Questions and Answers About COVID-19 Vaccines

It’s completely understandable that you may have questions about the new COVID-19 vaccines and this website is a place where you can find answers. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, experts learn more about the new virus/virus variants that causes COVID and how the vaccines are working in real world conditions. As a result, experts’ guidance on how to best protect people from serious COVID-19 illness also changes. That is why we are updating this page a few times a week. For more information and resources regarding COVID-19 and the vaccines being developed to prevent it, visit Vaccinateyourfamily.org/covid19

Click on the topics below to see answers to your questions.
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Who Needs the COVID-19 Vaccine

Everyone 12 years of age and older – including those who are pregnant and recently pregnant/breastfeeding – is recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can to protect from yourself and your loved ones from COVID. 

The vaccine is now widely available. Click here to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you.

COVID-19 vaccine doses are free to people living in the U.S. regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.

Do I Need a Third Dose of mRNA Vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) OR a Pfizer Booster Dose?

At this time, there are 2 different recommendations from the CDC:

  • People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised AND who got vaccinated with a mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer), should get a third dose of the same COVID vaccine at least 28 days after the second dose.
  • Certain people who got the Pfizer vaccine (at least 6 months ago) AND are considered to be at high risk of getting a COVID-19 infection or getting serious COVID illness should (or can) get a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine.
    • At this time, people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine are NOT recommended to get a booster dose. Stay tuned for more coming soon.

An Important Reminder: All COVID vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & J0hnson) continue to provide very good protection against severe COVID illness, hospitalization, and death, even during our current surge of the Delta variant.  In fact, people who are fully vaccinated are between 13x and 23x less likely to be hospitalized than those who are not vaccinated. The MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do to protect yourself and your family, including young children, against serious COVID illness is to get your COVID vaccine.

See the graphic below for more details about the current CDC recommendations.

Some people are more likely than others to become severely ill. Severe illness means that a person with COVID-19 may need hospitalization, intensive care, a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die. People at increased risk, and those who live or visit with them, need to take precautions to protect themselves from getting COVID-19.

  • Adults of any age with these medical conditions can be more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.
  • Older adults are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 than younger people, but serious COVID illness, hospitalization and death does occur in children, teens and young adults too.
    • Similar to adults, children with obesity, diabetes, asthma or chronic lung disease, sickle cell disease, or immunosuppression can also be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. In addition, current data shows that that children with genetic, neurologic, metabolic conditions, or with congenital heart disease can also be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Pregnant and recently pregnant people – including those who are breastfeeding – are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people.
Who Needs a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Everyone 12 years of age and older is recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccination in the U.S. COVID-19 vaccines help protect people who are vaccinated from getting severely ill, hospitalized and dying from COVID. Fully vaccinated people who do get a case of COVID are much more likely to only get a mild to moderate case of COVID. In addition, fully vaccinated people are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than people who are not vaccinated.

The CDC and pregnancy experts strongly recommend pregnant and recently pregnant people get a COVID vaccine. On Sept. 29, the CDC put out an URGENT ALERT – More than 125,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in pregnant people, including more than 22,000 hospitalized cases and 161 deaths. The highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in pregnant people in a single month of the pandemic was reported in August 2021.

Find information on where you can get the vaccine near you. You can also look for COVID-19 vaccines near you in the United States through visiting Vaccines.gov, texting your ZIPCODE to 438829, or calling 1-800-232-0233.

Do You Need a Third Dose of mRNA COVID Vaccine?

People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised AND who got 2 doses of a mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer OR Moderna), should get a third dose of the same COVID vaccine for better protection against serious COVID illness. Get the third dose at least 28 days after the 2nd dose.

Who Needs a Pfizer Booster Dose Now?

On September 24th, the CDC put out its official recommendations on Pfizer booster doses. At this time, CDC’s recommendations are ONLY for those who completed the primary two-dose series of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine at least 6 months ago.

The CDC says the following groups of people SHOULD get a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine at least 6 months after completing the primary 2 dose-series of the Pfizer vaccine:

  • People 65 years and older
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • People 50-64 years at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to certain medical conditions

Additionally, the CDC says that the following people MAY DECIDE to get a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine at least 6 months after completing the primary 2-dose series of Pfizer vaccine, based on their individual benefit & risk:

Update for People Who Got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine

Update on the Moderna booster dose: On October 14, 2021, after reviewing the latest safety and effectiveness data, FDA’s Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously in favor of a booster dose for certain people who have received both doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months before, including: 

  • Adults 65+ 
  • People 18-64 at high risk of severe COVID
  • People 18-64 who work or live somewhere that puts them at high risk of getting COVID-19

Update on Johnson & Johnson Booster Dose: The FDA’s advisory group (VRBPAC) will review available effectiveness and safety data on J&J booster shots on October 15.

Next Steps: This FDA Advisory Group meeting was the first step in the official process of a Moderna and/or Johnson & Johnson booster shot becoming available and recommended. Before the process is complete, the FDA will need to officially accept the advice of their advisory group and expand the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to boosters. Then, the CDC’s advisory group (ACIP) will meet to make recommendations regarding the booster dose. The CDC Director makes the final vaccine recommendations. Stay tuned for more.  

There are many good reasons to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • Vaccination is the most important public health action to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 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. That’s why experts say that the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines greatly outweigh the risks. While you might have an uncomfortable few days after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, it is the safest to help build protection.
  • Variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 – such as the very contagious and infectious Delta variant– are currently spreading in the U.S. and around the world, and are causing serious illness, hospitalization and death. ALMOST ALL of the hospitalizations and deaths due to Delta are in people who are unvaccinated. (MOST of the COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are due to the Delta variant.)
  • Due to the very contagious Delta variant that is spreading in the U.S. there have been a small percentage of breakthrough cases of COVID-19 infection among the fully vaccinated. Most cases are mild to moderate, and some people don’t have any symptoms at all. (Please note that fully vaccinated who get COVID CAN spread the virus with others.) The COVID-19 vaccine is still the BEST way to  prevent serious COVID illness, hospitalization and death.
  • Although most people who get sick with COVID-19 get better within weeks to months of illness, some do not.
    • Long COVID/Long-Haul COVID/Chronic COVID– CDC and other experts around the world are working to learn more about short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19 who gets them, and why. After getting sick with COVID-19, people have reported different combinations of symptoms, such as tiredness or fatigue, difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”), headache, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, or loss of smell or taste.
    • Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS) – MIS can affect both children (MIS-C) and adults (MIS-A). It is a rare, but serious condition that has occurred in people who had COVID. When you have MIS, different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
  • 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. (As of September 30, 700,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in the U.S. See the most recent number of COVID cases and deaths.)
  • And finally…once you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (2 weeks after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine OR 2 weeks after the only dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine), you can start getting “back to life” again. If you are fully vaccinated, the CDC says that you can now go back to doing many of the activities that you did before the COVID-19 pandemic. But, please note the following:
    • As of July 27, the CDC recommends that everyone – including people who are fully vaccinated – maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, by wearing a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
    • On August 13, the CDC recommended that people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, and who received two doses of mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), get a third dose at least 28 days after their second dose for better protection against serious COVID disease.
    • On September 24, the CDC recommended that certain people get a Pfizer booster dose. This is ONLY for people who got the primary 2-dose series of Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months ago. At this time, people who got Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not recommended for a booster dose. People who are immunocompromised – who got Pfizer or Moderna – STILL need the additional dose of the same vaccine they got in the primary 2-dose series.

The CDC is tracking the number of people – including pregnant people – who have gotten COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States. For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC 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?

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. Data shows that protection from “natural” COVID infection starts to lessen after 90 days.

Yes. The CDC and pregnancy experts STRONGLY RECOMMEND that all pregnant and recently pregnant individuals (including those who are breastfeeding) get a COVID-19 vaccine. While a conversation with a healthcare provider may be helpful, it is not required prior to vaccination.

In addition, the CDC put out an URGENT ALERT on September 29. More than 125,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in pregnant people, including more than 22,000 hospitalized cases and 161 deaths. The highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in pregnant people in a single month of the pandemic was reported in August 2021.

As a result of these rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths, CDC recommended urgent action to speed up the vaccination of people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are breastfeeding), who are trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future.

