at least 3 months, and perhaps longer.  The vaccines are expected to provide immunity far longer than that, but it will take time and experience to see what that duration will be.   

Another factor to consider is that as the virus mutates, it may be necessary to reformulate vaccines to protect against new resistant strains, similar to what is done with annual influenza vaccinations.


If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. CDC is providing recommendations to federal, state, and local governments about who should be vaccinated first.


Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19.

Being protected from getting sick is important because even though many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness, have long-term health effects, or even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you don’t have an increased risk of developing severe complications


Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.

Messenger RNA vaccines—also called mRNA vaccines—are the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States. mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. 

At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. That immune response and making antibodies is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.


Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?

Yes. People who want to get pregnant in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Based on current knowledge, experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to a person trying to become pregnant in the short or long term. Scientists study every vaccine carefully for side effects immediately and for years afterward.  The COVID-19 vaccines are being studied carefully now and will continue to be studied for many years, similar to other vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccine, like other vaccines, works by training our bodies to develop antibodies to fight against the virus that causes COVID-19, to prevent future illness. There is currently no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of ANY vaccine. People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.


Overall . . .

When one compares the millions of people already vaccinated, with no serious problems, to the millions of people who have died of COVID-19, or the over one million who die from car accidents each year, the safety of, and necessity for being vaccinated becomes clearer.


Sources:          Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

                        Illinois Department of Public Health

                        USA Today

This story was published on February 08, 2021