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COVID-19 Vaccine Series Part IV: What can I expect when I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Learn about what to expect as you prepare to get your COVID-19 vaccine.
6 min read
January 31, 2021
Dr. Jill Lundstrom
Board-Certified Pediatrician
Dr. Jill earned her MD at the University of Massachusetts. She believes that all children deserve access to quality healthcare to learn and thrive.

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Our care team has collected all of the questions families have asked over the last few weeks. We will be sharing weekly blog posts and hosting Ask a Doctor live chats to answer these questions.

This week we’re answering questions about what you can expect as you prepare to get your COVID-19 vaccine. Be sure to check back next week to read part five of our COVID-19 Vaccine Series: I got the COVID-19 vaccine, now what?

1. Question: I’ve heard there are two vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna. What are the differences?

Answer: Both the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine are approved and work the same way. They are both shown to be very safe and work very well- 94 to 95% effective in preventing COVID-19. Anyone who has the option to get a vaccine should take whatever vaccine is available because they are both safe and are effective.

2. Question: How do I get the vaccine?

The vaccine is given as two shots. You will need to get each shot a few weeks apart. You are not fully vaccinated until you get both doses (two shots). If you miss the 21-28-day window, you do NOT need to start all over again.

To find out when you are eligible to get your vaccine, or sign up for your vaccine, visit your state's public health department website. Be sure to check back frequently for updates. You can also speak with your doctor about any of these questions.

3. Question: Why do I need to get two shots?

Answer: To get the full effect of the vaccine, you do need both shots. The first shot is a primer shot. After the first shot, you will get a level of immunity, but we don't know how long that lasts. The second shot is a booster shot. The vaccine’s 94-95% effectiveness happens after getting both shots.

Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine require two doses:
Pfizer vaccine: Get your second shot three weeks after your first shot.
Moderna vaccine: Get your second shot four weeks after your first shot.
Make certain that your second shot is the same vaccine as your first shot.

4. Question: Am I more likely to get COVID-19 after my first shot but before my second shot?

Answer: No! In fact, what is really great is that the Pfizer vaccine has been shown to have 52% efficacy with the first dose alone — and within 10 days of the dose!

Still — you do not get that 90+% efficacy until you get the second dose. Please make sure to get your second dose, and remember to make sure that your second shot is the same vaccine as your first shot. 

5. Question: How long will the vaccines last?

We will need more research to know how long the vaccine will be effective. The research studies have shown that the vaccine is effective for at least 120 days, but these studies need to be followed for longer before we know for sure.

We may find that certain vaccines require a booster shot in the same way a tetanus shot does, or they may be annual shots, as we do for the flu.

6. Question:  I got a flu shot this year, will there be any negative interactions between the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine?

Answer: No. Clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine ran during flu season, and many participants received both vaccines. There did not appear to be any negative interactions between the shots.

We do know that getting both the flu and COVID-19 can be very dangerous, so we recommend getting BOTH vaccines!

If you have questions about getting the vaccine for your family, ask your doctor. 

Be sure to join our weekly online Ask a Doctor chat to hear more about the COVID-19 vaccine, and read the next blog in our series: I got the COVID-19 vaccine, now what?

The information in this blog is considered true and correct at the date of publication. Changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information.

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Parent Story
A father was concerned when his son was showing COVID-19 symptoms. His school uses Hazel, so he was able to contact a Hazel doctor from home.

The Hazel provider recommended he get a COVID-19 test and shared resources to help find a testing center in their area. The father was eager to help his son feel better and appreciated being able to quickly get answers and advice.
Nurse Story
A student came into the nurse's office with a sprained ankle. After icing her foot, she still was in pain, so the nurse called Hazel. Thankfully, her family had provided consent for over-the-counter pain relief because she was able to take some medicine and return to class feeling better.

After the visit, the Hazel provider reached out to the school nurse to check on the student’s injury. The nurse shared that the student’s ankle was improving, and she appreciated the follow-up.
Parent Story
A mother noticed her son was getting low on his asthma medication. She tried to schedule a visit with his doctor to refill his prescription, but no appointments were available. She didn’t want her son to run out of medicine, so she reached out to Hazel.

The provider was able to send the refill to a local pharmacy within one day. The mother was happy that her son would have the medicine he needed. She was also amazed at how easy and fast the entire process was.
Student Story
A student was coughing and sneezing a lot, but her family wasn’t sure if she was sick or had allergies. Thankfully, her school used Hazel, and they could get an answer.

After talking with the school nurse and the Hazel provider about her symptoms and medical history, the student was happy to find out it was likely allergies. She got some medicine and returned to class feeling better.