Questions and Answers About COVID-19 Vaccines

It is completely understandable to have questions about the new COVID-19 vaccines and this website is a place where you can find answers. See below. (This page is regularly updated. Check back often.)

For more information and resources regarding COVID-19 and the vaccines being developed to prevent it, visit Vaccinateyourfamily.org/covid19

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Who Should Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Everyone 16 years of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination and the vaccines are now more widely available. Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. 

Each state and territory (or city or county) decides exactly how, when and where the vaccine is being given out to the people in their communities. In most states, people at high-risk of serious COVID-19 illness are being offered vaccine first. Click here to find a COVID vaccine near ylu.

Who Decided Who Would Be Offered the First Doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine?

In December 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) – the group of public health and medical experts that makes vaccine recommendations for the U.S. – made its official recommendations of who should get the first available doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Director of the CDC.  They recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine doses be offered in phases. The ACIP’s recommendations were made with these three goals in mind:

  • Decrease death and serious disease as much as possible.
  • Preserve the functioning of society.
  • Reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities.

The CDC officially adopted ACIP’s recommendations and made recommendations to the states. Each state then decided how and when it would give the COVID-19 vaccines to its citizens.

Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for serious illness if they get COVID-19. (Serious illness from COVID-19 means being hospitalized; being admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU); being placed on a ventilator to breath for you; or death.)

Adults of any age with the following health conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:

Based on what medical experts know at this time, adults of any age with the following health conditions might be at an increased risk for serious illness due to COVID-19:

Everyone 16 years of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. Widespread vaccination is a very important way to help stop the pandemic.

Find information on where you can get the vaccine in your state. You can also look for COVID-19 vaccines near you through Vaccines.gov.

 

The CDC is tracking the number of people who have gotten COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States. Visit their COVID Data Tracker by clicking here.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine also has a COVID-19 tracker if you are interested in seeing information from other credible medical and public health experts.

Yes. You should be vaccinated, even if you’ve already had a COVID-19 infection.

If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Why do I Need a COVID-19 Vaccine if I Already Had COVID?

Public health experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again.

Experts are still learning more about how long COVID vaccines protect against COVID-19 in real-world conditions. The CDC and its partners will keep the public informed as they learn more.

 

If you’re pregnant you may choose to be vaccinated. While a conversation with a healthcare provider may be helpful, it is not required prior to vaccination.

Things for Pregnant People to Consider When Deciding Whether to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine
  • Your risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • People who are pregnant are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including COVID illness that results in intensive care unit (ICU) admission; placement on a ventilator to help with breathing; and death.
  • Other health conditions, such as obesity and gestational diabetes, may also increase a person’s risks of experiencing severe COVID-19 illness.
  • Some studies suggest getting COVID-19 during pregnancy may increase risks of preterm birth and stillbirth.
  • A COVID vaccine can help protect you from severe illness from COVID-19, which could help both you and your baby.
    • Recent reports have shown that people who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines during pregnancy (mostly during their third trimester) have passed protective antibodies to their babies, which could help protect them after birth.
  • Although there are limited data about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in people who are pregnant, what is known so far is reassuring. Based on what is known about how COVID vaccines are made and the early data collected through the U.S. vaccine monitoring systems, experts believe they are likely to be safe during pregnancy.
    • COVID vaccines do not contain the live coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and therefore cannot give you COVID-19.
    • COVID vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA.
    • According to the the Vaccine Safety Technical Subgroup of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a large number of pregnant women have chosen to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.
      • The vaccinations being given are being monitored closely by public health officials through safety monitoring systems, including a new pregnancy registry in V-Safe to monitor pregnancy and birth outcomes.
  • Vaccine side effects, like a sore/red arm, tiredness, chills, joint aches, and muscle aches are possible, and are a normal part of the body’s reaction to the vaccine and developing antibodies (immunity) to protect against COVID-19.
    • Pregnant individuals who experience fever after getting a COVID-19 vaccine may be counseled to take acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) because fever has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Acetaminophen may be suggested as an option during pregnancy to manage other expected side effects as well.
  • Click here to see what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has to say about COVID-19 vaccination of pregnant and breastfeeding women.
New Data on COVID-19 Vaccines During Pregnancy

In a new study published on April 21, 2020, the CDC looked at data from over 35,000 people who got the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine either before or during their pregnancy. (This data was available in three U.S. safety monitoring systems – V-SAFE, the V-SAFE pregnancy registry, and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).)  To date, the CDC researchers have found:

  • No safety concerns were seen in pregnant individuals vaccinated during their 3rd trimester or in their babies. 
  • Side effects after vaccination were the same for pregnant people as they are for non-pregnant people. 

A study published in March 2021 found that pregnant people who were vaccinated against COVID-19:

  • Had a stronger immune response than pregnant people who were naturally infected with the COVID-19 virus
  • Passed protective antibodies (immunity) to their babies. (Flu and whooping cough vaccinations during pregnancy also protect both mom and baby from dangerous illness.)
  • Passed antibodies to their babies in their breast milk.
  • Getting vaccinated during pregnancy didn’t result in more or worse side effects for participants in the study.
COVID-19 Vaccine Should Be Available to Pregnant Individuals

VYF joined the Maternal Immunization Task Force and other partners to put out the following statement: “All pregnant individuals who choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine must be allowed to do so in alignment with their state and local vaccination allocation plan. This includes the estimated 330,000 health care workers who are pregnant and should be allowed to receive the vaccine as part of the first phase of vaccine distribution plans. Reports of pregnant individuals being refused vaccination are concerning. Pregnant individuals who otherwise meet the criteria for COVID-19 vaccines should not be denied the opportunity to be vaccinated, should they choose to do so. Although a conversation with a clinician may be helpful for patients to aid in their decision-making, it should not be required prior to vaccination.”

Read the full joint statement here.

For more information about COVID-19 and the vaccines being created to prevent it, see other questions on this Q&A page or visit vaccinateyourfamily.org/covid19.

If you would like to speak to someone about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, the CDC recommends that you contact MotherToBaby. MotherToBaby experts are available to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or chat. The free and confidential service is available Monday–Friday 8am–5pm (local time). To reach MotherToBaby:

  • Call 1-866-626-6847
  • Chat live or send an email MotherToBaby

Even though pregnant women were not in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, the CDC and the FDA have a number of safety monitoring systems in place to closely monitor the safety of pregnant women who choose to get vaccinated (and the safety of their babies).

