Web Content Viewer

Frequently Asked Questions COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Vaccine

About COVID-19 Vaccines

Why is a COVID-19 vaccine needed if social distancing and wearing masks prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading? 

Vaccines boost your immune system, so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Vaccination combined with ongoing prevention efforts including wearing face masks that cover the mouth and nose, frequent hand washing and staying at least 6 feet away from others offer the best protection against COVID-19. 

How many COVID-19 vaccines are available? Which one should I get?

In the United States, three COVID-19 vaccines have been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended for use by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), have all been proven safe and effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 disease. The CDC recommends getting the first vaccine available to you for protection from COVID-19. While vaccine supply is limited, individuals likely will not get to choose which vaccine to receive, and will be given what is available from their vaccine provider at the time they receive their immunization.

Are all of the COVID-19 vaccines effective?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) have been approved for emergency use by the FDA, and recommended for use by the CDC after a rigorous analysis proved their effectiveness. During studies, all the vaccines were shown to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 at high effectiveness rates. Leading national experts say there are challenges comparing efficacy rates from the clinical studies between the three products because the vaccines were not tested against one another, or under the same conditions or timelines. They are not apples-to-apples comparisons.

Vaccine efficacy is the percentage reduction in a disease in a group of people who received a vaccination in a clinical trial, compared with those who did not. It tells us how well the vaccine does its job. A summary of the clinical trials efficacy data:
•    Pfizer-BioNTech: 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses.
•    Moderna: 94% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses.
•    Johnson & Johnson (Janssen): Full (100%) protection against hospitalization and death, 85% effective in preventing severe COVID-19, 72% effective in the U.S. (66% overall) at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19.

The bottom line is all of the vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 disease, and the CDC recommends getting the first vaccine available to you for protection from COVID-19.

Will I be able to choose which vaccine I want?

Due to the limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC recommends that individuals take the first vaccine available to them. All three available vaccines are highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for individuals age 16 and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for adults 18 and older.

I’ve seen a lot of rumors on social media about vaccines. How can I tell what is true? 

The internet is rife with dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, and it can be difficult to know what to trust. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about the vaccines with information from trustworthy sources. Learn more about finding credible vaccine information in this article from the CDC, and separate myths from facts on this page from the Ohio Department of Health.

How many doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be needed? When is the second dose due?

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine require two doses. The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is a single-dose product. Individuals who receive a dose of a particular vaccine must receive a second dose of the vaccine from the same manufacturer, as they are not interchangeable. For example, if you receive a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, your second dose must be the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine administered 21 days after the first dose. If you receive a first dose of the Moderna vaccine, your second dose must be the Moderna vaccine, administered 28 days after the first dose. These recommended intervals, with a standard four-day grace period, should be followed as closely as possible to receive full protection. If the intervals are exceeded, the second dose should be scheduled for administration up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose, regardless of manufacturer. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance

How long does it take for the vaccines to work?

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, according to the CDC. Effectiveness is maximized 28 days after immunization for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson, according to the FDA’s analysis of clinical trial data.

If it has been less than two weeks since your vaccination, or if you still need to get your second dose, you are not fully protected. Continue all prevention measures, including wearing face masks that cover the mouth, nose and chin, and social distancing, until you are fully vaccinated. 

Will the vaccines protect against the new COVID-19 variants now confirmed in the United States? 

Viruses frequently change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic, including strains in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. Most variants do not change how the virus behaves, and many disappear. There is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death; however, there is evidence that suggests some of the variants could spread more easily from person to person. According to the CDC, scientists are continuing to study how easily this variant and other variants might spread, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether all of the currently authorized vaccines and treatments will protect people against them. The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) clinical trials were studied globally, and in areas where some of the strains were prevalent. Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials were complete before the strains emerged; however, both manufacturers are conducting clinical studies of booster doses that would target variant strains of the virus. 
The CDC’s recommendations for slowing the spread — wearing masks, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds, ventilating indoor spaces, and washing hands often — will also help prevent the spread of variants.

Does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine work in the same way as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines? How is it different?

All three COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 disease. There are differences in how the vaccines work to teach the body to build immunity against COVID-19, how they are stored and handled, and in the number of required doses. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. These vaccines provide instructions for the body to create the harmless surface or “spike” protein found in the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19); the body responds by building antibodies to destroy the protein. This protein is what allows the virus to attach to cells. When the body kills the protein, it also kills viruses that are attached to it. The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is a viral vector vaccine using a harmless, inactive adenovirus (cold virus) as the transportation device to do the same job. The end result of all three vaccines is the same. They use the harmless “spike” protein to teach the body how to recognize the virus, and to build protection against the virus. None of the vaccines will give you COVID-19 or the cold virus.