Things for Pregnant People to Consider When Deciding Whether to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine
  • Due to the Delta variant, cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations and deaths have been increasing around the U.S.  People who are not vaccinated are at the highest risk of serious COVID illness, hospitalization and death
  • People who are pregnant or recently pregnant are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, hospitalization and even 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 illness 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.
  • Based on the data that has been collected through the U.S. vaccine monitoring systems, experts say that the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines outweigh the risks.
    • COVID vaccines do not contain the live coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and therefore cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.
    • COVID vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA.
    • There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.
    • The vaccinations being given are being monitored closely by public health officials through U.S. 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 people who get a 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.
More Study Data on COVID-19 Vaccines During Pregnancy
  • As of September 27, 2021 – There have been over 161,764 pregnancies reported in CDC’s after vaccination checker – v-safe  – and 5,104 pregnant individuals enrolled in the v-safe pregnancy registry. Data shows no safety concerns for pregnant women or their babies. Click here for the most recent numbers of pregnancies reported in v-safe.
  • August 11, 2021 – Data shows that people who received COVID-19 vaccines early in pregnancy did not have an increased risk of miscarriage.
  • April 21, 2020 – A CDC study that 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).) CDC researchers 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.
  • March 2021 – A study published in March 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.
Looking for more information?

If you would like to speak to someone about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, talk to your ob-gyn or other healthcare provider.

Even though pregnant people 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 individuals who choose to get vaccinated (and the safety of their babies). 

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.

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Yes. According to CDC and the pregnancy experts at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):

  • If you are planning or trying to get pregnant, you should 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. The way that vaccines are made makes pregnancy and other experts confident that the vaccines are not a cause of infertility and a recent study has confirmed this. The study results showed that women who had the COVID-19 vaccines were able to get pregnant at the same rates as women who did not get the vaccines.  
  • 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. Read more.
  • 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.

In addition, according to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), COVID vaccines don’t affect puberty or a child’s reproductive development in any way.

Male Fertility

There is NO EVIDENCE that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause male fertility problems. According to CDC, there was a recent small study of 45 healthy men who got an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., Pfifizer or Moderna), which looked at their sperm characteristics, like quantity and movement, before and after vaccination. The study researchers found no significant changes in these sperm characteristics after vaccination.

In addition, while fever from illness, like COVID, has been associated with short-term decreases in sperm production in healthy men, there is no evidence that fever after COVID vaccination affects sperm production.

Read More from other Fact Checkers: Research Rebuts Claims Linking COVID-19 Vaccines to Male Infertility – FactCheck.org

Looking for More Information?

Yes. The CDC and pregnancy experts from ACOG and SMFM recommend that breastfeeding women get a COVID-19 vaccine. There is no need to stop breastfeeding if you want to get a vaccine. When you get vaccinated, the antibodies made by your body may be passed through breastmilk and help protect your child from the virus that causes COVID-19. 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
  • Your risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID. (The Delta variant is spreading quickly around the U.S. and it is causing severe illness, hospitalizations and death – mostly in unvaccinated people.)
  • Clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. did not include people who are breastfeeding. However, evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
  • Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding women who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies from COVID. The CDC says that more data is needed to determine what protection these antibodies may provide to the baby.
  • It is normal to get some side effects, like a sore/red arm, tiredness, chills, joint aches, and muscle aches, after COVID vaccination. They are a normal part of the body’s reaction to the vaccine and developing antibodies (immunity) to protect against COVID-19
  • COVID-19 vaccines do not carry a risk of causing you or your infant a COVID infection.
  • COVID vaccines do not pass through breastmilk to your infant, but protective antibodies do. This provides hope that breastfed babies might have some level of protection against COVID. (Other vaccines recommended for pregnant people – flu and whooping cough – protect mom and baby.)
  • Read an article about two recent studies on COVID-19 vaccines in breastfeeding women, which was published in June 2021 in Nature.
More Information

 

Can My Baby or Young Child Get Very Sick from COVID-19?

Yes, it is possible. 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. 

The Delta virus, which is more contagious and infectious than the original COVID virus, is quickly spreading around the country and there have been a higher number of children getting COVID. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as of September 23, over 5.7 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. The number of new child COVID cases remains exceptionally high. Nearly 207,000 cases were added the past week. This was the fifth week in a row with over 200,000 child cases added.

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.

Health Effects After Getting Sick with COVID-19

Although most people who get sick with COVID-19 get better within weeks to months of illness, some do not. Experts around the world are working to learn more about short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19 (known as “long COVID), who gets them, and why. After getting sick with COVID-19, people have reported different combinations of symptoms such as tiredness or fatigue, difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”), headache, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, or loss of smell or taste.

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, the link between COVID-19 and MIS-C is not well understood, and experts are trying to learn if some children are more at risk. However, according to the medical experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), so far, most children who have been diagnosed with MIS-C have recovered after getting medical care. Learn more about MIS-C from the experts at AAP.

Should my baby or young child (under 12 years old) get a COVID-19 vaccine?

At this time, there are no COVID-19 vaccines authorized/approved for use in children under 12 years old in the U.S. (If you have a child 12 years or older, they are recommended to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.)

Vaccines (from Pfizer) for children between 5 and 11 years MAY BE authorized/recommended soon. Before being FDA-authorized and CDC-approved, Pfizer’s clinical trial data will be carefully reviewed by experts for safety and effectiveness. Clinical trials continue for vaccines that could be given to children as young as six months old.

In the meanwhile, the best way to protect your children is by making sure all eligible family member are fully vaccinated. Experts also recommend:

  • Avoid crowds, poorly ventilated spaces, and keep a safe physical distance (6 feet or more) from people outside your household.
  • Where COVID cases are substantial or high, everyone (over age 2) should wear face mask indoors in public whether or not they’ve been vaccinated. Universal mask wearing is also recommended in schools by all students, teachers, staff and visitors at this time.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that is 60% or higher alcohol-based.
  • Teach kids to cough and sneeze into a tissue (make sure to throw it away after each use) or into their arm or elbow, not their hands. Avoid touching your face; teach your children to do the same.
  • Clean and disinfect your home as usual using regular household cleaning sprays or wipes. Wash stuffed animals or other plush toys, following manufacturer’s instructions in the warmest water possible and dry them completely.
More Information

The Science Behind the COVID-19 Vaccine: Parent FAQs (AAP’s Healthy Children)

Learn how to keep your young children healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. (CDC)

It is understandable that this may be a hard decision for parents, but public health and medical experts agree that children 12 years and older need protection from COVID-19 both for their health and the health of their family and friends. The very contagious Delta variant and more in-person activities mean that COVID is still spreading around the country (and the world), and kids are still getting sick.

  • While children and teens may not be as likely to get severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, it can still happen. In rare cases, children have even died from COVID.
  • Preteens and teens between 12–17 years of age ARE AT RISK of severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19.
    • As of mid-May 2021, there were 1.5 million reported cases of COVID among 12 to 17 year olds.
    • As of mid-May 2021, more than 13,000 12 to 17 year-olds were hospitalized with COVID-19. The hospitalization rate for those between 12 and 17 years old is actually higher than it was during the 2009-10 H1N1 influenza (flu) pandemic.
  • More than 125 preteens/teens between 12 and 17 years of age have died from COVID-19.
  • If your children get COVID-19, they might also get a rare, but serious medical condition called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). Unfortunately, the link between COVID-19 and MIS-C is not well understood, and experts are trying to learn if some children are more at risk. But they do know that adolescents have had more severe cases of MIS-C than younger children. Learn more about MIS-C from the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  • Children, preteens and teens spread the virus that causes COVID-19 in households and communities, and may infect people who are very vulnerable to severe COVID illness, such as:
    • Older adults
    • Pregnant and recently pregnant people
    • People with cancer, a history of cancer and/or those going through cancer treatment
    • People with chronic kidney disease and/or those going through dialysis
    • People with chronic lung diseases
    • People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
    • People with heart conditions
    • People with liver conditions, including cirrhosis or scarring of the liver
    • People with HIV
    • People with a weakened immune system (immunocompromised)
    • Others (Learn more)

COVID-19 Vaccines for Preteens & Teens

If you have a preteen or teen (12 years and up), they are recommended to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

  • The Pfizer vaccine requires 2 doses given 3 weeks apart. For the best protection against COVID, it is important for your child to get both doses.
  • It takes the body a while to build immunity after getting vaccinated. Your child is considered “fully vaccinated” 2 weeks after getting their 2nd shot of COVID vaccine.

