COVID-19 Vaccine: Important Facts and Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Updates

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Frequently Asked Questions

What should I expect after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Immediately following the vaccination, you will be monitored for a short period of time. Over the next couple of days, you may have some side effects; these are normal signs that your body is building protection. 

Common symptoms include: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and chills. If you have these symptoms and no fever, you may take one of the following if approved by your doctor: Tylenol, Advil, Motrin—or the generic versions (acetaminophen, ibuprofen)—to alleviate symptoms. Symptoms will typically improve in 24–48 hours. If they do not improve, or if you have questions or concerns, contact your doctor or an urgent care center. 

If you experience fever or other symptoms not typically seen as a result of the vaccine, this could be due to something else—including COVID-19 infection unrelated to the vaccine—and you should contact your doctor or an urgent care center. Among the millions of vaccines given to date, there have been a handful of allergic reactions, but only a few were serious.

What if I am allergic to other things?

Even if you have an allergy to nuts, pollen, latex, or other substances, it is still recommended that you get this vaccine. The list of people who should not get the vaccine is short, including only those with rare allergies to polyethylene or polysorbate.

Can I get COVID-19 from getting the vaccine?

No. The vaccine does not contain the coronavirus that causes COVID-19; it cannot give you COVID-19.

Will I need a vaccine every year?

The exact length of immunity following vaccination is not yet known for COVID-19. However, the vaccine has been proven to be 95% effective in protecting people against the virus. Current and future data will examine how long the protection typically lasts and whether repeat vaccination, as with the flu vaccine, will be recommended.

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, should I still get vaccinated?

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection is possible, it is advised to get a vaccine even if you have been sick with COVID-19 before. If you have had COVID-19, you must wait until you are symptom-free and out of isolation before being vaccinated. You do not need to wait 90 days unless you received a monoclonal antibody therapy.

What if I’m on medication? Am I still able to get the vaccine?

Common medications, such as those for heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, will not conflict with the vaccine. If you are undergoing chemotherapy or are on a medication that affects your immune system, check with your doctor. You should still get the vaccine, but the timing of your vaccination might be affected by your medication schedule.

Can I trust the vaccine? It was approved so quickly.

There is a significant amount of data and science backing the vaccines. The preclinical research for coronavirus vaccines dates back 10–15 years. These vaccines were developed, tested, and produced in response to a worldwide pandemic. Due to the infection rate in our country, the standard approval process was expedited, but not eliminated.

Does it matter whether I get the Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

All available vaccines are very effective at reducing the chances of getting seriously sick with COVID-19 and spreading the virus to other people. Experts recommend that in most case, you should get whichever vaccine becomes available to you first. Both the Moderna vaccine and Pfizer vaccine require two doses (28 days or 21 days apart), while the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine requires just one.

Are side effects worse in some ethnic or racial groups?

No, the likelihood and degree of side effects are the same in all groups.

Will this vaccine affect my DNA or my genes? Why is it called an “m-RNA” vaccine?

The Moderna vaccine and Pfizer vaccine use m-RNA technology. The vaccine does not affect your DNA (your genes) and has no other effect in the body. The “m” is for “messenger.” Many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies, but not m-RNA vaccines. They teach our cells how to make a protein or a piece of a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies. The m-RNA leaves the body within 24–48 hours.

The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine uses a technology that has been used in other vaccines, whereby a modified safe version of the virus is injected to trigger an antibody response. None of the vaccines can give you COVID-19.

Does the vaccine contain any kind of microchip or nanotechnology? 

There are no microchip or tracing devices in the COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain only messenger RNA and a fat molecule, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a modified safe version of the virus. Their sole purpose is to end this pandemic by preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Is the existing vaccine effective against the new COVID-19 variants emerging in other countries?

The vaccine is slightly less effective on the South African variant, but experts so far believe that it will be 95% effective on the others. Viruses do change over time, so the vaccine may need adjustments in the future to maintain the same level of effectiveness.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding? 

Pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. If you are pregnant, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19. Speak to your healthcare provider if you have any further questions. For more information, visit the CDC webpage on this topic.

Is the vaccine safe for kids?

The Pfizer vaccine can be administered starting at age 5, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting at age 18. The best way to protect children younger than 5 is to ensure they’re practicing masking, handwashing, and social distancing.

How much does the vaccine cost?

The vaccine is free. It is paid for by the federal government, and there are no out-of-pocket costs for recipients. You do not need health insurance to receive the vaccine.

What if I am not a U.S. citizen?

Your immigration status does not matter and no one will ask you about it. We only need your name, contact information, and date of birth so we can schedule your second dose.

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