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- Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
- If I’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
- Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?
- What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Will the COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?
- Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?
- Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am breastfeeding?
- I’m concerned about how quickly the vaccines were developed and don’t trust their effectiveness and safety.
- Does the vaccine include any controversial substances?
- What are we still learning about the vaccines?
- How much does a vaccine cost?
- Will I still have to wear a mask and continue COVID-19 safety precautions if I get the vaccine?
- When am I eligible to receive the vaccine, and how do I sign up for an appointment?
Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States contain the live virus, meaning that the vaccine cannot infect you with COVID-19. The vaccines can cause side effects, such as a fever, in some people, but this is a sign that your body is learning to protect against the virus. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build up protection against the virus, so it is possible for someone to become infected with the virus just before or after getting the vaccine and still get sick. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
If I’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
According to the CDC, yes. Experts are still unsure on how long you are protected after recovering from COVID-19, so it is possible—although rare—for someone who has recovered from COVID-19 to get infected by the virus again.
If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting the vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or have more questions about COVID-19. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?
Yes. The vaccine teaches your body how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick.
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. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Some people notice pain or swelling where they got the vaccine. You may also get a fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, or a combination of these symptoms. Out of the over 2 million people who reported vaccine side effects to the CDC:
- 70% reported pain in their arm
- 33% reported experiencing fatigue
- 33% reported a headache
- 11% reported experiencing chills or a fever
- 10.4% reported joint pain
- 8.9% reported nausea
Side effects may last about a day or two. These are signs that your immune system is responding and preparing to fight the coronavirus if you catch it. If symptoms persist, you should call your doctor. (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)
Will the COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?
No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.
There are currently two types of COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for use in the United States; messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and viral vector vaccines.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which 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.
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different, harmless virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells to start building protection. The instructions are delivered in the form of genetic material. This material does not integrate into a person’s DNA. These instructions tell the cell to produce a harmless piece of virus that causes COVID-19. This is a spike protein and is only found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. This triggers our immune system to recognize the virus that causes COVID-19 and to begin producing antibodies and activating other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection.
At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection from COVID-19. That immune response and the antibodies that our bodies make protect us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?
Yes. If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to you. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Confusion around this issue arose when a false report surfaced on social media, saying that the spike protein on this coronavirus was the same as another spike protein called syncitin-1 that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy. The false report said that getting the COVID-19 vaccine would cause a woman’s body to fight this different spike protein and affect her fertility. The two spike proteins are completely different, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect the fertility of women who are seeking to become pregnant, including through in vitro fertilization methods. During the Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 women volunteers involved in the study became pregnant, and the only one in the trial who suffered a pregnancy loss had not received the actual vaccine, but a placebo. (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am breastfeeding?
Based upon available data, it appears safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are nursing a baby. Although the vaccines have not been studied in nursing mothers, lactating women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines do not contain live virus, so being vaccinated does not pose a risk to the baby. If you are vaccinated for the coronavirus, there is no need to delay or discontinue breastfeeding. (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)
I’m concerned about how quickly the vaccines were developed and don’t trust their effectiveness and safety.
Studies found that the two initial vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are both about 95% effective and reported no serious or life-threatening side effects. Here are a few reasons why the COVID-19 vaccines could be developed so quickly:
- The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were created with a method that has been in development for decades specifically to address a new pandemic illness (messenger RNA, or mRNA), so the companies could start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic.
- China isolated and shared genetic information about COVID-19 promptly, so scientists could start working on vaccines.
- The vaccine developers didn’t skip any testing steps, but conducted some of the steps on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster.
- Vaccine projects had plenty of resources, as governments invested in research and/or paid for vaccines in advance.
- Social media helped companies find and engage study volunteers, and many were willing to help with COVID-19 vaccine research.
- Because COVID-19 is so contagious and widespread, it did not take long to see if the vaccine worked for the study volunteers who were vaccinated.
(source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)
Does the vaccine contain any controversial substances?
No. The vaccines authorized by the FDA contain mRNA (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) and other normal vaccine ingredients such as fats (which protect the mRNA), salts, as well as a small amount of sugar. These COVID-19 vaccines were not developed using fetal tissue, and they do not contain any material such as implants, microchips, or tracking devices. (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)
What are we still learning about the vaccines?
- How well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not have symptoms
- How long COVID-19 vaccines protect people
- How many people have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before most people can be considered protected (population immunity)
- How effective the vaccines are against new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19
(source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
How much does a vaccine cost?
Nothing. The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status. Providers cannot:
- Charge you for the vaccine
- Charge you any administration fees, copays, or coinsurance
- Deny vaccination to anyone who does not have health insurance coverage, is underinsured, or is out of network
- Charge an office visit or other fee to the recipient if the only service provided is a COVID-19 vaccination
- Require additional services in order for a person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; however, additional healthcare services can be provided at the same time and billed appropriately.
(source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Will I still have to wear a mask and continue COVID-19 safety precautions if I get the vaccine?
Yes. It may take time for everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccination to get one. A vaccine that is 95% effective means that a small number of people who get one of the vaccines will not become immune.
Also, while the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown at this time if you can still carry and transmit the virus to others. That is why, until more is understood about how well the vaccine works, continuing with precautions such as mask-wearing and physical distancing will be important. (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)
When am I eligible to receive the vaccine, and how do I sign up for an appointment?
Currently in Minnesota, anyone 16 years of age or older is eligible to receive the vaccine; though clinics are still prioritizing older individuals, frontline/essential workers, and those with underlying health conditions (sickle cell disease, Down Syndrome, oxygen-dependent chronic lung or heart conditions, cancer patients, and organ transplant recipients).
The best way to sign up for a vaccine is to sign up for the Minnesota Vaccine Connector. The Vaccine Connector is a tool that helps Minnesotans find out when, where, and how to get a COVID-19 vaccine. After you fill out the form, you will be connected to resources to schedule a vaccine appointment and notify you if there are vaccine opportunities in your area.
If you want to be more proactive in finding a vaccine opportunity, you can also use the Vaccine Finder tool, which helps you locate and connect with local vaccine providers in your area. This interactive map will show you clinics, pharmacies and vaccination events throughout Minnesota. All current vaccine opportunities require an appointment, so be sure to call ahead to schedule an appointment before arriving at the vaccination site.
You can also contact your healthcare provider to help you find and schedule a vaccine. If you don’t have a primary care provider, or you’re not able to get to your primary care provider, then use the Vaccine Finder tool to find local clinics and pharmacies that are providing vaccination opportunities.
Whether or not you plan on using the Vaccine Finder tool or contacting your healthcare provider, you should sign up for the Vaccine Connector. If you’re able to receive the vaccine before the State contacts you through the Vaccine Connector, you can inform them you’ve already received the vaccine.