Covid-19

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Equity-centered, evidence-based answers to common questions

Resolve to Save Lives gathered a bank of evidence-based resources to help communicators, influencers and health equity advocates answer common questions with confidence. Under each main category – safety, efficacy, equitable allocation and distribution, and combatting misinformation – are quick answers with links to more detailed information, tailored to audiences disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. We apply an equity lens to this living document, which we will continually update as new data is gathered and as new vaccines are introduced. Find answers from a broad range of trusted sources from social justice organizations, public and private institutions, the academic and scientific community, and advocates who seek information and tools to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the infodemic of misinformation, and systemic racial and ethnic disparities.   

Safety

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

All COVID-19 vaccines were tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and protect adults of different ages, races, and ethnicities. There were no serious safety concerns. CDC and the FDA will continue to monitor the vaccines to look for safety issues after they are authorized and in use.

Source: CDC

Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID?

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use or in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. However, it typically takes 1-2 weeks for the body to build stronger immunity after the second dose. It is still possible for you to become infected with COVID-19 in between doses, or immediately after receiving the second vaccine dose and get sick. 

Source: CDC

What are the side effects after I get the COVID-19 vaccine? Will I have symptoms?

COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19 by stimulating your immune system so your body is ready to respond if you come in contact with the virus. You may expect to have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your daily life, but they should go away in a few days. Common side effects are pain and swelling on the arm where you received the shot, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache.  Some of these may be more pronounced after the second dose.   

For tips on what to expect after getting a COVID-19, visit www.cdc.gov/vsafe.

Source: Nancy Messonier, CDC

What is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)? Did speed compromise safety?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is globally respected for its scientific standards of vaccine safety, efficacy and quality. In an emergency, like a pandemic, the FDA can make a judgement that it is worth releasing a vaccine, drug, device and/or test for use even without all the evidence that would go into the normal approval process. That judgement, in this case that the known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine, is called an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Under both EUA and normal approval, the FDA provides scientific and regulatory requirements to vaccine developers and undertakes a rigorous evaluation of the scientific information through all phases of clinical trials, which continues after authorization or approval. Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines must first show they are safe and effective before any vaccine can be issued an EUA. Watch a video on what an EUA is here.

Source: FDA

Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying medical condition?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

Source: CDC

 

Can my child get vaccinated for COVID-19?

No, not yet. While the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is authorized for children aged 16 and older, additional studies need to be completed before COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for younger children. The Moderna vaccine is authorized for people 18 years of age and older.  Therefore, as we wait for this additional clinical trial data,  children, like adults, should wear masks, watch their distance, wash their hands and avoid congregating in groups in order to protect themselves against infection.  

Source: CDC

I have a shellfish or other food allergy. Should I get the vaccine?

CDC recommends that people with a history of severe allergic reactions that are not related to vaccines or injectable medications—such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies—get vaccinated. People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions may also get vaccinated. 

Tell the provider about your allergy when you get the vaccine. They are prepared to administer the vaccine safely and provide treatment in the rare case of allergic reactions. As a precaution, the CDC guidelines recommend that those with allergies be observed at the site for 30 minutes instead of 15 minutes. But it is not something to prevent you from getting vaccine.  

Source: CDC  

Should I postpone my routine mammogram until after I get vaccinated?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can cause swollen lymph nodes in the armpit area where the shot was administered. This is a normal side effect of the vaccine and is evidence that your immune system is building protection against COVID-19.

However, swollen lymph nodes under the arm are routinely screened for during mammograms as a potential sign of breast cancer. If you have recently been vaccinated and develop swollen lymph nodes, it could be mistaken for breast cancer during your mammogram. Therefore, as long as it does not delay essential medical care, you should consider scheduling your mammogram for either before you receive the vaccine, or 4-6 weeks post-vaccination.

If swelling under the arm persists for more than 4-6 weeks after vaccination, consult your physician.

Source: Society of Breast Imaging

Can I resume life as normal after I get my vaccine?

Not enough information is currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision. We also don’t yet know whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself. CDC will continue to update this page as we learn more. 

While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic. 

To protect yourself and others, follow these recommendations: 

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth 
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others 
  • Avoid crowds 
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands often 

Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. 