The vaccines are stored, transported, and handled differently, which impacts healthcare providers. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are stored ultra-cold or frozen, while the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is stored at standard refrigerator temperatures. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna require two doses for the vaccine to build immunity to COVID-19. Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine requires a single dose.

While they work differently, all three of these vaccines protect you against severe illness, including hospitalization and death.

Do I have to get the second dose? Will the vaccine still work with just one dose?

If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, a second dose is required to achieve full effectiveness and protection. Full doses should be administered as directed, and the second dose should be from the same manufacturer as the first dose, and should follow the FDA-recommended intervals (21 days between doses for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and 28 days between doses for the Moderna vaccine). The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is a single-dose product.

Can other vaccines help prevent me from getting COVID-19? 

Other vaccines, such as those for flu, measles, or other diseases, will not protect you from COVID-19. Only the vaccines designed specifically to protect you from COVID-19, once approved for use by the FDA, can prevent COVID-19. While a flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID-19, it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. Because the flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading during this time, getting a flu vaccine is more crucial than ever.  

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?

No. None of the vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. A person is not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the last dose. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

Who is paying for the COVID-19 vaccine? 

If you choose to get a COVID-19 vaccine, you will not have to pay. Vaccine doses purchased with taxpayer dollars will be given to Ohioans who choose to receive them at no out-of-pocket cost. Vaccine providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot. Providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the federal Health Resources & Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

Vaccine development

How were COVID-19 vaccines developed so quickly? 

The process has been quicker as a result of efforts to run concurrent trial phases, as well as a commitment to help condense timelines and reduce or eliminate months-long waiting periods during which documents would be prepared or be waiting for review. There were no shortcuts in the testing of the vaccines. In addition, manufacturing began while testing was being completed, allowing many doses to be ready to distribute immediately upon authorization. 

Years of research laid the groundwork for development of COVID-19 vaccines. The approved vaccines use different methods to achieve the same end result, which is to teach our bodies how to recognize COVID-19’s spike protein and create antibodies against it. Messenger RNA (mRNA), used by two of the authorized vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna), has been studied for years and was being developed for other infectious diseases. Recent technological advancements in RNA biology and chemistry, as well as delivery systems, have allowed these COVID-19 vaccines using mRNA to be developed as safe and effective vaccines. Adenovirus/viral vector vaccines, the method used by Johnson & Johnson, are common. Read more about how the different COVID-19 vaccines work at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

What is the difference between an emergency use authorization (EUA) and an approval from the FDA?

An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) allows the use of an unapproved medical product, or unapproved use of an approved medical product, for use during a public health emergency if the benefits of its use outweigh any known or potential risks. The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccines have been granted EUA following rigorous review. In the past, EUAs have been issued for products, devices, and drugs related to Ebola, H1N1, Zika, and others. The EUAs are valid until the pandemic is over, the FDA revokes the EUAs, or the products are approved for traditional licensure by the FDA. The FDA closely monitors each vaccine for safety after the EUA is issued. Drug manufacturers are encouraged to obtain traditional FDA licensed vaccine approval as soon as possible.

Were minorities or people with high-risk health conditions included in the clinical studies? 

Yes. During the clinical studies for all three FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines, minorities or people with high-risk health conditions were included. The Phase 3 clinical trials for the Pfizer-BioNTech (more than 43,000 participants), Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines (more than 43,000 participants) and Moderna vaccines (more than 30,000 participants) included communities that have historically been under-represented in clinical research and have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 

The clinical studies included participants:

  • From communities of color (42% of Pfizer-BioNTech’s participants, 37% of the Moderna participants, 35% of U.S. Janssen  participants).
  • Older than age 65 (21% of Pfizer-BioNTech participants; 23% of Moderna participants); older than 60 (34% of Janssen participants).
  • With high-risk chronic diseases that put them at increased risk of severe COVID-19, such as diabetes, severe obesity, and cardiac disease (46% of Pfizer-BioNTech participants; 42% of Moderna participants, 40% of Janssen participants).