Early data from these systems did find not any safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated or for their babies. Most of the pregnancies reported in these systems are ongoing, so more follow-up data are needed for people vaccinated just before or early in pregnancy. CDC and FDA will continue to follow people vaccinated during all trimesters of pregnancy to understand COVID vaccination effects on pregnancy and babies.

The monitoring systems include:

  • Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)— The national system to which healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the public can report possible side effects or health problems that happen after vaccination. Scientists investigate reports of events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns. The VAERS system has a question to identify pregnant people (question 8). CDC clinicians review all pregnancy reports related to COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • V-safe COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry  — V-safe is a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines. The v-safe COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry is a registry to collect additional health information from v-safe participants who report being pregnant at the time of vaccination or a positive pregnancy test after vaccination. This information helps CDC monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in people who are pregnant.
  • Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) — A network of nine integrated healthcare organizations across the United States that monitor and evaluate the safety of vaccines. The system is also used to help determine whether possible side effects identified using VAERS are actually related to vaccination. Through VSD, CDC will study:
    • Weekly counts and rates of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant people
    • Miscarriage and stillbirth that occurs among people who received COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy
    • Adverse outcomes in pregnancy following COVID-19 vaccination, including:
      • Pregnancy complications
      • Birth outcomes
      • Infant outcomes for the first year of life (includes infant death, birth defects, and developmental disorders)
  • Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project — A collaboration between CDC and seven medical research centers to provide expert consultation on individual cases of adverse events after vaccination and conduct clinical research studies about vaccine safety. CISA will implement a clinical research study on COVID-19 vaccine safety among pregnant people at three sites. The study will:
    • Enroll pregnant people who plan to receive COVID-19 vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines will be given as part of the study
    • Collect baseline maternal health information, including if they previously had COVID-19
    • Follow people during pregnancy and for three months after delivery
    • Follow babies through their first three months of life
  • Birth Defects Study to Evaluate Pregnancy Exposures (BD-STEPS) — This ongoing study collects information, including COVID-19 vaccination information, from people who have recently been pregnant to understand the potential causes of birth defects and how to prevent them.

Yes. According to the experts at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)if you are planning or trying to get pregnant, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • There is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect – in the short or long term – of any of the COVID-19 vaccines available for use in the U.S. Scientists study every vaccine carefully for side effects immediately and for years afterward.  Like all vaccines approved/authorized for use in the U.S., the COVID-19 vaccines are being studied carefully now and will continue to be monitored for safety for many years.
  • You do not need to delay getting pregnant after you get a COVID vaccine.
  • Some COVID-19 vaccines, such as the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses for the best protection. If you find out you are pregnant after you have the first dose of COVID vaccine, you should still get the second dose.

 

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a personal choice for breastfeeding women. While a conversation with a healthcare provider may be helpful in helping you make a decision, it is not required prior to vaccination.

Things for Breastfeeding Women to Consider When Deciding Whether or Not to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine
  • There are no clinical trial data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines while breastfeeding or what effect they might have on breastfed infants or on milk production/excretion. However, given what is known about how COVID vaccines are made, health experts don’t think they pose a risk to breastfed babies.
  • Some side effects, like a sore/red arm, tiredness, chills, joint aches, and muscle aches are possible. They are a normal part of the body’s reaction to the vaccine and developing antibodies (immunity) to protect against COVID-19.
  • Click here to read what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has to say about COVID-19 vaccination of pregnant and breastfeeding individuals.

While most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, children can – and some do – get severely ill from COVID. Those that get very sick from COVID could need to be hospitalized  In rare cases, they might die.

Children with COVID-19 – with or without symptoms – can also spread the COVID-19 virus to others. Babies under 1 year old and children with certain underlying conditions may be more likely to have severe illness from COVID-19.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children

Medical and public health experts are looking into a rare, but serious medical condition, associated with COVID-19 in children, called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).  Unfortunately, experts do not yet know what causes MIS-C and who is at increased risk for developing it. Learn more about MIS-C.

Should my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?

At this time, there are no COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use in children under 16 years old in the U.S.

In the near future, FDA is going to review data from Pfizer’s COVID vaccine clinical trials and will consider whether to authorize the vaccine for children as young as 12 years old. A number of  other vaccine makers are currently testing COVID-19 vaccines in children through clinical trials.

Learn how to keep your children healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

No. According to CDC, people currently sick with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until their symptoms go away and they are no longer isolating (staying away from others, even when at home). More specifically, you should wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine until:

  • At least 10 days have passed since your COVID-19 symptoms started
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g., Advil, Tylenol, Motrin, etc.)
  • Your other COVID-19 symptoms have improved

People who have tested positive for COVID-19, but don’t have symptoms should also wait until they are no longer isolating before getting vaccinated. More specifically, you should wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine until:

  • 10 days have passed since the date you had your positive COVID-19 test. (If you develop symptoms after testing positive, follow the guidance for people are sick with COVID-19 and have symptoms).

Yes. According to CDC, you can still get a COVID vaccine, if you have had any of the following health conditions:

  • Immunocompromising conditions or people who take immunosuppressive medication or therapies (talk to your doctor about the timing of getting your COVID vaccine)
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • A history of Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • A history of Bell’s palsy
  • A history of dermal filler use
Find a COVID-19 Vaccine Near You

Everyone 16 years of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination and vaccines are now more widely available.. Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.

Each state/territory (or city or county) decides exactly how/when/where the COVID-19 vaccine is being given out. Click here to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you.

You can also check:

  • Vaccines.gov to see where COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available in your area. In some states, information may be limited while more vaccination providers and pharmacies are being added.)
  • Your local pharmacy’s website to see if COVID vaccine appointments are available. To see which pharmacies are administering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible people, visit CDC’s list of pharmacy partners in each state. Most pharmacies are using online scheduling systems to schedule vaccination visits for eligible people based on their limited available vaccine supply.
  • Your local news. They may have information on how to get a vaccine near you.
Learn about the COVID-19 Vaccines
and How They Work

There are now three COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use in the U.S. – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen). All three COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. have been shown to be safe and highly effective at preventing serious illness due to COVID-19.

Update

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met on April 23 to discuss the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine and rare reports of blood clots (thrombosis) combined WITH low blood platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) about one to two weeks following vaccination. This condition is now being referred to as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS.

