COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
Special populations and medical issues
Can I get the COVID-19 Vaccine if I just got my flu shot?
It is recommended that you wait at least 14 days before getting your COVID-19 vaccine. You should not get any other vaccines for at least 14 days before you get your COVID-19 vaccine.
Is there a recommended wait time after receiving the COVID vaccine before you seek other immunization?
14 days is the current recommendation. No studies have been done with co-administered COVID vaccine and other vaccines.
Are there specific vaccines that should be avoided after the COVID vaccine?
There have been no formal studies to date with specific vaccines. The general recommendation is to wait 14 days before getting other vaccines.
Can I get the COVID 19 Vaccine if I already had coronavirus?
Yes, you may still get the vaccine. However, you can wait up to 3 months after you were diagnosed with COVID-19 because you have antibodies that will protect you for at least 3 months after you contracted the virus.
What if I am diagnosed with COVID 19 - can I get vaccinated?
Not while you are sick with the virus and, in fact, you can wait up to 3 months after being diagnosed with COVID-19 because your body will make its own natural antibodies that may protect you for up to 6 months (this virus is still so novel we do not know how long you have protection against getting re-infected). Do not come to the vaccination center if you are currently sick with COVID or have been diagnosed within the last 14 days.
What if I have an immunosuppressed disorder can I get vaccinated?
Yes, you can get the vaccine, but it is good to talk to your physician before making that decision. We know the vaccine is safe and efficacious but because you are immunosuppressed you may not receive as robust of a response as someone that is not immunocompromised. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal decision that only you can make. This is not a live virus vaccine. Those with immune-compromise should be vaccinated in hopes of preventing the real disease. The immune response (the effectiveness) of the vaccine in the immunocompromised individual is not known.
Is the vaccine safe for pregnant women or breastfeeding moms?
This is not a live virus vaccine and theoretically should be safe for the pregnant woman or the breastfeeding mother. Testing on pregnant women is not complete and FDA indications will likely lag. The risk to the fetus from the vaccine is likely far less than the risk of the mother becoming ill with the real virus. Please consult with you own provider to guide your decision.
In the news recently, they have mentioned that people with serious allergies should not get the vaccine.
Anaphylaxis or serious allergy to the vaccine has rarely been seen- between 2 and 11 cases in 1 million people. The recommendation for observation for 15 minutes post-vaccination and 30 minutes for those who have had prior severe allergic reactions is to provide safe intervention should anyone experience an unanticipated reaction.
I have multiple drug allergies. Should I take Benadryl prior to vaccination?
This is not recommended.
About the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine
What is an mRNA vaccine and how does it work?
Please see: cdc.gov/vaccines/covid19/hcp/mrna-vacccine-basics.html
mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna contain small portions of mRNA that trigger the body to make a portion of the spike protein of COVID19 which will cause antibodies to be formed that protect from future infection.
Is this a live virus vaccine?
The mRNA never enters the nucleus of the recipient’s cell and does not alter the cellular DNA. It is not a live virus and cannot cause viral disease.
What is the rate of side effects? What are the common side effects?
10-15% of individuals will develop minor side effects including redness, swelling, soreness at the site of the injection, vague malaise, joint pain, and headache. No serious side effects have been recorded to date.
How effective is the vaccine?
Two doses of the vaccine have resulted in 94% protection from infection and even those that became infected had very mild disease and did not require hospitalization.
Do we have details of the efficacy and side effects of the two messenger RNA vaccines—Pfizer and Moderna?
Efficacy was shown to be more than 94% for both vaccines and nearly 100% effective for the prevention of severe disease. Fatigue, headache and injection site pain are common but transient complaints.
Do I have to get the second dose to be protected?
Yes, to achieve the remarkable results, you have to get your second dose.
Does the second dose have to come from the same company?
Yes, you will need to get the second dose from the same company as the first. It is a true booster.
How many people were in the phase III trials?
Pfizer/BioNtech 43,000 included in the phase III trial.
