General Questions

How do I get the vaccine?

Please see the resources section for links to places to find a COVID vaccine near you and sign up to be notified when you are eligible for a vaccine in your state.

All of the EUA approved vaccines are injections or a shot. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are two shots. The Pfizer vaccine is given 21 days apart; the Moderna vaccine is given 28 days apart. You are not fully vaccinated until you receive both doses (two shots). If you miss the 21/28-day window, you do NOT need to start all over again. The Janssen vaccine is a single shot.

If I get the vaccine, will my risk of COVID19 be decreased?

Yes! These vaccines are effective and have been shown to significantly reduce your risk of getting sick with COVID-19. The risk decreases very quickly. Results from the Pfizer vaccine have shown that within 10 days of receiving the 1st shot, your risk of COVID significantly decreases. This is the same regardless of sex, race, age, or weight.

But with the two-dose vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna), the first dose of the vaccine is only partially effective—you need to get the second dose to be fully protected.

AND: you will still need to continue precautions for awhile longer. No vaccine protects 100% of the time. People will still have to minimize risk by wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands.

After I’m vaccinated, can I go to crowded indoor spaces?

No. First, the vaccine immunity takes at least 2–3 weeks after ALL doses. Also, the vaccine is not 100%. You will still need to social distance and wear a mask until we reach herd immunity.

If I get the vaccine and still get COVID, will I get less sick?

Yes!  ALL three approved COVID vaccines have been shown to decrease severe COVID-19 and prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19.  This is incredibly important for the person vaccinated as well as allowing our health care institutions protected and able to care for everyone.

Once I’m fully vaccinated, can I stop wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing?

The CDC has recently issued new recommendations for vaccinated individuals. Currently vaccinated people can:
– Visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or social distancing
– Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a SINGLE household without masks or physical distancing if the unvaccinated people are at low risk for severe disease
– Skip quarantine and testing if exposed to someone with COVID-19 as long as the vaccinated person is asymptomatic (the vaccinated person should still monitor for symptoms for 14 days).

But: vaccinated people STILL need to take precautions in many scenarios:

  • They must wear a mask and physically distance around unvaccinated people who are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19
  • They must wear a mask and physically distance around unvaccinated people who have household members who are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19
  • And they should wear masks and physically distance when visiting unvaccinated people from multiple households.

Additionally, vaccinated people need to continue basic safety precautions (masking and physically distancing) in public, especially in medium and large-sized crowds, and poorly ventilated public spaces.

Finally, vaccinated people should get tested for COVID-19 if they feel sick.
You can see the full CDC recommendations here

Once I am fully vaccinated, will I be able to pass on the virus to others?

This is still being studied, but preliminary data from Pfizer, Moderna and the J&J vaccines looking at asymptomatic transmission of the virus (meaning active virus spreading without the person having symptoms) appears to be significantly decreased in those who are vaccinated.

However scientists and public health officials are still studying this so if you have been fully vaccinated, please follow the CDC guidelines here

What level of immunity can the elderly and immunosuppressed expect to get from the vaccine?

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The clinical trials for the Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines all indicated that there was no difference in efficacy by age, race, sex or underlying other medical conditions.  It is unclear at this time what the effect of various immunosuppressant medications will be on the vaccines.

It is unclear at this time what the effect of various immunosuppressant medications will be on the vaccine.

How long will this immunity last?

At this time, we are not entirely sure how long it will last. Please stay tuned and we will update with more information as it comes!

If there is a delay in the distribution chain, how will it affect my vaccination efficacy if I have to wait longer between my first and second dose?

This is a really great question and one that many are discussing given vaccine shortages. Currently, it is recommended that you receive BOTH doses of the Pfizer (21 days apart) or Moderna (28 days apart) vaccines. If you miss the 21/28 day windows, you do NOT need to start all over again—just get the second dose as soon as you can. We do not know how this will affect the effectiveness of the vaccinations but will keep updating with recommendations from scientists and public health advocates!

Of course, if you receive the Janssen vaccine it is only one dose.

