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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs: What You Should Know

pharmacist prepping to give patient vaccine wearing masks

The COVID-19 vaccine is protecting millions of Americans and helping us get safely back to many of the activities we love. But several myths about the vaccine persist; knowing all the facts about how the vaccine affects the COVID-19 virus can help you make an informed decision -- and help educate friends and family to do the same.

 

Do I still need the vaccine even if I've already had COVID-19?

 

Yes, you should still get the vaccine even if you’ve already had COVID-19. While getting COVID-19 causes you to build natural immunity, offering some level of protection, disease experts don’t know how long that protection lasts. Current studies show that reinfection may be uncommon in the months following initial infection, but may increase over time. Whether you’ve had the virus or not, the vaccine provides full protection from severe illness and death related to COVID-19 -- mitigating the potential risks of letting your immune system do the job alone.

 

We’re still continuing to learn about COVID-19, but the CDC states that vaccines should work against new variants, adding some additional protection that you wouldn’t get from the strain that originally infected you. The risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. (source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html)

 

However, there is an exception: you should wait 90 days to get vaccinated if you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma. If you’re unsure about what treatments you received for COVID-19, talk to your doctor.

 

 

Can I still get COVID-19 after I've been vaccinated?

 
Yes, there is a small chance you can get COVID-19 after you’ve been vaccinated. First, it’s possible you could become infected after receiving your dose(s) and before your body has built full immunity. With two-dose vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna, you are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second and final dose. With the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, you are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your single dose. During this period, your immune system is not fully equipped to fight the virus and still needs time to develop its defenses.
 
Also, while extremely rare, it’s possible to become infected with COVID-19 even after you’re considered fully vaccinated. No vaccine is 100 percent effective at preventing illness, according to disease experts. Known as “breakthrough cases,” these take place when a fully vaccinated person contracts the illness they were inoculated against. Breakthrough cases occur with every type of vaccination, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the vaccine. Each FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death related to COVID-19.
 
While we know that the vaccine is the best way to keep yourself protected from COVID-19, we still don't know how long that protection lasts. We do know that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people, and getting a vaccine is the safest choice to help keep our communities healthy.

 

 

Can I spread COVID-19 if I've received the vaccine?

 
Studies are still determining how the vaccine affects the spread of the virus. While we know it’s effective at preventing illness from COVID-19, the chance of contracting COVID-19 still exists.

Early research shows that the vaccine may prevent people from spreading it to others. However, the CDC and other health agencies are still confirming if vaccinated people can pass on the virus if they haven’t contracted it.
 
That’s why it’s so important to keep following particular safety guidelines, like wearing a mask in public and avoiding medium- or large-sized gatherings.
 
Though we’re still learning about how the vaccine works to combat COVID-19 in the long term, scientists know this for sure: it’s our strongest measure against the virus and the best way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death related to COVID-19. Knowing the facts can help you feel confident about your decision to get the vaccine -- and educate others about its crucial role in helping to end the pandemic.
 
 
To schedule an appointment or learn more, visit our COVID-19 vaccine page
 
 
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