Source: CDC FAQs 

How safe am I after I get the vaccine?

The two currently available vaccines make people safe from getting sick from COVID-19 – Pfizer/BionTech provides protection of up to 95% and Moderna of up to 94.1% after two doses. However, while you are less at risk of getting sick from COVID-19, many people around you are not. There are still too few people who are vaccinated. To protect others, it is crucial to continue practicing the 3 W’s: wearing a mask, washing your hands, and watching your distance.   

SourceCDC  

What should I do if I am exposed to COVID-19 after being vaccinated?

Vaccinated individuals with a COVID-19 exposure are not required to quarantine if they meet all three of the following criteria:

  1. Are fully vaccinated, meaning it has been at least 2 weeks since they have received both doses of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine
  2. Been fully vaccinated for less than 3 months
  3. Have not experienced any COVID-19 symptoms since exposure

If you do not meet all of the above criteria, then you should follow regular quarantine protocol after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

Source: CDC Interim Clinical Considerations

Efficacy

How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?

Based on the current research, the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines, both 2-dose regimens, are incredibly effective (Pfizer/BioNTech at 95% and Moderna at 94.1%) at preventing people from getting sick with COVID-19.

Source: CDC Interim Clinical Considerations

If I’ve been vaccinated, do I still need to practice the 3W’s (wear a mask, watch my distance and wash my hands)?

Yes. Not enough information is currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision. We also don’t yet know whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself. CDC will continue to update this page as we learn more. 

While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic. 

To protect yourself and others, follow these recommendations: 

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth 
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others 
  • Avoid crowds 
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces 
  • Wash your hands often 

Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. 

Source: CDC FAQs 

Can I “mix” doses of two kinds of COVID-19 vaccines?

The COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable and the safety and efficacy of a mixed-product series have not been evaluated. If two doses of different mRNA COVID-19 vaccine products are inadvertently administered, no additional doses of either product are recommended at this time.

In exceptional situations in which the first-dose vaccine product cannot be determined or is no longer available, any available mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at a minimum interval of 28 days between doses to complete the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination series. If two doses of different mRNA COVID-19 vaccine products are administered in these situations (or inadvertently), no additional doses of either product are recommended at this time.

Recommendations may be updated as further information becomes available or other vaccine types (e.g., viral vector, protein subunit vaccines) are authorized.

Source: CDC Interim Clinical Considerations

How effective is the vaccine after just one dose?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine includes two shots, 21 days apart while the Moderna vaccine includes two shots, 28 days apart. Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine efficacy after a single dose was 52.4% in trials; Moderna’s was 80.2%.

However, both doses are currently recommended to get the maximum protection, since there have been no clinical trials assessing these mRNA vaccines as single dose regimes. Until more is learned about the duration and kind of protection you get from the vaccine, you should take the same precautions you did before vaccination. Moreover, until the population is broadly vaccinated and the outbreak is under control, which will take many months, everyone — vaccinated or not— needs to continue to wear masks and practice distancing to protect themselves and others.

Source: Science News and National Public Radio (NPR)

If I already had COVID, do I still need to get the vaccine?

Yes. CDC recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection will last, and it is possible to catch it more than once.

Source: CDC

 

How long do I have to wait between the two vaccine doses?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine includes two shots, 21 days apart while the Moderna vaccine includes two shots, 28 days apart. 

Persons should not be scheduled to receive the second dose earlier than recommended (i.e., 3 weeks [Pfizer-BioNTech] or 1 month [Moderna]). However, second doses administered within a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended date for the second dose are still considered valid. Doses inadvertently administered earlier than the grace period should not be repeated.

If it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series.

Source: CDC Interim Clinical Considerations

How many people must be vaccinated for us to have “herd immunity"?

Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people in a community have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result, everyone within the community is protected, even if some people don’t have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.

Source: CDC COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

How did the clinical trials assess efficacy and safety?

Clinical trials are studies to assess the safety and efficacy of vaccines. They are typically conducted in three phases, each with increasingly larger numbers of volunteers.