Am I at a great risk of infection after my first dose but before my second dose of the vaccine?

No! In fact, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have shown efficacy after their first dose alone. However, you do not get the full efficacy until you get the second dose—so please make sure to follow-up with your second dose; and always wear a mask, maintain social distancing and wash your hands.

Of course, if you receive the Janssen vaccine it is only one dose.

If someone has already had COVID, do they need to get the vaccine?

This is a great question! Currently people can — and should — receive the vaccine regardless of their prior history of infection.

It is NOT recommended that you need to test for active or prior infection before getting the vacccine

Given that it appears that many people who have had COVID have immunity for at ~90 days, people who have been infected can wait until a 90-day period has passed to receive the vaccine (but they do not have to wait).

If you are actively infected with COVID, you should wait until you have recovered from your acute infection and your quarantine period is over. This is so that we protect those giving the vaccines and others at the sites where vaccinations will be happening.

If you have been exposed to someone who had COVID, you should wait until your quarantine period is over — again to protect those giving the vaccines and others at the sites were vaccinations are happening.

If you have been treated with a monoclonal antibody treatment, you should also wait 90 days from that treatment before getting vaccinated.

What will the vaccine cost?

The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to people living in the United States. However, your vaccination provider may bill your insurance company, Medicaid, or Medicare for an administration fee.

Are there any negative interactions between the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine?

No-there did not appear to be any negative interactions (remember, the clinical trials ran through flu season, so many participants received both). We do know that getting both the flu and COVID illnesses at the same time appears to be associated with a significantly increased risk of death, so we recommend obtaining BOTH vaccines! But you should space them apart by at least 14 days.

I am due to get another vaccine; can I get it at the same time as my COVID vaccine?

Currently it is recommended that you space your COVID vaccine out by 14 days of any other vaccine so potential reactions are not confused between different vaccines.

Now that we have three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen), which one should I get?

We are so glad that you want to get vaccinated! Please: get whichever one is available to you first. The efficacy and the safety data of all three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen) are very comparable to each other (neither one was “better” than the others). Due to supply and/or logistical issues, one may be available to you before the other.

Many have been concerned because of a perceived lower efficacy of the Janssen vaccine. It is very important to know that the Janssen vaccine clinical trials ran after the Pfizer/Moderna trials did, and in countries with a high prevalence of the new COVID variants. Despite this, the Janssen vaccine efficacy was incredibly good and it still protected against hospitalization and death from COVID. We do not know how the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines would have performed in similar situations, so the vaccine trials are not directly comparable.

The one thing we DO know is that all three vaccines have been shown to be protective against severe COVID or death from COVID, and that the longer we go without vaccinations the more time the virus has to make new variants. So we strongly urge people to get whichever vaccine is available to them first!

Can I get one dose of one vaccine and the second dose from a different vaccine?

Currently the vaccine trials only evaluated the efficacy of two doses of their own vaccine. The safety and efficacy was not tested for obtaining doses from different vaccines.

Are these various vaccines the same or different enough that we should get all of them?

No—you do not need to get multiple vaccines. All of the vaccines approved by emergency use authorization (EUA) are effective on their own and currently there are no recommendations that multiple vaccinations are needed.

I received convalescent plasma or a monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID; can I still get the vaccine?

The current CDC recommendations are that you wait 90 days from the time you received either convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibody therapy before receiving any of the three approved COVID vaccines.

I don’t trust the vaccine because I don’t think my community (people who look like me) were represented.

We are so glad that you want to get vaccinated! Please: get whichever one is available to you first. The efficacy and the safety data of all three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen) are very comparable to each other (neither one was “better” than the others). Due to supply and/or logistical issues, one may be available to you before the other.

Many have been concerned because of a perceived lower efficacy of the Janssen vaccine. It is very important to know that the Janssen vaccine clinical trials ran after the Pfizer/Moderna trials did, and in countries with a high prevalence of the new COVID variants. Despite this, the Janssen vaccine efficacy was incredibly good and it still protected against hospitalization and death from COVID. We do not know how the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines would have performed in similar situations, so the vaccine trials are not directly comparable.

