1. What are the COVID-19 vaccines?
There are two COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA. How do they work? Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines work by helping your body produce antibodies, the proteins that help fight infections.
The Pfizer vaccine is given in two shots, three weeks apart. The Moderna vaccine is given in two shots, four weeks apart. There are also several other vaccines in various stages of clinical development.
2. When will I be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
County departments of public health will move as quickly as possible to give the COVID-19 vaccine to patients initially, and then distribution will be dispersed to both private and public entities (e.g. Kaiser and Medi-Cal). We will begin proactively reaching out to the CDPH for guidance when they have solidified their plans within the next several weeks. More information, including the CDC’s criteria for prioritizing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine, is available here.
3. How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?
Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are about 95% effective at preventing symptomatic illness for COVID-19 a couple of weeks after both doses are received, according to FDA data.
4. Is it safe for me to get vaccinated?
The answer is: yes. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines went through rigorous review before the FDA authorized them for use. Clinical trials included people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to make sure that the vaccine was effective and safe for everyone. Experts all agree that getting the vaccine, along with wearing a mask, keeping your distance, washing your hands often, and avoiding crowds (especially indoors) is the best way to protect yourself, your family, your friends and your community.
5. What are potential side effects?
In ongoing clinical trials, the most common side effects are mild, and include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and mild fever. Side effects tend to go away after a day or two, and may be a little more pronounced after the second dose.
Experiencing side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is not a sign of infection. It’s likely the vaccine doing its job!
As with any vaccine, there is a low chance of allergic reaction. If you have a history of a severe allergic reaction to vaccines, it’s a good idea to talk with your primary care physician to see if a COVID-19 vaccine is right for you.
6. What about allergies? Under what circumstances should somebody not receive the vaccine?
You should not get the vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine or a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine. However, the only persons who should not be vaccinated are persons who have had a serious allergic response to the first dose, which is extremely rare.