As the COVID-19 vaccines are getting authorized and become more widely available, many wonder what to expect after the COVID-19 Vaccine. Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention, and Gabor Kelen, M.D., director of Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, talk about what is experience when getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and answer some of your most frequently asked questions.
When can I get the coronavirus vaccine?
Now that the Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines, initial amounts of the vaccine are dispersed across the United States.
Because it will take a while to create and disseminate enough of the Covid-19 vaccine for people who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates groups of individuals who should get priority. The CDC has been working arms-in-arms with state health departments and partners to develop these recommendations.
If you’re a CareMed Primary and Urgent Care, visit our COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Updates page for current information on getting vaccinated. Your state’s health department site may also give updates on vaccine distribution locally.
How many shots are from the COVID-19 vaccine?
The first two coronavirus vaccines (Pfizer’s and Moderna’s) need two doses given some weeks apart (Pfizer’s second shot is given three weeks after the first, and Moderna’s is four weeks after the first).
What happens if my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is delayed?
If you have received the initial dose of this Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the second shot should take place three weeks after the initial one.
If your initial coronavirus vaccine was from Moderna, the CDC says your second shot should be given to you four weeks following the first one.
In case something happens that prevents you from getting the second dose of either COVID-19 vaccine in time; you can still receive it up to six weeks (42 days) after the initial dose. We’re not advocating for individuals to delay getting their next dose, but the data from clinical trials support this range. There is currently limited data on the efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this time-frame. According to the CDC, if the next dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the sequence.
What if I received my second vaccination earlier than recommended?
You ought not to receive the second vaccine dose earlier than the recommended times. But, if you’ve already obtained your second shot, and it was early by four days or less than the advised time window, your vaccinations are OK, and you don’t have to repeat the vaccination cycle.
Is it OK if my two COVID-19 vaccinations are from different manufacturers?
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or with other COVID-19 vaccines at all. Each vaccine is manufactured differently — even those that use similar underlying methods and technology, such as Pfizer and Moderna. Once you’re given one type of Covid-19 vaccine, the second vaccine dose should be the same kind, from the same maker as the very first vaccine dose.
Shortly after your first vaccination, your document will show which type you received so that you can schedule your next shot with the same brand and at the correct time interval between doses.
These recommendations and advises may change as additional information becomes available or as other vaccine types are approved for use. In rare cases, such as an allergic reaction, an exception could be made to allow for the next dose from another manufacturer.
When will I be protected from catching COVID-19?
The vaccine does not work straight away. You are not considered protected after the initial Covid-19 shot. It takes up to two weeks after your second shot for your immune system to fully respond to a vaccine and supply protection against the infectious disease.
Do I still have to wear a mask if I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
For now, definitely yes. Even with a vaccine that’s 95% effective, a small number of people who get one of the vaccines won’t become immune. It’s not yet clear if you can take the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and pass it along to others after getting the vaccine.
Until enough people become immune (either from being vaccinated or recovering and getting from COVID-19), everybody should follow guidelines such as physical distancing, hand-washing, and mask-wearing. Vaccinating as many people as possible is a tremendous job, and it will take weeks before we can think about cutting back on these simple safety practices.
What are the coronavirus vaccine side effects?
You might have pain in the arm where you got the shot, and you may run a fever and experience body aches, headaches, and fatigue for a day or two. The chances of getting noticeable side effects are more significant after the second shot.
Experiencing side effects does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19, but signs your immune system is reacting to the vaccine. These side effects are considerably less severe or lasting than COVID-19, but if they persist, call your physician and ask about taking over-the-counter pain and fever reducers to help you feel better.
Is it OK for the COVID-19 vaccine if I have allergies?
While there have been reports of severe allergic-type reactions in a minimal number of patients, the CDC states that people with allergies to certain foods, medications, insects, latex, and other common ailments can still get the COVID-19 vaccine.
In case you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to injectables or other vaccines, make certain to discuss the COVID-19 vaccination with your doctor, who can evaluate you and assess your risk. The vaccine provider should watch you for 30 minutes rather than the routine 15 minutes after vaccination, and if you have an allergic reaction to the first shot, you might not receive the second.
The CDC says that at this moment, anyone who has a severe allergy (such as anaphylaxis) to any of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine ingredients shouldn’t get this vaccine.
There is a rumor that carrying over-the-counter medications for pain relief prior to receiving the vaccine reduces its effectiveness. Is this true?
Some studies have indicated that taking medications like Tylenol or Advil before getting a vaccination might diminish your body’s ability to mount an immune response to the vaccine. It’s unclear if these findings have some clinical significance, though, along with other studies that did not find any impact of anti-inflammatory medications on vaccines’ immune reaction.
If you regularly take aspirin or other over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), aspirin (e.g., Motrin, Advil), or naproxen (e.g., Aleve) for other medical conditions, please continue to do this as directed by your physician or as needed. Otherwise, it is probably best not to take over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or aspirin that reduce inflammation or fever before receiving a vaccine. If you are uncomfortable or have symptoms after vaccination, that’s the time to choose an over-the-counter medication that will help you feel better.
How long am I immune after obtaining the coronavirus vaccine?
This is a question researchers are ready to reply to. People infected with the coronavirus reveal a decline in antibodies in a few months, but their immunity may last considerably longer than that. (A few people appear to have captured COVID-19 twice, but this is unusual). Data from the vaccine trials indicate strong immunity at least months following vaccination, indicating possible long-term immunity.
As the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has started to change (mutate), studies explore how these changes affect the virus’s characteristics, including its ability to spread between people. A substantial mutation might impact the effectiveness of the vaccines, and vaccine makers are preparing to make adjustments where necessary.
Do I need a coronavirus vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
Individuals who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated. Because of the severe health risks related to COVID-19 and that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people can be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.
There is not enough available information to say if or for how long people are protected from becoming COVID-19 after they have had it (natural immunity). Very Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last quite long, but more studies are required to understand this better.