Moderna More than 30,000 were included.
Are the currently available Covid vaccines anticipated to be yearly or lifelong?
The length of protective immunity with the new vaccines is not known. It is unclear if and when boosters will be needed or if there will be significant mutation in the virus making vaccine modifications essential.
Is the ultra-cold vaccine warmed prior to administration?
Yes, it is thawed prior to reconstitution. Once prepared, it must be administered within a few hours. It cannot be re-frozen.
Are you able to transmit the disease after your vaccination?
If you are one of the rare vaccine failures and contract the disease, then you could transmit it.
How many days after the second dose do we have to wait to reach the 95% effectiveness level?
The studies that have been done assessed antibody levels after 14 days.
What if the second dose is delayed?
Delay implies you will have less protection until you get the second dose, but the second dose will still be very effective. You do not need to start over.
Do I have to get my second dose where I got my first?
Yes. For now, allocations of second doses are paired 1:1 with the first dose. Get your second dose where you got your first. Remember that it has to be the same product/brand.
Should we get an antibody test to assure our vaccine “took”?
This is not necessary. Protection from severe disease in the Phase I trials of the current vaccine was nearly perfect. The quantity of antibody needed to be protective is not known and does not measure cellular immunity.
About the Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine
What is a viral vector vaccine?
Please see: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/hcp/viral-vector-vaccine-basics.html
Viral vector vaccines such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine use a different virus to deliver important instructions, in the form of a gene, to our cells. For COVID-19 vaccines, a modified virus delivers a gene that instructs our cells to make a SARS-CoV-2 antigen called the spike protein. This antigen triggers production of antibodies and a resulting immune response.
The virus used in a viral vector vaccine poses no threat of causing illness in humans because it has been modified or, in some cases, because the type of virus used as the vector cannot cause disease in humans.
How many doses of the J&J/Janssen vaccine do patients need?
All people for whom vaccination is indicated should receive 1 dose.
Who should get the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine?
The FDA has authorized the emergency use of the J&J COVID-19 Vaccine in individuals 18 years of age and older.
Has the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine been used before?
The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is an unapproved vaccine. In an ongoing clinical trial, 21,895 individuals 18 years of age and older have received the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.
Information on how well the J&J COVID-19 vaccine works:
- The J&J/Janssen vaccine was 66.3% effective in clinical trials (efficacy) at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who had no evidence of prior infection 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine. People had the most protection 2 weeks after getting vaccinated.
- The vaccine had high efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did get sick. No one who got COVID-19 at least 4 weeks after receiving the J&J/Janssen vaccine had to be hospitalized.
- Early evidence suggests that the J&J/Janssen vaccine might provide protection against asymptomatic infection, which is when a person is infected by the virus that causes COVID-19 but does not get sick.
- CDC will continue to provide updates as we learn more about how well the J&J/Janssen vaccine works in real-world conditions.
Demographic information from J&J/Janssen clinical trials:
Clinical trials for the J&J/Janssen vaccine included people from the following racial and ethnic categories:
- 58.7% White
- 45.3% Hispanic or Latino
- 19.4% Black or African American
- 9.5% American Indian or Alaska Native
- 5.6% Multiple races
- 3.3% Asian
- 0.2% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
- 54.9% Male
- 45.0% Female
- <0.1% Undifferentiated or unknown sex
- 66.5% 18–59 years
- 33.5% 60 years and older
- 19.6% 65 years and older
- 3.5% 75 years and older
What are the risks of the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine?
Side effects that have been reported with the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine include: injection site reactions, such as pain, redness of the skin and swelling; and general side effects, including headache, feeling very tired, muscle aches, nausea and fever. There is a remote chance that the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose of the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
Can I receive the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines?
There is no information on the use of the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines.
What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, discuss your options with your healthcare provider.
Will the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID-19?
No. The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine does not contain SARS-CoV-2 and cannot give you COVID-19.