Two vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, were approved in December by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for administration to immunize people against the COVID-19 virus. These vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective for preventing COVID-19 infections, and state and local health departments are working diligently with health care systems to distribute the vaccine.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about the vaccines.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine prevent me from getting the virus?
Data from the vaccine trials show that each vaccine can effectively reduce a person’s chances of contracting COVID-19, which can also help protect those around you.
Should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?
It’s recommended that all adults get vaccinated for COVID-19 once a vaccine is available to them. The quickest way to achieve herd immunity and return to a more normal daily life is for the majority of the population to get vaccinated. If you have concerns about receiving the vaccine, talk to your primary care provider.
Will more than one dose of the vaccine be required?
Currently, all vaccines approved for use require two doses. The Pfizer vaccine requires the second dose to be given 21 days after the first, and the Moderna vaccine requires the second dose to be given 28 days after the first. When you receive your first dose, you will receive a reminder card with the date of your second appointment.
Do I need to get vaccinated if I already had COVID-19?
Yes. There is not currently enough information detailing how long someone is protected from getting re-infected after having COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and others.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Yes. The vaccines currently in use went through the same testing and approval process that has been used for decades to safely develop vaccines. They received emergency approval from the FDA having met standards of safety and effectiveness. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for all people ages 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine is approved for adults 18 and older.
Is it safe to get the vaccine if you are pregnant?
The CDC has recommended that women who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant should get the vaccine when it is available to them, after confirming with their primary care provider.
How was the vaccine developed so quickly?
Scientists had already begun to research coronavirus vaccines after previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses (prior to COVID-19). This early research provided a head start when beginning the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccination development process was modified to allow the COVID-19 vaccine research to progress more quickly without sacrificing safety, and no steps were skipped. See more information about the modifications made to the development process here.
How does the vaccine work?
The COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines. To create these vaccines, scientists take part of the unique genetic code of the virus (in this case SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19), called messenger RNA, and coat them in a lipid so they can enter a body’s cell. This is injected into the patient. Once the mRNA is within the patient, it instructs the patient’s cells to begin making a specific part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, called the spike protein. The patient’s immune system then begins to produce antibodies and activate T cells to destroy the spike proteins. Then, if the patient is exposed to the virus in the future, their body recognizes it and has the antibodies and T cells ready to destroy the spike proteins and keep you from getting sick. You can learn more about the science behind how mRNA vaccines work here.
Will the vaccine give me COVID-19?
No. The vaccine gives your body part of the SARS-CoV-2 code so that your body can recognize and fight it in the future.
Does the vaccine have side effects?
Like many vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine can cause side effects that may last for a few days. You may experience redness or soreness at the injection site, flu-like symptoms, low grade fever, headache, or just a general feeling of not quite yourself. These are signs that your body is doing exactly what it should to protect you from the virus, and the symptoms should subside after a few days.
When can I get vaccinated?
Michigan began receiving doses of the vaccine the week of December 14. Due to limited supply, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has prioritized how the vaccine will be distributed. Phases have been identified to determine the order in which vaccines will be distributed. Starting January 11, phases 1a and 1b are eligible to begin receiving vaccinations.
As supply increases, more people will be able to be vaccinated. Learn more about the phases of distribution here.
Is there a cost to get vaccinated?
No fees are being charged to get vaccinated. Vaccine providers may charge an administration fee for the vaccine, which would be covered by the recipient’s health insurance company or, if they are uninsured, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. Priority Health announced on December 1, 2020 a commitment to no cost share for members for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Do I still need to wear a mask after getting vaccinated?
Yes. It is recommended that you continue to wear a mask and social distance after receiving the vaccine. You can find more guidelines from the CDC here.
What personal information about me will be collected if I get the vaccine?
Your name, address and the vaccine given are required to be reported to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR). Health care providers and local health departments who have signed the MCIR Usage Agreement that protects this information can view a person’s record to see what vaccines they have received. Michigan will also share vaccination information with the CDC, but this will not contain personal identifiers such as names and addresses.
Getting vaccinated once you are able can help stop the spread of COVID-19, save lives, help businesses reopen, and get closer to returning to gathering in larger groups and doing other pre-COVID activities. If you have any concerns about whether or not you should get the vaccine, connect with your primary care provider. More information can be found through the State of Michigan and the CDC.