Safety and Side Effects

What are normal side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

When you get a COVID-19 vaccine, you can expect mild side effects, including soreness, swelling or redness at the injection site. Other common side effects are fever, chills, headache, tiredness, and muscle or joint pain. These side effects are normal as your body creates an immune response to protect you from COVID-19, and may increase with the second dose for the two-dose vaccines. Learn more about what to expect in this video from the CDC. 

How common are serious adverse reactions to the vaccine?

Anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, is extremely rare. All people who get a COVID-19 vaccine are to be monitored on site for a minimum of 15 minutes for possible reactions, and at least 30 minutes if that individual has a history of immediate allergic reactions. If someone has a severe allergic reaction after getting vaccinated, their vaccination provider will send a report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is a national system that collects reports from healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the public about adverse events that happen after vaccination. Reports of adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns are followed up with specific studies.

Is it common for patients to faint or feel light-headed after vaccination?

Fainting can happen after any vaccination, according to the CDC. Scientists believe that fainting happens due to the vaccination process not to the vaccine itself. CDC received reports of people fainting after nearly all the available vaccines. Adolescents are more likely to experience fainting than older adults. This has not been reported as a common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccines. Giving patients a beverage, a snack, or some reassurance about the procedure has been shown to prevent some fainting.

What are the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines?

All the COVID-19 vaccines give the cells in your body instructions to make a protein that safely teaches your body how to make antibodies (germ-fighting cells) to fight the real COVID-19 virus if exposed. None of the vaccine ingredients remain in your system, nor do they alter any DNA in your body. For a full list of ingredients, please see each vaccine’s Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers:

How will I know that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

Safety has been a top priority throughout the vaccine development and approval process. COVID-19 vaccine development processes involved several steps comparable with those used to develop other vaccines, such as the flu or measles vaccine. Clinical trials study the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine in thousands of study participants. No serious safety concerns emerged during the clinical trials for the three authorized vaccines. There were more than 116,000 participants between the three clinical studies. The FDA uses rigorous standards and insights from independent medical professionals to evaluate trial data to ensure that a vaccine is safe and effective and the benefits outweigh the risks. After an FDA decision, the CDC also reviews available data before making final recommendations for vaccine use. Safety continues to be a top priority, as vaccine administration is under way, through continuous safety monitoring measures. The CDC and other federal partners continue to monitor the new vaccines for side effects and adverse events, using many vaccine safety monitoring systems. This continued monitoring could reveal effects that may not have been observed in clinical trials. 

Will CDC continue to watch for problems with these new vaccines?

Yes. While no safety issues arose during the clinical trials, CDC and other federal partners continue to monitor the new vaccines for serious side effects (known as adverse events), using many vaccine safety monitoring systems. This continued monitoring can reveal side effects that may not have been seen in clinical trials. If there is an unexpected side effect with the new COVID-19 vaccines, experts can quickly study it further to determine if it is a true safety concern. Monitoring vaccine safety is critical to ensure that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh the risks for people who are vaccinated. The current vaccine safety system is strong and robust, with the capacity to effectively monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety. Existing data systems can rapidly detect if a vaccine has any possible safety problems, and additional systems and data sources are being developed. Systems being used include:

  • CDC and FDA: Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) — The national system that collects reports of post-vaccination adverse effects from healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the public. Follow-up with specific studies is conducted for reports of adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns.
  • CDC: V-safe — A smartphone-based, post-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe will use text messaging and web surveys to check in with vaccine recipients for health problems following vaccination. The system also will provide telephone follow-up to anyone who reports medically significant (important) adverse events.
  • CDC: National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) — An acute care and long-term care facility monitoring system reporting to VAERS. 
  • CDC: Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) — A network of nine integrated healthcare organizations across the United States that conducts active surveillance and research; the system is also used to determine whether possible side effects identified using VAERS are related to vaccination. 
  • CDC: Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project — A collaboration between CDC and seven medical research centers to provide expert consultation on individual cases and conduct clinical research studies about vaccine safety.
  • FDA: Other large insurer/payer databases — A system of administrative and claims-based data for surveillance and research. 
  • FDA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS): Medicare data — A claims-based system for active surveillance and research.
  • FDA: Biologics Effectiveness and Safety System (BEST) — A system of electronic health record, administrative, and claims-based data for active surveillance and research. 
  • FDA: Sentinel Initiative — An additional system of electronic health record, administrative, and claims-based data for active surveillance and research.

Ohio’s Vaccine Distribution Plan and Eligibility

Will Ohio make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?

