Frequently Asked Questions
Should I get the vaccine?
We strongly recommend all eligible patients get the vaccine. COVID-19 can cause serious illness or even death. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. And if you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you. All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19 disease. Even if you still get infected after you get vaccinated, the vaccine may prevent serious illness.
Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?
No, the vaccine does not cause COVID-19. None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines contain the virus that causes COVID-19. It does take a few weeks after vaccination for your body to build up antibodies to protect you from the virus. That means it’s possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after getting the vaccine and still get sick.
Will the shot make me sick?
None of the recommended vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID. This means that a COVID vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID.
The vaccines teach your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building protection against the virus.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provice protection.
What are the most common side effects after getting a COVID vaccine?
After getting vaccinated, you may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. The most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. In addition, you may have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.
Why do I need two COVID-19 shots?
Some COVID-19 vaccines need two shots. The first shot gets your body ready. If you are told you need two shots, make sure that you get your second shot at the time you are told, to make sure you have full protection.
Should I get vaccinated if I already had COVID-19?
Yes, you should still be vaccinated because you can become infected more than once. Although you may have some short-term natural protection (known as immunity) after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection will last. Vaccination is the best protection, and it is safe. People who get COVID-19 can have serious illnesses, and some have terrible symptoms that continue for months. If you have had COVID-19 or were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting the vaccine.
Do I have to pay for the vaccine?
No. The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States.
Do I still need to wear a mask and socially distance after getting the vaccine?
Once 2 weeks have passed since your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or your single dose of Johnson & Johnson, you are considered fully vaccinated. When you are fully vaccinated, you should continue wearing a mask and social distancing when in public. However, you can gather indoors without your mask with other vaccinated people and with low-risk unvaccinated people from one household. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you do not need to isolate or get tested unless you develop symptoms.
Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?
No. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.
Messenger RNA vaccines—also called mRNA vaccines—are the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States. mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.
At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. That immune response and making antibodies is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.
Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?
Yes. People who want to get pregnant in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Based on current knowledge, experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to a person trying to become pregnant in the short or long term. Scientists study every vaccine carefully for side effects immediately and for years afterward. The COVID-19 vaccines are being studied carefully now and will continue to be studied for many years, similar to other vaccines.
The COVID-19 vaccine, like other vaccines, works by training our bodies to develop antibodies to fight against the virus that causes COVID-19, to prevent future illness. There is currently no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of ANY vaccine. People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.
How long does protection from a COVID-19 vaccine last?
We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.
Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
If I have an underlying condition, can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. It is especially important for people with underlying health conditions. People with underlying medical conditions can receive the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Am I at higher risk for severe illness from COVID?
Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death.
Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Based on what we know at this time, adults of any age with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
- Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
- Liver disease
- Overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2, but < 30 kg/m2)
- Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
Can my child get vaccinated for COVID-19?
Not yet. Studies are underway with vaccines that can be recommended for children younger than 16.
Is it safe to get a vaccine if I have allergies?
For most people with allergies, yes.
However, if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID vaccine, you should not get that vaccine.
If you have had an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to other vaccines or injectables, you may still receive the vaccine. You may consider consulting with your allergist/immunologist ahead of time. Vaccine locations should be prepared to treat anaphylactic reactions on site. You should also remain at the location for 30 minutes post-vaccine to ensure no severe reaction will occur. Call us if you have more specific concerns about your allergy history.
If you have an epipen, you may bring it to your vaccine appointment as an extra precaution.
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