COVID-19: Vaccine Facts

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Three COVID-19 vaccines are available in the U.S.: Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer), Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). These vaccines have been shown to be very safe and effective in protecting people from severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death. Hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

These vaccines are the best protection we have against COVID-19. No matter how old you are, COVID-19 can lead to hospitalization, long-term health issues and death. Even if you had COVID-19, it is important to get vaccinated because it lowers your risk of getting COVID-19 again and may prevent you from passing it on to others.

Also, getting vaccinated helps protect those around you, particularly people who have not been vaccinated yet, such as children. Vaccination, along with other prevention measures, can help us end the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Below is information about the vaccines, including how they work, when and where to get vaccinated, and what to expect when you get vaccinated.

Getting Vaccinated

Currently Eligible

People ages 12 and older are eligible for vaccination. People ages 12 to 17 can only get the Pfizer vaccine.

Studies are ongoing for all three vaccines to see if they are safe and effective for younger children.

Where to Get Vaccinated

Vaccines are available at some hospitals, community clinics and pharmacies, and at City- and State-run vaccination sites. Many sites, including all City-run sites, now allow walk-in vaccinations with an appointment, and many sites have same-day appointments. Also, check with your health care provider or local pharmacy to see if they are offering vaccination.

To find a vaccination site:

  • Visit the NYC Vaccine Finder. You can search for a site by address, ZIP code, your current location, vaccine brand (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson), accessibility features and whether they offer walk-up vaccinations.

  • If you need assistance making an appointment at a City-run vaccination site, call 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692) and press 1 when asked.

Access for Homebound People, People with Disabilities, Older Adults

Free transportation to and from a vaccination appointment is available for NYC residents 65 and older, and for those with disabilities who have no other way to get to a vaccination site.

  • For ambulette service, call 516-812-9827.
  • For taxi service (including wheelchair accessible vehicles), call 646-349-0289.

If you are younger than 18, you must have your parent or guardian call to book the trip on your behalf.

NYC residents may also be vaccinated at home. You can sign up online for an in-home vaccination or call 855-491-2667.Learn more about in-home vaccination.

Many vaccination sites are accessible to people with disabilities. On the NYC Vaccine Finder, accessible sites are noted with a physical accessibility icon next to the address. The lack of a symbol does not mean the site is inaccessible, just that its accessibility information is not available. Whenever possible, call ahead for access questions.

See the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities website for answers to frequently asked questions the disability community may have about vaccination access.

For questions or assistance arranging transportation or in-home vaccination, call 855-491-2667.

Access for People Younger than 18 Years

At this time, people 12-17 years old can only get the Pfizer vaccine. You can search for a site offering the Pfizer vaccine on the NYC COVID-19 Vaccine Finder. Also, check with your child’s health care provider to see if they or their affiliated hospital is offering vaccination.

A parent or guardian must consent for their child to be vaccinated. Consent can be given in person at the time of vaccination or by phone. Some providers, including all City-run sites, accept proof of consent in writing.

If the child does not have proof of age, a parent or guardian can attest to their age at the vaccination site.

Check with the vaccination site to make sure they are vaccinating children and about the site’s consent procedures.

Diagnostic/Antibody Testing Not Needed Before Vaccination

You do not need to be tested for COVID-19 infection or for COVID-19 antibodies before being vaccinated.

Vaccination is recommended for people who previously had COVID-19 even if they test positive for antibodies. It is possible to get COVID-19 again and vaccination may boost your natural immunity.

No Payment or Social Security Number Required for Vaccination

Everyone can get vaccinated for no cost. You will not need to provide your social security number to get vaccinated.

You will not be charged, even if you do not have health insurance. If you have insurance, bring your insurance card. Your insurance may be billed by the vaccination provider; however, you will not be charged a copay or any other fee.

If someone tries to charge you a fee or asks for your credit card information or social security number, then it is likely a scam or fraud and you should go elsewhere for vaccination.

Report vaccine fraud or abuse online to the NYS Attorney General (select "File a Complaint"). You can also call 833-VAX-SCAM (833-829-7226) or email stopvaxfraud@health.ny.gov.

