Congratulations — you made the important decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine — a decision that will protect both you and others. However, you might still have questions. Below we offer common questions you might have that have been answered and supported by Avera experts.
What if the COVID-19 Vaccine Gives Me Side Effects?Side effects generally are only mild and temporary, like headache, fatigue, mild fever and possible pain at the injection site — which may be similar to other vaccines you’ve taken in the past. Side effects typically last only a day or two. Very few people are expected to experience serious side effects and it is impossible to get the COVID-19 virus from the vaccine.
“Symptoms like these are a result of the body’s immune response and show that your body is working to build immunity,” said David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality.
What if I Don’t Have Any Side Effects?Not everyone will experience side effects. If you don’t have any, it means you are one of the lucky ones. Not having symptoms does not mean that the vaccine is not working.
Can I Expect Any Long-term Side Effects From the Vaccine?The way the vaccine is designed means that there will be very low risk for long-term side effects. The RNA protein quickly leaves your cells after it does its work of alerting your immune system. It does not enter the cell nucleus or affect your DNA.
Why do I Need to Have a Second Dose?The first vaccines will be two-dose vaccines. Getting both doses is very important. The first dose is a “priming” dose giving you about 50% immunity while the second dose sets in immunity to around 95%. You will not develop sufficient immunity to COVID-19 without both doses.
How Soon Will I Become Immune to COVID-19?You will start to have some immunity seven days after your first dose. Your immunity will continue to build and will reach a peak about two weeks after the second dose.
Can I Get Other Vaccines, Like a Flu or Shingles Shot?You should wait at least 14 days before getting a different vaccine.
Should I Still Get the Flu Shot?Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you from getting the flu. Like COVID-19, influenza can result in serious complications and lost time from work.
If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet this season, there’s still time to benefit from one as the flu season extends into the spring months. You should separate the different vaccines by at least 14 days.
I Got the COVID-19 Vaccine – Now What?
It’s still unknown how long immunity lasts after getting the vaccine. Future findings will show us whether or not people will need booster shots at a later date.
Will It Be Safe For Me To Gather With Friends and Family Again?After you, your family members and friends are vaccinated, it will be much safer to gather together. However, it’s important to remember that children won’t be protected until a vaccine is approved for them. It will still be important to take precautions and keep watching for updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Do I Still Need to Wear a Mask and Social Distance?We are counting on the COVID-19 vaccine to be the most effective measure against the spread of the virus. Different populations are being vaccinated at a time — starting with long-term care staff and residents, frontline health care workers and those with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients. Although the vaccine does a good job giving you personal immunity, it is unclear whether you might still be able to pass on COVID-19 to others.
Even as more populations becomes vaccinated, it’s important to remain vigilant with the preventive measures you’ve incorporated into your life:
Wear your mask
Practice social distancing
Maintain good hand hygiene
You can expect hospitals and clinics to continue to follow these guidelines, too. Staff will still wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and visitation will be limited in some health care facilities.
When Will COVID-19 End?“The more people who get the vaccine, the closer we get to ‘back to normal.’ As a result, we’ll see reduced illness and hospitalizations due to this virus,” said Basel.
While masking and social distancing are important, vaccinating a large number of people is the only way this virus will get under control. The ultimate goal in ending this pandemic is by vaccinating as many individuals as possible against COVID-19.
Visit us online to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, or get COVID-19-related information about what to do if you get sick or need to be tested.