At this time, there are no COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in children under 12 years old in the U.S. A number of vaccine makers are currently testing COVID-19 vaccines in younger children through clinical trials.

 

 

Find a COVID-19 Vaccine for Your Preteen/Teen
  • Check with your child’s healthcare provider about whether they will offer COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available.
  • Contact your state or local health department for more information.
  • Check vaccines.gov to find COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find vaccine locations near you in the United States.
More Information

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

As of August 13, the CDC recommends that those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, and who received two doses of mRNA COVID vaccines, should get a third dose at least 28 days after their second dose for better protection against serious COVID disease. In addition, the CDC also recommends a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine for certain people. See the graphics below for more information (click them to view larger).

Find a COVID-19 Vaccine Near You

Everyone 12 years of age and older is now eligible and recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Get yourself vaccinated as soon as possible to protect yourself and loved ones from serious COVID illness and its complications. To find a vaccine near you:

  • Vaccines.gov to see where COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available in your area (within the U.S.)
  • Your local pharmacy’s website to see if COVID vaccine appointments are available.
  • Your local news. They may have information on how to get a vaccine near you.
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find vaccine locations near you in the U.S.
  • With your healthcare provider to find out if they are offering COVID vaccines
  • Contact your state or local health department for more information.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine for your child (aged 12 years and older):

  • Check your local pharmacy’s website
  • Check with your child’s healthcare provider about whether they are offering COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Contact your state or local health department for more information.
  • Check vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find vaccine locations near you in the United States.
The COVID-19 Vaccines Available for Me and My Family

There are now three COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized and recommended for 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, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 (including the Delta variant).

In the U.S. the Pfizer vaccine is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine that is recommended for people 12 years old and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID vaccines are currently only recommended for use in people 18 years old and older.

FDA Approval

On August 23, 2021, the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 years and older. It is now being marketed by Pfizer with the brand name COMIRNATY.

The FDA first authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in people 16 and older in December 2020 – after clinical trials showed it was safe and effective for at least two months. Now that researchers have the safety and efficacy data of approximately 44,000 people from the clinical trials (22,000 people got the vaccine; 22,000 got the placebo), the FDA has confirmed that the benefits of the vaccine greatly outweigh the risks.  

As with all vaccines authorized and approved for use in the U.S., the vaccine monitoring system will continue to carefully monitor the safety of this COVID-19 vaccine. 

Moderna, which also has an mRNA COVID vaccine similar to Pfizer’s, has started the process to seek full approval from the FDA and began submitting data on a rolling basis on June 1. Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) has not yet submitted its application for full approval to the FDA, though it is expected to this year. Both vaccines are authorized for emergency use by the FDA in the U.S.

Vaccination is the safest way to help you build protection against COVID-19 (Including the Delta Variant)

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 due to common side effects like headache, muscle aches, and extreme tiredness, it is the safest way to protect yourself.

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. To date, over 700,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in the U.S. alone. See the most recent number of COVID cases and deaths.

Learn More about Each COVID-19 Vaccine
  • Pfizer –  There have been cases of myocarditis and pericarditis (immflamation of the heart) in adolescents and young adults (mostly males) reported, usually after getting the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna). These reports have been rare, but FDA and CDC take these reports very seriously. They have carefully reviewed the data and state that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. See more details below.
  • Moderna – There have been cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in adolescents and young adults (mostly males), reported, usually after getting the second dose of an  mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna). These reports have been rare, but FDA and CDC take these reports very seriously. They have carefully reviewed the data and state that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis
  • Johnson & Johnson Women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after Johnson & Johnson vaccination. There are other COVID-19 vaccines available (Pizer and Moderna) for which this risk has not been seen. If you received a J&J COVID-19 vaccine, here is what you need to know. Read the CDC/FDA statement.

Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers for Each COVID-19 Vaccine:

How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

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. And COVID-19 has been shown to be VERY dangerous. Over 700,000 people in the U.S. alone have died from COVID.

 

Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) created a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine. Based on a careful review of the clinical data, in late February, the FDA approved this vaccine for use in the U.S. and the CDC recommended it for people 18 years of age and older in the U.S.

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 you 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 your DNA.
  • Viral vector technology is not new.
Update on the Use of the J&J Vaccine in the U.S.

The CDC and FDA are continuously monitoring the safety of all three COVID-19 vaccines through the U.S. Vaccine Monitoring Systems, and state that the benefits of the J&J vaccine greatly outweigh the risks.

Experts continue to recommend the J&J COVID vaccine for people 18 years and older. 

Women younger than 50 years old should especially be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination with the J&J vaccine  (known as TTS). The mRNA COVID vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have NOT caused this same rare risk.

For More Information:
What To Expect When You Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine

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 and can help you see which vaccines you got and when if you lose your COVID vaccination card. If you recently got your COVID vaccine, but haven’t already registered for V-SAFE, click here to register.
Should I Worry About Long-Term Side Effects from the Vaccine?

Serious side effects that would cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely following COVID-19 vaccination.

Long-term side effects following any vaccination are extremely rare. Vaccine safety monitoring has historically shown that if side effects are going to happen, they generally happen within six weeks of receiving a vaccine dose. That is why the FDA has required each of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. to be studied for at least eight weeks after the final dose. Millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccines, and no long-term side effects have been detected.

It is important to note that there are many people reporting long-term health problems, including  Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children and Adults (MIS-C and MIS-A), after getting sick with COVID-19. Learn more.

Prepare for Yourself and Your Preteen or Teen for their COVID Vaccination Appointment
  • Talk to your child/teen before the visit about what to expect during their vaccine appointment.
  • Like with adults, tell the vaccine provider if your child has any allergies to any ingredient in the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine. (Children 12-17 are only recommended to get Pfizer vaccine, not Moderna or Johnson & Johnson).
  • Sometimes people, especially teens, faint when they get a shot. To prevent fainting and injuries related to fainting, your child should be seated or lying down during vaccination and for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given.
  • Like with adults, after your child’s COVID-19 vaccination, they will be asked to stay for 15–30 minutes so they can be monitored just in case they have a severe allergic reaction and need immediate treatment. (Severe allergic reactions are not common).
  • Ask the vaccine provider about registering your child for V-SAFE after they get their shot. V-SAFE is CDC’s free, smartphone tool that uses text messaging to check in with you/your child after they get their COVID shot. (Parents can register and respond to V-SAFE text messages for their children.) If your child recently got their COVID vaccine, but haven’t already registered for V-SAFE, click here to register.
  • After your child gets their first dose, you will get a COVID vaccination card with the name of the vaccine received and the date of the first shot. Hold on to this card and bring it with you when you go for your child’s second COVID shot three weeks later. After the second dose, the name of the vaccine and the date of the 2nd shot will be added. Make sure to keep this COVID vaccination card and send a copy of it to your child’s doctor.
Side Effects

While the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks of getting vaccinated, it is possible that your child MAY have some mild or moderate side effects after getting the first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This is normal and is a sign that your child’s body is building protection (immunity) against COVID. (Some people have no side effects after getting vaccinated.)

While these mild or moderate side effects may affect your child’s ability to do their normal daily activities, they are temporary and should go away on their own.

These common side effects usually start within a day or two of getting the shot and should go away in a few days.

  • Pain, redness or swelling on the arm where they got the shot
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Swollen lymph nodes on side of body where they got the shot (not as common as the side effects listed above)

Contact your child’s healthcare provider if the redness or tenderness where the shot was given gets worse after 24 hours or if the side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days.

What if My Child Has Pain or Discomfort After the COVID-19 Shot?
Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about giving your child over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), aspirin, or antihistamines (Benadryl), for any pain and discomfort after getting vaccinated. They can take these medications to relieve side effects if they have no other medical reasons that prevent them from taking these medications normally.

It is not recommended to give your child these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects.

The CDC says that it is unlikely for people to get long-term side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. There are years of research and vaccine safety monitoring on other vaccines that show side effects almost always happen within six weeks of getting a vaccine.

It is important to note that there have been MANY people reporting long-term health problems – including  Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children and Adults (MIS-C and MIS-A) – after getting sick with COVID-19. Learn more.

More Information

COVID-19 vaccine doses will be given for free to people living in the U.S. regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.

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).

Before Getting the COVID-19 Shot

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.

After Getting the COVID-19 Shot

If you feel uncomfortable or have pain AFTER getting the shot, the CDC suggests that you talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil or Motrin), acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), aspirin, or antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl). 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.