  • Phase 1 clinical trials assess the safety and dosage of a vaccine in a small number of people, typically a dozen to several dozen healthy volunteers.
  • Vaccine safety is also assessed in Phase 2 studies, in which adverse events not detected in phase 1 trials may be identified because a larger and more diverse group of people receive the vaccine.
  • Only in much larger Phase 3 clinical trials can it be demonstrated whether a vaccine is actually protective against disease. Safety is also more fully assessed. Phase 3 clinical trials often include thousands of volunteers, and for Covid-19 vaccines will involve tens of thousands (30,000 to 45,000 people in some of the ongoing phase 3 trials).

Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

Is there a place I can track the various kinds of COVID-19 Vaccines?

The New York Times has developed a vaccine tracker with detailed information and visuals on the development process of each of the leading vaccine candidates.  The tracker is updated nearly every day as new evidence is collected and progress is made.

Source: NYTimes

What is the difference between "natural immunity" and "vaccinated immunity"?

Natural immunity refers to the process of building an immune response to a disease after being infected by it. After getting COVID-19, most people will build an immune response that will last at least months and help fight the disease if they are exposed to it again, so they do not become sick.

Vaccine-induced immunity refers to a process where weakened or killed parts of an organism are introduced to the body to produce the same type of immune response without the person having to become sick with the disease in order to have immunity. After completing a COVID-19 vaccination, people are expected to build an immune response that will last months and help their immune system fight COVID-19 if they are exposed to it, so they do not become sick.

Experts are still studying how long natural and vaccine-induced immunity will last for COVID-19. There may also be differences in the level of immune response from natural immunity versus vaccine-induced immunity and scientists are continuing to study this area.

Both of these processes are types of active immunity, where the body responds to something from the outside world to build the immune response. Active immunity is different from passive immunity, where someone is given antibodies rather than their body producing through the immunity.

Source: CDC

How worried should I be about the new variants or mutations? Will the COVID-19 vaccine be effective?

Viruses frequently change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic. This includes the B 1.351, B.1.1.7 and P.1 variants first detected in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Brazil, respectively. To date, there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death. However, preliminary data suggest that these variants spread more easily and quickly than other variants.

As a result, it is very important for everyone to continue wearing masks, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds, ventilating indoor spaces, and washing hands often. These actions will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the new variants.

Scientists are working to better understand how easily the variants might be transmitted and the effectiveness of currently authorized vaccines against them. New information about the virologic, epidemiologic, and clinical characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging.

CDC, in collaboration with other public health agencies, is monitoring the situation closely. CDC is working to detect and characterize emerging viral variants and expand its ability to look for COVID-19 and new variants. Furthermore, CDC has staff available on-the-ground support to investigate the characteristics of viral variants. For example, CDC is collaborating with EPA to confirm that disinfectants inactivate these variant viruses. As new information becomes available, CDC will provide updates.

Source: CDC

Can I choose which vaccine I get?

Only two vaccines are currently available in the U.S. under the Emergency Use Authorization  – Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. You are likely to receive whichever vaccine was supplied to your provider/jurisdiction by the federal government. It is important to get vaccinated when it is your turn to make sure that you and your community can benefit from all the available tools we have to fight COVID-19.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Equitable allocation and distribution

Who decides which groups get “priority” in receiving the vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has endorsed a plan to prioritize the nation’s 2million health care workers and 3 million residents of long-term care facilities. Although states have the final say over which groups are first in line for any vaccine the federal government sends them, they will most likely to follow the CDC recommendation. After those two groups, the vaccine is likely to go to frontline essential workers and people 75 years and older. followed by people with high-risk medical conditions, people aged 65-74 years and other categories of essential workers.

Source: NPR

How long will it take for the general public to be vaccinated after a vaccine is authorized?

It is not clear at this point in time when a vaccine will be available to the general public, but a reasonable guess may be at least six months after authorization. The timeline depends on how rapidly vaccine doses can be produced and distributed. Importantly, the public will need to trust a vaccine and be willing to be vaccinated to have a public health impact. Building trust in a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, particularly in communities with long-standing, legitimate mistrust of the government and scientific experiments, is critical.

Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

How much will the vaccines cost?

The government will be providing vaccines for free, but health care providers will be allowed to charge a fee for giving the shots. They can recoup the fee from public and private insurance plans and from a government fund to cover uninsured individuals. There should be zero out-of-pocket costs for individuals being vaccinated. 

