COVID-19 Vaccine: Important Facts and Frequently Asked Questions
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all seen how this virus disproportionately impacts communities of color. Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. This is unacceptable.
At Englewood Health, our commitment to closing the gap in healthcare disparities has never been stronger. Our Diversity and Inclusion Education Council was created to implement and foster practices that support and accelerate diversity and inclusion, with a specific focus on addressing disparities in health care. This council advises on action items that are driven by Englewood Health’s long-term strategy to address healthcare disparities of diverse populations in our community and service area. We are actively working to improve the access to and reach of the uncompromising care we have provided for over a century.
To assist in combating the virus, we have taken action by establishing community vaccine clinics that provide a safe environment for all. Economic, insurance, or immigration statuses will not be barriers for those who want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at our locations. We offer information in several languages and provide translation services to ensure clear communication with all those we serve. We understand that there are various streams of information and that there can be misleading details regarding the vaccine. Our commitment to the community is to always provide accurate and timely information, so that anyone who chooses to get vaccinated can make an informed decision.
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. However, you should wait three months after your illness. This is currently being researched, and guidance may change as we learn more about immunity and natural infection.
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 or the Pfizer vaccine?
Both vaccines appeared to have high effectiveness in clinical trials (efficacy) among people of diverse age, sex, race, and ethnic categories, and among persons with underlying medical conditions. Based on evidence from clinical trials, both vaccines were found to be 94–95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses and had no evidence of being previously infected.
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 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. Instead, 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.
Does the vaccine contain any kind of microchip or nanotechnology?
There are no microchip or tracing devices in the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine contains only messenger RNA and a fat molecule, and its 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?
In the U.S., we do not allow pregnant women to participate in vaccine studies, so there is no data from the trials on this group. Some women got pregnant after receiving the vaccine and experienced no issues. Pregnant women receive other vaccines, such as the flu shot, during pregnancy and have no problems. Though pregnant women should speak with their doctor about whether to get the vaccine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed the vaccine for pregnant women and those breastfeeding.
Is the vaccine safe for kids?
At this time, children are not being vaccinated as they were not included in the vaccine trials. The Pfizer vaccine can be administered starting at age 16, and the Moderna vaccine starting at age 18. The best way to protect children 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.