COVID-19 vaccine: Common questions answered
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an incredible impact on all our lives for nearly a year. Vaccines to prevent COVID-19 are perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines help build your immunity to the virus and can help prevent you from getting COVID-19. Or, if you get COVID-19, the vaccine can help keep you from getting extremely sick or from developing serious complications.
Many people have questions about the vaccines. This FAQ can help answer some of those questions.
Q: Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
A: The first vaccines for COVID-19 do involve new technology, and they were developed quickly. But it is not because there were shortcuts in the process. The COVID-19 vaccines being used in the United States were tested in clinical trials involving many thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and protect adults of different races, ethnicities and ages, including adults over the age of 65. During the trials no serious safety issues were found.
Before the vaccines arrived in Washington state, they passed through a number of rounds of review by many U.S. health and safety organizations, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Washington State Department of Health; as well as independent collaborative of experts from across Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado and California.
Q: Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
A: No. None of the vaccines being used in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. Around 10 to 15 percent of people who got the vaccine reported reactions like headaches, chills, fatigue, muscle pain or fever lasting for a day or two, particularly after the second dose. These reactions are common when getting a vaccine and are caused by your body creating an immune system response to the virus. Of course, you should always check with your doctor if you are worried about how you are feeling.
Q: If I get a vaccine, how long does it take to work?
A: It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after you get a vaccine. That means it is possible for a person to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had nough time to provide protection.
Q: After getting a vaccine, will I test positive on a COVID-19 test?
A: No. The COVID-19 vaccines do not cause you to test positive if you take a COVID-19 tests. The tests are used to see if you are currently sick with the virus.
Q: If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
A: Yes. There is still not enough information about how long immunity lasts after being sick with COVID-19, so it is important for you to receive the vaccine even if you already had COVID-19.
Q: Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?
A: No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.
Q: How much does a COVID-19 vaccine cost?
A: According to the CDC, vaccine doses purchased with taxpayer dollars will be given at no cost to an individual.
Vaccination providers are allowed to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone, which is reimbursed by a patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. At the time you make an appointment you will be asked for the name of your insurance provider, if you have one, but there will be no out of pocket expense for you as an individual when you get your vaccine at MultiCare, regardless of whether you have insurance or not.
Q: When can I get a vaccine?
A: In Washington state, the vaccines are being given through a plan that is divided into phases and tiers. This is meant to keep the vaccine distribution fair and protect
those most at risk from COVID-19 infections. How quickly individuals will get to get a vaccine will depend on what group they are in, and how quickly companies are able to make more vaccine.
The Washington State Department of Health’s website is a good place to visit to see what groups are currently able to get the vaccine.
Q: Where can I get a vaccine?
A: The Washington State Department of Health has a list of locations across the state where the vaccine is being offered. You may get your vaccine at any one of those locations once you are eligible.
Q: After I get the vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask and taking other safety precautions?
A: Even after you get the vaccine, you should continue to wear a mask around others, wash your hands and practice physical distancing. Both of the vaccines currently being used in the United States require two doses given three to four weeks apart before you are well protected. When you get your first shot, you don’t become immediately immune. It can take several weeks for your body to develop antibodies. After you get the vaccine, you should also continue to take steps to protect other people who haven’t been vaccinated yet. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before changing recommendations on what everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, including updates on vaccine phases and appointment information at MultiCare's COVID-19 vaccine page.
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