The committee, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted to once again recommended the Johnson & Johnson  vaccine for people 18 y.o. and older in the U.S. population under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization. The vote came after an updated risk-benefit analysis found that the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks.

During the ACIP meeting, health experts presented the following information:

  • The risk of the condition still appears to be rare, with 15 reports of blood clots with low platelet counts out of nearly 8 million doses of J&J vaccine administered in the U.S. The risk varied by age and sex but ranged from 7 in 1 million for women aged 18-49 years to <1 in 1 million for men and women 50 years and older. For reference, health experts expect roughly 0.7-1.6 in 1 million people to experience clots with low platelets, regardless of vaccination.
  • Data show the benefits of vaccination still outweigh the risksBecause even healthy, young adults can get seriously sick or die from COVID-19the small risk of this condition is still greatly outweighed by the benefits of protecting yourself from the virus.
  • It’s still unclear what’s causing TTS to develop after getting vaccinated. There didn’t appear to be a pattern of risk factors (ex. oral contraceptive use or obesity) in those who experienced the blood clots with low platelets, though the condition was also seen in those who received the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine in Europe, which is created using a similar technology. There doesn’t appear to be any link between TTS and the mRNA COVID vaccines, like those by Pfizer and Moderna.
  • A warning label will be added to the FDA’s fact sheet that people get before receiving the COVID vaccine, alerting them to the potential risks of blood clots like what is seen on oral contraceptives or other medications.  (While it is rare, women under 50 years old being should be informed about this adverse event before getting vaccinated. Ask your healthcare provider.)
  • Experts will continue to investigate this uncommon side effect to make sure there are no other risk factor
  • The CDC does not recommend one COVID vaccine over another.
Which Vaccine Should I Get if I am Under 18 Years Old?

The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine (currently authorized for use in the U.S.) that recommended for people 16 years old and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccines are currently only recommended for people 18 years old and older.

The FDA is considering authorizing the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children as young as 12 years old. Stay tuned…

Vaccination is the safest way to help you build protection against COVID-19

There is no way to know for certain how COVID-19 will affect you – you might have a mild case or you could have serious, life-threatening complications.  While you might have an uncomfortable few days after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, it is the safest way to help build protection. 

Also, if you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick or even die from the COVID infection. (Over 574,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in the U.S. alone. See the most recent number of COVID cases and deaths.)

And best of all…once you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (2 weeks after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna OR 2 weeks after the one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine), you can start getting “back to life” again. Learn more on this page or by visiting CDC’s website here

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. (The Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine is a viral vector vaccine.)

An mRNA vaccine is a new type of vaccine that protects against infectious diseases. mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein – or a piece of a protein – that triggers an immune response (antibodies) in our bodies. These antibodies then protect us from future infections.

Specifically, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines tell our cells to make a harmless piece of the “spike protein.” Spike proteins are the red “spikes” that you see on the surface of the coronavirus. (See picture of the virus below). Our immune system sees that the protein doesn’t belong there and this causes our body to start building our immune response and making antibodies, like what happens when we “naturally” get a COVID-19 infection. Again, it is these antibodies that protect us the next time we come in contact with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Can I get COVID disease from the COVID-19 vaccine?

No. COVID-19 vaccines made using mRNA cannot give you COVID. mRNA vaccines don’t use the live virus that causes COVID-19, meaning that the vaccine cannot cause you to get COVID.

Does mRNA stay in my body after I get the vaccine?

No, our cells break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after it has been recognized and translated in order to make the protein that triggers our body’s immune response.

Why would I want to get a vaccine instead of just getting the natural immunity that comes from getting the disease? Isn’t that better?

The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is that you get protection from a disease without ever having to risk the serious, and sometimes deadly, consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.

How Does the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Work?

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine was developed using viral vector technology.  The vaccine uses a harmless version of a different virus (adenovirus) that has been combined with the coronavirus spike protein gene. (Spike proteins are what you see on the surface of the coronavirus. See picture below.)

When you get the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, the modified Adenovirus virus enters your cell and shares instructions with it on how to create a harmless piece of the “spike protein.” Your cell then creates and displays the spike protein on its surface.  Your immune system sees that the spike protein doesn’t belong there and this causes your body to start building a immune response and making antibodies to fight off what it thinks is a COVID-19 infection. It is these antibodies that protect you the next time you come in contact with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Other Facts about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Viral Vector Vaccine
  • It cannot give someone COVID-19 or other infections.
    • The Adenovirus (the viral vector) used in making the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was modified by researchers so it can not replicate in your body or cause illness. It is harmless.
  •  It cannot change our DNA.
  • Viral vector technology is not new.
Update on the Use of the J&J Vaccine in the U.S.

On April 23, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the CDC, met to discuss the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine and rare reports of blood clots (thrombosis) combined with low blood platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) about one to two weeks following vaccination. This condition is now being referred to as “thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome” or “TTS”.  After a short pause, the ACIP voted to once again recommended for people 18 years of age and older in the U.S. population under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The vote came after an updated risk-benefit analysis found that the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks. 

During the ACIP meeting, health experts presented additional insights, including 

  • The risk of the condition still appears to be low, with 15 reports of blood clots with low platelet counts out of nearly 8 million doses of J&J vaccine administered in the U.S. (3.99 million of these vaccine doses were given to women.) The risk varied by age and sex but ranged from 7 in 1 million for women aged 18-49 years to <1 in 1 million for men and women 50 years and older. For reference, health experts expect roughly 0.7-1.6 in 1 million people to experience clots with low platelets, regardless of vaccination  
  • Data show the benefits of vaccination still outweigh the risksBecause even healthy, young adults can get seriously sick or die from COVID-19the small risk of this condition is still greatly outweighed by the benefits of protecting yourself from the virus.  
  • It’s still unclear what’s causing TTS to develop after getting vaccinated. There didn’t appear to be a pattern of risk factors (ex. oral contraceptive use or obesity) in those who experienced the blood clots with low platelets, though the condition was also seen in those who received the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine in Europe, which is created using a similar technology. There doesn’t appear to be any link between TTS and the mRNA COVID vaccines, like those by Pfizer and Moderna.  
  • A warning label will be added to the FDA’s fact sheet that people get before receiving the J&J COVID vaccine, alerting them to the potential risks of blood clots like what is seen on oral contraceptives or other medications (Women under 50 years old being should be informed about this rare, but serious adverse event before getting vaccinated. Ask your healthcare provider).
  • Experts will continue tinvestigate this rare side effect to make sure it remains an uncommon side effect and to make sure there aren’t other risk factors that haven’t been identified
  • CDC does not recommend any COVID vaccine over the other. 
For More Information

UPDATE: The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the CDC, met on April 23 to discuss the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine and rare reports of blood clots (thrombosis) COMBINED WITH low blood platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) about one to two weeks following vaccination. This condition is now being referred to as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS.

