With more and more people are getting their COVID-19 vaccine, we are also getting more and more questions about those COVID-19 vaccinations.
What to Know About COVID-19 Vaccination
In general, folks should know that:
- the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is given on a two dose schedule, with the second dose being given 21 days after the first dose
- the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is given on a two dose schedule, with the second dose being given 28 days after the first dose
- the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is given as one dose only – there is no second dose!
- yes, you can and should get vaccinated even if you have already had a natural COVID-19 infection
What other questions are coming up?
Many people want to know why the COVID-19 vaccine rollout isn’t going better.
Why aren’t we giving all of the vaccines that have been distributed?
While it is easy to blame a lack of federal leadership, it mostly comes back to the fact that we do such a poor job at funding public health in the United States. And it hasn’t helped that extra money to help vaccine distribution efforts was not approved until the end of 2020 and won’t be distributed to states until January 19!
We are slowly but surely meeting our COVID-19 vaccination goals though.
COVID-19 Vaccination Questions and Answers
In addition to myths and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines, other things to know about COVID-19 vaccinations include that:
- Can you mix and match the COVID-19 vaccines? No. The second dose should be of the same type as the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That being said, if you unintentionally get a mismatched schedule of doses, then you would not need another dose.
- Do you have to restart the series if you are late for your second dose? No. In fact, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be administered up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. And while you should try and get your second dose as close as possible to stay on schedule, you do not have to restart the series if you are late getting your second dose.
- Can you get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose early? While you should stay on schedule, as with most other vaccines, there is a 4 day grace period for the COVID-19 vaccination schedule, so if you received your second dose 1 to 4 days early, then it won’t need to be repeated.
- How long do you have to wait after actually having COVID-19 before getting vaccinated? Technically, you only have to wait until you are out of your isolation period and are no longer contagious. However, since you could be immune for at least three months (and probably much longer), you might wait and allow others to get vaccinated and protected before you get your vaccine if you have already had COVID-19. And even if you have had your first dose and then test positive, you can still get your second dose.
- How long do you have to wait after getting your COVID-19 vaccine before getting other vaccines? 14 days. However, if you need to get another vaccine within 14 days (before or after your COVID-19 vaccine), then your COVID-19 vaccine dose will not need to be repeated.
- You should avoid taking acetaminophen and ibuprofen before you get your COVID-19 vaccine.
- Will getting a COVID-19 vaccine affect the results of SARS-CoV-2 viral tests (PCR or antigen tests)? No.
- Will getting a COVID-19 vaccine affect the results of SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests? Yes, but only if the antibody titer test is assessing IgM and/or IgG to spike proteins. Antibody tests to the nucleocapsid protein will only detect past infection, but not vaccination.
- Can you get COVID-19 from a COVID-19 vaccine? No. These are not live virus vaccines, so it is not possible to actually become infected from the vaccine.
- Do the COVID-19 vaccines cause shedding? No. The currently approved COVID-19 vaccines do not actually contain any viral particles, so can’t cause you to shed. So yes, it is safe to be around someone who has recently had their COVID-19 vaccine.
- Which COVID-19 vaccine should you get? The first one that is made available to you! There is no real evidence that any one of these vaccines is better than the others, so get the first COVID-19 vaccine that is available to you and don’t wait for a specific vaccine.
- Do the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines work against mutated strains. Yes. So far, our vaccine seem to work against COVID-19 variants.
- When will COVID-19 vaccines be available for younger children? The current estimate is that children might start getting vaccinated this summer or next fall, as clinical trials start to ramp up in this age group.
- What do I do if I have a mild or moderate adverse event from the COVID-19 vaccine? Most adverse events are mild or moderate (headache, pain, fever, etc.), go away in a few days, and can be treated with rest, pain relievers, and cold compresses, etc.
- What do I do if I have a severe adverse event from the COVID-19 vaccine? If you have a severe adverse event, especially a severe allergic reaction, then you should seek immediate medical attention.
- How do you report adverse events to the COVID-19 vaccine? In addition to entering your side effects during your daily v-safe surveys, you can and should report any adverse event to the COVID-19 vaccine to VAERS.
- COVID arm is a delayed local reaction.
- COVID-19 vaccines can cause some recipients to develop inflammatory unilateral axillary adenopathy, which can show up on a mammogram.
- You can likely get a COVID-19 vaccine if you are immunocompromised.
- When can I get my shot? COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed based on prioritization within risk groups, starting with health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities and then moving to frontline essential workers and all adults who are over age 75 years and then people 16 to 64 years with high risk medical conditions, etc. So when you can get your shot depends both on where you are in these risk groups, and of course, availability in your area.
- Why will I still need to wear a mask after I get my COVID-19 vaccines? It’s mostly because the vaccine is not 100% effective, so you should continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing until the pandemic is over. And even if the vaccines are very effective at keeping you from getting sick (having the actual disease), we don’t yet know if they will prevent all or most COVID-19 infections. That means it is theoretically possible that even after you are vaccinated and protected against COVID-19 disease, that you could still become infected (you carry the virus, but don’t have symptoms) and might be able to get others sick. And yes, there are some other vaccines that do prevent disease, but not infection. Hopefully the COVID-19 vaccines prevents both disease and infection, but until we know that for sure, we will continue to wear our masks and practice social distancing.
Still thinking about whether or not to get vaccinated and protected?
That one is easy!
More on COVID-19 Vaccination
- Look Who’s Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine
- The Truth About COVID-19 Vaccines
- I’m Not Anti-Vaccine, I Just Don’t Believe in the COVID-19 Vaccine
- Are COVID-19 Vaccines Halal?
- Countering COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy
- How Long Does It Take for the COVID-19 Vaccines to Work?
- Answering Your Concerns About the COVID-19 Vaccine Development Process
- Where Are the COVID-19 Package Inserts?
- COVID-19 VAERS Reports
- COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Monitoring Systems
- Have Thousands Been Negatively Affected After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine?
- CDC – COVID-19 ACIP Vaccine Recommendations
- CDC – Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States
- CDC – Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination
- FDA – Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
- FDA – Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
- IAC – Ask the Experts about COVID-19 Vaccines
- IAC – Managing Vaccine Reactions
- CDC – COVID-19 Vaccine Training Modules
- CDC – Answering Patients’ Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination
- States to receive initial $3 billion infusion for vaccines
- America’s messy Covid-19 vaccine rollout, explained
- COVID-19 Vaccines FAQ
- The New COVID-19 Vaccine: Answers To All the Hard Questions
- Answering health professionals’ COVID-19 vaccination questions
- COVID-19 vaccine questions and answers
- Answering Key Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines
- COVID-19 vaccines: The tough questions answered by a frontline doctor
- American Society of Hematology COVID-19 Vaccines Frequently Asked Questions
- JDRF Answers Your Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccines
- American Nurses Association COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
- COVID-19 Vaccine: Answers for Dementia Caregivers and People Living with Alzheimer’s
- COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions