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    COVID-19 Immunity: What to Know

    pharmacist prepping to give patient vaccine wearing masks

    COVID-19 vaccines are allowing millions of Americans to get back to normal life activities, like gathering with friends and family. But knowing more about your vaccine’s effectiveness can help you and your community continue to make safe decisions to help put the pandemic behind us and get back to thriving. 


    There are currently three FDA-authorized vaccines that are effective at protecting you from getting sick from COVID-19, but it’s important to know the facts about what getting your shot(s) mean for you and your immunity, including these key takeaways:


    • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t provide instant immunity 

    • It takes your body about two weeks after all doses of vaccine to build immunity

    • Scientists are still learning how long the vaccine protects you


    Here’s what you need to know to stay safe: 


    When am I considered fully vaccinated?


    • If you receive a two-dose vaccine, (either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines), you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose. 

    • If you receive a single-dose vaccine, (Johnson & Johnson / Janssen vaccine), you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your single dose. 


    What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated”? 


    COVID-19 vaccines teach our bodies how to build immunity to the virus by recognizing and combating the virus that causes COVID-19. In that two-week time period after your final (or only) dose, your body builds the level of protection it needs to keep you safe. Keep in mind that your vaccination is effective in preventing death and hospitalization, but it’s still possible to contract COVID-19, which is why it’s so important to keep practicing the same healthy habits that keep us safe. Be sure to wait those two weeks to reach full immunity before relaxing into any of the CDC guidelines for vaccinated individuals. 


    Until you hit your two-week mark, you should continue maintaining healthy prevention habits, including:

    • Wearing a mask that protects your nose and mouth

    • Avoid crowds and large gatherings

    • Maintaining social distancing and stay 6 feet away from others

    • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water


    How long does the vaccine protect me?


    Scientists know that the COVID-19 vaccine prevents serious illness and death related to COVID-19. However, they still don’t know exactly how long the vaccine provides protection. Some researchers are hopeful that the vaccine will provide two to three years of protection. Still, it’s very likely that people may need to be vaccinated annually, similar to a flu shot. 


    We may require booster shots for the vaccine to remain effective. A booster shot is an additional dose of vaccine needed to boost the immune system occasionally. This process exposes our bodies to the vaccine again, giving our systems another opportunity to re-build immunity. 


    Does this mean you shouldn’t get vaccinated because scientists aren’t sure how long the vaccine will last? The answer is no: the current FDA-authorized vaccines offer the most protection we have against the virus. Getting vaccinated is the best way to get back to normal life and pre-pandemic activities, while scientists work to make the vaccine a long-term solution in the fight against COVID-19. 


    You can also take some steps right now to feel better while your body builds immunity to the virus. At Rite Aid, we know it’s important to create habits that boost your whole health and mental wellbeing. We’re all eager to get back to “normal life” – and developing healthy ways to support your body and mind can help you create a new “normal” to get thriving. Some strategies include:



    After you’ve reached full immunity with the COVID-19 vaccine, don’t forget to talk to your Rite Aid pharmacist to make sure you’re up-to-date with all your other immunizations, like shingles, pneumonia and MMR. 


    To schedule an appointment or learn more, visit our COVID-19 vaccine page