There was a short pause in the use of the J&J vaccine in the U.S., but on April 23, the ACIP decided to once again recommended  the vaccine for people 18 y.o. and older in the U.S. population under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The ACIP’s vote came after an updated risk-benefit analysis found that the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks. 

During the ACIP meeting, health experts presented additional insights, including 

  • The risk of the condition still appears to be low, with 15 reports of blood clots with low platelet counts out of nearly 8 million doses of J&J vaccine administered in the U.S. (3.99 million of these vaccine doses were given to women.) The risk varied by age and sex but ranged from 7 in 1 million for women aged 18-49 years to <1 in 1 million for men and women 50 years and older. For reference, health experts expect roughly 0.7-1.6 in 1 million people to experience clots with low platelets, regardless of vaccination  
  • Data show the benefits of vaccination still outweigh the risksBecause even healthy, young adults can get seriously sick or die from COVID-19the small risk of this condition is still greatly outweighed by the benefits of protecting yourself from the virus.  
  • It’s still unclear what’s causing TTS to develop after getting vaccinated. There didn’t appear to be a pattern of risk factors (ex. oral contraceptive use or obesity) in those who experienced the blood clots with low platelets, though the condition was also seen in those who received the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine in Europe, which is created using a similar technology. There doesn’t appear to be any link between TTS and the mRNA COVID vaccines, like those by Pfizer and Moderna.  
  • A warning label will be added to the FDA’s fact sheet that people get before receiving the J&J COVID vaccine, alerting them to the potential risks of blood clots like what is seen on oral contraceptives or other medications (Women under 50 years old being should be informed about this rare, but serious adverse event before getting vaccinated. Ask your healthcare provider.)
  • Experts will continue tinvestigate this rare side effect to make sure it remains an uncommon side effect and to make sure there aren’t other risk factors that haven’t been identified
  • CDC does not recommend any COVID vaccine over the other. All currently authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are safe, effective, and reduce your risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death due to COVID.
What Should You Do If You Received the Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine?

If you received the J&J COVID-19 vaccine within the last 3 weeks, please seek medical care right away if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • severe headache (especially when it appears 6 or more days after vaccination) 
  • backache
  • new neurologic symptoms
  • severe abdominal pain
  • shortness of breath
  • leg swelling
  • tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae)
  • new or easy bruising

Please note that it is COMMON to experience mild to moderate flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, tiredness, nausea, and joint/muscle pain, DURING THE FIRST WEEK after receiving any COVID-19 vaccine.  These common side effects are a sign the vaccine is working. They usually start within 3 days of getting a vaccine and should only last a few days.

Everyone who received a COVID-19 vaccine – any COVID vaccine – should sign up for V-Safe – CDC’s After Vaccination Health Checker.

 

First, it is important to note that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is not currently authorized for use in the United States.

The COVID-19 subcommittee of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) has reviewed reports of rare cases of severe blood clots with low platelets following vaccination (now known as “Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome” or “TTS”) after getting the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (known as both Vaxzevria and Covishield).

In their statement on April 16, the WHO stated:

Based on latest available data, the risk of TTS with Vaxzevria and Covishield vaccines appears to be very low. Data from the UK suggest the risk is approximately four cases per million adults (1 case per 250 000) who receive the vaccine, while the rate is estimated to be approximately 1 per 100 000 in the European Union (EU). Countries assessing the risk of TTS following COVID-19 vaccination should perform a benefit-risk analysis that takes into account local epidemiology (including incidence and mortality from COVID-19 disease), age groups targeted for vaccination and the availability of alternative vaccines.

Read the WHO’s full statement.

What Should I Expect When I Get My COVID-19 Vaccine?
Will I Get Side Effects?

Here is what to expect when you go to your COVID-19 vaccine appointment:

  • When you get the vaccine, you and your vaccine provider will both need to wear masks that cover your nose and mouth. Also, make sure to stay 6 feet away from others while inside the vaccine clinic and in lines.
  • You should receive a vaccination card that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson) you received, the date you got it, and where you got it. — Keep your vaccination card.
  • You should receive a fact sheet that tells you more about the specific COVID-19 vaccine you are being offered. Each authorized COVID-19 vaccine has its own fact sheet that contains information to help you understand the risks and benefits of receiving that specific vaccine. View the fact sheets for the three COVID vaccines authorized for use in the U.S.:
  • After getting the shot, all people who get a COVID-19 vaccine should be monitored on-site (15 – 30 minutes) to make sure they don’t have any allergic reactions. (An immediate allergic reaction happens within 4 hours after getting vaccinated and could include symptoms such as hives, swelling, and wheezing).
  • At your vaccination appointment, ask your vaccine provider about registering for V-SAFE, which is CDC’s free, smartphone tool that uses text messaging to check in with you after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. V-SAFE also reminds you to get your second dose if you need one. If you recently got your COVID vaccine, but haven’t already registered for V-SAFE, click here to register. 

Vaccine providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the COVID shot to someone. However, people who get the COVID vaccine do not have to pay this fee out of their own pocket. Instead, vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by their patient’s public insurance (e.g., Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP) or private insurance company. For uninsured patients, vaccine providers can get the vaccine administration fee reimbursed through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) Provider Relief Fund. No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay the vaccine administration fee.

COVID-19 vaccination providers cannot:

  • Charge you for the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Charge you any administration fees, copays, or coinsurance
  • Deny the COVID vaccine to anyone who does not have health insurance coverage, is underinsured, or is out of network
  • Charge an office visit or other fee to the recipient if the only service provided is a COVID-19 vaccination
  • Require additional services in order for a person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; however, additional healthcare services can be provided at the same time and billed as appropriate

Use our online tool to figure out how to pay for routine vaccines for yourself and your family (children, teens and adults).