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. (There have been some severe side effects that have been reported, but they are very rare). What’s more, the side effects are often a sign that the vaccine is working to build immunity 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.

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.

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Monitoring

VAERS – 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.

V-Safe and the V-Safe Pregnancy Registry – 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. If you are pregnant, you can also opt-in to V-Safe’s pregnancy registry.

U.S. Vaccine Safety Monitoring

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Vaccine Clinical Trials

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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 medications, such 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.

It depends on which vaccine you get.

Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines (mRNA COVID Vaccines)

The mRNA vaccines that have been approved/authorized 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 “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 necessary. You should not get the second dose earlier.

Third Dose of mRNA Vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) 28 Days after Second Dose

On August 13, CDC recommended that people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised AND who received two doses of a mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), get a third dose of the same COVID vaccine at least 28 days after their second dose. 

Booster Shot of Pfizer Vaccine for Some People Who Completed the Primary Pfizer Vaccine Series 

On September 24, CDC recommended that certain people who got the Pfizer vaccine AND are at high risk of getting severe COVID illness or getting sick with COVID, get a Pfizer vaccine booster shot. (The booster shot should be given at least 6 months after completing the primary 2-dose Pfizer vaccine series).

At this time, people who got the Moderna COVID vaccine are NOT recommended to get a booster dose.

 

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 single shot for you to be “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19.

At this time, people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are NOT recommended to get a booster dose.

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

 

COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current COVID-19 infection.​

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.

On May 19, 2021, the FDA sent out an alert to tell people that antibody tests should not be used at this time to determine immunity or protection against COVID-19 at any time, and especially after a person has received a COVID-19 vaccination. Read more.

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

Even though COVID-19 vaccines were developed more quickly than usual, vaccine safety was – and still is – a top priority in all phases of vaccine development, vaccine approval, and post-approval vaccine monitoring. While some steps in the development of the vaccines were streamlined or overlapped with one another, none of them were 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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FDA and their Vaccines and Related Biological Products and Advisory Committee (VRBPAC)

Before being authorized for emergency use in the U.S., the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products and Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) decides if each COVID-19 vaccine meets its safety and effectiveness standard. If the benefits outweighs the 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. In August the FDA fully approved the Pfizer COVID vaccine for people 16+.

CDC and their Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)

After each COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for emergency use (EUA) or approved by the FDA, the ACIP meets 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”.

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

Ongoing Vaccine Safety Monitoring Systems in the U.S.

After each COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for emergency use by FDA and recommended by CDC, 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, including:

  • 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, including:

  • V-SAFEA 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 InitiativeSystems 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.

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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COVID-19 Vaccine Safety (In General)

While COVID-19 vaccines were developed faster than other vaccines, it doesn’t mean they aren’t safe. When developing and testing the vaccines, no steps were skipped. Safety was and continues to be a top priority.

  • Before being authorized for use by FDA, each COVID-19 vaccine was tested through three phases of clinical trials and the data was carefully reviewed by the FDA and their advisory committee (VRBPAC), and the CDC and their advisory committee (ACIP). The FDA and CDC carefully reviewed the data from the clinical trials and agree that the benefits of the COVID vaccines greatly outweigh the risks.
  • After being authorized/approved for use by the FDA and recommended by CDC, COVID vaccines continue to be closely monitored for safety using established systems like VAERS, VSD and CISA, along with new safety monitoring systems like V-Safe. According to CDC, “these vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.”
COVID-19 Vaccine Safety for Kids 12-18 Years Old
  • There were 16-18 year olds included in the Pfizer COVID vaccine clinical trials and the results of the clinical trials were given to FDA and CDC in December 2020.
    • No vaccine safety concerns were identified for this age group in the clinical trials.
    • Based on the data, at that time, the FDA authorized the vaccine and the CDC recommended it for use in people 16 years and older
  • There were 2,000 children in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial to test the vaccine in children 12 through 15 years old.
    • The trial showed that the Pfizer COVID vaccine was 100% effective at preventing COVID-19 with symptoms.
    • Children’s immune systems responded to the COVID vaccine in a way similar to those of older teens and young adults.
    • No safety concerns were identified in the clinical trials.
    • Based on the data, the FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine and the CDC recommended it for use in people 12 years and older

The FDA has now fully approved the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 years and older.

What about Long-Term Side Effects?

The CDC says that it is unlikely for people to get long-term side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. There are years of research and vaccine safety monitoring on other vaccines that show side effects almost always happen within six weeks of getting a vaccine. For this reason, the FDA required each of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines to be studied for at least two months after the final dose. (The FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine came after 44,000 people in the clinical trial were followed 4-6 months.)

On the other hand, some people who had COVID are now experiencing post-COVID conditions, also known as “long COVID”, “long-haul COVID” and “chronic COVID”. These are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even people who did not have COVID-19 symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected can have post-COVID health conditions. These conditions can have different types and combinations of health problems for different lengths of time. CDC and experts around the world are working to learn more about short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19, who gets them, and why.

In addition, some people, mostly children and teens are experiencing multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) after COVID-19 illness. MIS is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including heart, lung, kidney, skin, and brain functions.

Learn more about Long COVID and MIS.

More Information

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.

In addition,

Getting vaccinated with a COVID vaccine will not cause you to get, shed or spread COVID-19 to others.

Thankfully, the science is pretty clear on this one. While there are possible side effects that are common after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, shedding the virus that causes COVID isn’t one of them.

“Shedding” is when someone’s body releases viral particles that could infect someone else. This can happen when you get infected with a virus or – in extremely rare cases – after getting vaccinated with “live” vaccines.  Shedding can’t happen with the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S.

  • None of the COVID vaccines currently used in the U.S. contain live virus. The two types of vaccines available are mRNA vaccines (which don’t contain any virus at all) and a viral vector vaccine (which contains no live virus).
  • COVID-19 vaccines can’t cause someone to shed coronavirus particles, including mRNA and spike proteins. It’s not biologically possible. 
Being near a vaccinated person cannot alter a woman’s menstrual cycle, cause infertility, or lead to miscarriage.

Some people worry about shedding because they’ve heard claims that being around someone who’s been recently vaccinated could affect another person’s menstrual cycle or fertility, lead to them having a miscarriage, or alter their DNA. But there’s no evidence to support this. In fact, there’s no biological reason to think this is even possible. Getting a COVID vaccine can not cause you to shed mRNA, proteins, or anything else that would enter another person’s body. 

The one exception: Passing along antibodies to your baby while pregnant or breastfeeding. 

  • Some early research and more recent studies suggests that when those who are pregnant or breastfeeding get vaccinated against COVID, they could pass antibodies that protect against COVID onto their babies. 
A person with COVID-19 can spread the virus to others.

Getting the vaccine doesn’t cause a person to shed the virus. However, someone sick with COVID-19 can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. 

While there is a chance that you could get sick with COVID-19 even after getting vaccinated. It’s important to note that you are not protected from COVID-19 immediately after getting the vaccine. Your body needs at least two weeks after your final dose to develop protection (1 dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine or 2 doses of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s). Likewise, the vaccines work really, really well, but they aren’t 100% effective. In addition, some people weakened immune systems might have less protection than those with stronger immune systems. So, even if vaccinated, a small number of vaccinated people could go on to get sick with COVID and spread the virus to others.

 

The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is recommended for people 18 y.o. and older in the U.S. under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization. The CDC and its advisory committee (ACIP) state that the benefits of the J&J COVID vaccine still outweigh the risks.

  • The risk of severe blood clots with low blood platelets (known as TTS) is rare, with 28 reports of TTS out of approximately 9 million doses of J&J vaccine administered in the U.S.
  • Most cases of TTS have occurred in women between 18-49 years old between 1 and 2 weeks after vaccination.
  • Data show the benefits of vaccination still outweigh the risks. Because even healthy, young adults can get seriously sick or die from COVID-19, the small risk of getting TTS is still greatly outweighed by the benefits of the vaccine.
  • It is still unclear what’s causing TTS to develop after getting vaccinated.
  • A warning label was added to 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. As with all vaccines, people should be aware of the risks and benefits before getting vaccinated.
  • Experts will continue to investigate this uncommon side effect to make sure there are no other risk factors.
  • There doesn’t appear to be any link between TTS and the mRNA COVID vaccines, like those by Pfizer and Moderna.
  • The CDC does not recommend one COVID vaccine over another.
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
  • 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.

Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS) is rare, but possible after Johnson & Johnson’s (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine. However, after carefully reviewing the data, experts state that the benefits of the J&J COVID vaccine still far outweigh the risks.

  • There have been 100 reports of Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS) following vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine. (Out of approximately 12.5 million doses of the J&J COVID vaccine given in the U.S.)
  • The data does not show an increased risk of GBS after getting the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines.

Experts continue to recommend the J&J COVID vaccine for people 18 years and older.

What is Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS)?

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a neurological disorder where the body’s immune system accidentally attacks nerve cells. GBS can range from a mild case of brief weakness to a severe case of paralysis. It affects roughly 3,000-6,000 people each year in the U.S., usually because of a gastrointestinal virus or respiratory illness, such as flu or COVID-19. Although it is a serious condition, many people fully recover from GBS. Learn more about GBS.

What symptoms should I look for if I had the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine?

People who got the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID vaccine should seek medical attention right away if they develop any of the following symptoms:

  • weakness or tingling sensations, especially in the legs or arms, that’s worsening and spreading to other parts of the body
  • difficulty walking; difficulty with facial movements, including speaking, chewing or swallowing
  • double vision or inability to move eyes
  • difficulty with bladder control or bowel function

In most of the people who reported GBS symptoms after vaccination, symptoms began within 42 days following receipt of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine.

View the FDA’s updated Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine EUA Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers.

What  Else is Known About This Issue So Far?
  • On July 22, the CDC’s advisory group (ACIP) met to review the GBS cases that were reported through the U.S. vaccine safety monitoring systems (VAERS and VSD) and and investigated further by health experts.]
  • There have been 100 reports of GBS following vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID vaccine after approximately 12.5 million doses of the vaccine were given in the U.S.
    • Of these 100 reports of GBS, 95 of them were serious and required hospitalization.
    • There was one reported death in a 57-year-old man with past medical history of heart failure, stroke, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus.
    • Data so far show that the chance of getting GBS after J&J COVID vaccination is rare — between 1-17 cases per million doses, depending on the sex and age group — but it’s happening more than we would expect, especially among men 50-64 years old. Nearly all cases showed up within 42 days of getting vaccinated.
    • FDA and CDC take vaccine safety very seriously, and will continue to monitor reports of GBS following vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

There have been reports of cases of myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. (Both Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines are mRNA vaccines). Most of these reported cases have happened in young men under 30 years old, and after the second dose of the COVID vaccine.

While these heart issues might sound very scary, myocarditis and pericarditis can be mild and treatable. In fact, of those who developed the heart conditions after getting vaccinated, at least 79% (or 4 in 5) have made a full recovery.

What exactly are myocarditis and pericarditis? 
  • Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle.
  • Pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart.

Symptoms of both these heart conditions may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart, or heart feels like it is beating in an unusual pattern

If you or a family member start to feel any of the symptoms listed above, please contact your healthcare provider right away.  Make sure to let them know if you’ve had the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine within the last week.

What is Being Done to Make Sure the mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine is Safe?

Health experts are taking the reports of myocarditis and pericarditis very seriously. On June 23, the CDC’s advisory group (ACIP) met to discuss the latest safety data related to COVID-19 vaccines, including myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA COVID vaccination. Based on the latest evidence:

  • Myocarditis and pericarditis appear to be rare side effects after mRNA COVID vaccines. 
    • According to CDC, more than 214 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, including millions of preteens & teens between 12 and 17 years old.
  • The reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination were seen:
      • Mostly in young men under 30 years old
      • More often after getting the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccine
      • Typically within a week after a dose of COVID-19 vaccine
  • Most patients who received care responded well to medicine and rest and have recovered.

The CDC and its group of medical experts concluded that the benefits of COVID vaccination continue to outweigh the risks. The COVID-19 vaccine continues to be recommended for anyone 12 years of age and older.

In the American Academy of Pediatrics’ AAP News, Dr. Stuart Berger, chair of the AAP Section on Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Executive Committee, said “in general, myocarditis is rare. Patients can be asymptomatic and often recover quickly. Most commonly, mild inflammation is related to a viral infection. This includes SARS-CoV-2 and the related multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.”

More Information about COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Monitoring

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has a COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Technical (VaST) Work Group that reviews the vaccine safety data from the U.S. vaccine monitoring systems on a weekly basis. They are looking for any unexpected health problems that are reported after COVID-19 vaccination, and will continue to make certain that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines outweigh the risks.

Additional Resources

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause myocarditis? (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Watch video below from infectious disease expert Dr. Offit from the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Common Misinformation about COVID-19 Vaccines

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.

You might have heard some rumors that COVID-19 vaccines cause people to shed the virus, mRNA, or spike proteins, putting unvaccinated people at risk. But do COVID vaccines actually cause someone to “shed”? And is there any truth to other claims such as an unvaccinated woman’s menstrual cycle can be altered by being near a vaccinated person?

Thankfully, the science is pretty clear on this one. There’s no reason to fear your vaccinated friend, partner, or family member who got vaccinated against COVID. Here’s why: while there are potential side effects that are common after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, shedding the virus isn’t one of them.

“Shedding” is when the body releases viral particles that could infect someone else. This can happen when you get infected with a virus or in extremely rare cases after getting vaccinated with “live” vaccines.

Shedding can’t happen with COVID vaccines. To start, none of the COVID vaccines currently used in the U.S. contain live virus. The two types of vaccines available are mRNA vaccines (which don’t contain any virus at all) and a viral vector vaccine (which contains no live virus).

Both vaccines use the body’s own cells to create a spike protein found on the coronavirus’ surface. That’s what prompts us to make an immune response (which can cause side effects). After a short while, the body breaks down the mRNA and spike proteins and clears them away. But this doesn’t happen in a way that would pass them along to someone else.

COVID-19 vaccines can’t cause someone to shed coronavirus particles, including mRNA and spike proteins. It’s not biologically possible. 

Being near a vaccinated person cannot alter a woman’s menstrual cycle, cause infertility, or lead to miscarriage.

Some people worry about shedding because they’ve heard claims that being around someone who’s been recently vaccinated could affect another person’s menstrual cycle or fertility, lead to them having a miscarriage, or alter their DNA. But there’s no evidence to support this. In fact, there’s no biological reason to think this is even possible. Getting a COVID vaccine can not cause you to shed mRNA, proteins, or anything else that would enter another person’s body. 

The one exception: Passing along antibodies to your baby while pregnant or breastfeeding.  Some early research and more recent studies suggests that when those who are pregnant or breastfeeding get vaccinated against COVID, they could pass antibodies that protect against COVID onto their babies. 

A person with COVID-19 can spread the virus to others.

Getting the vaccine doesn’t cause a person to shed the virus. However, someone sick with COVID-19 can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. 

While there is a chance that you could get sick with COVID-19 even after getting vaccinated. It’s important to note that you are not protected from COVID-19 immediately after getting the vaccine. Your body needs at least two weeks after your final dose to develop protection (1 dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine or 2 doses of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s). Likewise, the vaccines work really, really well, but they aren’t 100% effective. So a small number of vaccinated people could go on to get sick with COVID and spread the virus to others.

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

No. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in females or males.

While this misinformation is about 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 about fertility just aren’t based on science.

COVID-19 and Female Fertility

According to CDC and the pregnancy experts at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):

  • If you are planning or trying to get pregnant, you should 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. The way that vaccines are made makes experts confident that the vaccines are not a cause of infertility and a recent study has confirmed this.
    • The study results show that women who had the COVID-19 vaccines were able to get pregnant at the same rates as women who did not get the vaccines.  
  • 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. Read more.
  • 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.

In addition, according to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), COVID vaccines don’t affect puberty or a child’s reproductive development in any way.

COVID-19 and Male Fertility

There is NO EVIDENCE that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause male fertility problems. According to CDC, there was a recent study of 45 healthy men who got an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., Pfizer or Moderna), which looked at their sperm characteristics (like quantity and movement) before and after vaccination. The study researchers found no significant changes in these sperm characteristics after vaccination.

In addition, while fever from illness, like COVID, has been associated with short-term decreases in sperm production in healthy men, there is no evidence that fever after COVID vaccination affects sperm production.

Looking for More Information?

 

It is being investigated. 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.

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, but this issue needs further investigation.