Immigration Status Does Not Matter

COVID-19 vaccines are available to people of all immigration statuses. You will not be asked about your immigration status at the vaccination site.

Getting vaccinated will not negatively impact you or your family’s immigration application.

Proof of Eligibility

You must fill out the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form before being vaccinated. A parent or guardian can help a minor complete the form.

You will also need to bring proof of age, such as a driver's license or other state ID, valid U.S. or foreign passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, life insurance policy or other document showing your date of birth. If a minor does not have proof of age, their parent or guardian can attest to their age at the vaccination site.

Prepare for Your Vaccination Appointment

There is nothing special you need to do prior to getting vaccinated. Reschedule your appointment if you were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 10 days, have any symptoms of COVID-19 or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 10 days.

Remember to wear a face covering to your appointment and bring:

  • An insurance card if you have one
  • Proof of age (an ID or other document with birth date)
  • Your appointment confirmation (if you have an appointment)
  • Completed and signed minor consent form (if you are younger than 18 years and are going without a parent or guardian, and if the site permits written consent)
  • Your vaccination card (second dose appointments only)

Learn more about accepted proofs of age and other requirements for vaccination.

How Vaccine Is Given

COVID-19 vaccines are intramuscular vaccines. They are given through a shot in the arm, similar to most other vaccines. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses several weeks apart. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.

The City regularly visits vaccine sites to ensure that all safety and health protocols are followed. Errors in vaccine administration are uncommon but can happen. CDC guidelines state people who receive vaccine with too much dilution do not need to repeat a vaccine dose if the vaccine is diluted with a volume less than 4.0 mL. For more information, call 311.

Choosing a Vaccine

All three vaccines are very safe and effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. The most important thing is to get vaccinated.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is just one dose. All three vaccines cause mild to moderate side effects.

It is hard to directly compare the vaccines effectiveness since they were tested at different times and in different locations. Johnson & Johnson trials were conducted more recently, when there was a higher level of COVID-19 transmission, and in countries that had high levels of the new variants of concern. Even under these circumstances, the vaccine prevented hospitalizations and deaths.

A key difference among the vaccines is that only the Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized for people ages 12 to 17. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for people ages 18 and older.

Another difference is how the vaccines can be stored and distributed. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is more stable and can be kept in a refrigerator for longer, making it easier to transport and reach people who cannot travel to a vaccination site.

People getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be aware of the small risk of a rare type of type of blood clot with low blood platelets.

For now, most vaccination sites have only one type of vaccine. The type of vaccine you get will depend on where you go. The NYC Vaccine Finder shows the type of vaccine given at each site.

Getting the Second Dose

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. Both doses should be of the same vaccine. If you receive the Pfizer vaccine, you should get a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine 21 days after your first dose. If you receive the Moderna vaccine, you should get a second dose of the Moderna vaccine 28 days after your first dose. If unable to do so, you should get your second dose of the same vaccine type within 42 days of your first dose. You should not get the second dose earlier than recommended.

If you cannot get your second Pfizer or Moderna dose during the recommended interval, get it as soon as possible after. No matter how much time has passed, you should still get the second shot. If you get your second shot before or after the recommended interval, you will still only need two shots in total.

You should get your first dose and second dose at the same location.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.

Vaccination Card

After receiving your first shot, you will receive a card with your name, date of birth, the vaccine you received, and the place and date you received it. Your vaccination card is an important medical record. Keep it in a safe place and make a photocopy or take a picture just in case you lose it.

Bring your vaccination card with you when you go for your second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. If you forget to bring the card or lose it, the vaccination provider can look up your name in a computer to verify your first vaccination.

If you lose your card, your health care provider can get and print proof of vaccination from the Citywide Immunization Registry. The registry contains records of people vaccinated in NYC, and some records of NYC residents vaccinated outside of the city.

If you have an IDNYC card, you can access your own vaccine record (and your minor children’s records) on the My Vaccine Record website.