Source: National Public Radio (NPR)

Where will I be able to get the vaccine?

Initially, States are likely to direct first supplies to larger distribution centers — such as hospitals and large health systems and long-term care facilities. The drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens are responsible for delivering the vaccine to long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, whose staff and residents will also to be among the first to be vaccinated.

States will be in control. Check out what your state’s plan on page 25 of this document on vaccine distribution from Duke University and the National Governors Association.

For an example of a distribution model centered on equity, see the North Carolina Vaccine 101 plan.

Source: NGA

Did Black scientists play any role in vaccine development?

Yes, an important one. As Dr Anthony Fauci noted, “The very vaccine that’s one of the two that has absolutely exquisite levels — 95 percent efficacy against clinical disease and almost 100 percent efficacy against serious disease that are shown to be clearly safe — that vaccine was actually developed in the NIH’s vaccine research center by a team of scientists led by Dr. Barney Graham and his close colleague, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, or Kizzy Corbett.” Corbett, a Black woman, is the lead scientist for the National Institutes of Health’s coronavirus vaccine research and has addressed hesitancy within the Black community in the past. “Trust, especially when it has been stripped from people, has to be rebuilt in a brick-by-brick fashion,” Corbett said. “And so, what I say to people firstly is that I empathize, and then secondly is that I’m going to do my part in laying those bricks. And I think that if everyone on our side, as physicians and scientists, went about it that way, then the trust would start to be rebuilt.”

Source: NIH, CNN Coronavirus: Fact or Fiction, NBC

What COVID-19 vaccine resources exist for the Black/African-American population?

The Black Coalition Against COVID-19 is a trusted source of information on COVID-19 vaccine information, including through its partnership with the four historically Black medical schools in the United States. Resources include: 1) Make it Plain: What Black America Needs to Know about COVID-19 Vaccines 2) Resources for Enrolling in Vaccine Trials, and 3) Personal account of a Black doctor who got the vaccine. 

Source:  Black Coalition Against Covid-19 

Where can I find information in Spanish on vaccines for the Latinx population?

The CDC has Spanish language myth-busting resources on COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and COVID-19 FAQs in Spanish.  

COVIDguia.orghas updated COVID-19 information in Spanish, compiled by the American Public Health Association and the COVID-19 Latinx Task Force. PAHO has communications materials in Spanish and Portuguese for its Latin American audience. 

The Department of Health for the Government of Puerto Rico maintains a Spanish-language COVID-19 vaccine website with information on the benefits of the vaccine, fact sheets, and nearly 30 FAQs, including those related to doses, concerns for pregnant women and the immunocompromised, differences between Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the need for the 3Ws even after being vaccinated, and the v-safe program.

SourceThe Department of Health for the Government of Puerto Rico   

What COVID-19 vaccine resources exist for Tribal, Indigenous, and Native populations? 

The Indian Health Service (IHS) COVID-19 vaccine website has resources including its COVID-19 Pandemic Vaccine plan  and FAQs specific to the concerns of the community. Also consult the IHS List of Provider Resources for Vaccination Clinics.  

What COVID-19 vaccine resources exist for the Asian American (AA), Native Hawaiian (NH), and Pacific Islander (PI) communities?

 

The following sites provide key resources, updated regularly:  

Is there a “one-stop shop” for data and information on COVID-19 disparities, equity, and social/racial justice?

The American Public Health Association provides a roundup of webinars, articles, and blogs on COVID-19 and health equity and health justice. This includes CDC data on COVID-19 racial and ethnic disparities, and information on the impact on the unhoused population. 

The Atlantic’s COVID Racial Data Tracker is a collaboration between the COVID Tracking Project and the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research.  It gathers the most complete and up-to-date race and ethnicity data on COVID-19 in the United States. 

Source: APHA and COVID Tracking Project 

How can we ensure COVID-19 vaccine information is available in as many languages as possible?

Consult the multilingual factsheets, in over 25 languages, for providers and recipients of the COVID-19 vaccines, whether it is Pzifer or Moderna. 

Source: FDA Multilingual Fact Sheets(Pfizer-BioNTech) orFDA Multilingual Fact Sheets(Moderna) 

What are key principles to “equitable distribution” of the vaccine?