The one thing we DO know is that all three vaccines have been shown to be protective against severe COVID or death from COVID, and that the longer we go without vaccinations the more time the virus has to make new variants. So we strongly urge people to get whichever vaccine is available to them first!

What is “vaccine hesitancy”?

This is when a person is “hesitant” about receiving the vaccine. This can be due to many factors, such as concern about the safety and development of this specific vaccine, lack of confidence in vaccines as a whole, or a lack of education about vaccination.

This is why it’s important for all of us to talk to each other, discuss concerns, and address them as honestly as possible.

Why is the vaccine taking so long to be developed and given out?

This vaccine has been developed very quickly compared to other vaccines. This is due to the urgency of the global pandemic. However, it has been created in a way that allowed it to be safe and to be studied so that people around the world can be confident in taking it

The next step is distribution. Distribution has some challenges, including shipping, storing (some vaccines need to be kept at remarkably cold temperatures!), and administration. The millions of doses that are needed still need to be manufactured.

Finally, there will be people who do not want to receive the vaccine for various reasons — or who do not want to receive it at first but do end up receiving it later. This delay is a barrier in achieving “herd immunity,” and it may take time and patience to reach a level of 70–80% of the population becoming vaccinated

This is why it’s important for all of us to talk to each other, discuss concerns, and address them as honestly as possible.

What is “herd immunity”?

Herd immunity occurs when a majority of the population (the “herd”) is vaccinated. When enough people are immune through vaccination, the disease is unable to spread. With nowhere to go, the virus dies out. It is then far less likely that anyone, immunized or not, will become infected with the virus. Usually, about 70%-90% of people must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. Because these vaccines will take time to be distributed, we will need patience because it will take many months to reach this point with COVID-19.

To be clear: herd immunity is not the idea that a majority of people get sick with COVID-19 and recover. Herd immunity only applies to the COVID vaccine.

Why should I get the vaccine?

The shot will help protect you from being infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the infection that causes COVID-19) and, even if you get infected, it will help prevent you from developing symptoms of severe COVID-19.

Getting the vaccine reduces your risk of becoming ill, seriously ill, or dying from COVID-19. The vaccine may also decrease the chance you could pass the virus on to someone else (see below).

When enough people receive the vaccine, we will reach what’s called herd immunity. Herd immunity will help protect everyone from COVID-19.

However, before we reach that point, we will still need to keep doing all the things we were already doing to protect ourselves: wash hands frequently, social distance, and wear masks.

What about these new COVID variants? Do the vaccines work against them?

SARS-CoV2 is a virus which mutates to survive. So there have been many variants out there. The 3 big ones that we hear about are the B 1.1.7 or the UK variant; the B1351 or the S. African variant and the 501Y.V3 or the Brazil variant.  Scientists have the entire genetic code for SARS-CoV2, so they know exactly where these mutations are occurring to cause these variants.

The UK is the most prevalent worldwide and the reason it is of concern for us is because there have also been the highest number of cases reported in the US—and even then, we have not done a good job of sequencing all of our reported COVID cases, so it is likely we are undercounting how many cases there are.  The UK variant’s mutations cause a >50% increase in the virus’s transmissibility.  We DO not know if this changes how lethal it is; but we do know that the more patients who get sick the higher the number who are going to die—so this is important.

We are uncertain if the South African or Brazil variant change the virus’ transmissibility

The important question is how do our vaccines work against these variants.  And what we do know so far is that ALL of the vaccines still prevent severe disease in all of these variants.

Overall, the vaccines appear to work well against the B 1.1.7 (UK) variant.  The South African variant is a bit more worrisome—we are seeing some immune evasion and reductions in vaccine efficacy.  But again: the J&J vaccine conducted their clinical trials in South Africa, so we know that the this vaccine is effective against this variant.

But getting back to the nature of viruses to mutate: the more we can decrease the spread of the virus, the more we can decrease these mutations and the number of variants we have.  And we accomplish decreasing spread by wearing a mask, socially distancing and getting vaccinated!

