This webpage is here to answer most of your questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine against it. This is part of a joint information campaign done in partnership by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, The Romanian Government Through the General Inspectorate for Immigration and The Romanian National Council for Refugees, with the support of other NGOs working in with and for refugees and asylum-seekers.
Click on the questions that concern you the most to find out the answers.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. It is very infectious and can lead to severe respiratory disease.
Many people who are infected may not have any symptoms or only have mild symptoms. These commonly start with a cough, fever, headache, and loss of taste or smell. Some people will feel very tired, have aching muscles, diarrhea and vomiting, fever, and confusion.
Among those who develop symptoms, most (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. About 15% become seriously ill and require oxygen and 5% become critically ill and need intensive care.
Complications leading to death may include respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis and septic shock, thromboembolism, and/or multiorgan failure, including injury of the heart, liver or kidneys.
In rare situations, children can develop a severe inflammatory syndrome a few weeks after infection.
For more information, please see: WHO Coronavirus disease
Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?
Yes, there are now several vaccines that are in use. The first mass vaccination programme started in early December 2020 and as of and as of 15 February 2021, 175.3 million vaccine doses have been administered. At least 7 different vaccines (3 platforms) have been administered.
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through.
Once vaccines are demonstrated to be safe and efficacious, they must be authorized by national regulators, manufactured to exacting standards, and distributed. WHO is working with partners around the world to help coordinate key steps in this process, including facilitating equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the billions of people who will need them.
Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the market once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
More information about COVID-19 vaccine development is available here.
What COVID-19 vaccines are currently available?
The Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use in Romania and are now available. The European Commission has granted conditional marketing authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine created by Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Johnson & Johnson) being the fourth COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the EU.
How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?
Scientists around the world are developing many potential vaccines for COVID-19. These vaccines are all designed to teach the body’s immune system to safely recognize and block the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s much safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them. Once your immune system knows how to fight a disease, it can often protect you for many years.
Several different types of potential vaccines for COVID-19 are in development, including:
- Inactivated or weakened virus vaccines, which use a form of the virus that has been inactivated or weakened so it doesn’t cause disease, but still generates an immune response.
- Protein-based vaccines, which use harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that mimic the COVID-19 virus to safely generate an immune response.
- Viral vector vaccines, which use a safe virus that cannot cause disease but serves as a platform to produce coronavirus proteins to generate an immune response.
- RNA and DNA vaccines, a cutting-edge approach that uses genetically engineered RNA or DNA to generate a protein that itself safely prompts an immune response.
How will we know if COVID-19 vaccines are safe?
Ensuring the safety and quality of vaccines is one of WHO’s highest priorities. WHO works closely with national authorities to ensure that global norms and standards are developed and implemented to assess the quality, safety, and efficacy of vaccines.
The process to develop COVID vaccines is fast-tracked while maintaining the highest standards: Given the urgent need to stop the pandemic, pauses between steps, often needed to secure funding, have been shortened, or eliminated, and in some cases, steps are being carried out in parallel to accelerate the process, wherever that is safe to do. COVID-19 vaccine developers have issued a joint pledge not to seek government approval for their vaccines until they’ve been proven to be safe and effective.
There are many strict protections in place to help ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Like all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines are going through a rigorous, multi-stage testing process, including large (phase III) trials that involve tens of thousands of people. These trials, which include some groups at high risk for COVID-19 (certain groups like pregnant and lactating women were not included in vaccine trials), are specifically designed to identify any common side effects or other safety concerns.
Once a clinical trial shows that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, a series of independent reviews of the efficacy and safety evidence is required, including regulatory review and approval in the country where the vaccine is manufactured, before WHO considers a vaccine safe.
An external panel of experts convened by WHO analyzes the results from clinical trials, along with evidence on the disease, age groups affected, risk factors for disease, and other information. The panel recommends whether and how the vaccines should be used. Officials in individual countries decide whether to approve the vaccines for national use and develop policies for how to use the vaccines in their country based on the WHO recommendations.
After a COVID-19 vaccine is introduced, WHO supports work with vaccine manufacturers, health officials in each country, and other partners to monitor for any safety concerns on an ongoing basis.
Have people died from the vaccine?
So far, millions of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is continuing to monitor reports of adverse reactions.
Recently there have been reports of a very rare condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after vaccination. This is being carefully reviewed but the risk factors for this condition are not yet clear.
Although this condition remains extremely rare there appears to be a higher risk in people who have had the first dose of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine. Around 4 people develop this condition for every million doses of AZ vaccine doses given.
