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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

Updated February 12, 2021

On Dec. 10, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in people 16 years and older, and authorized the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 18. AstraZeneca is also developing a vaccine, which may be authorized soon.

6 Facts You Need to Know

Fact No. 1

The COVID-19 vaccines cannot give you COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any live part of the virus and cannot cause an infection. They cannot cause a positive COVID-19 test.

Fact No. 2

The development of the COVID-19 vaccines did not skip any steps in determining their safety.

The COVID-19 vaccines have been evaluated in tens of thousands of people using the same steps as other vaccines to ensure they are safe. Scientists were able to test the vaccines quickly and safely by working together and using resources from academics, industry, and the government, which has never happened before.

Fact No. 3

The COVID-19 vaccines will not change your DNA or live inside you forever.

The current COVID-19 vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA), which does not go into your DNA. Your body turns the mRNA into a protein to make an immune response (antibodies). Once your body makes antibodies, the mRNA and protein break down.

Fact No. 4

The COVID-19 vaccines do not cause miscarriage or infertility.
The COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to miscarriages or infertility. The CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology do not recommend withholding COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant women who are otherwise eligible to receive vaccine.

Learn more about the COVID-19 infertility myth (video).

Fact No. 5

The COVID-19 vaccines can be given to people who already had COVID-19.
People with a history of COVID-19 were included in the COVID-19 vaccine trials. The vaccine is safe and effective in people with a history of COVID-19.

Fact No. 6

We know exactly what is in the COVID-19 vaccines.
The ingredients of the currently used COVID-19 vaccines are publicly available, can be found on the vaccine Fact Sheet, and are provided at the time of administration.

Download the 6 Facts to share with others.

Frequently asked questions about the vaccine

Anyone who is 16 years old or older can get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Anyone who is 18 years or old or older can get the Moderna vaccine. The FDA has said that people who have a history of anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction) to the COVID-19 vaccine or its components should not get the vaccine for now. The FDA is planning to publish more guidance soon about what to do if you do have a history of anaphylaxis.

Even though most adults can get the vaccine, certain groups will get the vaccine first. All states have developed plans. Missouri and Kansas plans can be found at here:

Experts estimate that healthy adults in the general population may be able to get the vaccine in the spring.

Yes, the vaccines are very effective. Clinical trials have shown the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to be 94% to 95% effective in preventing COVID-19. This is considered to be a high level of effectiveness, comparable to other extremely effective vaccines such as ones for tetanus and measles.

Yes. When the vaccines were tested, the most common side effect was pain at the injection site, and it was generally mild. Other common reactions were fatigue, headaches, muscle pain and chills. Fever was an uncommon side effect. These post-vaccination symptoms are a sign that the body is reacting properly to the vaccine. Essentially, it shows you that your immune system is revving up to protect you.

It is normal to have questions about any new treatment or vaccine. However, COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same cycle of clinical trials and independent reviews as every other vaccine or medication. They were able to go through the cycle and be produced more quickly because of help from the U.S. government, but quality was not compromised.

Additionally, the vaccine uses modified RNA, which has been around for more than 10 years and has already been used as a treatment for cancer. This is not a completely new type of technology, which is one of the reasons that pharmaceutical companies were able to develop the vaccines quickly.

Right now, the vaccine is only approved for people who are 16 or older. The vaccines are currently being tested on children 12 to 15 years to see if they are safe and effective for adolescents. Tests may begin on younger children as soon as next month.

Young children who get COVID-19 typically have less severe symptoms than adults. Nevertheless, once the vaccine is determined to be safe and effective for kids, it will be important to vaccinate them. Kids can pass COVID infection along to adults, and vaccination can help to prevent transmission. Children who have COVID infection also have a small risk for a more serious complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C. Preventing COVID can also prevent MIS-C.

Yes. The vaccine is not contraindicated for pregnant or breastfeeding women – meaning it has not been shown to be harmful to this group. Since the vaccine does not contain the live virus, it cannot cause COVID-19 infection. For this reason, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has determined that there is no safety risk to pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of being vaccinated vs. contracting COVID-19.

Yes. The vaccine is not contraindicated for this group – meaning it has not been shown to be harmful to people in this group. Since the vaccine does not contain the live virus, it cannot cause COVID-19 infection. For this reason, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has determined that there is no safety risk to immunocompromised people. If you or your child are immunocompromised or take immunosuppressants, talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of being vaccinated vs. contracting COVID-19.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines need to be taken in two doses. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is given three weeks after the first dose. The second dose of the Moderna vaccine is given four weeks after the first dose.

It’s important to take both doses of the vaccine from the same company – so, for example, if your first dose is the Pfizer vaccine, your second dose should also be from Pfizer.

Yes. If you have had a COVID infection, you may take the vaccine after the 10-day isolation period.

No. Studies have shown that people who were vaccinated were 94% to 95% less likely to get COVID disease. What we don’t know yet is whether vaccinated people might still contract coronavirus and be contagious to others. For this reason, it’s important to continue to wear a mask and socially distance even after you’ve had both doses of the vaccine. Over time, we will learn more about whether vaccinated people can pass the virus to others or not.

Yes. Eligible health care workers at Children’s Mercy will be offered the vaccine. In fact, the first employees received the vaccine on Dec. 16. More and more employees will be vaccinated as doses become available.