No. The vaccine will be available, as supplies allow, to all Ohioans who choose to receive the vaccine.

How many vaccine doses are available?  

Vaccine manufacturers are working hard to manufacture and distribute vaccines safely, quickly, and effectively. Each state will be informed, on a weekly basis, of how many vaccine doses they will receive that week. The addition of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine, coupled with a partnership with Merck on manufacturing and ongoing efforts by Pfizer and Moderna to increase supply, will allow more people to receive the vaccine. 

When will there be enough vaccine for everyone in Ohio?

During the early phases of administration of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, supply is limited. This means that not everyone will be able to be vaccinated right away. While supply is limited, Ohio is offering the vaccine first to those at highest risk for death from COVID-19. As vaccination production ramps up, every Ohioan who chooses may receive a vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. It is hard to predict when the vaccine will be widely available for everyone, as it is based on supply.

Who can get the vaccine in Ohio?

All Ohioans age 16 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Manufacturer age requirements must be followed. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines are authorized for ages 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for ages 16 and older. People age 16 and 17 can receive the Pfizer vaccine with the consent of a parent or legal guardian. A parent or legal guardian must accompany the minor to the vaccination appointment.

If I am eligible, how will I know when I can get the vaccine? Who do I call? How do I sign up? 

A statewide Vaccine Provider Locations search is available at vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov, allowing Ohioans to search by county and ZIP code to find a provider in their area to contact to receive the vaccine. Ohio’s new Vaccine Management Solution (VMS) is a state-supported, all-in-one tool for determining eligibility, finding a provider and scheduling an appointment, submitting health information, and receiving updates and reminders. The VMS is available at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. Learn more about the VMS, and read step-by-step guidance on how to use the VMS at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

What are acceptable forms of identification when I go to get my vaccine? 

Once you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Ohio and are preparing for your vaccine appointment
or clinic, make sure you bring an acceptable form of identification with you. The vaccine provider will need identification to verify your identity, name, and age. You do not need to show proof of citizenship or residency status. Your identification will still be accepted if it is expired or from another state or country. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine based on your employment (e.g., a K-12 school employee or healthcare employee), the State of Ohio is not requiring any additional documentation for proof of eligibility; however, providers may develop their own screening and monitoring procedures to evaluate eligibility. Before your appointment, we recommend you check with your vaccine provider to confirm what documentation you will need for your appointment. Acceptable forms of identification are listed below: 

  • Driver’s license or any photo ID, regardless of expiration date or place of origin.
  • Active/retired military ID.
  • Physician statement (including shot records).
  • Census records.
  • Adoption records.
  • Naturalization certificate.
  • Birth certificate: Birth record, either original or certified copy.
  • Consulate ID or matricula consular.
  • Passport or a passport card.
  • Certificate of citizenship.
  • Permanent resident card.
  • Application for replacement naturalization/citizenship document.
  • Department of State forms.
    • Military service records (DD-214).
    • Certification of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States (FS-545).
    • Certification of Report of Birth Abroad of a United States Citizen (DS-1350).
    • Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (FS-240).
    • Employment Authorization Document (I-766/EAD).
    • Transportation letter (I-797F). 

Who should and should not take the vaccine

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether or not you already had COVID-19. You should not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated. However, anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation. 

Can I get the vaccine if I have COVID-19? I had an appointment scheduled but have tested positive?

No, individuals with an active case of COVID-19 or who are under quarantine for exposure should wait until you no longer have any symptoms and meet all criteria for discontinuation of quarantine and isolation before receiving the vaccine.

How long should I wait to get the vaccine if I have been treated with convalescent serum or monoclonal antibodies?

Currently, there are no data on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in people who received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment, according to the CDC. It is recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine be deferred for 90 days following convalescent plasma and/or monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 treatment.

Will my children be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently, COVID-19 vaccines are not available for children. However, 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds are able to get the Pfizer vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized for individuals who are 16 years of age or older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines are currently recommended for individuals who are 18 years of age or older. Additional clinical trial data is being gathered involving children. In the meantime, children, like adults, should wear masks, continue social distancing, wash their hands, and avoid congregating in groups in order to protect themselves from COVID-19.

I’m pregnant. Should I take the vaccine?

