About the COVID-19 vaccine

About the COVID-19 vaccine

Last update: 20/10/2021

Vaccination is free in the Principality. It is strongly recommended to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19.

The first vaccine which has received a marketing authorisation and is being distributed in Europe is the Comirnaty vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.

You can view the leaflet for this vaccine here: Comirnaty vaccine leaflet.

Over time, it is likely that other vaccines will obtain marketing authorisations, and that the Principality will be able to use these:

  • Messenger RNA-based vaccines (e.g. Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and CureVac)
  • Viral vector (adenovirus) vaccines (e.g. AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Subunit vaccines (e.g. Sanofi)
  • Inactivated vaccines

Thus, it is likely that the vaccination campaign will make use of vaccines from different laboratories.

This is a highly innovative technology which is very different to traditional vaccines. The latter involve injecting the virus into the body, in either attenuated or inactivated form, to stimulate an immune response. The messenger RNA technique, on the other hand, involves sending a message – a bit like a ‘recipe’ to follow – which is then quickly destroyed.

As their name suggests, these vaccines contain RNA, a molecule almost identical to DNA and found in all living beings. RNA is described as “messenger RNA” (mRNA) when its shape temporarily copies that of a fragment of DNA. It transcribes the genetic information of a part of the virus. The mRNA strands injected into the body carry the coronavirus genes responsible for making a protein.

Once injected, the mRNA enters human cells. The genes are “read” by the “cell factories”, which make the protein. Roughly speaking, the body is given a kind of barcode for the coronavirus. The immune system will make the antibodies.

The proteins, produced in large numbers by the cells, are then detected, and this triggers an immune reaction.

In other words, the immune system will make antibodies to destroy the coronavirus. These same antibodies will be able to recognise and effectively fight the coronavirus if it later attempts to infect the body.

Once the RNA has been “read”, it is quickly destroyed and no trace of it is left in the body.

Since this technique prompts a moderate immune response, it requires the administration of two doses, 21 days apart, to ensure lasting protection.

Pfizer/BioNtech contains an mRNA molecule which has instructions for making a protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Pfizer/BioNtech does not contain the virus itself and cannot cause COVID-19.

Pfizer/BioNtech works by preparing the body to defend itself against COVID-19. It contains a molecule called mRNA that holds instructions relating to the production of the spike protein. This is a protein on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which the virus needs to enter the body’s cells.

When a person is given the vaccine, some of their cells will read the mRNA instructions and temporarily produce the spike protein. The person’s immune system will then recognise this protein as foreign and produce antibodies and activate T cells (white blood cells) to attack it.

If the person later comes into contact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, their immune system will recognise it and be ready to defend the body against it.

The mRNA from the vaccine does not stay in the body but is broken down shortly after vaccination.

The mRNA vaccine does not contain any adjuvants (aluminium or otherwise).

People who have or have had COVID-19 can receive Pfizer/BioNtech administered in the Principality.

However, it is recommended that a minimum delay of 3 months after the onset of symptoms is observed before vaccination and that no vaccination is given if symptoms persist.

A very large-scale clinical trial showed that Comirnaty was effective in preventing COVID-19 in people aged 16 and over.

Currently, only one vaccine is available in the Principality of Monaco, Pfizer/BioNTech's Comirnaty.

Other vaccines have received authorisation from the European Medicines Agency, namely Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. They are not currently administered in Monaco.

It depends on the vaccine.

The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, currently available, requires a vaccination booster (therefore a second injection at an interval of at least 21 days). This second dose is essential to ensure good immunity.

You will therefore be given a second appointment when you receive your first vaccine dose.

As with all other medicines, the safety of COVID-19 vaccines is monitored once they are available on the market. All side effects are kept under surveillance at the International and European levels. Existing surveillance systems have been strengthened at the European and national levels to monitor COVID-19 vaccines.

All of the scientific data will be publicly accessible via the European Medicines Agency website. After a vaccine is approved, information about the product (leaflet and summary of product characteristics (SmPC)), the European public assessment report (EPAR), the risk management plan (RMP) and clinical trial data will be available. Once the product is marketed, data on side effects will also be available.

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects, but they do not occur in everyone.

The following side effects have been observed in some people: redness around the injection site, fatigue, headache, and to a lesser extent chills, aches and pains, and even fever or allergic reactions.

In rare cases, a more severe reaction may also occur. The risk of serious or long-lasting side effects is very low, but can never be excluded. This applies not only to COVID-19 vaccines, but also to any medicine, including any vaccine.

It is best to report suspected adverse reactions to the health professional who vaccinated you or, if you have been vaccinated, to the National Vaccination Centre or a mobile vaccination team by telephone on 98.98.98.07 or 98.98.98.08 or by e-mail to [email protected] .

 

The risk of getting COVID-19 is much lower in people who have received the vaccine, but this vaccine - like any other vaccine - is not 100% effective.

Vaccines available today or under development reduce the severity of symptoms.

When a person receives a vaccine, they are not immediately protected. Vaccine efficacy is obtained 7 to 14 days after injection (2 doses for most vaccines, 1 dose for Johnson and Johnson).

Even vaccinated, you could be infected without knowing it and transmit the virus to relatives. Wearing a mask therefore remains necessary.

Any question about coronavirus?
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