Facts about the vax
Get answers to your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine by clicking on the questions below.
All vaccines train your body’s immune system to recognize and fight the virus if you are exposed.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use mRNA technology. mRNA technology has been studied and developed for decades.
Ingredients in vaccines have been tested many times. They have a good safety record. Like other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines also contain other ingredients. Fats, sugar, and salts are used in the vaccine. These ingredients have been used safely for a long time in other vaccines.
The vaccines were tested in trials with over tens of thousands of people. Results of this testing show all three of the vaccines to be very effective. This was true across ages, races and with those who had existing health conditions.
There are three vaccines available in the United States. These are the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. All provide nearly 100% protection against hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. This is amazing!
COVID-19 vaccine development followed the same safety guidelines as other vaccines we normally get. Tens of thousands of people participated in clinical trials for the vaccines. Adults of all ages and races were included. People with diabetes, asthma, heart disease and other health conditions were included. The testing found the vaccines to be safe among all groups included in the trials. Now, millions of people have safely received the vaccine since the trials ended.
The first one you can get! The sooner you can get protection from a vaccine, the better. All of the available COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective.
Yes! There is no evidence that the vaccine causes any problem with pregnancy. The risk of getting sick with COVID-19 during pregnancy can be serious. Experts recommend pregnant women get the vaccine to protect themselves and their babies.
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The vaccine does not protect you immediately. It takes up to 14 days after getting the second vaccine of Moderna and Pfizer for your body to build up full immunity. For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, your body needs 28 days to build up full immunity. This is why it is important to still wear masks, stay physically distanced, and wash your hands until enough people are vaccinated.
Research into COVID-19 is continually ongoing and the virus is changing over time. The changes in the virus lead to different versions that are called variants. Variants are appearing all over the world. At this time, all FDA approved vaccines appear to be effective against the known variants spreading in the U.S.
Some of the changes to the virus do not pose a threat. Others, such as the Delta variant, are more worrying. The Delta variant is more infectious and may also be more dangerous than the original strain of the virus. The COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. offer protection against severe disease and death from the Delta variant. If someone who is vaccinated gets infected by the Delta variant, it is considered a “breakthrough case”. In breakthrough cases symptoms are usually milder.
Other changes to the virus are happening quickly and in many places. These changes cause new variants to appear. Scientists continue to study and monitor if the current vaccines provide protection against these new variants.
The continuing emergence of new variants is another good reason for you and others to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The current vaccines will protect you from the original COVID strain and provide some protection against severe disease and death from the variants. It is also important to continue to wear masks, stay physically distanced, and wash your hands.
If you and others around you get the vaccines, it will also help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your community. It means you will have less risk of exposure to someone with the virus. And with less of the virus in your community, it will also help reduce the possibility of future variants.
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“Herd immunity” happens when most of the people in a population have gotten the vaccine. If you and most others get the vaccine, the virus can’t continue to spread. This is because most everyone will have protection from the vaccine.
Scientists believe that we need 70-85% of people vaccinated to reach herd immunity in the US. That means at least 7 out of 10 of us must have gotten the vaccine.
If we can’t vaccinate most people in the US, we won’t reach herd immunity. The virus will keep circulating, putting you and others at risk. This will also make it easier for new variants of the virus to develop. New variants could pose new risks that might also make the current vaccines less effective.
There is no evidence that any vaccines affect fertility. This includes COVID-19 vaccines.
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COVID-19 is a new disease. That means the vaccines are also new. Vaccinations were only started in March of last year. So scientists don’t know how long they will last.
So far the news is very good. The vaccines provided last March to those in the clinical trials are still effective.
We don’t know how long the current vaccines will protect you after you get vaccinated. It is possible you will need a booster vaccine shot later to extend the protection. Scientists are studying how long protection from the vaccines lasts. They are also studying whether we will need booster shots for new variants.
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Scientists were able to develop COVID-19 vaccines in record time for three reasons: people, funding and research.
1. COVID-19 is a problem for people across the globe. Every country made it their topmost priority to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. A lot of money and resources were put into developing COVID-19 vaccinations because it was an emergency.
3. Decades of research have already been done on vaccine technology for other diseases. These include diseases similar to COVID-19. Scientists all across the world were focused on using existing knowledge to speed up the COVID-19 vaccine development.
Though COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly, their safety and efficacy was ensured. This was possible because the clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines had more people in them than any other vaccine that has been developed. The trials confirmed their safety and effectiveness.
Vaccines rarely cause long-term side effects. Any side effects generally happen within several weeks after getting a vaccine. For this reason, the FDA required each of the three COVID-19 vaccines to be studied for at least eight weeks after the final dose. Millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccines, and they have an excellent safety record. The CDC is closely monitoring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
It’s understandable to worry about side effects. But it’s important to know that serious side effects from vaccines are very rare. On the other hand, COVID-19 is known to cause serious illness in many people with lasting damage and even death. The benefits of the vaccine exceed the potential risks.
In April 2021, the U.S. temporarily paused the use of the J&J vaccine because six people developed rare blood clots developed after vaccination. The pause was a good indication that the safety systems are working to protect the public. The investigation determined that the benefits of the J&J vaccine outweigh the risks. The J&J vaccine quickly began to be distributed again.
As of July 2021, there have been about 100 reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome following vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The 100 reports are out of 12.8 million doses given in the U.S. Guillain-Barre syndrome is an autoimmune disorder. Most of these cases were reported within two weeks after vaccination and in men over age 50. Most people recover from Guillain-Barre after medical care, but it can lead to death in rare cases. There is not enough evidence to suggest that the vaccine caused the autoimmune disorder.
Delta is a highly contagious and possibly more severe form—or “variant”—of the COVID-19 virus. The Delta variant was first identified in December 2020. It spread rapidly through India and the U.K. The first Delta case in the United States was diagnosed in March 2021, and it is now the dominant form of the virus. Delta currently accounts for more than 50% of infections in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Yes. Studies show the vaccines are highly effective in preventing infection, serious illness and hospitalization from the variant.
It’s important to note that a single shot of a two-dose vaccine, like Pfizer and Moderna, does not offer strong protection against Delta. So all eligible people are advised to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
The Pfizer vaccine is now approved for use in children ages 12 and up.
Moderna and Pfizer began clinical trials for children age 6 months to 11 years old in March 2021. Results from these trials are expected this fall, and authorization will likely follow this winter (late 2021, early 2022). The vaccine will likely first be authorized for children age 5-11. Authorization for younger children is expected later.
There are ways we can protect the health and safety of everyone while we wait for vaccines to be approved for children of all ages. It is important to continue to wear masks, avoid large gatherings and crowds, and wash our hands.