Our care team has collected many of the questions families have asked our doctors about the COVID-19 vaccine, and we will be sharing weekly updates and inviting families to bring their questions to online chats with our doctors.
This week we’re focusing on helping families understand what happens after you get the COVID-19 vaccine and how you can continue to protect others from getting COVID-19. Be sure to check back next week to read part six of our COVID-19 Vaccine Series: COVID-19 vaccine myth busting.
1. Question: I got one shot for the COVID-19 vaccine. When should I get my second one?
Answer: Both COVID-19 mRNA vaccines require both doses (two shots) to give you 90+% protection. You should meet the timeline for your second shot as closely as possible. The timing for your second shot depends on which vaccine you got.
Pfizer-BioNTech: 3 weeks (or 21 days) after your first shot,
Moderna: 1 month (or 28 days) after your first shot.
If you are late getting your second shot, you will not need to restart the vaccine process. You should not get your second shot early.
2. Question: Will I feel sick after the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: You will not get COVID-19 from getting the vaccine. Any discomfort you may feel from the vaccine will be mild and temporary (a few hours to a few days). These symptoms do not mean that you have COVID-19. These are signs that your body is responding to the vaccine because your immune system is building its defenses. They are not signs that you are sick.
Some people have had minor side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This may be pain, redness, or swelling in your arm from the shot. Some may also experience body or muscle aches, fevers, chills, fatigue.
If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours or you are worried that your symptoms aren’t going away after a few days, you should contact your doctor. If you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after getting the vaccination, get help immediately.
3. Question: If the first vaccine dose makes me feel sick, should I get the second dose?
Answer: Yes. Unless your doctor tells you not to get a second shot, you should get the second shot even if you had side effects after the first shot.
4. Question: How long will it be before the vaccine starts protecting me from COVID-19?
Answer: It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines that require two shots may not protect you until a week or two after your second shot. After that point, you should have 94-95% protection.
5. Question: Once I have both shots, can I pass on the virus to others?
Answer: We are still studying this. Some vaccinated people can still get COVID-19, but the vaccine will protect them from getting sick from the virus. These asymptomatic people can spread the COVID-19 to others without knowing it. This can be dangerous for those who have not been vaccinated yet.
6. Question: After I finish getting the vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask or go to crowded indoor spaces?
Answer: Unfortunately, not yet. Vaccine immunity takes at least 2–3 weeks after ALL doses. Also, the vaccine is not 100% effective. You will still need to social distance and wear a mask until we reach herd immunity.
Remember, for us to reach herd immunity, about 70% of people must be vaccinated. Because these vaccines will take time to reach everyone, it will take many months to get to herd immunity with COVID-19.
7. Question: Can I travel after I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: We are still learning about how well the vaccines will stop the spread of coronavirus. You may be protected a few weeks after getting the second shot, but those around you may not be, and you may still be able to spread the virus. It is much safer for everyone to continue to avoid traveling until we reach herd immunity. If you do need to travel, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently. While vaccines are effective, they are not a 100% guarantee.
If you have questions about getting the vaccine for your family, ask your doctor.
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.