The CDC and groups such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say all three vaccines should be made available to those who are pregnant, but they leave the choice about whether to get vaccinated up to each individual. Pregnant women were not included in the initial clinical trials for all three vaccines, so there's no data specific to pregnant women. There are no known risks to pregnant women or developing fetuses, according to the CDC. Women who are pregnant are at higher risk of a severe case of COVID-19 if they do become infected. Women are encouraged to discuss whether or not they should receive the vaccine with their healthcare providers.

I’m breastfeeding right now. Is it safe to take the vaccine? Any risks to my baby?

Women who are breastfeeding can receive the COVID-19 vaccine once they are part of an eligible group. There are no known risks to mom or baby, but the vaccines have not been studied on women who were lactating so there is no data on the safety of the vaccines in lactating people or any effects on the breastfed infant or milk production.

Are there any medical conditions that would disqualify someone from receiving the vaccine? What about a weakened immune system?

No. Individuals with underlying medical conditions can receive the COVID-19 vaccines once they are in an eligible group 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. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. There is limited data specific to individuals who have weakened immune systems or autommune disorders. Individuals with those conditions are encouraged to discuss their specific circumstances with their healthcare providers before deciding whether or not to receive the vaccine. 

Should I get the vaccine if I have had reactions to other vaccines?

An allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or if the person must go to the hospital. If you have had a severe allergic reaction, also known as anaphylaxis, to any ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccines or polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate, you should NOT receive the vaccine. In the unlikely event that you do have a severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the second shot.

If you have had an immediate allergic reaction, mild or severe, to other vaccines or injectable therapies, you should ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in allergies and immunology to provide more care or advice.

Should I get the vaccine if I have other allergies?

Individuals who have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications — such as allergies to food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex — may still get vaccinated. People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions, or who might have a milder allergy to vaccines (no anaphylaxis) — may also still get vaccinated. It’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before deciding whether or not to get the vaccine.

After vaccination

Is it OK to take anti-fever medication (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.) after receiving the vaccine?

Talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for any pain and discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated. You can take these medications to relieve side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally, according to the CDC. To reduce pain and discomfort at the injection site, apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area and use or exercise your arm. To reduce discomfort from fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.

How long will the vaccine protect me? Will I need to take more doses in the future?

Researchers don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are fully vaccinated. Scientists and public health experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity. The need for and timing for COVID-19 booster doses have not been established. No additional doses are recommended at this time.

Am I protected against COVID-19 immediately after my vaccination? When can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing?

You do not immediately receive the full benefit of a COVID-19 vaccine, because it takes time for a vaccine to build immunity in your body. Vaccine recipients are considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after they receive their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two weeks after they receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. Maximum protection comes after 28 days with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the FDA’s analysis of clinical study data.

When you are fully vaccinated, you can stop wearing a mask only in specific situations: when you are indoors with other people who are fully vaccinated; or when you are indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together), unless any unvaccinated people or anyone they live with have increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. If you have been around someone with COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others (quarantine) or get tested unless you have symptoms. (If you live in a group setting, like a group home, and have been around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

For additional details on this guidance visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated” page.

If I am vaccinated, do I still have to follow the mask mandate?

Yes. You must follow the mask mandate as long as it remains in effect. Any guidance that indicates masks are not needed would only apply to indoor residences. The mask mandate requires anyone age 10 and older to wear a mask in public at all times when at an indoor location that is not a residence; when outdoors and unable to maintain 6-foot social distance from people who do not live with you; and while waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation or a private car used for ride-sharing. Exclusions include people with certain medical conditions or a disability or communicating with someone with a disability; people who are actively exercising/playing sports or actively eating or drinking; officiants at religious services; and anyone actively involved in public safety. Read the full list of exclusions here.

If I am vaccinated, can I travel without a test or quarantining?

The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated because travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into self-quarantine after returning home, according to updated guidance from the CDC. Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it.

For international travel, extra caution is still needed because of virus variants, and differences in vaccine coverage and availability around the world. Vaccinated people are not required to get a COVID-19 test before leaving the U.S.; however, some destinations may require that test before arrival, so research the requirements for the overseas destination you are planning to visit. Before returning home from an overseas trip, vaccinated people will need a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the United States and will need to be tested three to five days after returning. Vaccinated individuals will not need to quarantine unless that test result is positive, according to the CDC guidance. 

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. People should still wear a mask, socially distance and avoid crowds while traveling. While traveling, wear a mask over your nose and mouth. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and bus or train stations.

Will being vaccinated affect future COVID-19 test results?

None of the vaccines can cause a person to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. There is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.