Other ways to help help reduce pain and discomfort:

  • If you have pain in your arm where you got the shot, the CDC suggests that you apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area, or use/exercise your arm.
  • To reduce discomfort from fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.

 

You might experience some side effects after getting one or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (shot) — and that’s totally normal. 

While the side effects after getting vaccinated against COVID can be uncomfortable, they are generally mild to moderate. temporary, and nothing compared to how sick you could become with COVID-19. (Severe side effects are rare). What’s more, the side effects are often a sign that the vaccine is working in your body.

Reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine can vary depending on:

  • Your age
  • Which vaccine product you’re getting (Pfizer’s vaccine, Moderna’s vaccine or J&J vaccine)
  • Whether it’s your first or second dose of COVID vaccine

You might get one or more of the following reactions after getting the first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Pain, redness or swelling on your arm (where you got the shot)
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Swollen lymph nodes on the side you got vaccinated

These possible side effects usually happen within 3 days of getting the vaccine and should only last a few days.

Not everyone who gets vaccinated will have side effects. Some people get the vaccine and feel fine. But if you’re worried or if you have other reactions after getting the vaccine, please call your doctor right away.

Update on the Johnson & Johnson  (Janssen) Vaccine

After a short pause in the use of the J&J vaccine in the U.S., on April 23, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) decided to once again recommended the vaccine for people 18 y.o. and older in the U.S. population under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

The ACIP’s vote came after an updated risk-benefit analysis found that the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks. Read more about this issue on this page. You can also find more information from the American Heart Association or CDC.

What to Do If You Received the J&J (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine

If you had the vaccine more than three weeks ago, your risk of getting this health complication is very low (but call your doctor’s office if you have any concerning symptoms).

If you’ve had the vaccine within the last three weeks, your risk is still very low, but seek medical care right away if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • severe headache
  • backache
  • new neurologic symptoms
  • severe abdominal pain
  • shortness of breath
  • leg swelling
  • tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae)
  • new or easy bruising
How to Handle the Common Mild to Moderate Side Effects

Side effects from the COVID-19 shot can affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.

AFTER GETTING THE SHOT, you can talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen (e.g. Advil), acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), aspirin, or antihistamines (e.g, Benadryl) for any pain and discomfort. You can take these medications to relieve post-vaccination side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally.

The CDC doesn’t recommend taking pain or fever-reducing drugs like ibuprofen (e.g., Advil) or acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) before getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

Other tips from CDC

  • To reduce pain and discomfort in your arm where you got the shot,  apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area, or use/exercise your arm.
  • To reduce discomfort from fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.
Red, Itchy, Swollen or Painful Rash on Arm a Few Days to More than a Week After Vaccine Dose

The CDC has learned of reports that some people have experienced a red, itchy, swollen, or painful rash where they got first COVID shot. These rashes can start a few days to more than a week after the first vaccine dose and are sometimes quite large. These rashes are also known as “COVID arm.” If you experience “COVID arm” after getting your first COVID shot, you should still get the second COVID shot at the recommended time. Tell your vaccination provider that you experienced a rash or “COVID arm” after the first shot. They may recommend that you get the second COVID shot in the opposite arm.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Monitoring

Severe allergic reactions to vaccines are extremely rare. But if someone has a severe allergic reaction after getting the COVID vaccine, their vaccination provider will send a report to the Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS), a U.S. system for reporting adverse events. Anyone can report to VAERS. Reports of vaccine side effects that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns are followed up with specific studies. 

After getting your first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, you should sign up for CDC’s V-Safe, which is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging to provide personalized health check-ins after you get your COVID shot.  V-safe will also remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one.

No. Just like people can have allergic reactions to certain medications, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine. It is rare, but some people have had severe allergic reactions (also known as anaphylaxis) after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Thankfully, when allergic reactions happen, they happen soon after getting the COVID-19 shot and can be managed by a trained healthcare provider. People with a history of severe allergic reactions will be asked to wait 30 minutes after getting the COVID-19 shot so they can be monitored just in case they have a reaction. All other people will be monitored for about 15 minutes after getting the vaccine.

If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving your vaccination provider, seek medical care right away by calling 911.

Who Can Still Get a COVID-19 Vaccine – Even If They Have a History of Allergic Reactions? (CDC Recommendations)
  • If you have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medicationssuch as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies, you can still get vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • If you have a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions, you can get still get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Who Should Not Get a COVID-19 Vaccine or Should Ask Their Doctor About a DIFFERENT COVID-19 Vaccine? (CDC Recommendations)
  • If you have had a severe allergic reaction or an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get either of the currently available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines).
  • If you have had a non-severe or severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the second dose.
    • If you aren’t able to get the second shot of an mRNA vaccine because you had an allergic reaction to the first shot, ask your doctor if you should get a different type of COVID-19 vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine (a viral vector vaccine).
  • If you have had a severe allergic reaction or an immediate allergic reaction to any ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
    • Ask your doctor if you should get a different type of COVID-19 vaccine, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
  • If you are allergic to PEG, you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. (Pfizer and Moderna)
    • Ask your doctor if you can get the Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.
  • If you are allergic to polysorbate, you should not get the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine
    • Ask your doctor if you can get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
Full List of Vaccine Ingredients

Please see each vaccine’s Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers

For more information about allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, please visit: COVID-19 Vaccines and Allergic Reactions | CDC

No. For most people, the side effects after getting a dose of COVID-19 vaccine should not be worse than getting a “natural” COVID-19 infection.

Can Vaccines Cause Side Effects?

Like all medications and vaccines, getting a COVID-19 shot can cause side effects. While the side effects can be uncomfortable, they are generally mild to moderate, temporary, and usually happen within 3 days of getting a dose of the vaccine. The side effects should go away on their own within a week. 

Side Effects are a Sign that Your Body is Making Antibodies to Protect You

Vaccines work by jumpstarting our body’s defenses (the immune system) into making antibodies that protect our bodies from germs. That’s a big reason why you get a fever and body aches or feel tired when you get sick. Your immune system is working hard to protect your body from these germs that can cause serious diseases.

Because vaccines kick off that same process, you might experience some of the same things, but to a much lesser degree.

Why Vaccines are Usually Safer for You – and Others Around You – Than Getting the Disease

There is no way to know for certain how COVID-19 will affect you – you might have a mild case or you could have serious, life-threatening complications.  While you might have an uncomfortable day or two after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, it is the safest way to help build protection. Also, if you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick, especially if they have underlying medical conditions.