Possible Side Effects

Most people report some side effects from the vaccines, which are usually signs that the body is building protection. Common side effects include soreness or swelling on the arm where you got the shot, headache, body aches, tiredness and fever. For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first shot, unless your health care provider tells you not to.

Side effects:

  • Usually are mild to moderate
  • Usually start within the first three days after vaccination (the day after vaccination is the most common) and last for about one to two days after they begin
  • Are less common in older adults
  • Are more common after getting the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines than after getting the first dose

You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

Managing Side Effects

To reduce pain or swelling at the injection site, put a clean, cool, wet cloth over the area and use or exercise your arm. Call your health care provider if you have any side effects that concern you or do not go away after a few days, or if the redness or soreness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours.

You can also talk to your provider about taking an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to relieve pain or discomfort. You should not take these medicines before vaccination as a way to prevent side effects, as it is not known how they may impact how well the vaccine works.

Reporting Side Effects

It is helpful to report side effects so public health experts can monitor the effects of the vaccine. This is especially important with a new vaccine. To complete health symptom check-ins and report side effects, you can sign up for the CDC's V-safe smartphone-based tool after vaccination. You can also report side effects online to the CDC and FDA’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) or by calling 800-822-7967.

Learn about these and other safety monitoring systems.

Blood Clot Risk for Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

There is a small risk of a rare type of blood clot among people with low platelets (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome) from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This type of blood clot after vaccination is more common in women younger than 50 years old, but it has occurred in both women and men ages 64 years and younger.

For the first three weeks after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you should monitor yourself for possible symptoms of a blood clot, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Lasting abdominal pain
  • Severe or lasting headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Bruising easily
  • Tiny red spots under the skin beyond the area of the injection site

If you have any of these symptoms, immediately go to a nearby hospital or call 911. Tell the treating provider you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

This type of blood clot has not been linked to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. If you prefer not to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we encourage you to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Serious Allergic Reactions Are Rare

Serious allergic reactions to the vaccines are rare.

Every person is observed for at least 15 minutes following the shot as a precaution. People with a history of severe allergic reactions (such as anaphylaxis) for any reason are observed for 30 minutes.

Serious allergic reactions generally start within a few minutes to an hour of getting the shot. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and throat, fast heartbeat, a severe rash all over the body, dizziness and weakness.

If you think you are having a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.


After Vaccination

When You Are Protected by the Vaccine

It will take time for the vaccine to start working. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or your only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. Most people who are fully vaccinated will not get sick from COVID-19. However, no vaccine is 100% effective, and a small number of vaccinated people are expected to get COVID-19 despite vaccination (also called "breakthrough cases").

COVID-19 Test Results

The vaccines do not cause people to have a positive COVID-19 diagnostic (viral) test result.

Antibody tests are not recommended after vaccination. Antibody tests should not be used to determine immunity or protection against COVID-19, especially after a person has received COVID-19 vaccination. Currently authorized antibody tests have not been evaluated to determine the level of protection provided by an immune response to COVID-19 vaccination. Also, some antibody tests do not test for the type of antibodies that are produced in response to the vaccines, so a negative antibody test does not mean the vaccine is not working. Further, our bodies build other defenses from the vaccines, including T-cells (special white blood cells that fight infection), which are not detected by antibody tests.

What You Can Do After Vaccination

After you are fully vaccinated, you can do most activities without wearing a face covering or physical distancing.

We recommend wearing a face covering indoors when you do not know the vaccination status of those around you, as well as when you are in a crowd outdoors. Face coverings are still required in schools, on public transportation, in health care settings and in congregate settings, such as nursing homes and homeless shelters, and at any other setting designated by a business or location. Also, we recommend you keep your face covering on if you are around unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19.

You no longer need to get tested for COVID-19, unless you have symptoms of COVID-19 or testing is required for work, school or a specific activity. You also no longer need to quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19, though if you develop symptoms of COVID-19, isolate and get tested.

Even after you are vaccinated, you should still wash your hands regularly and stay home if you are sick or test positive for COVID-19.

