What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines
Do the vaccines work?
- Three COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) have been approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In clinical studies, the first two vaccines were more than 94% effective at protecting participants from COVID-19, and Johnson & Johnson has been shown to have 85% efficacy against severe COVID-19 illness.
- The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, while Johnson & Johnson only requires one dose. According to CDC guidelines, you should schedule your second dose 21 to 42 days (Pfizer) or 28 to 42 days (Moderna) after the first dose. If you are unable to do so, get your second dose as soon as possible after that. Get the second dose no matter how much time has passed. The vaccine is more effective after the second dose.
Are the vaccines safe?
- Yes. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The vaccine does not contain the virus. It teaches your body’s immune system how to fight the virus, so it can fight the virus if you are exposed to it.
- The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through large clinical studies involving tens of thousands of people of various ages, races and ethnicities. The evidence from those studies was closely reviewed by the FDA and independent organizations.
- Researchers have been working on vaccines for coronaviruses for years, so they did not start from scratch.
Are there side effects?
- It is normal to experience side effects after the first or second dose of the vaccine. Common side effects include soreness in the arm where you got the shot, headache, body aches, tiredness and fever.
- If you have any questions or concerns, call 311 or talk to your health care provider.
- Side effects can be unpleasant, but getting vaccinated helps protect you and may help protect others.
Who can get a vaccine and how much will it cost?
- All New Yorkers age 16 and older will have access to a vaccine once it is more widely available. Currently eligible groups include people age 65 and older; at-risk health care workers; teachers and other school staff; first responders; group child care providers; and public-facing grocery store workers. People with certain underlying health conditions and people who are pregnant are now also eligible. For a list of all eligible groups in your area, visit your state or local government’s web-sites.
- The vaccine is free for everyone. If you have insurance, it may be billed but you will not be charged a copay or other fee.
- You do not need to share your immigration status to be vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is not a public benefit under the public charge rule.
- When you receive the vaccine, your privacy will be protected. There are strict laws in place to ensure confidentiality of your personal information.
Should I get a vaccine if I already had COVID-19?
- Yes, since it is possible to get COVID-19 again, you should be vaccinated. Also, the vaccine is safe and may boost the protection your body has already built up. However, if you tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days, consider waiting to get vaccinated, since it is very unlikely that you will get COVID-19 again during this time. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions.
When I get vaccinated, can I stop physical distancing and wearing a face covering?
- No. We do not have enough information to say if or when it will be safe to stop physical distancing and wearing face coverings. Until we understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide, everyone must continue the key prevention measures:
- Stay home if you are sick, have COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- Maintain at least 6 feet of distance from people who are not members of your household.
- Wear a face covering (over your mouth and nose) when outside your home.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or clean with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
When you get vaccinated, you are helping to protect yourself and your family and friends. You are also helping to make your community safer.
It is understandable that some people may be nervous about getting a COVID-19 vaccine or may have more questions. To learn more, talk to your health care provider, call 311, or visit your state or local government’s web-sites.
COVID-19: Vaccines, January 21, 2021, covid-19-vaccines-faq-palm-card, available at: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-vaccines.page