COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs


Since my last post, I’m so relieved to say that I’m now a week out since my second dose (yay immunity!) of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

I’m here to answer some of the most FAQ COVID-19 Vaccine questions. Of course, every time I attempt to make a post to answer these questions, I feel like this just opens up to more questions. So stay tuned for additional COVID-19 public health related posts in the near future!

  • How many COVID-19 vaccines are there?
Table adapted from Your Local Epidemiologist
For other vaccine candidates:
  • How many shots of COVID-19 will I need?
  • How many days can I delay my second COVID-19 vaccine?
    • *Second dose administered within a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended date for the second dose are still considered valid. Pfizer (19-23 days after initial vaccination)
    • You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval. ​
  • Why are there side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccine?
    • Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.
    • The first shot starts building protection, helps your body recognize the virus and gets your immune system ready, the second shot is considered a booster by strengthening the immune response. (It’s also okay if you don’t experience symptoms…every body is different!)
  • I’m a healthcare worker not affiliated with a large medical organization/hospital – how do I sign up to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
    • Hopefully your clinic managers/supervisors are already on this. If not, or if you would like to be proactive, reach out to your local health/state department.
    • The state has identified all health care professions and should be reaching out to the organizations to communicate on vaccine information
  • When am I next in line for the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19?
    • You can get your vaccine as soon as you are no longer symptomatic and out of your isolation period/no longer infectious.
    • If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, you can postpone getting your vaccine until that 90-day window has elapsed. If you are still symptomatic and infectious, you should postpone your vaccine until you are well and no longer contagious. Also, if you’ve been treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent therapy in the past 90 days, you should postpone your vaccine until after the three-month window has passed. Otherwise, yes, you should still get the COVID-19 vaccine, even if you’ve had COVID-19
  • Contraindications of COVID-19 vaccines:
    • CDC considers a history of the following to be a contraindication to vaccination with both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines:
      • Severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components
      • Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components (including polyethylene glycol [PEG])*
      • Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to polysorbate (due to potential cross-reactive hypersensitivity with the vaccine ingredient PEG)*
    • Immunocompromised – may still receive COVID-19 vaccine unless otherwise contraindicated
    • Pregnancy: There are no current data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women
    • Breast Feeding/Lactating Women: There are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or the effects of vaccines on the breastfed infant or milk production/excretion
    • UPDATED (1/10/ 2021) Women’s health professional academies ( ACOG, ASRM, and SMFM) are ALL RECOMMENDING COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
    • It is absolutely safe for the majority of women to receive a vaccine if they are pregnant, breastfeeding or consider becoming pregnant in the immediate future.” – Kurt R. Wharton MD, FACOG
      • If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not you should get the COVID-19 vaccine, please talk to your healthcare provider
  • When will I be protected after vaccination?
    • Studies show Pfizer’s vaccine was only 52% effective after the first dose
    • The current COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech/Moderna) offers approximately ~95% effectiveness and will protect you approximately 1-2 weeks after your second dose.
    • After getting the first shot, it can take up to a few weeks for your body to develop the cells that will make you immune. This means that it’s possible for you to get sick (infected) during that time. So it’s important to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing even after getting the vaccine.
  • I got the COVID-19 Vaccine recently, why am I testing positive for COVID-19?
    • You can contract COVID-19 in between doses.
    • The first dose will not provide complete protection, and it will take about seven days after your second dose before you will achieve a full protective level of immunity that develops in about 95% of vaccine recipients. If you are exposed to SARS-CoV-2 before this time, it is possible that you could develop COVID-19.
    • Even once you have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, it will still be important to continue practicing public health strategies like masks and social distancing until the pandemic is under control and we know more about how the vaccines prevent transmission.
  • How long will I be protected? Will I need a booster dose?
    • Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.
    • The need for and timing of booster doses for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines has not been established. No additional doses beyond the two-dose primary series are recommended at this time.
    • Clinical trials will continue even after the vaccines are authorized to keep studying the long-term safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.
    • In a recent published study, Moderna claims that people’s antibody levels remained high for at least three months following the two-dose vaccine, that declines slightly over time. Early research shows that vaccine provide protection at least six months and some individuals may need to revaccinate annually.
    • Remember, the COVID-19 vaccine was given in July 2020, we only have ~6 months of data at this time.
  • What percentage of the population needs to get vaccinated to have herd immunity to COVID-19?
    • Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. We are still learning and understanding COVID-19 immunity. Just like every disease and community has its own threshold to reach herd immunity, we are unable to predict how much of a population, or how long immunity lasts to make these recommendations.
    • It’s also important to note that COVID-19 infection varies from person to person, ranging from no disease to seriously ill. What we are beginning to understand is how these long-term health impacts those who  had COVID-19 infection.
  • Is there a blood test to see if I am now protected after getting my COVID-19 vaccine?
    • At this time, experts do not recommend getting an antibody test after vaccination.
    • Researchers are still working hard to learn more about the vaccines, including what to measure (what level of IgG provides immunity?), how to measure these levels and interpret these levels
  • Will I need to continue to wear a mask and social distance when I receive my COVID-19 vaccine?
    • Yes. CDC recommends that during the pandemic people wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available (masks, hand washing, social distance and getting a vaccine!)
    • We also don’t know yet if a person who got the vaccine can still spread coronavirus if they come in contact with it. That’s why vaccinated people still need to wear masks until researchers can study this more.

I think that sums just about all of the FAQs I’ve been hearing lately. Let me know if you have any additional questions. I’ll do my best to update this page as we find out more about the vaccines.

Stay well and safe, friends!


Page last updated 1/16/2021

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