On May 26, President Biden directed the U.S. Intelligence Community to further investigate the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and report back to him in 90 days. The 90-day investigation concluded by there are still questions that need to be answered. Read the official statement from the White House.

COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness

Yes. All COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized/approved by FDA and recommended by the CDC for use in the United States – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – have been shown to be safe and very effective at preventing COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

  • COVID-19 vaccines help protect people who are vaccinated from getting severely ill, hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19. The vaccines also help protect people around the vaccinated person. 
  • Vaccine breakthrough cases are expected. This means that while people who have been fully vaccinated are much less likely to get sick, it will still happen in some cases. It’s also possible that some fully vaccinated people might get COVID infections, but have no symptoms. Anyone who gets COVID – with or without symptoms – can possibly spread it to others; however, vaccinated people appear to spread the virus for a shorter time.
  • Breakthrough cases do not mean that COVID vaccines do not work. All three COVID vaccines protect most people who get them from serious COVID illness, hospitalization and death. (Most serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths from the Delta variant are in people who have NOT been vaccinated.)
  • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider. (This is one of the reasons why “community immunity” is so important.)

Click the FDA’s Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers below to learn more about each COVID-19 Vaccine:

New Research Shows COVID Vaccines are Working in Real-World Conditions

A 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 data from vaccine clinical trials) among healthcare personnel, first responders, and other essential workers.

A CDC study published in mid-May 2021 and then another study published in June 2021 adds to the growing body of real-world evidence (not only data from vaccine clinical trials) showing that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna protect healthcare personnel (HCP) against COVID-19. This study showed that mRNA COVID vaccines reduced the risk of getting sick with COVID-19 by 94% among HCP who were fully vaccinated (2 weeks after getting both vaccine doses). This assessment, conducted in a different study network with a larger sample size from across a broader geographic area than in the clinical trials (geographically diverse population included across 33 sites in 25 states), independently confirms U.S. vaccine effectiveness findings among healthcare workers that were first reported by CDC in late March.

It’s possible. While vaccines are highly effective against severe illness, the Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus that causes COVID-19. But getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19  – along with wearing a mask indoors when in public – is still the BEST way to protect yourself and your family from serious illness, hospitalization and death due to COVID.

I thought people who were fully vaccinated were protected from getting and spreading COVID. What is different now?

Experts have found that the Delta variant is much more contagious than other variants of the virus.

  • Why? Studies show that people infected with the Delta virus variant have more of the virus in their system (“viral load”) and that they can spread that virus over a longer period of time than with previous variants.

If you are fully vaccinated against COVID
  • If you get COVID, you will most likely only get a mild or moderate case of COVID-19, if you get it at all. However, if you do get infected, you may also spread the virus that causes COVID to others, even if you don’t feel sick. New data shows that vaccinated people appear to spread the virus for a shorter time.
  • The vaccine helps protect you against serious COVID illness, hospitalization and death. (Most hospitalizations and deaths from the Delta variant are among people who have NOT been vaccinated.)
  • You will be less likely to spread the virus to others because you’re less likely to be infected with COVID in the first place.
  • If you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may not be protected even if you are fully vaccinated.
Protect Unvaccinated Family Members

Some people in your family may need to take more steps to be better protected from COVID-19, including

  • Anyone not fully vaccinated, including children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated yet
  • People with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions

It’s important to remember that as we continue to get new information about the Delta variant and other virus variants that cause COVID, we’ll need to continue to adapt and possibly change our strategies to try to end this pandemic.

  • Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccine (e.g., Johnson & Johnson) requires 1 dose.
    • It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.
    • You are not fully protected until 2 weeks after your shot of COVID vaccine.

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 considered to be “fully vaccinated.” Keep taking all prevention steps until you are fully vaccinated.

Stopping a dangerous pandemic like COVID-19 requires using ALL the prevention tools we have.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Getting yourself and your family vaccinated against COVID is the best protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death due to COVID.

  • Studies show that all three COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson) are effective at keeping you from getting seriously ill, hospitalized or dying due to COVID-19.
  • Protecting yourself through vaccination also protects the people around you, like those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or those who can’t get vaccinated, such as children under 12, pregnant people, and people with weakened immune systems
  • Even when you are “fully vaccinated” the CDC recommends that you wear a mask when indoors in public.
  • If you are not vaccinated – or not yet “fully vaccinated” – it is very important to follow the public health recommendations – like wearing a mask and social distancing – to protect yourself and others.   

On July 27,  the CDC updated their guidance to help protect people from the very contagious Delta variant of COVID-19. Here is what you need to know:

  • COVID-19 cases are rising in many places across the country, especially in areas with lower COVID vaccination rates. The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates. Almost all hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continue to be among the unvaccinated.
  • Getting vaccinated is the MOST important step you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death.
  • EVERYONE, even those who are fully vaccinated against COVID, should wear masks INDOORS IN PUBLIC if they are in a community with a substantial or high level of community transmission of COVID. Masks will help protect you and those around you, including children and people with weakened immune systems.

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

It takes time for your body to build immunity against COVID after getting the vaccine, so 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.

Do I need a Booster or a Third Dose of COVID vaccine?

Maybe. There’s understandable confusion about whether a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine OR a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine is needed.

At this time, there are 2 different recommendations from the CDC:

  1. Third Dose of a mRNA Vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for People Who Are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised (See more details below)
  2. Booster Dose for Certain People Who Got the Primary 2-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Series at Least 6 Months Ago (See more details below)

An Important Reminder: All COVID vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & J0hnson) continue to provide very good protection against severe COVID illness, hospitalization, and death, even during our current surge of the Delta variant.  In fact, people who are fully vaccinated are between 13x and 23x less likely to be hospitalized than those who are not vaccinated. The MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do to protect yourself and your family against serious COVID illness is to get fully vaccinated (if you are unvaccinated).

Additional (Third) Dose of mRNA COVID Vaccine for People who are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised

At this time, the CDC recommends that those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised AND who received two doses of a mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), get a third dose of the same COVID vaccine to increase their protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death. The third dose should be given at least 28 days after the second dose of COVID vaccine.

If you got the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine, you are NOT recommended to receive an additional dose of COVID vaccine. However, it is possible that this will change as more safety and efficacy data becomes available. Stay tuned.

See exactly who needs the third dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine by looking at the graphic below:

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On September 24th, the CDC accepted the recommendations from its advisory committee (ACIP) on COVID booster doses and expanded them. At this time, the following official CDC recommendations are ONLY for those who completed the primary two-dose series of Pfizer vaccine, at least 6 months ago.

If you got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, you are NOT recommended to get a booster shot at this time. Booster doses may be recommended in the future, but at this time there just isn’t enough available data on these vaccines to make that decision. Visit this page often as we frequently update it with new info.

So…do you need a booster dose?

The CDC says the following groups of people SHOULD get a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine at least 6 months after completing the primary 2 dose-series of the Pfizer vaccine:

Additionally, the CDC says that the following groups MAY DECIDE to get a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine at least 6 months after completing the primary 2-dose series of Pfizer vaccine, based on their individual benefit & risk:

 

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The Spread of COVID-19

On July 27, due to the very contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 and the increased cases across the U.S., the CDC updated their guidance:

  • If you are fully vaccinated, you can participate in many of the activities that you did before the pandemic.
  • For the best protection against the Delta variant of COVID-19 and to help prevent it from spreading to others, wear a mask indoors in public (even if you are fully vaccinated) if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
  • Wearing a mask is most important if you are at increased risk for severe COVID disease OR if someone in your household (like a child under 12, a pregnant/recently pregnant person, or a person with a weakened immune system) is at increased risk for severe illness or is unvaccinated.
    • 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 (wearing a mask, social distancing, etc.) to prevent COVID-19.

For the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC, visit CDC’s website.

Maybe.

First, it depends on whether you are “fully vaccinated”. (*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).

Second, on July 27, due to the very contagious Delta virus variant and the rising cases of COVID across the U.S., the CDC updated their masking guidance:

  • If you are fully vaccinated, you can participate in many of the activities that you did before the pandemic. However, even if you are fully vaccinated, you should wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
  • For the best protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 – and to help prevent it from spreading to others (including those too young to be vaccinated, pregnant people, and people with weakened immune systems) – please get your COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
  • Unvaccinated people should continue masking until they are fully vaccinated.
  • Wearing a mask is most important if you OR if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. If this applies to you or people in your household, you might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area.
    • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may NOT be protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
    • People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, and have gotten both doses of a mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), should get a third dose of the same vaccine (28 days after their second vaccine dose).
  • Everyone should continue to wear a mask where required by laws, rules, regulations, or local guidance.