Can I get one dose of one of the mRNA vaccines and the second does from the other mRNA vaccine?

We are so glad that you want to get vaccinated! Please: get whichever one is available to you first. The efficacy and the safety data of all three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen) are very comparable to each other (neither one was “better” than the others). Due to supply and/or logistical issues, one may be available to you before the other.

Many have been concerned because of a perceived lower efficacy of the Janssen vaccine. It is very important to know that the Janssen vaccine clinical trials ran after the Pfizer/Moderna trials did, and in countries with a high prevalence of the new COVID variants. Despite this, the Janssen vaccine efficacy was incredibly good and it still protected against hospitalization and death from COVID. We do not know how the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines would have performed in similar situations, so the vaccine trials are not directly comparable.

The one thing we DO know is that all three vaccines have been shown to be protective against severe COVID or death from COVID, and that the longer we go without vaccinations the more time the virus has to make new variants. So we strongly urge people to get whichever vaccine is available to them first!

I have heard that the J&J vaccine is not as good as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Is this true?

Absolutely not true!

Many people are hearing the term “72% efficient” and comparing this to the “90-95% efficient” that was reported with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.   It is important to understand that neither of these vaccines were done at the same time period or in the same populations.

The J&J vaccine reported at their FDA Emergency Use Authorization hearing that their vaccine was 85% effective against severe COVID-19 globally; and 72% effective against moderate-severe/critical COVID in the United States.  It is important to put these numbers into context.

The J&J vaccine is only 1 dose (compared to the Pfizer/Moderna 2-dose vaccination regimen). Janssen also conducted their clinical trials later and in a number of countries that had a high prevalence of COVID-19 variants including Brazil and South Africa.  So it is actually pretty incredible that this one-dose vaccine has had such great efficacy in the setting of these variants!  We don’t know the efficacy of the Moderna/Pfizer vaccines with these variants as their clinical trials were conducted before these were an issue.

But most importantly: ALL of the available vaccines prevented hospitalization and death from COVID-19. This is the most important endpoint.

The J&J vaccine is also extremely easy to distribute quickly: it is a single dose; it can be stored for months at a normal refrigerator temperature and can be stored for years if frozen; and it can ship within the existing infrastructure.  And in order to minimize the emergence of more COVID variants, we need to get more shots in arms! So the J&J vaccine is an extremely valuable and effective vaccine to have!

Safety Questions

Are RNA vaccines safe? We’ve never had one before!

Great question!

RNA are like post-it notes (or, for the younger crowd, Snapchat messages that expire!). At any moment, a human cell has 5000+ different RNA messages. They are read by the cells and then destroyed within minutes to hours.

Because they are temporary, they do NOT become a permanent part of your body. In fact, they do not enter the nucleus of the cell and they never interact with a person’s DNA.

These temporary RNA messages instruct the cells of the body to make proteins. In the case of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, they message for one single coronavirus protein: the spike protein. This is the protein that the virus needs to enter the cells. So by developing antibodies to block it, you prevent COVID!

Now: remember — it takes 25 different proteins to make a coronavirus. So your body is NOT making a coronavirus with the RNA vaccine!

This is a great question because we knew that we would learn more about the mRNA vaccines as they rolled out.  And the FDA discussed the data to date at the J&J hearing on February 26th, which covered over 55 million people having received a dose of either the Pfizer (over 28 million) or Moderna (over 26 million).  They have data on nearly 4 million who completed at least one v-safe health check in.  What they have found is that there was no difference in the safety data between Pfizer and Moderna, with most people reporting injection site pain, fatigue, headaches and myalgias within 24 hours of their injections.  They also found no increased risk of any serious adverse outcome as detailed in the data they presented here

It’s really unbelievable that we will have a vaccine against a new virus so soon, right?