 

The mRNA vaccines that have been approved for emergency use in the U.S. (Pfizer and Moderna) need 2 doses to be effective.

The first shot starts building protection against COVID-19. A second shot given 3 or 4 weeks later (depending on which COVID vaccine you get) is needed to get the best protection from the vaccine.

  • Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses should be given 3 weeks (21 days) apart
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses should be given 4 weeks (28 days) apart

It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination, so it will take 2 weeks after the second vaccine dose for you to be protected/”fully vaccinated” against COVID-19. You will need to get both doses from the same type of COVID-19 vaccine (created by the same vaccine maker).

You should get your second dose as close to the recommended 3-week or 4-week interval as possible. However, if necessary, your second dose may be given up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessaryYou should not get the second dose earlier.

Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) Vaccine (Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccine)

The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID vaccine is made using viral vector technology and requires 1 dose. It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination, so it will take 2 weeks after your shot for you to be protected/fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Learn more about how mRNA and viral vector COVID vaccines work.

However, if your body develops an immune response to COVID-19, which is the goal of getting vaccinated, you may test positive on some COVID antibody tests. Antibody tests show if  you had a previous COVID-19 infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

Even though COVID-19 vaccines are being developed more quickly than usual, vaccine safety is still a top priority in all phases of vaccine development, vaccine approval, and post-approval vaccine monitoring. While steps are being streamlined or overlapped, none of them are being skipped. 

What are public health and medical experts doing to make sure that the COVID-19 vaccines approved in the U.S. are safe and effective?
Clinical Trials

Just like all other vaccines in the U.S., COVID-19 vaccine candidates are first tested by vaccine manufacturers/researchers in three phases of clinical trials. The purpose of these trials is to see if the vaccine candidates are safe and effective. During the Phase 3 clinical trials, researchers compare the health of those who get the vaccine to that of those who didn’t. This helps researchers spot common side effects and see if those in the vaccinated group are less likely to get sick than those who got a placebo. (A placebo is a harmless, “fake” vaccine given to half the people in the clinical trial. People in the vaccine clinical trial are not told whether they received the actual vaccine or the placebo), COVID-19 vaccine trials done so far have generally included tens of thousands of people, including people of color.

Researchers follow everyone in the clinical trials who gets the vaccine for at least two months after their last dose to make sure there aren’t any lingering issues or side effects that could be caused by the vaccine. 

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Vaccines and Related Biological Products and Advisory Committee (VRBPAC)/FDA

Before being authorized for use in the U.S., the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products and Advisory Committee (VRBPAC)decided if each COVID-19 vaccine met its safety and effectiveness standard. If the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine, the FDA can make the vaccine(s) available for use in the U.S. by approval or emergency use authorization (EUA).

As of February 28, three COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) were authorized by the FDA for emergency use authorization in the U.S.

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)/CDC

After each COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for emergency use (EUA) or approved by the FDA, the ACIP will meet to carefully review the available scientific research and make recommendations for the use of that particular vaccine. The CDC Director will review ACIP’s recommendations and decide whether or not to make them “official”.

As of February 28, the CDC has recommended three COVID vaccines for use in the U.S. (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson)

UPDATE: On April 13, the FDA and CDC recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine due to a rare side effect called “thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome” or “TTS” (severe blood clot with low blood platelet counts) that was seen in 6 women under 50 years old about 1-2 weeks after getting the vaccine.
The pause shows that the vaccine safety monitoring system in the U.S. is working. It gave experts time to investigate the issue further and to alert healthcare providers and the general public it.

On April 23, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) – the expert committee that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  voted to lift the pause on use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is once again recommended for people 18 y.o. and older in the U.S. population under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).  The vote came after an updated risk-benefit analysis found that the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks. 

Post-Approval Vaccine Safety Monitoring Systems

After each COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for emergency use in the U.S. by the FDA, there are a number of vaccine safety monitoring systems that are working together to watch for rarer possible side effects that may not have been seen in the vaccine’s clinical trials.

Some of the vaccine safety monitoring systems have been around for a long time to monitor vaccine safety after being licensed for use in the U.S. population. These include:

  • Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) –U.S. system for reporting adverse events that happen after vaccination. Anyone can report to VAERS. Reports of side effects that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns are followed up with specific studies.
  • Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) – A network of 9 healthcare organizations that conducts vaccine surveillance and research. VSD is also used to figure out if side effects identified using VAERS are actually related to vaccination.
  • Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project A collaboration between CDC and 7 medical research centers to provide expert consultation on individual cases and conduct clinical research studies about vaccine safety.

There are also systems that were recently developed or expanded to add additional safety monitoring, giving the CDC, FDA, and others the ability to evaluate COVID-19 vaccine safety in real-time in order to make sure the vaccines are as safe as possible. These are:

  • V-SAFE – A new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines. V-SAFE will use text messaging and web surveys from CDC to check in with vaccine recipients for health problems following COVID-19 vaccination. The system also will provide telephone follow up to anyone who reports medically significant (important) adverse events.
  • National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) – An acute care and long-term care facility monitoring system with reporting to VAERS.
  • FDA’s Biologics Effectiveness and Safety (BEST) System and FDA’s Sentinel Initiative— Systems that contain administrative and claims-based data for surveillance and research.
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Database – FDA and CMS will collaborate to monitor the CMS database (includes approx. 650K nursing home residents).
  • Genesis – National Institute on Aging awarded a grant to a team of researchers based at Brown University to design a monitoring system to identify and track adverse health impacts after nursing home residents receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

If any serious safety issues are detected, immediate action will be taken to find out if the issue is related to the COVID-19 vaccine and determine the best course of action.

Monitoring Vaccine Safety for Veterans

  • Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) Data Warehouse and Electronic Health Records – A system of electronic health record and administrative data for active surveillance and research
  • VA Adverse Drug Event Reporting System (VA ADERS) – A national reporting system for adverse events following receipt of drugs and immunizations

Monitoring Vaccine Safety for Members of the Military

Monitoring Vaccine Safety for Tribal Nations

  • Indian Health Service (IHS): IHS VAERS data— Spontaneous adverse event reporting to VAERS for populations served by IHS and Tribal facilities

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No. The COVID-19 vaccines cannot give you COVID.

mRNA Vaccines

mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna don’t use the live virus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19. This means it is not possible for the vaccine to cause you to get COVID.