For the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC, visit CDC’s website.

Yes, if you are fully vaccinated you can participate in many of the activities that you did before the pandemic. BUT on July 27, the CDC updated its masking guidance due to the very contagious Delta variant and increased cases of COVID, hospitalizations and deaths across the U.S.:

  • Even if you are fully vaccinated, you should wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission of COVID. (Almost everywhere in the U.S. has a high number of COVID-19 cases)
  • If you or someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, OR  is unvaccinated, you should strongly consider wearing a mask regardless of  the number of COVID cases in your area.
    • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may NOT be protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
    • If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received two doses of mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), experts recommend you get an additional dose of the same vaccine (28 days after your second dose).
  • You should continue to wear a mask where required by laws, rules, regulations, or local guidance.

*Fully Vaccinated means 2 weeks after your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine in a 2-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna vaccine) OR 2 weeks after a single-dose COVID vaccine (Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine). If you don’t meet these requirements, regardless of your age, you are NOT fully vaccinated.

For the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC, visit CDC’s website.

No. There are no other vaccines offered in the U.S. 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.

Virus Variants (Like Delta)

According to the CDC, recent studies show that all three COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) work against COVID virus variants, including the Delta variant.

  • The Delta variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021, and on June 15, 2021, the Delta variant was classified by the CDC as a “variant of concern” because it spreads from person to person more easily than other variants and may cause more severe COVID disease.
  • The Delta variant is now the most common variant across the U.S. and it is very contagious.
  • People who are UNVACCINATED are at risk of getting seriously sick from the Delta variant. For the most protection against the Delta variant, make sure you and your family members (12 years and older) are fully vaccinated.
  • According to CDC, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases and an increase in serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID. Almost all hospitalizations and deaths from the Delta variant are among the unvaccinated.
  • While it is possible for a vaccinated person to test positive for the Delta variant of COVID-19 (known as “breakthrough cases”), cases in vaccinated individuals are usually mild to moderate and they can spread the virus to others, even if they don’t feel sick. This does not mean the COVID-19 vaccines don’t work. The vaccines are still doing what they are supposed to – protecting people from getting seriously ill, hospitalized and dying due to COVID-19.

Masks and Social Distancing (As of July 27)

Even if you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. (Everywhere in the U.S. currently has a high number of COVID-19 cases).

If you are not fully vaccinated, help protect yourself and others from the Delta variant by:

  • Getting vaccinated against COVID. Find a vaccine near you.
  • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
  • Wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth , especially if you or a member of your household have a weakened immune system, is at high risk of severe illness, OR is unvaccinated.
    • Consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated if you are in an area with a high number of COVID-19 cases. (Everywhere in the U.S. currently has a high number of COVID-19 cases).
  • Staying 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.

It depends on the virus variant. In the case of the Delta variant, it is more contagious and it is spreading quickly throughout the U.S. causing serious illness, hospitalization and death. 

On July 27, the CDC issued new guidance as a result of the Delta variant:

Even if you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.

 What is a variant?

First, you might want to know…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.

Can you tell me more about the Delta variant?
  • Most cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. are the Delta variant. See the COVID tracker.
  • The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus that causes COVID-19. In fact, experts say that the Delta variant may cause more severe illness than previous strains in unvaccinated people.
  • The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against serious illness, hospitalization and death due to the Delta variant is to get vaccinated against COVID-19.  In addition, everyone, even fully vaccinated people, should wear masks indoors in public spaces to help stop the spread of the virus.
    • COVID vaccines continue to reduce a person’s risk of getting the virus that causes COVID-19 (including the Delta variant).
    • COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) continue to be highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death, including against the Delta variant.
    • Fully vaccinated people who get a case of COVID (breakthrough infection) from the Delta variant appear to be infectious for a shorter period than people who are not fully vaccinated.
Which other COVID virus variants are spreading in the U.S. and around the world.?

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 are called “variants of concerns” by CDC because they MAY:

  • Spread more easily and quickly, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19
  • Cause more severe COVID-19 illness (e.g.,  increased hospitalizations or deaths)

Current “variants of concern” in the U.S.

  • Alpha – 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. Alpha spreads much faster than other variants and may cause more people to get sicker and to die.

  • Beta – 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. Current data do not show whether or not Beta causes more severe illness or death than other variants.

  • Gamma – 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. It spreads faster than other variants but current data do not show that it causes more severe illness or death than other variants.

  • Delta – B.1.617.2: This variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021.  It was initially identified in India in December 2020. It spreads from person to person more easily than other variants and may cause more severe COVID disease.
Do the current COVID-19 vaccines protect against the virus variants like the Delta variant?

Yes. According to the CDC, recent studies show that the current vaccines available in the U.S. (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) help protect against from virus variants, including the Delta variant. However, there have been some breakthrough cases (mostly mild) in fully vaccinated people and they can spread the illness to others.

 

Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine at the Same Time as Other Vaccines

Yes. Medical and public health experts say it ok for your kids (12 years old or older) to get their routine vaccines (e.g., Flu, HPV, MenACWY, or Tdap) and  the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. They NO LONGER have to wait a minimum of 14 days before or after they get other vaccines.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Given the importance of routine vaccination and the need for rapid uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, the AAP supports coadministration of routine childhood and adolescent immunizations with COVID-19 vaccines (or vaccination in the days before or after) for children and adolescents who are behind on or due for immunizations (based on the CDC/AAP Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule) and/or at increased risk from vaccine-preventable diseases”

 

Yes. Medical and public health experts say you can get your routine vaccines (such as the flu shot, the shingles vaccine, and the pneumococcal vaccine) at the same time as getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

 

 

Yes.  You can get the COVID-19 shot and flu vaccine at the same time.

If you do, it’s recommended you get them in different arms if possible (in case your arm gets sore from the shots).
This is good, because the upcoming flu season is expected to happen alongside the continued spread of COVID-19. Getting vaccinated against BOTH flu and COVID is important to help protect yourself and your loved ones. Both of these vaccines are especially important for people at high risk of serious complications due to age or health conditions.
It’s recommended that you get vaccinated against flu by the end of October. While flu activity may be low in your community now, it could begin increasing at any time and you want to be protected when it starts to spread. (After you get your flu vaccine, your body takes about 2 weeks to build immunity against flu.)
COVID-19 Vaccines and Travel

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.

What Is a Vaccine Passport?

Simply put, a “vaccine passport” is proof you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. Depending on the context, it could be a simple shot record or something more formal like a verified certificate or smartphone app. If a country or business (like a cruise line or concert venue) requires vaccination, your “passport” lets you get in.

Asking people to show proof of vaccination isn’t new.

States have been requiring vaccination in the U.S. since the turn of the 20th century. They began as a way to stop smallpox outbreaks and have since been used to combat polio, measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. School vaccination requirements exist in all 50 states in the U.S., and it’s not uncommon for certain employers (like hospitals, childcare facilities, or government agencies) to require their employees to be vaccinated. Establishing a vaccine passport system wouldn’t change that.

Are Vaccine Passports Legal?

In general, yes. But whether it’s legal to issue (or ask for) proof of vaccination will depend a lot on where and how it’s done. Different laws govern government agencies and private businesses. And laws can vary from one place to the next. Some states, like Texas and Florida, have made it illegal for the states’ government agencies to mandate vaccine passports.

In the U.S., private businesses have a lot of leeway in setting their own policies, especially when it comes to protecting the health and safety of their staff and patrons. That freedom generally includes having vaccination requirements, so long as they make exceptions for those who can’t safely get vaccinated for medical reasons or, in some cases, deeply held religious beliefs.

Vaccine passports can make it easier to verify someone’s vaccinated in a way that protects privacy. But if the state won’t issue them, then businesses are on their own to verify someone’s status.

Do Vaccine Passports Violate HIPAA or Patient Privacy?

No. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (or HIPAA) prevents healthcare providers from sharing protected health information without patients’ consent. But anyone can ask you to volunteer the info. And it’s perfectly legal for you to share your vaccination status with anyone you’d like. Many are already doing that on social media.

Will the U.S. Require Vaccine Passports?

Many businesses are waiting to see what the federal government says, but the White House has stated there will not be a single, unified credential for vaccination. States and businesses can make their own decisions. Unfortunately, that means people will be left confused as to whether they need a passport from state to state or even business to business.