Experts recommend the following five main principles for an equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy:

  1. Recruit diverse populations to participate in clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine to ensure the data reflect the racial, ethnic, age and gender diversity of the US.
  2. Require transparency when it comes to reviewing safety and efficacy data, with approval discussions taking place in the public eye, particularly in the event of an Emergency Use Authorization.
  3. Follow guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) working groups as they identify priority groups and develop recommendations for vaccinating the civilian population.
  4. Ensure access to vaccinations for all individuals, regardless of their ability to pay; remove financial barriers.
  5. Engage state-level task forces and working groups in discussions about how to distribute vaccines effectively to recommended populations, with a focus on communication strategies and ensuring proper representation of minority voices.

Source: Full recommendation in journal Health Affairs.

Are there recommended resources for advocates who want to monitor the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines?

NIH commissioned a study for the National Academies of Medicine (NAM) to develop a framework for equitable vaccine distribution with equity at the heart of it. The study looked at risks, and proposed that equity be the foundation for ACIP independent external committee advising the CDC. The study recognized that it was not race itself that put people at risk, but racism and the economic toll. It’s the jobs people work, the ability to work from home or not…the systemic factors. Priorities on hard hit communities, what we call the social determinants of health. The same factors need to be looked at during the roll out. The key is for equitable allocation and distribution is getting relevant messages conveyed by trusted messengers. See a free copy of the report (pdf) for the equity framework downloadable here 

Source: The Chicago Community Trust, NAM 

Will the COVID-19 vaccines be available for the undocumented community?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccines are available for the undocumented community. Health providers should not discriminate against undocumented individuals from getting the COVID-19 vaccines. Some personal information might be requested, and the personal information requested will vary by site. Although fear is a reality for the undocumented community when giving out personal information, it is important to seek information from community allies. Speak with a local trusted source in your community on how you can get a COVID-19 vaccine in your state and what personal information will be needed from you.

¿Las vacunas estarán disponible para la comunidad indocumentada?

Sí, las vacunas contra el COVID-19 están disponibles para la comunidad indocumentada. Los proveedores de salud no deben discriminar a las personas indocumentadas para que no reciban las vacunas contra el COVID-19. Es posible que se solicite cierta información personal y la información personal solicitada variará según el sitio. Aunque el miedo a dar información personal es una realidad para la comunidad indocumentada, es importante buscar información de los aliados de la comunidad. Hable con una fuente local confiable en su comunidad sobre cómo puede obtener las vacunas contra el COVID-19 en su estado y qué información personal se le pedirá.

Sources: UnidosUS (English); UnidosUS (Spanish)

How can COVID-19 vaccine distribution and messaging address challenges and concerns of the immigrant community?

 

Prioritizing immigrants disproportionately at-risk: Some states have indicated prioritizing immigrants as part of vaccination efforts. For example, the state health director in Arizona referred to the undocumented population as a high priority for vaccination, Virginia includes people living in migrant labor camps in Phase 1b of its vaccination plan, and New Jersey includes migrant workers as a high-risk population in Phase 1c. Oregon indicated plans to develop targeted messaging and outreach to immigrant and refugee communities, including them in planning and advisory work to inform vaccine dissemination.

Data sharing, privacy, and the “public charge rule”: The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services has clarified that it will not consider testing, treatment, or preventive care, including vaccines, related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination. Despite these limits on how the data may be used, the collection of personal data and sharing of it with the federal government will likely make some immigrant families more reluctant to access the vaccine. The January 2021 White House National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response states the federal government “will safeguard privacy, and ensure these data will be used exclusively for public health services…and will not be shared or used by any federal or law enforcement agencies, including actions by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Source: White House, KFF

Combatting misinformation (the Infodemic)

How can I combat misinformation and rumors about the vaccine?

Now that there are FDA-authorized and CDC-recommended COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., accurate vaccine information is critical. It is important not to repeat any rumor itself, verbatim, as this may reinforce the rumor or be shared out of context, leading to further misinformation.

