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Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccines

Note: the information on this page only covers vaccination in the United States.

Getting a Vaccine

Will the vaccine protect me against the new variants of COVID-19?

Currently there has been no evidence that the new variants are resistant to COVID-19 vaccines. There are several studies in progress studying the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against different variants.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No, it is not possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine. After injection, the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our muscle cells to make a piece of what is called the coronavirus “spike” protein. Once the immune system recognizes this protein, it will develop antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19. It will not cause COVID-19.

What are some of the most common side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

After getting vaccinated, you might have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. Common side effects are pain, redness, and swelling in the arm where you received the shot, as well as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea throughout the rest of the body. These side effects could affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Learn more about what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
See also: Possible Side Effects

Who is paying for COVID-19 Vaccine?

Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient's public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration's Provider Relief Fund.

Do I need to wear a mask after having a COVID-19 vaccine?

No, it is not required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations. If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did before the pandemic. Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

Additional recommendations can be found at When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated.

If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get a vaccine?

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.
If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Experts are still learning more about how long vaccines protect against COVID-19 in real-world conditions. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

When can I stop wearing an mask and avoiding contact with others after I have been vaccinated?

There is not enough information 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 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.

How many doses are necessary for a COVID-19 vaccine?

The two vaccines currently available in the United States both require two doses. The two doses for the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine have to be three weeks apart, and the interval for Moderna's two doses is four weeks. The third vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson, only requires one dose.

Why do we have need two doses for a COVID-19 vaccine?

Some vaccines require two doses to be effective, including both the BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccine currently approved for limited use by the U.S. FDA. For instance, the BioNTech-Pfizer's vaccine was 52% effective with one dose, and 95% after the second dose. We're currently uncertain how effective a single shot will be effective in the long run and how long the immunity would last. There are some vaccines currently under development that only require one dose, but most require two.

What if I missed or cannot receive the second dose of the vaccine on time?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) allows the administration of a second dose within a four-day grace period. If more than 21 days(Pfizer)/28 days(Moderna) have passed since the first dose was received, the second dose can be administered as soon as possible and the vaccination series will not need to be restarted.

Is it safe to vaccinate children with the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trials included age groups 12 and older; however, the emergency use authorization (EUA) for vaccination indications was submitted down to age 16. Because data on efficacy and safety of the vaccine in pediatric age groups (newborn-15 years of age) are very limited at this time, the FDA has only authorized vaccine use for people age 16 or older. Enrollment is in process to study the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in younger children.

Can I receive doses of COVID-19 vaccinations from different manufacturers?

CDC strongly recommends you receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination from the same manufacturer. If you inadvertently receive doses of vaccine from different manufacturers, you do not need to receive any additional doses from either manufacturer.

Are there other vaccines, such as a flu vaccine, prevent me from getting COVID-19?

There are currently no available vaccines that will prevent COVID-19. However, multiple agencies and groups in the United States are working together to make sure that a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is available as quickly as possible.
A flu vaccine will not protect you from getting COVID-19, but it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. This can keep you from having a more severe illness. While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the winter, CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading during that time. That means that getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever.

Vaccine Development and Safety

What does it mean if a vaccine trial is paused?

Safety is a top priority during the vaccine approval process. It is not unusual for a clinical trial to be temporarily paused when a possible side effect (called an adverse event) is detected. Clinical trials are designed to pause when an unexpected health event (called a safety signal) is detected so scientists and physicians can investigate potential safety concerns. The approval process for COVID-19 vaccines is no different ― safety is always the focus.

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