Yes! It’s an incredible scientific achievement!  But realize—research on the technology behind the new COVID-19 vaccine has been underway for at least the past 10+ years.  We’ve had prototypes for influenza, rabies and other types of viruses.  This pandemic pushed scientists across the world to be really motivated and focused on a single virus and utilized the knowledge they already with significant resources. In the US, we had Operation Warp Speed, a federal partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Department of Defense (DOD), and private companies to develop, manufacture, and distribute 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. It was incredibly fortunate that they picked the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 to focus on, as it turned out this was the right protein to target!

These vaccines have been tested in clinical trials enrolling tens of thousands of people, just like other vaccines. The timeline was accelerated, but steps were not skipped. You can see the FDA briefing materials that provide a comprehensive overview of the safety and efficacy data.

I have  heard that people with allergies cannot get the vaccine?

So far, there have been less than 20 severe allergic reactions that have been reported with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. It is important to remember that this is out of >1 million people worldwide who have been vaccinated. In all cases, people have successfully been treated for the allergic reaction. These events are being evaluated to determine exactly what reactions have occurred and what (if any) allergies these people have had.

The CDC is currently recommended a 15-minute monitored waiting period after the vaccine; but if you have had a serious of severe anaphylaxis, they are recommending you have 30 minute monitored waiting period after your vaccine.

Additional recommendations will be forthcoming or change, so check back here!

Is there anyone who should NOT get the vaccine due to safety concerns?

Great question! The only people who should NOT get the vaccine are those with a history of severe reactions to the vaccine ingredients. Those ingredients are listed on page 2 of this document.

We do strongly recommend you also discuss your allergy concerns with your doctor!

Are these live vaccines? I’m worries about getting the vaccine and passing COVID to someone else.

None of the vaccines are live vaccines. The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) are simply mRNA vaccines, which are like temporary notes that tell the cell what to do—in this case, make antibodies to the spike protein of SARS-CoV2.

The J&J vaccine uses an adenovirus—another type of virus—as a carrier of DNA coding for the spike protein, so the cells can make antibodies to it.  Many have worried about this adenovirus component of the vaccine and if this is a “live” vaccine—but it’s very important to understand that this adenovirus component has had both its replicative and survival abilities erased from its genome.  So it’s really just scaffolding for the DNA coding the spike protein—no live virus involved. It is therefore safe for those patients with suppressed immune systems, either through medications or due to underlying medical conditions.

Are there any human or animal parts in the vaccine?

mRNA vaccines contain no human or animal in them — they are just made with a few salts, sugar, water, a lipid capsule and mRNA.

I have heard that you get really sick when you get this vaccine?

It appears that people who get the COVID vaccines are more likely to get some mild flu-like symptoms: sore arm, muscle aches, fatigue, GI discomfort, etc. This appears to happen a bit more with this vaccine than with (for example) the flu vaccine; and it appears to be more common after the second dose of the vaccine, and can last up to 24–36 hours.

But please remember: this is a GOOD thing! It means your body is responding to the vaccine and building up the defense you need to protect you from COVID! (Think of it like working out — you have to get a little sore to build up that muscle!)

It is absolutely fine to take Tylenol or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to treat these symptoms if they occur; but it is currently NOT recommended to take those medications to prevent these symptoms before they start because it is unclear at this time if they will interfere with the antibody response and vaccine effectiveness.

And don’t worry if you don’t have these symptoms — some people do, some people do not!

I am immunosuppressed and/or have a high-risk medical problem: is it safe for me to get the COVID vaccine?

Yes! The CDC absolutely recommends that people who are immunosuppressed or have high-risk medical problems get vaccinated.  Please remember: none of the vaccines are live vaccines.  And these vaccines protect against severe COVID-19 or dying from COVID-19.

I have heard that if I’ve had COVID and get the vaccine, it could lead to too many antibodies which could predispose you to autoimmune disorders. Is there any concerns or truth to that?

This is not true. It is recommended that even if you have had COVID in the past you get vaccinated. We have not seen an increased number of autoimmune flares with either the vaccine or with COVID.

I have an autoimmune disorder; will I have a flare when I get the vaccine?

People with autoimmune disorders have not been reported to have “flares” after receiving the COVID vaccines or after having active COVID-19 infections.