Here are the CDC’s key facts about the COVID-19 Vaccines (available in Spanish here):

  • FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19
  • FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests
  • FACT: People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated
  • FACT: Getting vaccinated can help prevent getting sick with COVID-19
  • FACT: Receiving an mRNA vaccine will not alter your DNA

Source: See CDC for more detailed information on each fact

Are there microchips or “tracking devices” in the vaccine? How was it developed so quickly?

According to NIH’s Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett: “There are no tracking devices whatsoever in the vaccine. I was the scientific lead in NIH for Dr. Fauci’s lab, and in the last six years we gathered fundamental understanding of how to make vaccines for coronaviruses. They caused MERS in 2014, and SARS before that. We have fundamental knowledge around coronaviruses. We have looked at the protein at atomic detail, we understand every nook and cranny and antibody response. What you see in front of you appears like 10-11 months of vaccine development, but the preclinical science extends beyond my tenure at NIH, 10-15 years starting with SARS, so there’s a large amount of research backing it.” 

Source: NIH 

Will COVID-19 vaccines change my DNA or genetic makeup?

No. The mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines can most easily be described as a set of instructions for your body on how to make a harmless piece of “spike protein” to allow our immune systems to recognize that this protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies. Essentially, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to the virus, giving your cells a blueprint of how to make antibodies.

Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html. 

Do COVID-19 vaccines cause autism?

No. Time after time, studies conducted across the globe continue to show that there is no connection between autism and vaccines. 

Source: CDC: Autism and Vaccines 

Vaccines, Pregnancy and Lactation

Have COVID-19 vaccines been studied in people who are pregnant or lactating?

As of Feb. 5, two COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for use in the U.S.. Neither of these vaccines was initially studied specifically in people who are pregnant or lactating. Because of this, there is little information about their safety and performance in people who are pregnant or lactating. This does not mean that the vaccines are unsafe for these people. Animal studies of the COVID-19 vaccines before and during pregnancy have been done and are ongoing; no evidence of harm has been shown. Studies in people who are pregnant are planned.

Both of these vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) are mRNA vaccines. This means that they do not contain live virus, cannot cause COVID-19 and cannot change the recipient’s DNA.

Despite increased regulatory issues around special populations, including people who are pregnant or lactating in clinical trials, efforts are being made to open these types of studies more and more.

Source: CDC and NIH

What is the current recommendation for COVID-19 vaccines in people who are pregnant?

Currently, there is no recommendation for or against COVID-19 vaccination in people who are pregnant in the U.S.. This means that there is not enough information to make an official recommendation. It does not mean that the vaccines are harmful for these people, nor that their safety can be guaranteed. It means that until there is more information, agencies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization cannot make an official recommendation to use the vaccine in special populations such as people who are pregnant.

The CDC recommends that people who are pregnant should make an individual decision with information from their medical provider about the risks or benefits of getting a vaccine while considering their risk for COVID-19. This can include their risk of being exposed to the virus, (e.g., someone who works in a health care setting v. someone who is working from home), their chance for becoming sick from the virus (e.g., someone with diabetes v. someone who has no underlying medical conditions), and what is known about the risks and benefits overall for the vaccine.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from people who are pregnant or lactating if they are part of a group that the vaccine is recommended for.

Source: CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Which people who are pregnant or lactating are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination varies by state. Check with your local or state health department for more information. CDC says that while there is no official recommendation, people who are pregnant or lactating and are part of an eligible prioritized group for vaccination (e.g., health care personnel, long-term care facility staff, school staff) may choose to get vaccinated when their group is eligible.

Source: CDC

What do we know about COVID-19 in people who are pregnant and lactating?

If people who are pregnant get COVID-19, they are at higher risk of having severe disease compared to people who are not pregnant. There is also an increased chance that they may have pre-term labor, which could affect the health of their baby.

Currently, the best science suggests that breastmilk is not likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. People may choose to continue to breastfeed with precautions (wearing a mask, washing hands) or to express breastmilk safely to use to feed their baby. Talk with your medical provider about what may be best for your health and the health of your baby if you are lactating and are diagnosed with COVID-19.

Source: CDC

Do I need a pregnancy test before I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

You do not need to take a pregnancy test before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, if you were recently vaccinated and are considering becoming pregnant, there is no recommendation to wait for any period of time after your vaccination to become pregnant.

Source: CDC