We’ve seen this scenario before with the introduction of immunization information systems (IIS), also known as vaccine registries. IIS collect information on which people have received recommended vaccinations for two main reasons:

  • Help healthcare providers keep track of what vaccines patients might need, especially if they’ve gone to multiple medical offices.
  • Identify people at risk of serious illness during a disease outbreak.

All of this information is kept private. And no one has to have their info in the systems if they don’t want it there.

Because the federal government didn’t issue development guidance to states in the 1990s, each state had to develop an IIS according to their own needs, wishes, and laws. As a result, IIS across the country are a patchwork of information. And only a few state IIS are able to communicate across state lines.

Bottom Line: Ignore the Scary Rhetoric

The existence of vaccine passports doesn’t mean you’ll be forced to get the COVID vaccine or share your medical information if you don’t want to. They’re simply a way for places with vaccination requirements or restrictions in place to verify someone has been vaccinated or is otherwise immune.

Check out the video below from our friends at Voices for Vaccines. It demonstrates how passports might work in the real world.


COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot/Third Dose

Maybe. There’s understandable confusion about whether a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine OR a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine is needed. 

  • People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised AND who got vaccinated with a mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer), should get a third dose of the same COVID vaccine at least 28 days after the second dose.
  • Certain people who got the Pfizer vaccine (at least 6 months ago) AND who are considered to be at high risk of getting a COVID-19 infection or getting serious COVID illness should (or may) get a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine.
    • At this time, people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine are NOT recommended to get a booster dose. See updates below.

An Important Reminder: All COVID vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & J0hnson) continue to provide very good protection against severe COVID illness, hospitalization, and death, even during our current surge of the Delta variant.  In fact, people who are fully vaccinated are between 13x and 23x less likely to be hospitalized than those who are not vaccinated. The MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do to protect yourself and your family, including young children, against serious COVID illness is to get vaccinated.

See the graphic and information below for more details on the CDC’s current recommendations.

Third Dose of mRNA COVID Vaccine for People who are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised

The CDC recommends that those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised AND who received two doses of a mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer OR Moderna), get an third dose of the same COVID vaccine to increase their protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death. The third dose should be given at least 28 days after the second dose of COVID vaccine.

See exactly who needs the third dose of mRNA vaccine – Pfizer or Moderna  – by looking at the graphic below:

Click to view larger

Note: The dose amount in the third dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is the same as in each of the first two doses.

Why Do Immunocompromised People Need a Third Dose of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna)?

Some studies have shown that some immunocompromised people don’t build the same level of immunity (protection) after the first two mRNA COVID vaccine doses the way non-immunocompromised people do. They might get more protection against serious illness from COVID if they get an third dose of the SAME mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. (If you are unable to get the same mRNA vaccine, you can get 1 dose of the other mRNA COVID vaccine.)

This does not mean that the COVID-19 vaccines do not work. The three COVID-19 vaccines authorized/approved in the United States continue to be highly effective in reducing risk of severe COVID disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the Delta variant. However, COVID-19 is constantly changing. Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well the vaccines are working and how new variants, like Delta, affect the vaccines’ effectiveness.

Pfizer Booster Dose for Certain High-Risk People Who Completed the Primary 2-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Series at Least 6 Months Ago

Please note that the following official CDC recommendations are ONLY for those who got both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The CDC says the following people – who got 2 doses of Pfizer COVID vaccine – SHOULD get a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine. (The booster dose should be given at least 6 months after completing the primary 2 dose-series of Pfizer.)

IN ADDITION, the CDC says that the following people – who got 2 doses of Pfizer COVID vaccine – MAY get a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine. (The booster dose should be given at least 6 months after completing the primary 2-dose series of Pfizer.)

  • People 18-49 years with certain underlying medical conditions
  • People 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 because of their work (e.g., hospital, other frontline workers, etc.) or where they live (group homes, prisons, etc.)

Note: The dose amount for the third dose of Pfizer vaccine is the same as in each of the first two doses.

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Booster Doses

If you got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, you are NOT recommended to get a booster shot at this time. 

Update on the Moderna booster dose: On October 14, 2021, after reviewing the latest safety and effectiveness data, FDA’s Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously in favor of a booster dose for certain people who have received both doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months prior, including: 

  • Adults 65+ 
  • People 18-64 at high risk of severe COVID
  • People 18-64 who work or live somewhere that puts them at high risk of getting COVID-19.

Update on Johnson & Johnson Booster Dose: The FDA’s advisory group (VRBPAC) will review available effectiveness and safety data on J&J booster shots on October 15.

Next Steps: This FDA Advisory Group meeting was the first step in the official process of a Moderna and/or Johnson & Johnson booster shot becoming available and recommended. Before the process is complete, the FDA will need to officially accept the advice of their advisory group and expand the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to boosters. Then, the CDC’s advisory group (ACIP) will meet to make recommendations regarding the booster dose. The CDC Director makes the final vaccine recommendations. Stay tuned for more.  

What Can I Do Now to Protect Myself and My Loved Ones?
  • Get vaccinated if you haven’t already (and make sure to get your second dose if you got Pfizer or Moderna vaccine).
    • While COVID vaccine boosters are in the news, it’s important that we remember that getting vaccinated against COVID – if you are not already – is the MOST important thing you can do to protect yourself and those around you, including young children, from COVID-19. The vaccines continue to provide excellent protection, especially from severe illness, hospitalization and death.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth when you are in public indoors
  • Encourage your loved ones (12 years and older) to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Delta variant, which is VERY contagious, is most dangerous to those who are not vaccinated. 

 

 

Maybe. It depends on the health condition(s) you have, the treatments you are taking, and which COVID-19 vaccine you got.

The CDC recommends that people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised AND who already got both recommended doses of a mRNA COVID vaccine (either Pfizer or Moderna), get a third dose of the SAME COVID vaccine for better protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

If you are immunocompromised and got the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine, you do not need an additional shot at this time. You might need one in the future. Since the J&J vaccine wasn’t given in the U.S. until 70 days after the first mRNA COVID vaccine doses (Pfizer and Moderna), the data needed to make this decision is not available to the FDA and CDC yet.

Why Do I Need an Additional Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine?

Some studies have shown that some immunocompromised people don’t build the same level of immunity (protection) after vaccination the way non-immunocompromised people do, and may get more protection against serious illness from COVID if they get an additional (third) dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).

This does not mean that the COVID-19 vaccines do not work. The three COVID-19 vaccines authorized/approved in the U.S. continue to be highly effective in reducing your risk of severe COVID disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the Delta variant. Since COVID-19 is constantly changing. Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well the vaccines are working and how new variants, like Delta, affect the vaccines’ effectiveness.

Who is Considered to Be Immunocompromised?

Many health conditions and medical treatments can cause a person to be moderately/severely immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. See the graphic below to see if you need a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Click to view larger

What if I Lose My COVID-19 Vaccine Card?

When you get your first dose – or only dose – of COVID-19 vaccine, you will get a COVID vaccination card that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it.

Bring this vaccination card to your second COVID vaccine appointment (if you are getting Pfizer or Moderna vaccine) or if you are recommended to get a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine provider should put the details about your COVID vaccination on your card.

Keep your COVID vaccination card. Consider taking a picture of your vaccination card after each dose as a backup copy.

What if I lose my COVID-19 vaccine card?

First, don’t worry. If you lost your COVID vaccination card or don’t have a copy, contact your vaccination provider directly and ask if you can get a copy of the card or replacement card (the information about the COVID vaccine doses you received should be included.) 

If you cannot contact your vaccination provider directly, contact your state health department’s immunization information system (IIS). Vaccination providers are required to report COVID-19 vaccinations to their state’s IIS.

If you have made every effort to locate your vaccination information and are still unable to get a copy or replacement of your COVID vaccination card, talk to a COVID-19 vaccine provider about your situation.

If you registered for CDC’s after vaccination health checker – v-safe – after getting your COVID vaccine, you should be able to find details about your COVID-19 vaccinations in the system. But it is important to note that v-safe is not an official record of being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Who creates/gives out the vaccination cards?

These cards are distributed to vaccination providers by state health departments.

The CDC does not maintain vaccination records or determine how vaccination records are used. In addition, the CDC does not provide the CDC-labeled white COVID-19 vaccination record card to people.