FAQs about the COVID-19 Vaccines

Published: February 05, 2021

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As vaccine supply increases and more people are eligible for vaccination, many people have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. Here are some answers to these questions based on the current research and advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices currently recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible people. The COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19.  Information from clinical studies show that vaccination provides protection from infection from the virus or can prevent more serious disease, if infected. If you have had COVID-19, it is still unknown how long and to what extent you are protected after recovering from COVID-19, and it is possible to be infected with COVID-19 again. So even if you had COVID-19 you should still get vaccinated.

Who should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
Individuals with a history of these reactions should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) after a previous COVID-19 vaccine dose
  • Any immediate allergic reaction after a previous COVID-19 vaccine dose
  • Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to an ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Known (diagnosed) allergy to an ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine

Individuals with these conditions may receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but should contact their health care provider for more information:

  • Immunocompromised (problems with your immune system)
  • Received monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19
  • Received convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19

How long does it take for protection from the vaccine to kick in?
Protection from the vaccine is considered fully developed two weeks after your final COVID-19 shot (two weeks after the second dose of a 2-dose vaccine and 2 weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine).

What can I do once I am fully vaccinated?
Fully vaccinated people can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic. Current CDC recommendations state that fully vaccinated people can:

  • Resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except when required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
  • All travelers (vaccinated and unvaccinated) are required to wear a mask on all planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the U.S. and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • Travel in the U.S. without testing before or after
  • Travel in the U.S. without quarantining afterward
  • Travel internationally without a pre-travel test (depending on destination). However, a negative test is required before boarding an airplane to return to the U.S. from an international destination.
  • Travel internationally without quarantining afterward in the U.S.

Are COVID-19 vaccines still being studied?
Researchers have reported that these vaccines are effective to prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19 and also to reduce the spread of the disease. However, more study is needed to know how long the vaccines will protect people from COVID-19 and how well they protect against changes in the virus over time.

Can a child under 12 years old receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
No. Children under 12 years old should not receive any of the approved COVID-19 vaccines due to a lack of data regarding their safety and dosage in this age group. The CDC recommends that children ages 2-12 years old wear a mask in indoor public places and consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings, maintaining a distance of 6 feet from those who don’t live in your household, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and wash your hands frequently.  

Summary
Even if you have had COVID-19, it is still important to get vaccinated. The vaccine remains recommended for everyone unless you have a history of the specific allergic reactions mentioned above or if your doctor tells you not to be vaccinated. It does take two weeks after your final COVID-19 shot to develop full protection. Recommendations from the CDC may change as experts continue to learn more about COVID-19 from clinical studies and from monitoring disease activity.

Updated: September 3, 2021

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