Learn more about the benefits of vaccination:

Medical and Personal Information Protected

Your personal information is strictly protected. Your social security number is not collected or shared, nor is immigration status. Identification is only required for proof of age.

Basic information about you (such as your name, address, phone number, date of birth, race, ethnicity, vaccination date and vaccine received) will be shared with the NYC Health Department as required by law, but there are strict laws in place to make sure your information remains confidential.

The NYC Health Department is required to send vaccination data to the CDC. Only people’s date of birth, ZIP code, race, ethnicity and gender are shared with the CDC. We will not share any other personal-identifying information, including your name.


Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness

Clinical Trials

The COVID-19 vaccines that are available in the U.S. were shown to be safe through clinical trials. These trials involved testing the vaccine on tens of thousands of volunteers. The process was monitored closely by the FDA and other organizations.

To ensure the safety of the vaccines:

  • The FDA reviewed clinical trial plans and protocols to make sure the procedures met the highest scientific and ethical standards.

  • Clinical trials were closely monitored by data safety monitory boards made up of outside experts (medical personnel, ethicists, statisticians, patient advocates), among other groups.

  • FDA scientists and medical professionals evaluated all available information to determine if the vaccines should be authorized.

Continued Safety Monitoring

There are numerous safety monitoring systems in place to help ensure that any potential vaccine safety issues are quickly identified and investigated. These include:

  • VAERS. Health care providers are required to report serious events following vaccination (such as anaphylaxis, hospitalization and death) to a national reporting system, called Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), managed by the CDC and FDA. People can also self-report side effects or other reactions to VAERS online or by calling 800-822-7967.

  • v-safe. The CDC has created a smartphone-based tool called v-safe that people can use to report reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine. The tool helps the CDC track side effects to learn more about their frequency and severity.

  • Vaccine Safety Datalink. This is a collaboration among nine health care organizations and the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office. The health care organizations share electronic health data about vaccines given and any medical problems diagnosed.

  • Sentinel Biologics Effectiveness and Safety System. The FDA uses this system to actively look for signs of safety problems, using data from health care claims databases and electronic health records from several large health care systems. This system can also be used for in-depth analysis if any patterns appear from the other monitoring systems.

It is important to note that not all adverse event reports signify there is a problem. For example, when a health event is reported to VAERS, that does not mean the vaccine caused the event. It warns vaccine safety experts of potential incidences that may need investigation. Information from VAERS alone cannot determine if the vaccine caused a health issue. The CDC investigates serious events that are reported and also compares rates of events reported to VAERS to rates of those same health events in the general population. Some reports to VAERS might be true vaccine reactions and others might be coincidental adverse health issues not related to vaccination at all.

For example, if someone eats an apple and then crosses the street and gets hit by a car, that does not mean the apple caused them to be hit by a car. The same applies to deaths or health issues that occur in people who have been vaccinated — it does not mean the vaccine caused the death or health issue. This is why reports need to be investigated to see if there is a connection to the vaccine.

Long-Term Safety

If a vaccine is going to cause an adverse reaction, it will usually occur within a few days or weeks after you get vaccinated. Based on evidence from other vaccines that have been in use for decades, reactions usually occur within two months of getting vaccinated; reactions after that are unlikely.

All of the vaccine clinical trial participants have been monitored for more than two months and continue to be monitored. Also, since the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines started to be used in mid-December 2020, millions of people (and counting) have received the vaccines more than two months ago. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine started to be used in late February and we will continue to monitor data about vaccine use in the general population. No long-term effects have been identified.

Effectiveness

All three vaccines are very safe and effective across all gender, age, race and ethnicity groups included in the clinical trials.

The effectiveness of the three authorized vaccines cannot be compared to each other since the trials for each vaccine were separate and differed in time and location. The three vaccines were also tested against different circulating variants and in settings with different levels of COVID-19 infection.

Fertility

People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future should get vaccinated. There is currently no evidence that the vaccines cause fertility issues in females or males.