Viral Vector Vaccines

The Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. It does not contain SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID). This means it is not possible for the vaccine to cause you to get COVID.

Am I protected as soon as I get vaccinated?

No. You are not protected against COVID-19 immediately after getting your shot(s). Your body needs time to develop protection against COVID-19 after getting vaccinated.

  • If you got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you need to get BOTH recommended shots. You are considered to be “fully vaccinated” 2 weeks after the 2nd shot.
  • If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you only need one shot. You are considered to be “fully vaccinated” 2 weeks after the shot.
Why would I want to get a vaccine instead of just getting the natural immunity that comes from getting the disease? Isn’t that better?

The benefit of COVID vaccines is that you get protection from the COVID-19 disease without having to risk the serious, and sometimes deadly, consequences of getting very sick with a COVID infection.

Getting vaccinated will not cause you to get or to spread COVID-19 to others.

However, it might still be possible to  spread the virus to others even after you’re vaccinated. Although getting the vaccine lowers your chances of getting seriously sick or dying from COVID-19, experts are still studying whether getting vaccinated will keep you from getting and spreading the virus in the future, even if you don’t feel sick.

Also, its important to realize that you are not protected against COVID-19 immediately after getting your shot. Your body needs time to develop protection after getting vaccinated.

 

 

 

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines (mRNA vaccines) do not contain eggs, preservatives, or latex. They also don’t contain live virus.

For a full list of ingredients, please see each vaccine’s Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine (viral vector vaccine) does not contain eggs, preservatives or latex. It also doesn’t contain the virus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19 and the vaccine cannot give you COVID. 

For a full list of ingredients, please see the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers. 

mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines

Some of the COVID-19 vaccines, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, are made using messenger RNA (mRNA). According to the medical expertsmRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s DNA. In fact, 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 doesn’t interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with a body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection against COVID-19 disease.

Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines

Viral vector vaccines, like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, use a modified version of a different, harmless virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells to start building protection against COVID-19. The instructions are delivered in the form of genetic material and this material does not integrate into a person’s DNA.

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For more information, visit How Do Vaccines Work? and Vaccine Ingredients

No. The false claim that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips that can track people started earlier this year. This myth comes from people taking comments by billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates completely out of context.

Gates is often the subject of conspiracy theories and vaccine-related disinformation because of his foundation’s work related to public health and vaccines. While it’s true that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works with global partners to provide effective vaccines and medications to those who need it most, and they also invest in the development of new vaccines to prevent infectious disease, Gates is not directly involved in the creation of any vaccines. There is absolutely no evidence that backs up this false claim.

See more COVID-19 mythbusters from the World Health Organization (WHO).

No. There is no connection between 5G networks and COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccines.

Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. In fact, COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks. In addition, the way that vaccines work, they don’t need to be, and cannot be, “activated”.

Learn more about how vaccines work.

COVID-19 vaccines made using mRNA technology — such as those made by Pfizer and Moderna — don’t contain any fetal cells and did not use these cells in their manufacturing process.

Viral vector COVID-19 vaccines, like the one made by Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), use lab-replicated fetal cells (known as fetal cell lines) during its production process. After the vaccine viruses are grown using the fetal cell lines, they are “purified,” and leftover cell fragments are removed. The vaccine itself does not contain any fetal cells (or their DNA). (See the full list of ingredients in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.)

The cells used to make the vaccine come from a decades-old cell line. No additional aborted fetuses are needed in order to create the vaccine.

The reason fetal cells are sometimes used in vaccine development is because:

  • Viruses need cells to grow and tend to grow better in cells from humans than animals (because they infect humans).
  • Almost all cells die after they have divided a certain number of times. For most cell lines, the limit of cell divisions is about 50; however, fetal cells can go through many more divisions before dying.
Additional Resources

Everything You Need to Know About Catholics and COVID-19 Vaccines (Ave Maria Radio)

Can Catholics Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine? – Watch this video from Catholic Answers.

COVID-19 Vaccines: Resources for Church Leaders – Available in English and Spanish (Vatican COVID-19 Commission’s Health Task Force)

Learn more about vaccine ingredients.

Vaccine Ingredients – Fetal Cells (Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)

Watch Are Fetal Cells Used to Make Vaccines? 

Reuters Fact Check: Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine does not contain aborted fetal cells

There is currently no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. There is also no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of any FDA-authorized vaccine. Part of why people believe this misinformation has to do with the similarities between the spike proteins (the red spikes) around the coronavirus and the proteins needed to form the placenta.

COVID-19 vaccines using mRNA technology (Pfizer and Moderna) and viral vector technology (Johnson & Johnson) teach your body to make a harmless piece of the spike proteins (like what we see on the surface of the coronavirus). Your immune system sees that the spike protein doesn’t belong there and this causes your body to start building an immune response and making antibodies. (This is also how your body responds when you “naturally” get a COVID-19 infection.) This means that the next time you come in contact with the virus that causes COVID-19, your body knows how to fight it off.

Some people have falsely claimed that those same antibodies that teach your body to fight against COVID will attack the proteins on the placenta, leading to infertility. But while those placental proteins are similar to the coronavirus spike proteins, they aren’t the same – and our bodies know that. Our body’s antibodies know what they’re looking for, and the two aren’t similar enough to confuse them.

While this particular claim is aimed at the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not new. It’s a pretty common tactic already used by people who want to scare people away from getting vaccinated against other diseases, such as hepatitis B, polio, and cancer-causing HPV. Just like with COVID-19 vaccines, these claims just aren’t based on science.

For more info, visit the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Women’s Health Care: A Message for Patients | ACOG

Or visit yourlocalepidemiologist.com/vaccine-andfertility

You can also fact check this false claim here

Learn more about how vaccines work.

In early 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) went on a two-week fact-finding mission to Wuhan, China to try to find out the origins of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. On February 9, 2021, WHO said it is VERY UNLIKLEY that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was made in a lab.  WHO states that it is more likely that the virus had jumped to humans from an animal, and this idea needs further investigation.

While this particular coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is new, coronaviruses (in general), such as SARS and MERS, have been around for decades. It is not unusual for coronaviruses to cause serious disease and outbreaks in humans.

