Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccination

Q: Why should I get a vaccine?

A: Vaccination is the best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand that you might be uneasy about getting your COVID-19 vaccine. Here is why you should consider getting your vaccine:

  • To protect yourself: Getting the vaccine means there is up to a 95% chance that you will personally be protected from getting COVID-19.
  • To protect those around you: If you get sick, you could spread the virus to others. Getting the vaccine will help keep your family and friends safe, especially those who may be at risk for a severe case of COVID-19.
  • To protect your community: For the vaccine to be effective against COVID-19, we need enough people — 50% to 80% — to get vaccinated.
Q: Are vaccines safe?

A: Yes, we strongly encourage you to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Given the speed of development of these vaccines, it is understandable you have questions about whether there has been enough research and testing to ensure the vaccines are safe. Nevertheless, all vaccines must go through rigorous clinical trials to determine safety and efficacy, with at least two months of patient follow-up. Vaccine manufacturers must report their findings to the FDA.

Q: How do I get a vaccine?

A: There are several places you can look for a vaccination provider. You can visit VaccineFinder.org, check with your state health department or your local pharmacy’s.

Q: How do I get a copy of my vaccination card?

A: Missouri residents: Complete the Request for Official State of Missouri Immunization Records form and email to ImmunizationRecordRequests@health.mo.gov. You may also call 573-751-6124 or email ShowMeVaxSupport@health.mo.gov with questions.

Q: What are the most common side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

A: After being 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. These side effects could affect your ability to do daily activities, but should go away in a few days.

Q: How long does protection from a COVID-19 vaccine last?

A: It is unclear exactly how long the vaccines provide protection. However, early data show promise of at least shorter-term (less than a year) protection. Vaccine manufacturers will continue to monitor the duration of protection.

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

A: Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 or not. Experts do not know yet 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.

Q: How many doses of COVID-19 vaccine will I need to get?

A: The number of doses needed depends on which vaccine you receive. To get the most protection:

  • Two Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses should be given 21 days apart
  • Two Moderna vaccine doses should be given 28 days apart
  • Johnson & Johnsons Jansen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine requires only one dose

If you receive a vaccine that requires two doses, you should get your second shot as close to the recommended interval as possible. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

Q: Can I choose which COVID-19 vaccine I get?

A: You should get any COVID-19 vaccine that is available when you are eligible. Do not wait for a specific brand. All currently authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend one vaccine over another.

Q: Can I mix and match the vaccines?

A: For people who received either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine series, a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine should be used. A person should not receive more than three mRNA vaccine doses. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.

Q: What are the risks of vaccinating individuals with an additional dose?

A: There is limited information about the risks of receiving an additional dose of vaccine, and the safety, efficacy, and benefit of additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised people continues to be evaluated. So far, reactions reported after the third mRNA dose were similar to that of the two-dose series: fatigue and pain at injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most symptoms were mild to moderate. However, as with the two-dose series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.

Q: What are the risks of vaccinating individuals with an additional dose?

A: There is limited information about the risks of receiving an additional dose of vaccine, and the safety, efficacy, and benefit of additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised people continues to be evaluated. So far, reactions reported after the third mRNA dose were similar to that of the two-dose series: fatigue and pain at injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most symptoms were mild to moderate. However, as with the two-dose series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.

Q: What should immunocompromised people who received the J&J/Janssen vaccine do?

A: The FDA’s recent EUA amendment only applies to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, as does CDC’s recommendation. Emerging data have demonstrated that immunocompromised people who have low or no protection following two doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may have an improved response after an additional dose of the same vaccine. There is not enough data at this time to determine whether immunocompromised people who received the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine also have an improved antibody response following an additional dose of the same vaccine.

Q: Can I get vaccinated against COVID-19 while I am currently sick with COVID-19?

A: No. People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine.

Q: If I have an underlying condition, can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

A: People with underlying medical conditions can receive a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. 

Q: If I am pregnant or considering becoming pregnant can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Yes. According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people aged 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.

Q: If I am breastfeeding, can I take the vaccine?

A: Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are breastfeeding. Clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines currently used in the United States did not include people who are breastfeeding. Because the vaccines have not been studied in people who are breastfeeding, there are limited data available on the:

  • Safety of COVID-19 vaccines in people who are breastfeeding
  • Effects of vaccination on the breastfed baby
  • Effects on milk production or excretion

COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone, including the mother or the baby, and the vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies. More data is needed to determine what protection these antibodies may provide to the baby.

Q: Is it safe for my child to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Yes. Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Like adults, children may have some side effects after the COVID-19 vaccination. These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but should go away in a few days. 

Children 12 years and older are now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, including studies in children 12 years and older.

Q: Why should my child get vaccinated against COVID-19?

A: COVID-19 vaccination can help protect your child from getting COVID-19. Although fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19 and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Getting your child vaccinated helps protect your child and your family. Vaccination is now recommended for everyone 12 years and older. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is the only one available to children 12 years and older.

Q: Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?

A: No. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain live virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from taking it. However, vaccines help your body develop the ability to fight off infection through a process called ‘reactogenicity,’ so you may experience symptoms including pain at the injection site, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, chills and fever. These symptoms may be more pronounced after the second dose. This simply means the vaccine is working. Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccine will not cause a positive test result with a PCR nasal test.

Q: Is it okay to get other vaccines at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Based on CDC guidance, it may be reasonable to administer the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines – including the influenza vaccine – at your primary care provider’s discretion.

Q: Q: Does the vaccine mean that masking and other safety measures can be relaxed?

A: Yes. According to the CDC, if you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic. Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required, such healthcare facilities. Immunocompromised patients who are vaccinated should remain cautious and consider using masks, when appropriate.

In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines
  • Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine 

For more information, go to https://www.cdc.gov/.

Learn more: Moderna Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers

Learn more: Pfizer-BioNTech Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers

Learn more: Johnson & Johnson (aka Janssen) Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers

Other Resources