Misinformation has spread on the internet and claims of infertility are based on a misunderstanding of the science. The COVID-19 vaccines — similar to many other vaccines — work by teaching our body to create antibodies to fight the virus. Concerns of infertility are based on the misconception that the antibodies developed after COVID-19 infection or vaccination will attack a protein in the placenta. However, the proteins on the virus that causes COVID-19 and the protein in the placenta are very different, and our immune systems are smart enough to tell the difference. There is no evidence these antibodies will cause any problems in pregnancy, including development of the placenta.

Vaccine Cannot Cause COVID-19

None of the authorized vaccines contain the virus that causes COVID-19. It is not possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccines.


Vaccine Ingredients and How They Work

How the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines Work

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. mRNA is a molecule that contains the blueprint for making proteins. These are the first mRNA vaccines to be available, but the technology has been studied for over 30 years.

Here is how mRNA vaccines work:

  1. The mRNA molecules enter the body with instructions on how to make a protein that is part of the virus that causes COVID-19.

  2. The proteins produced trigger the body to make antibodies (special proteins that fight against a specific infection) and other defenses.

  3. The mRNA is then broken down and destroyed by the body.

  4. If a person is exposed to COVID-19 after they were vaccinated, the body will be able to recognize the virus and produce antibodies and other defenses to fight it.

In short, mRNA is similar to email that gets sent to your body with instructions on how to identify and destroy the virus. Your body uses those instructions and then deletes the email completely.

mRNA does not interact with or change a person's DNA.

How the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Works

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine. Johnson & Johnson has been researching adenovirus vector vaccines for other infections for decades, including the company’s Ebola vaccine, which is already in use.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine works similarly to the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, though it uses a different type of messenger to deliver instructions for making an immune response. To make the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, scientists took a gene from the virus that causes COVID-19 and put the gene into an adenovirus. The adenovirus used in this vaccine causes the common cold, but the virus was modified so that it cannot multiply in humans or cause infection.

Here is how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine works:

  1. When the vaccine enters your body, the adenovirus carries a gene from the coronavirus into human cells, which then make a COVID-19 protein, but not the virus itself.

  2. The proteins that are produced trigger your body to make antibodies (special proteins that fight against a specific infection) and other defenses.

  3. If you are exposed to COVID-19 after you are vaccinated, your body will recognize the virus and your immune system will be ready to fight it.

Pfizer and Moderna Vaccine Ingredients

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain the following types of ingredients:

  • Lipids: Lipids are molecules of fat that do not dissolve in water. They surround the mRNA, protecting it so it does not break down before it gets into your cells. One example of a lipid included is polyethylene glycol.

  • Salts, acetic acid and amines: These are all used to protect your cells by keeping the pH (acidity level) of the vaccine similar to the pH in your body. The Pfizer vaccine contains four salts, including table salt. The Moderna vaccine contains acetic acid (the kind of acid in vinegar), one salt and two organic compounds derived from ammonia known as amines.

  • Sugar: Sugar helps keep the lipids from sticking to each other or to the sides of the vaccine vial.

The vaccines do not contain:

  • Antibiotics
  • Blood products
  • DNA
  • Fetal tissue or human cells
  • Gelatin
  • Gluten
  • Mercury
  • Microchips
  • Pork or other animal products
  • The virus that causes COVID-19

See a full list of ingredients for the Pfizer vaccine (PDF) and the Moderna vaccine (PDF).

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Ingredients

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine contains the following types of ingredients:

  • Stabilizers: Salts, alcohol, polysorbate 80 and hydrochloric acid.
  • Manufacturing biproducts: Amino acids.

The vaccine does not contain:

  • Antibiotics
  • Blood products
  • Fetal tissue or human cells
  • Gelatin
  • Gluten
  • Mercury
  • Microchips
  • Pork or other animal products
  • The virus that causes COVID-19
See a full list of ingredients for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

How Long the Vaccines Work

We do not yet know how long the vaccines will protect people from COVID-19, but we are learning more with time. Preliminary evidence shows that protection from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines lasts at least 6 months. We will have more information on effectiveness of these vaccines and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine later this year.