Are there any side effects?
Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a few days, such as: a sore arm where the needle went in, feeling tired, a headache, feeling achy,feeling or being sick; You can take painkillers, such as ibuprofen and paracetamol if you need to.
Although a mild fever can occur within a day or two of vaccination, if you have any other Covid symptoms (new continuous cough or loss of/change in your normal sense of taste or smell) or your fever lasts longer, stay at home and arrange to have a test.If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 112
Can having the Covid-19 vaccine give me Covid?
You cannot catch Covid-19 from the vaccine but it is possible to have caught Covid and not develop the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment.
Who should get the COVID-19 vaccines?
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people 18 years and older, including those with pre-existing conditions of any kind, including auto-immune disorders. These conditions include: hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver and kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled.
Discuss your situation with your care provider if you:
- Have a compromised immune system
- Are pregnant or nursing your baby
- Have a history of severe allergies, particularly to a vaccine (or any of the ingredients in the vaccine)
- Are severely frail
How do I get a vaccine and where?
If you are an asylum seeker, the vaccine will be administered in the General Inspectorate for Immigration reception center by a mobile team of medical specialists. You have to contact the medical staff in the reception centres to register you.
If you are a refugee or holder of subsidiary protection, to receive the vaccine, you can priory register on the national vaccination platform(www.vaccinare-covid.gov.ro) or you can make an appointment by phone at 021.414.44.25. Also, you can contact the medical staff in the reception centres to register you for the vaccination in the centres through the mobile team.
The medical staff in Reception Centre, as well as organizations that work with refugees, can offer you advice and support.
Can I choose which vaccine I have?
You will not be able to choose which vaccine you have. However, all the vaccines have been approved for use which means they are safe and effective.
If I’ve already had Covid do I still need to get vaccinated?
Yes, you should still get vaccinated when you are eligible even if you have had Covid.
I’m healthy, do I need to get vaccinated? / is the vaccine compulsory?
Even if you are healthy you should get vaccinated. Although the covid-19 vaccine is not compulsory, it gives you the best protection against coronavirus.
Do I have to pay for the Covid-19 vaccine?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine is free.
What are the benefits of getting vaccinated?
The COVID-19 vaccines produce protection against the disease, as a result of developing an immune response to the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Developing immunity through vaccination means there is a reduced risk of developing the illness and its consequences. This immunity helps you fight the virus if exposed. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, because if you are protected from getting infected and from disease, you are less likely to infect someone else. This is particularly important to protect people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, such as healthcare providers, older or elderly adults, and people with other medical conditions.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through studies to ensure they are as safe as possible. Systems that watch for safety issues are in place across the entire country. The first vaccines to be approved appear to be quite effective, up to 95%. The current vaccines in Romania have been approved for their safety, quality, and effectiveness by the relevant international and national organizations, the World Health Organization, the EMA (European Medicines Agency), and the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration).
Once I’ve had my vaccine how long will it be effective for?
It is expected that the vaccine will be effective for at least a year. This will continually be monitored.
Can we stop taking precautions after being vaccinated?
Vaccination protects you from getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19. For the first fourteen days after getting a vaccination, you do not have significant levels of protection, then it increases gradually. For a single-dose vaccine, immunity will generally occur two weeks after vaccination. For two-dose vaccines, both doses are needed to achieve are required to provide the highest level of best immunity possible.
While a COVID-19 vaccine will protect you from serious illness and death, we still don’t know the extent to which it keeps you from being infected and passing the virus on to others. To help keep others safe, continue to maintain at least a 1-meter distance from others, cover a cough or sneeze in your elbow, clean your hands frequently and wear a mask, particularly in enclosed, crowded, or poorly ventilated spaces. Always follow guidance from local authorities based on the situation and risk where you live.
Do the vaccines protect against variants?
The COVID-19 vaccines are expected to provide at least some protection against new virus variants and are effective at preventing serious illness and death. That’s because these vaccines create a broad immune response, and any virus changes or mutations should not make vaccines completely ineffective. If any of these vaccines become less effective against one or more variants, it will be possible to change the composition of the vaccines to protect against these variants. Data continues to be collected and analyzed on new variants of the COVID-19 virus.
While we are learning more, we need to do everything possible to stop the spread of the virus in order to prevent mutations that may reduce the efficacy of existing vaccines. This means staying at least 1 meter away from others, covering a cough or sneeze in your elbow, frequently cleaning your hands, wearing a mask, and avoiding poorly ventilated rooms or opening a window.