Why is it important to get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best step you can take to protect yourself and the people around you. The more people who choose to get vaccinated for COIVD-19, the safer our communities will be for everyone. Allowing COVID-19 to continue to spread at its current transmission rate is not sustainable for our physical health, mental health, the healthcare system or the country as a whole.
How do we know the vaccine is safe?
All vaccines undergo a more rigorous review process than any other type of pharmaceutical. Before a vaccine becomes available for use, there is very thorough development and testing. To prove their safety, there are multiple rounds of clinical trials starting with small groups of volunteers and eventually including tens of thousands of participants. Once those trials are completed, the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) reviews the data and approves it based on the recommendations of an independent board of scientists and clinical experts, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. Then a separate group at CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) determines who should receive the vaccine.
You may have heard that the COVID-19 vaccines were developed more quickly than the average vaccine. This was possible, in part, because two time-consuming administrative steps were able to be eliminated. Most vaccines that are developed go through initial efforts to determine whether there is a widespread need and to secure funding for development and clinical trials. Because the need for this vaccine was clear and funding was in place, these first steps could be skipped and researchers could start developing the vaccines immediately.
Why do you need two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines?
The first available vaccines require two doses approximately 3-4 weeks apart. Multiple doses allow the body to produce more antibodies to protect you against COVID-19. As additional vaccines are reviewed and authorized, their vaccination protocol may be different. Administration of each vaccine is guided by that manufacturer’s specific requirements.
What are the side effects of getting COVID-19 vaccination? Will vaccination give me COVID-19?
The side effects of COVID-19 vaccination are similar to what you may have experienced from other immunizations—fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain and joint pain. For the vast majority of people, these side effects are mild and will resolve within 24-36 hours. These side effects do not mean that you have COVID-19. They are a sign that the vaccine is working and your immune system is learning to fight COVID-19. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 as there is no live or inactive virus in the COVID-19 vaccine you are receiving.
If I already had COVID-19, should I get vaccinated?
COVID-19 is a new illness and as a result we do not know how long immunity lasts. As a result, it is recommended that you get the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve already recovered from COVID-19 in order to boost your immune response should you be exposed to COVID-19 in the future. You can be vaccinated as long as you have been cleared from your quarantine period.
If I have allergies, should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?
If you have allergies to foods, environmental factors, animals, etc., you should still get the COVID-19 vaccine. The only precaution at this point is for recipients who have a history of a severe anaphylaxis reaction to injectable medications/other vaccines. Vaccine clinics will be equipped with emergency response equipment and protocols to ensure the safety of all recipients.
If I am pregnant or breastfeeding, should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with their obstetricians and pediatricians about whether to get the vaccine. Pregnant women should weigh their risks of contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy. Information from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) include:
Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics provides the following guidance: While these vaccines were not specifically tested in breastfeeding women, it is not likely (based on the mechanisms of action of the vaccines in U.S. trials) that there would be any risk to the child.
Does the vaccine change your DNA? What is an mRNA vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine does not alter your DNA. Some COVID-19 vaccines are RNA vaccines. These type of vaccines contain mRNA, or messenger RNA. Here’s how the CDC explains how mRNA vaccines work:
- COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.
- COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the muscle cells, the cells use them to make the protein piece. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them.
- Next, the cell displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19.
- At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain this protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.
- Learn more about how mRNA vaccines work at CDC.gov/Coronavirus/2019-ncov/Vaccines/DifferentVaccines/MRNA.html.
How much will it cost to get vaccinated?
The federal government is providing the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge to all individuals. Insurance companies are committed to not charging out-of-pocket fees or copays related to the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
What are the ingredients of the vaccines?
The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine includes the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl) azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,Nditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate and sucrose.
The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine contains the following ingredients: messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate and sucrose.
How long does vaccination provide immunity against COVID-19?
It will take months to years to determine how long immunity will last in individuals who receive a vaccine. Public health officials and researchers are continuing to study this over the next many months.
Does vaccination treat COVID-19?
Vaccination is a way to prevent COVID-19 illness. It is not a treatment for COVID-19. To learn more about the latest treatments for COVID-19, visit FDA.gov/Drugs/Emergency-Preparedness-Drugs/CoronavirusCOVID-19-Drugs.
How does the COVID-19 vaccine differ from the flu vaccine?
While both COVID-19 and influenza are primarily respiratory illnesses, they are caused by completely different viruses. Multiple flu viruses circulate every season. Thus every year, health organizations around the globe monitor the influenza viruses circulating in each hemisphere to predict which will be most common in the upcoming season—that’s one reason why effectiveness can vary year-to-year. The COVID-19 vaccine targets SARS-CoV-2, which, as of December 2020, has only a few strains and low mutation rate. This makes it easier to develop a vaccine. The current available vaccines show an effectiveness of 94-95% with extremely minimal risk of serious side effects or safety concerns.
Is there a microchip in the COVID-19 vaccine?
No, vaccines do not contain microchips.