No, you can not get the flu vaccine – or any other vaccine – and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

According to the medical experts, COVID-19 vaccines should be given alone – with a minimum of 14 days before or after you get other vaccines.

Why?

Due to the newness of the COVID-19 vaccines, there is a lack of scientific data currently available related to getting the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines.  If COVID-19 vaccine is accidentally given within 14 days of another kind of vaccine, doses do not need to be repeated for either vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness

Yes. All COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States have been shown to be very effective at preventing COVID-19. 

  • All COVID-19 vaccines that are in development are being carefully studied in clinical trials and will be authorized by FDA only if they make it much less likely you’ll get COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccines help protect people who are vaccinated from getting sick or severely ill with COVID-19 and may also help protect people around them.
  • Vaccine breakthrough cases are expected. It doesn’t mean that the vaccine doesn’t work. The fact is that no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness. There will be a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated against COVID who still get sick, are hospitalized, or die from COVID-19. This is one of the reasons why “community immunity” (also known as “herd immunity”) is so important.
New Research Shows COVID Vaccines are Working in Real-World Conditions

CDC study published in late March 2021 showed that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are highly effective in preventing COVID-19 in real-world conditions (not only vaccine clinical trials) among healthcare personnel, first responders, and other essential workers.

According to the CDC, current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. should work against these COVID virus variants. But more studies are being done to confirm.

Learn more about virus variants.

According to the CDC, there are multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants (the virus that causes COVID-19) that are circulating around world. Some of these variant viruses spread more easily and quickly, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19.

There are currently five “variants of concern” in the U.S.

  • B.1.1.7: This variant was first identified in the United Kingdom (UK). It was first seen in the U.S. in December 2020.
  • B.1.351: This variant was initially detected in South Africa in December 2020. It was first seen in the U.S. at the end of January 2021.
  • P.1: This variant was initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. It was first seen in the U.S. in January 2021.
  • B.1.427 and B.1.429: These two variants were first identified in California in February 2021 and were classified as “variants of concern” in March 2021.

Experts are working to learn more about these virus variants to better understand them.

Do the current COVID-19 vaccines protect against the virus variants?

According to the CDC, current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. should work against these COVID virus variants. But more studies are being done to confirm.

Public Health Experts are Studying the COVID-19 Virus Variants to Find Out More Information and to Control their Spread

They want to understand whether the variants:

  • Spread more easily from person-to-person
  • Cause milder or more severe disease in people
  • Are detected by currently available viral tests
  • Respond to medicines currently being used to treat people for COVID-19
  • Change the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines
What is a variant?

It is not unusual for viruses to have variants. Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new virus variants remain with us.

Learn more from CDC

Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the COVID virus if you are exposed to it. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.

Masks, Social Distancing and Avoiding Crowds

Masks, social distancing and avoiding crowds will help reduce your chance of getting the virus that causes COVID, and spreading it to others.

 

  • mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines (e.g., Pfizer and Moderna) require 2 doses. You need to get BOTH doses for the best protection against COVID-19. As with all vaccinations, it will take time after getting vaccinated for your body to build immunity. It takes 2 weeks after the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine for you to be fully protected against COVID-19.
  • Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines (e.g., Johnson & Johnson) requires 1 dose. It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination, so it will take 2 weeks after your shot for you to be fully protected against COVID-19.

If it has been less than 2 weeks since your shot (J&J), or if you still need to get your second dose (Pfizer or Moderna), you are NOT fully protected. Keep taking all prevention steps until you are fully vaccinated.

Public health experts consider people to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine

If it has been less than 2 weeks since your COVID-19 shot, or if you still need to get your second dose, you are NOT protected. (It takes time for your body to build immunity against COVID after getting the vaccine).

Keep taking all prevention steps to protect yourself and others from COVID until you are fully vaccinated, including:

  • Wearing a mask to protect yourself and others and stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • Staying at least 6 feet (social distancing) from others who don’t live with you.
  • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19.

After you are FULLY VACCINATED against COVID-19, you can start doing some of the things you had to stop because of the pandemic.

How Do I Know If I am Fully Vaccinated?

It takes time for your body to build protection against disease after any vaccination, including the COVID-19 vaccine.

People are considered “FULLY VACCINATED”:

  • Two weeks after their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (You need BOTH doses), or
  • Two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine.

You should keep using all the tools available to protect yourself and others, such as wearing a mask and social distancing until you are fully vaccinated.

If You’ve Been FULLY VACCINATED

According to public health experts, outdoor visits and activities are safer than indoor activities, and fully vaccinated people can participate in some indoor events safely, without much risk.

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, UNLESS any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • You can gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask EXCEPT in certain crowded settings and venues.
  • If you travel IN the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
  • If you travel OUTSIDE of the United States, you need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination.
    • You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
    • You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States.
    • You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
    • You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested UNLESS you have symptoms.
    • If you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

Possibly. It depends on whether you are “fully vaccinated”* and who you are going to be around. (*Fully vaccinated means it has been at least two weeks after your COVID shot if you got the J&J vaccine OR it is at least two weeks after your 2nd COVID shot if you got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine).

Experts have been learning more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions. Based on that information, on April 27, the CDC updated their guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

If you are fully vaccinated:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, UNLESS any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • You can gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask EXCEPT in certain crowded settings and venues.
  • If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
  • Before traveling outside of the United States, you need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination.
    • You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
    • You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States.
    • You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
    • You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have COVID symptoms.
    • EXCEPT if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
What is Still the Same

For now, if you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You should still protect yourself and others in many situations by wearing a mask that fits snugly against the sides of your face and doesn’t have gaps. Take this precaution whenever you are:
    • In indoor public settings
    • Gathering indoors with unvaccinated people (including children) from more than one other household
    • Visiting indoors with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 or who lives with a person at increased risk
  • You should still avoid indoor large gatherings.
  • If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested within 3 days of their flight (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.
  • You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
  • You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.
  • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss their activities. They may need to keep taking all precautions to prevent COVID-19.

Learn more.

No. There are no other vaccines that will protect you from getting COVID-19. Only the COVID-19 vaccines help prevent COVID-19 infection.

While a flu vaccine will not protect you from getting COVID-19, it can prevent you from getting flu at the same time as COVID-19.

The CDC has made recommendations related to travel within the U.S. and internationally. Get the most up-to-date information on this topic on CDC’s website