A woman receiving her COVID-19 vaccine.

Breaking Down Common COVID-19 Vaccine Questions

Apr 5 2021

It’s normal to have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. After all, they are all newly available!

Health care professionals are recommending that everyone who is able to should get vaccinated when they have the opportunity to do so. This will greatly help us in getting back to our normal lives.

Have lingering COVID-19 vaccine questions? You’ve come to the right place. Here are some credible answers.

If the vaccines were developed so fast, how do I know if they are safe?

The timeline to create this COVID-19 vaccine was accelerated because the pandemic is an emergency that needs to be under control. But with the development of any vaccine, safety is top priority.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviewed every detail from the large clinical trials. They continue to monitor the safety of the vaccine and its rare side effects. Both the FDA and ACIP authorized emergency use for these vaccines because the vaccine’s significant benefits outweigh the risks of COVID-19 illness.

If I tested positive for COVID-19, do I need to be vaccinated?

Yes, you should get vaccinated if you have had the virus. Even if you have recovered from the disease, reinfection without the vaccine is possible.

Should I wait for natural herd immunity?

You may have heard that getting COVID-19 will give you better natural immunity than a vaccine. However, it is still unknown if getting the disease protects you from getting it again.

More importantly, there are potentially serious risks to you and your loved ones if you get the disease. If you get COVID-19, you could become very ill. Or you could spread it to others who could become extremely ill.  Getting the vaccine helps you reduce the risks of a severe reaction to the virus and of spreading it.

How well do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States: the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine and the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. All of these authorized vaccines have been shown to be highly effective in preventing severe illness.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

The side effects of the vaccine are minimal and short-lived. Serious allergic reactions are also extremely rare.

It is helpful to know what the potential risks are so you can monitor your reaction. Reactions can also indicate that your immune system is doing what it is supposed to do after a vaccine.

Minor side effects that usually go away within a few days or less can include:

  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Mild fever
  • Minor chills
  • Achy joints or muscles
  • Swelling and/or redness at the site of the shot
  • Swollen lymph node in the arm where the shot was given
  • Tenderness, soreness or a warm feeling at the site of the shot

Are there any long-term effects from the vaccine?

There are none that are known of. It’s reasonable to wonder about long-term side effects from the vaccine. Experts are carefully monitoring every reaction or side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why do I need two doses?

For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, you will need two does to gain the best protection possible from COVID-19. The first shot primes the immune system, and the second shot further strengthens the system.

The shots are given 21 or 28 days apart depending on which vaccine you receive. As soon as you get your first shot, you will get an appointment for your second dose.

The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine is unique because it’s the only vaccine that requires one dose at this time.

What can I do after I’ve been vaccinated?

While it might be temping to go right back into your normal life after you’ve been fully vaccinated, it is important to continue with certain precautions until more people receive their vaccines. This includes continuing to wear a mask while out in public.

However, there are new things you can do, like visit with other vaccinated people without face masks and social distancing.

Check out our full list of things fully vaccinated people can do.

Stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to the COVID-19 vaccine.

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