Is it true that vaccines including COVID vaccines contain metals?

Yes vaccines can contain metals; and so do blueberries, eggs and bananas! Metals are part of nature. Your body needs certain types of metals for appropriate function; and your body can handle these micro doses of metals and excrete them appropriately — including those in the foods you eat AND in vaccines.

I have heard that people get Bell’s palsy for the COVID vaccine?

Bell’s Palsy is a facial paralysis, usually on one side, that causes drooping of the face. It is usually temporary but can rarely become permanent.  The CDC has been monitoring this, along with a number of other outcomes, with the COVID vaccines and have not found any increased risk with the COVID vaccines. For more on this research, please see the informational slides here.

I have heard that people with allergies cannot get the vaccine. Is this true?

Initially with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, there was concern regarding allergic reactions. As we have accumulated millions more people receiving these vaccines, it appears there is no increased risk of an allergic reaction.  However, for ALL the vaccines (the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccine), the CDC recommends a 15-minute monitored waiting period after the vaccine; and a 30-minute monitored waiting period if you have any history of serious allergies to medications.

I had a reaction to the first vaccine; should I get the second one?

Per the CDC, a delayed local injection-site reaction after the first mRNA vaccine dose is not a contraindication or precaution to the second dose. You will also want to discuss with your health care provider.

Is it possible to pass COVID to someone after I’ve gotten the vaccine? Should I quarantine after getting the vaccine?

No—none of the approved vaccines are live vaccines. You do not have to quarantine after getting the vaccine.  You SHOULD continue to wear a mask and physically distance for 2 weeks after you receive either the J&J vaccine or the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Why was the J&J vaccine paused and then restarted?

The FDA and CDC wanted to evaluate a total of 15 rare events of cerebral venous thrombosis (a very rare type of clotting disorder) and low platelet count.  One of these people died; and another was hospitalized.  This syndrome (large vessel blood clots with low platelet count) was deemed to be biologically plausible to be associated with this type of vaccine.

The pause also afforded the opportunity to provide clarity to providers on a) who appears to be at increased risk and b) how to treat it appropriately if there is concern that it happened in someone who received the J&J vaccine.

The conclusion that they came to was that these rare events were in fact quite rare; and the benefits of the J&J vaccine greatly outweighed the risks of these events.

What exactly was this complication? Is there anything we should know about this?

The complication was a combination of a rare type of clotting disorder called a cerebral sinus venous thrombosis and a low platelet count.

It is important to note that this is different from the regular blood clots we are used to thinking about.  In this case, the blood clot is the result of an immune-mediated phenomenon that causes destruction of the platelets (clotting cells) but also causes production of clots itself.

The typical risk factors for blood clots are NOT associated with this type of clots.

I’ve heard that women are at more risk for this complication?

With only 15 of these outcomes, it’s very hard to tell if something is truly a pattern.  However, analysis did not find any particular risk factors other than all of the people who had this complication were women and the majority (13/15) were under the age of 50.

It is important to understand, however: this vaccine is NOT restricted from women or pregnant women.  It is just important to be aware of this potential rare risk.

Is there a treatment for this complication?

Yes! And that is part of the reason pause: to really look at all the information and, if it is related, to get appropriate information back to health care providers about exactly what this is, what to look for, and how to appropriately treat it.

I got the J&J vaccine – should I be worried? What should I be looking for?

This complication seems to happen a median of 9 days after vaccination—so it’s not an immediate side effect. And none of the cases occurred after 3 weeks of vaccination.

Symptoms include: severe headache, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, swelling in the legs and easy bruising.  If you have had these symptoms and recently (within the last 3 weeks) had the J&J vaccine, you should contact your doctor or go to an emergency room to be evaluated.

I am worried that vaccines are not safe

It is important to remember that this is an extremely rare side effect—6 people out of an estimated 7 million people who have received the J&J vaccine.  To put this into perspective, it is twice as rare as getting hit by lightening!

It is also important to remember that despite being so rare, the FDA and CDC still paused vaccination with the J&J COVID vaccine when seeing this.  This shows how seriously they take even rare serious side effects and how important it is for them to investigate these fully before allowing them to be given to Americans.

Timeline Questions

Where can I get the vaccine?

First—thank you for your enthusiasm to get vaccinated! You are part of the solution!

The CDC and the American Committee on Immunization Practices and Protocols have made recommendations for which groups of people should get vaccinated in what order, based on who is at risk of spreading COVID-19 and who is at risk of dying from the disease.

However, every state has independent control to make their own state-specific prioritization protocols as well. So there will be variations by state.

As more vaccine becomes available, more and more people on these lists, including the general population, will be able to get vaccinated.  And President Biden has indicated a goal of every adult being able to get vaccinated starting May 1st.

Until then, please wait until your turn.  It can be hard—many are reporting “vaccination envy.”  Please remember: the more people who get vaccinated, the better it is for EVERYONE.

The vaccine priority groups are unfair – can I skip the line?

No, but there’s a good reason. Vaccinating those at highest risk protects ALL of us by reducing the number of cases among those most likely to be infected. This means as soon as you are eligible, you can get vaccinated — but not before.

Can I choose the type of vaccine I get?

That’s an excellent question. It does not seem likely that you will be forced to get one type of COVID vaccine versus another. However, there may be availability issues for a certain type of vaccine in a certain area.

Where can I find out when and where I can get the vaccine?

The Biden Administration has indicated that in May they will be unveiling a nationwide website for every adult to find a vaccine near them.  Until then, please check your state’s health department for details on what groups are being vaccinated and how to sign up.

What about people who were in a clinical trial and got placebo – can they get the vaccine?

This is a really great question. You should contact the vaccine study directly.

Vulnerable Populations Questions

What about getting this vaccine for pregnant or lactating women?

Pregnant women were excluded from vaccine trials. However, the Emergency Use Authorizations for all three approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, J&J) allow women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to opt to obtain the vaccines.

We do have data on over 60,000 pregnant women who have obtained either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine’s.  The FDA has been following outcomes of interest including fetal demise, pregnancy complications, maternal intensive care unit admission, adverse birth outcomes, neonatal death, infant hospitalizations, and major birth defects.  To date, there has been NO increased risk of any of these adverse pregnancy outcomes.  Pregnant women report the same side effects (sore arm, fatigue, headaches, myalgias) that non-pregnant individuals report when getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

It is also important to remember that COVID-19 is associated with worse outcomes in pregnant women.  So if you are not obtaining the vaccine, please make sure to continue to wear a mask, physically distance, and remain safe!

Watch this 15 second clip explaining more.

I have heard that mRNA vaccines cause infertility?

This is simply not true! In fact, in the Pfizer trial, 12 women in the vaccine arm became pregnant despite signing a pledge to use 2 forms of birth control or abstinence!

If I get my COVID19 vaccine while I am pregnant, will protective antibodies cross the placenta during pregnancy?

We currently do not know the answer to this. Please check back as more data becomes available on these vaccines!

Is it safe to get the vaccine while breastfeeding? Are protective antibodies from the vaccine spread in breast milk?

Data thus far for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines indicate that there are no adverse events associated  with the COVID-19 vaccines.  Initial data from real-world observational studies have shown that antibodies ARE passed in the cord blood and in the breastmilk, which is great news for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding!

What about children?

The EUA for the Pfizer vaccine allows children 16 years and older to obtain the vaccine.

Only one vaccine (Pfizer) allowed children as young as 12 to get the vaccine — and there were not a lot of them.

This great article with an interview with Dr. Sallie Permar, Chairwoman and Pediatrician-in-Chief at the Weill Cornell Medical School and NYP Pediatrics, explains why studying children is so important — they are not “little adults.” Their immune systems work differently. So we will need to do trials to find out the correct doses for them.

The good news is that we already have great lessons from the existing trials — so these pediatric trials likely don’t have to be as long or as big!

However, we should get these trials done as soon as possible — because we want our children to go back to school as soon as safely possible.

Check out this article.

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