We do not know yet whether the vaccines will be needed annually, similar to a flu shot, or if an additional shot or booster shot is needed, such as with a tetanus shot. Studies are ongoing to test the effectiveness of additional doses.

Impact on Disease Transmission

The vaccines reduce the risk of people getting and spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Herd Immunity

Herd immunity is when enough people in a population have immunity (protection) against a contagious disease that the disease is unlikely to spread. As a result, even people who are not vaccinated are at lower risk for infection. The percent of the population that needs to have immunity to reach herd immunity is different for different diseases.

For COVID-19, experts do not yet know what percentage of people would need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. However, having a large number of people vaccinated will lower the number of people who get sick and are hospitalized or die from COVID-19.

New Variants/Strains of the Virus

It is normal for a virus to mutate (change) over time and for new variants to occur. Several variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been identified. Some of these variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than others and may cause more severe disease. This may lead to more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The presence of these variants makes it even more important to get vaccinated.

The vaccines are expected to protect against variants detected to date, though their protection may not be as strong against some variants. Scientists are working to learn more about these variants and how they affect vaccine effectiveness, and to develop potential booster doses of vaccine to continue to protect against new variants.


Medical History and Clinical Considerations

Allergies

Most allergies are not a concern for COVID-19 vaccination. You can get vaccinated if you have a history of allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medicines — such as allergies to food (including eggs), antibiotics or other medicine that you take by mouth, pet dander, venom, dust mites, pollen, mold, cigarette smoke, or latex — or if you have a family history of allergic reactions.

If you have a history of severe allergic reactions (such as anaphylaxis) to anything, let the vaccinating provider know so that they can monitor you more closely.

The following history of allergic reactions should be considered in vaccination decisions:

  • If a health care provider diagnoses you as having a severe allergic reaction (such as anaphylaxis) or an immediate reaction of any severity to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine (including polyethylene glycol or polysorbate), or, for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, after getting the first COVID-19 shot, you should not get that vaccine or second dose. Your health care provider may refer you to a specialist in allergies and immunology to provide more care or advice, and to see if you might be able to receive one of the other types of COVID-19 vaccines.

  • If you have ever had a previous allergic reaction to a different vaccine or injectable medicine, talk to your health care provider to determine whether you can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Currently Sick with COVID-19

If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19, you should wait until you have recovered and completed isolation to avoid exposing other people at the vaccination site while you are contagious.

This means you should not be vaccinated until all the following are true:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms started (or, if you never had symptoms, 10 days from the date you were tested).
  • You have not had fever for the prior 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • If you had symptoms, your overall symptoms have improved.

You can get vaccinated after you have completed isolation.

If you get COVID-19 between your first and second doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you should still get your second dose after your isolation period has ended. It is important to get the second dose, even if you had COVID-19.

Previously Sick with COVID-19

It is possible to get COVID-19 more than once. So even if you previously had COVID-19, you should get vaccinated. Also, the vaccine may boost the protection your body has already built up.

There is no evidence that having had COVID-19 will cause a person to have a bad reaction to the vaccines.

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

Monoclonal antibody treatment is a type of treatment prescribed by a doctor for people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

If you have had monoclonal antibody treatment, you should wait 90 days after your treatment to get vaccinated.

If you have been vaccinated and then later developed COVID-19, you can still get monoclonal antibody treatment if you are otherwise eligible.

Recent Exposure to COVID-19

If you were recently in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes over a 24-hour period), you should wait to get vaccinated until after you have quarantined for 10 days since you were last exposed.

If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 between your first and second doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you should still get your second dose. Postpone getting your second dose if it is during your quarantine period. You should get your second dose as soon as possible after that.

Other Vaccinations

You can get your COVID-19 vaccine before, after or at the same time as you receive any other vaccine.

Everybody should get both a flu vaccine (before or during flu season) and a COVID-19 vaccine.

Pregnant or Breastfeeding

People who are pregnant or breastfeeding can be vaccinated.

There is little data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in people who are pregnant, as pregnant people were not part of the clinical trials, except for a few people who were pregnant and did not know it or later became pregnant. However, based on current knowledge, experts believe that the authorized vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to the pregnant person or the fetus. Data about pregnant people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine is being collected by CDC through their v-safe tool. Preliminary data do not show a risk to the pregnant person or fetus.

