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COVID-19 vaccine FAQs

why should I/my child get vaccinated?
Getting the vaccine is the best available protection from COVID-19, for yourself and those around you who can't get vaccinated. Some adolescents may be hesitant to get the vaccine. While uncommon, some adolescents may have severe COVID-19. Furthermore, young adults are currently spreading COVID infection at the highest rates. Vaccinating this age group will help decrease the spread of COVID among family members, close contacts and within our community. By decreasing the spread, everyone, including those at highest risk for disease, will be better protected. 

can the vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
No. None of the authorized and recommend COVID-19 vaccines or vaccines in development contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. If you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or after you are vaccinated, before you reach full immunity, you could still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

how do I know the vaccine is safe for my child?
Before a vaccine gets approved, a rigorous study is done to assess safety. Once the vaccine is approved, safety continues to be monitored.

In kids specifically, Pfizer tested varying doses of the vaccine in trials of children ages 5-11. They found that kids have a strong immune response even to lower doses. This trial used a 10-microgram dose. Those 12 years and older received a 30-microgram dose. The trial included:

  • 2,268 participants ages 5 to 11
  • Two-doses of the vaccine given 21 days apart

Beyond clinical trials, billions of adults and teenagers, including 191 million in the US, have received the vaccine with very few, mostly mild side effects. We now have extensive data, including the research from the Pfizer clinical studies, to show the vaccine to be safe and effective in kids 12 years old and older. Parents can feel comfortable that this vaccine has shown to be safe. 

mRNA vaccines were developed so fast—how is that possible?

The COVID-19 vaccines were able to be safely developed so quickly because:

  1. The technology was ready. mRNA vaccine technology has been in the works since 1990. We just haven’t had the best use for it until now.
  2. Global interest. Infectious disease outbreaks are often localized to one area so there is usually not as much global interest in creating a vaccine. This time, the whole world was impacted.
  3. Funding was available. Money is normally the biggest hurdle for developing vaccines. Because the entire world was impacted, lots of funding was available to make things happen quickly.
  4. Easier process. mRNA vaccines only require you to identify the DNA or RNA sequence of the virus, not grow or recreate the whole virus. That leads to a quicker production.

how do mRNA vaccines work?
Before understanding how mRNA vaccines work, it's helpful to understand how the immune system works.

Now, let's talk about how the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.

can my child get the flu shot and the COVID vaccine together?
Yes. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including a flu vaccine, at the same visit. Experience with other vaccines has shown that the immune response and possible side effects after getting vaccinated are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines.

kids get so many vaccines already. why give them one more?
Your child’s body is truly a miraculous thing. We would not give children vaccines if we didn’t know they could handle it. Decades of research and real-world evidence show vaccines are effective, and much safer than getting the actual illness. That is why the early childhood vaccination schedule looks like it does. Children’s immune systems are ready to learn how to fight new viruses. Vaccines give their bodies the tools needed to keep them safe without having to get sick.

why get my child vaccinated when there are still breakthrough cases? The vaccine was never intended to totally keep people from getting sick, although you are five times less likely to get COVID-19 if you are vaccinated. The primary role of the vaccine is to keep you from developing serious symptoms that put you in the hospital. Infections can occur in vaccinated people, but they are not very common. Most have had mild, if any, symptoms.

what are the short-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection. These may affect your ability to do daily activities, but should go away in a few days. Side effects after the second shot may be more intense than your first shot. The most common side effects include:

  • Pain, redness, swelling on the arm where you got the shot
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

The clinical trials in 5-11 year olds found the side effects in children mirrored those of adults, lasting a day or two. The most common for cihldren were pain at injection site, headache and fatigue. Fever and chills were less common in children.

can I take any over-the-counter medicines if I experience symptoms?
Talk to your doctor about taking ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin or antihistamines for any pain or discomfort you feel after getting vaccinated. It is not recommend that you take these medicines before the vaccination to try to prevent the side effects.

Using your arm and applying a clean, cool wet washcloth over the area can help with pain and discomfort where you got the shot. If you have a fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.

is it safe for an adolescent with a heart condition to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) highly recommends the COVID-19 vaccination for anyone 12 years of age or older. While there have been reported cases of post vaccination inflammation of the heart, the risk is small in comparison to the risk of developing serious complications, like multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) after a COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 itself has been a well-known cause of myocarditis.

Current research shows that post vaccination inflammation of the heart has been more prevalent in teenagers over the age of 16 years and in young adults. Research has also shown it to be more common in males than in females. Most patients have mild symptoms, respond to treatment with rest and medication and recover quickly and fully. View our blog post for more information.

what about future fertility concerns?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems. The myth started because a protein in the placenta looks a bit like a part of the coronavirus called a spike. However, it would be like you mistaking an elephant for an alley cat because they are both gray. They are so completely different, your immune system wouldn’t confuse them.

do I have to pay or go through insurance to get the vaccine?
No. The vaccines are available at no cost to the person getting the vaccine.

where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Visit gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov to find a vaccine location near you. Medicaid members can also go to covidvaxonthespot.com for special incentives. Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County is also offering public vaccine clinics.

do I need to get two shots to be immune?
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines require two shots to reach full immunization. The two shots are spread a certain number of days apart. Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine requires only one shot to reach full immunization.

how long after I receive the vaccine am I fully immune?
For the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, you are fully immune two weeks after your second shot. For Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, you are fully immune two weeks after the first/only shot.

do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others after I’ve received the vaccine?
Visit the CDC for the most current guidelines for fully vaccinated people.

I’ve already had COVID-19. do I still need the vaccine?
Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

if I have an underlying condition, can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, people with underlying medical conditions can receive a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.

how long will I be protected from COVID-19 after I receive the vaccine?
We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity.

what are the long-term side effects of the vaccine?
Vaccines are being tested in large clinical trials to assess their safety. However, it does take time and more people getting vaccinated before we learn about long-term side effects. So, safety monitoring will continue.

can I still spread COVID-19 after I have received the vaccine?
Studies show that fully vaccinated people can be less likely to spread the virus to others, even if they do get COVID-19.

where can I look if I have more questions or want more information?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is constantly updating the information on their website about COVID-19 and the different approved vaccines.