The vaccine was developed very quickly. Does that mean it's unsafe?
The COVID vaccine went through a rapid development and approval process for which we should all be grateful, given the toll that the disease has taken on our community. One of the reasons scientists were able to create this vaccine faster than others in the past is modern scientific tools are faster than old ones. In addition creating these vaccines was a collaborative, global effort – governments, academics, and private companies across the world worked together to reduce and remove the usual barriers or delays in vaccine research, production, and distribution. In both clinical trials (where tens of thousands of people are enrolled to get vaccines and placebos, and are followed over time) the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were determined to be safe and 94%-95% effective after two doses. If there were any doubts about safety, the drugs would not have been approved.
What about side effects?
After receiving the vaccine, a very small number of people have had allergic reactions, such as shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and rashes after vaccination. In a small number of cases these reactions have required medical attention. — All vaccination clinics are equipped to deal with these rare situations on site. Just as with other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause temporary effects soon after they enter the body and start teaching the immune system to go after the coronavirus — this actually means the vaccine is working! Tens of thousands of people have received the vaccines in clinical trials, and hundreds of thousands more Americans are getting it every day without any side effects.
What about long-term effects?
You may have heard claims that the COVID-19 vaccine will have long-term negative effects on the body. None of these are true! When we see side-effects from vaccines, we will generally see anything significant within the first two months. Health officials are watching out for any patterns of problems that are out of the ordinary. So far, they have not seen any. With the scrutiny on these vaccines, combined with the fact that there are many more varieties of the COVID-19 vaccine now being tested, it means that we would have an early warning and alternatives.
I’ve read that more people will die as a result of a negative side effect to the COVID-19 vaccine than would actually die from the virus. Is this true?
This is not true. There are claims that COVID-19’s mortality rate is 1%-2% and that people should not be vaccinated against a virus with a high survival rate. However, a 1% mortality rate is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. And, the mortality rate can vary widely and is influenced by age, sex, zip code, and underlying health condition. It’s important to recognize that getting the vaccine is not just about surviving COVID-19. It’s about preventing spread of the virus to others and preventing infection that can lead to long-term negative health effects.
Should I get the vaccine if I previously had COVID-19?
The CDC recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine, even if you’ve had COVID-19 previously. However, those that had COVID-19 should delay vaccination until about 90 days from diagnosis. You should wait to get vaccinated if you’re in quarantine or if you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, until both have passed.
Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have a history of allergic reactions?
You should discuss with your doctor if it makes sense for you based on your medical history. In general:
- If you have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications, you may still get a COVID-19 vaccine, but you should be monitored for 30 minutes after getting the vaccine.
- If you’ve ever had an immediate allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not getting that specific vaccine.
- If you are allergic to polysorbate, you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
- If you have an immediate allergic reaction after getting the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the second dose.