COVID-19 Vaccine: Yes or No?
Last updated 3/8/2021 at 10:28am
Vaccines offer a way to stamp out the spread of disease. As COVID-19 vaccines become available, you may be wondering whether you should be vaccinated. The short answer is YES!
While there is a small subset of people who cannot safely receive vaccinations, these individuals are the exception and not the rule. COVID-19 vaccines can help to end the pandemic much sooner, and with fewer lives lost. Yet many people remain unsure about whether or not they should get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is offered to them. It is important to get the facts, discuss with your doctor, and then make an informed decision. Here we discuss some of the most asked questions, widespread myths and common worries about the COVID-19 vaccines.
CAN I GET COVID-19 FROM RECEIVING A COVID-19 VACCINE?
No, you cannot get COVID-19 disease from a COVID-19 vaccine. All of the vaccines teach our immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Because it takes a few weeks to build immunity following immunization, it is possible that a person could be infected with coronavirus just before or just after being vaccinated and still get sick, as the vaccine has not had enough time to provide adequate protection.
CAN I STILL GET COVID-19 AFTER RECEIVING THE VACCINE?
We don’t know how long the vaccines currently out now will protect people from infection. The novel coronavirus has only been around for about a year, and the final phases of testing the vaccines only wrapped up a few weeks-to-months ago. Protection provided by vaccines can fade over time, and some vaccines require a booster shot years later. Doctors hope coronavirus won’t mutate like flu does. If that does happen, however, the technology used to make the new mRNA coronavirus vaccines is designed to be easily adapted. It should take far less time to update the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines than it takes to make new flu vaccines.
ARE TWO DOSES NECESSARY?
Yes. For both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, two doses are necessary to ensure optimal protection. The first dose helps the immune system create a response against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The second dose further boosts the immune response to ensure long-term protection.
Pfizer doses should be given 21 days (three weeks) apart. Moderna doses should be given 28 days (4 weeks) apart. You should get your shot as close to (but not before) the recommended three-week or four-week interval as possible. No more than six weeks should elapse between doses.
CAN YOU MIX VACCINES?
No, you should not mix vaccines. Although there is no preference for either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, experts agree that the COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable between first and second doses. The safety and effectiveness of mixed vaccines has not been studied and more research is needed.
DO I NEED TO GET THE VACCINE IF I HAVE ALREADY HAD COVID-19?
Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called “natural immunity,” varies from person to person. It is rare for someone who has had COVID-19 to get infected again. It also is uncommon for people who do get COVID-19 again to get it within 90 days of when they recovered from their first infection. We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work.
WILL A COVID-19 VACCINE ALTER MY DNA?
No, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.
CAN I GET A COVID-19 VACCINE AT THE SAME TIME AS ANOTHER VACCINE?
It is recommended to wait at least 14 days before getting any other vaccine, including a flu or shingles vaccine, if you get your COVID-19 vaccine first. And if you get another vaccine first, wait at least 14 days before getting your COVID-19 vaccine.
IS IT SAFE FOR ME TO GET A VACCINE IF I HAVE AN UNDERLYING MEDICAL CONDITION?
In most cases, people with underlying medical conditions can receive the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines provided they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Please contact your medical professional to discuss any questions related to your personal medical situation.
DO I NEED TO WEAR A MASK AND AVOID CLOSE CONTACT IF I HAVE GOTTEN MY 2 DOSES OF THE VACCINE?
Yes, we need to gain a greater understanding of the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before relaxing these guidelines. There are other factors to consider as well, such as how many people are already vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in the community. It is important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop the pandemic. To protect yourself and others, the CDC recommends wearing a mask over your nose and mouth, staying at least six feet away from others, and avoiding crowds.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF WHILE WAITING TO GET A COVID-19 VACCINE?
Remember the basics: masks, social distancing, avoid crowds, avoid poorly ventilated spaces and wash hands frequently.
From the Borrego Springs COVID-19 Task Force: Bruce Kelley, Martha Deichler, Diane Johnson, Betsy Knaak, David Leibert, Caroline Manildi
– Supported by the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund, private donors and a Federal Economic Stimulus grant obtained by application through San Diego County