Early data from breastfeeding people who received the COVID-19 vaccines show the antibodies they produced can be passed through their breastmilk. Additional studies are needed to know whether the antibodies may provide some level of protection to babies against the virus.

According to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, with the exception of smallpox and yellow fever vaccines, vaccines given during lactation do not affect the safety of breastfeeding for the parent or the child.

If you are trying to become pregnant, you may get vaccinated and you do not need to avoid pregnancy after getting vaccinated.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it may be helpful to discuss vaccination with your health care provider. However, you do not need clearance from a provider to be vaccinated.

Mammograms

If you are due for a mammogram and have been recently vaccinated for COVID-19, ask your doctor how long you should wait after vaccination to get your mammogram.

The COVID-19 vaccine can cause swelling in the lymph nodes in the underarm near the injection location. This swelling is a normal sign that your body is building protection against COVID-19, but it could cause a false reading on a mammogram. Some experts recommend getting your mammogram before being vaccinated, or delaying your screening until four to six weeks after you get your vaccine.

Autoimmune Disease/Immunocompromised and Underlying Conditions

People who have an autoimmune disease or are immunocompromised (such as from cancer treatment or other medicine) may choose to be vaccinated. However, people who are immunocompromised were not part of the clinical trials, so there is no data on vaccine safety or effectiveness for this group.

Bell's Palsy

Out of the tens of thousands of people who received one of the three authorized vaccines during clinical trials, a few developed Bell’s palsy (facial paralysis). However, the rate of Bell’s palsy seen during the clinical trials was not above the rate expected in the general population.

People who previously have had Bell’s palsy can be vaccinated. If you have had Bell's palsy and have questions about vaccination, talk to your health care provider.

Other Medical Conditions and Medicines

Several medical conditions put people at increased risk for serious illness if they become infected with COVID-19, making it especially important to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Many people who were part of the clinical trials had underlying health conditions and the vaccine was safe and effective for them. People with any medical condition can get vaccinated, unless they have had certain allergic reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine or its ingredients (see Allergies section).

Also, people do not need to stop taking any type of prescription medicine when they receive COVID-19 vaccination.

If you have concerns about an underlying medical condition or medicine, discuss vaccination with your health care provider.


Vaccine Development and Authorization

Creation and Testing

The COVID-19 vaccines followed the same development steps as other vaccines: they were developed and tested in a laboratory and then went through clinical trials closely monitored by the FDA.

Clinical trials involve testing the vaccine in people to see if it is safe and effective. The COVID-19 vaccines were each tested on tens of thousands of people of different genders, ages, races and ethnicities who volunteered to be part of the clinical trials.

Production Timeline

Development of the COVID-19 vaccines involved an unprecedented amount of resources in order to make the vaccine available as quickly as possible. Billions of dollars have been spent and hundreds of scientists from around the world have been working nonstop on developing vaccines. Scientists built on many years of research from other vaccines, including research on vaccines for other coronaviruses.

The federal government provided special funding to enable development, testing and production of the vaccines to happen at the same time. This allowed companies to start manufacturing vaccines even before they were authorized for use. The federal government, state and local health departments and health care providers have been working for months on plans for storage, distribution, supplies and other logistics. The goal was to deliver and administer the vaccines as soon they were authorized for use.

Emergency Use Authorization

In an emergency, the FDA may allow vaccines, as well as tests and treatments, to be used by granting an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have each been granted an EUA.

All vaccines granted an EUA must go through the same clinical trials as all other vaccines. The FDA may grant an EUA only if evidence strongly suggests the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh any risks to patients.

The FDA also expects manufacturers whose COVID-19 vaccines are authorized under an EUA to continue clinical trials in order to get additional safety and effectiveness information for a longer period of time, and to apply for approval (licensure). Pfizer has applied for licensure for use of the vaccine in people 16 and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, which became available later, are still collecting additional data.


Additional Resources