COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some excerpts from information at the CDC vaccine website. For information regarding the COVID 19 third dose, please see this CDC link at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html. For more information on the vaccines, view the CDC link at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html.
What You Need to Know regarding Third doses
This additional third dose intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series is not the same as a booster dose, given to people when the immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have waned over time. The CDC states people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness and because they may not build the same level of immunity to 2-dose vaccine series compared to people who are not immunocompromised. Third doses of mRNA Covid-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) should be given at least 28 days after the 2nd dose. The CDC is currently recommending the additional third dose for the following persons:
- Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune responseAdditionally, you can talk to your healthcare provider to determine if getting an additional dose is appropriate for you.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
All the COVID-19 vaccines being used have gone through rigorous studies to ensure they are as safe as possible. Systems that allow CDC to watch for safety issues are in place across the entire country.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines that have been shown to meet rigorous safety criteria and be effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials. Watch a video describing the emergency use authorization. Clinical trials for all vaccines must first show they meet rigorous criteria for safety and effectiveness before any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, can be authorized or approved for use. The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine. Learn more about how federal partners are ensuring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.
Will a COVID-19 vaccine protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19.
Being protected from getting sick is important because even though many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness, have long-term health effects, or even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you don’t have an increased risk of developing severe complications. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.
Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with Covid?
No. None of the authorized or vaccines in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. If you or a family member are experiencing severe symptoms, please call your doctor. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.
How do the COVID vaccines work?
Vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms such as fever or flu like symptoms. These symptoms are normally limited to a couple of days and a normal effect and sign that your body is building protection against the virus.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (i.e. Protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. This means it is possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
Is there a risk of severe allergic reaction if I receive the vaccine?
Serious problems from vaccination can happen, but they are rare. CDC has learned of reports that some people have experienced severe allergic reactions—also known as anaphylaxis—after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. As an example, an allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen© or if they must go to the hospital. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and allergies.
After getting the COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19?
No. Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response—the goal of vaccination—there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate if you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts currently are looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results. You should continue to get tested for possible current infection of COVD-19 per public health recommendations when possibly exposed or due to work or school requirements. PCR, NAAT, and antigen testing are all used for screening for active infection, and the vaccine does not interfere with these screening tests.
If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. CDC is providing recommendations to federal, state, and local governments about who should be vaccinated first.At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.
We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work.
Both natural immunity and vaccine induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and the CDC will keep the pubic informed as new evidence becomes available.
Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?
No. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.
Messenger RNA vaccines—also called mRNA vaccines—are the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States. mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.
At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. That immune response and making antibodies is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.
Is it safe for me to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying medical condition?
People with underlying medical conditions can receive the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines provided they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Learn more about vaccination considerations for persons with underlying medical conditions. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19.
When do I need to arrive for my appointment?
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