COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
General COVID-19 Vaccine Questions
Vaccines currently prevent millions of deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles and influenza. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defenses -- the immune system---to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness. Vaccines are also critical to the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks.
Yes. COVID-19 (caused by SARS-CoV-2) can be a mild illness in some or lead to severe disease or even death in previously healthy people. Now, there are authorized AND recommended vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccination will help keep you healthy from COVID-19, build immunity safely, and eventually stop the pandemic.
Vaccine for Patients Who Have Had COVID
Yes, the CDC recommends that even if you have had COVID or tested positive for antibodies,
you should still receive the vaccine. This is because re-infection is possible and
because of the severe health risks associated with COVID-19.
Patients with a recent positive COVID-19 test who HAVE NOT received any antibody therapy (either mAb therapy or convalescent plasma) are eligible for vaccination 10 days after initial COVID-19 test AND if all symptoms are resolved.
Vaccine Safety and Efficacy
A thorough safety review is the cornerstone of the FDA’s EUA process. Career vaccine scientists conduct this review, just as they do for all other FDA safety reviews. For more information, visit the CDC’s Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines and the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs.
The CDC recommends that you should not get the COVID-19 vaccine if you:
- Have a fever greater than 100, or are not recovered from a moderate to severe illness.
- Previously experienced a severe allergic reaction, (e.g. Anaphylaxis) or required hospitalization, or experienced hives, swelling, respiratory distress including wheezing, to one of the following:
- A component of covid-19 vaccine including polyethylene glycol (peg) found in some laxatives and preparations for colonoscopy (note – diarrhea is not an allergic reaction for these substances).
- Polysorbate (note – diarrhea is not an allergic reaction for this substance).
- A previous dose of covid-19 vaccine.
- Are currently diagnosed with covid-19 and it has been less than 10 days since diagnosis and/or you are still experiencing symptoms.
- Have had any type of vaccine whatsoever within the 14 days prior to your covid-19 vaccine.
- Have received passive antibody therapy (iv monoclonal antibodies or iv convalescent serum) as treatment for covid-19 in the past 90 days.
No, you cannot contract COVID-19 from the vaccine. However, some of the side effects are similar to the symptoms of COVID.
Side effects from COVID-19 vaccination are normal and indicate that you are building protection. Most of the side effects go away quickly.
Common side effects for the vaccines include fever, fatigue, headache, chills and muscle and/or joint aches and pain in addition to redness and swelling at the vaccination site. And, these side effects have been more frequent with the second dose. Data also reveals that side effects were less frequent in those over the age of 65.
Other Vaccine Considerations
Immunocompromising conditions increase the risk of severe disease. An immunocompromised patient may receive the vaccine as long as they have been counselled on the lack of safety and efficacy data, and the importance of adhering to masking and physical distancing to reduce COVID-19 exposure risk.
Yes, it is critical for all women to consider the COVID vaccine. Women trying for pregnancy now or contemplating pregnancy in the future should not hesitate to be vaccinated, as there is no apparent impact on conception or long-term fertility. Pregnant women can discuss risks and benefits with their OB physician and make the best decision for their own personal situations, but the leading women’s health and pregnancy care organizations, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), encourage the COVID vaccine be available for all who are pregnant or may become pregnant.
There are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or the effects of mRNA vaccines on breastfed infants. mRNA vaccines are not live virus vaccines and are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. If you are breastfeeding you may choose to be vaccinated. A discussion with your healthcare provider can help you make an informed decision.
The Pfizer vaccine is available for patients 16 and older; a parent or guardian must accompany patients ages 16 and 17 to their vaccination appointments. The Moderna vaccine is available for patients 18 and older. There are ongoing trials in younger children at this time; visit cdc.gov for more information.