Frequently Asked Questions

According to the CDC, nearly 2 million COVID-19 shots are being administered every day. For long term care staff and residents, this is welcome news – and we had medical professionals answer common questions about the vaccines. Have another question that’s not answered below? Contact us.

Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Getting vaccinated will help you keep long term care residents, your family members, and coworkers safe and keep you from getting sick or seriously ill from COVID-19.  Ultimately, it will help end the pandemic, allowing kids return to school, adults return to work and families to reunite.

When and where can I get the vaccine?

The time and order for priority groups to get the vaccine is dependent on your state and county. Please contact your state or county health department for the latest information on vaccine clinics.

The CDC website helps connect you to your state health department on their website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html

VaccineFinder, operated by Boston Children’s Hospital in partnership with the CDC, is also a useful website that can help connect individuals with vaccinations in select states.

Vaccine Spotter, a private website, also scans local pharmacies to help individuals find vaccine appointments.

Which vaccine should I get/which one is the best?

All three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s) have been approved for use by the FDA. All of them have been shown to be highly effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19, and very safe. All three vaccines have similar side effects, such as fever, headache, chills and aches lasting 1-2 days after getting the shot.

CDC and other experts strongly recommend that you take the first vaccine that is offered to you, to ensure rapid protection against COVID-19.

How do I know that the vaccines are safe?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorizations (EUA) for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. According to the CDC, this authorization “demonstrates that the known and potential benefits of this vaccine outweigh the known and potential harms of becoming infected with the coronavirus disease.” Both vaccines have been thoroughly tested in over 60,000 people and extensive trial data has been rigorously examined. As of Feb. 3, 2021, more than 32 million doses have been administered in the U.S. and only 115 severe reactions have been reported.  Collectively, this vaccine has been subject to the most extensive safety monitoring effort in U.S. history.

Anyone with specific questions should talk with their personal doctor or medical provider for a recommendation based on your own medical history.

What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine provides immunity to the virus, making it a critical tool in putting an end to the pandemic. Getting vaccinated doesn’t just protect you: it helps keep the people around you – family, seniors, coworkers – safe, too. The CDC recommends you receive the vaccine as soon as you are eligible.

Are there side effects?

Some people will experience symptoms that mimic COVID-19, but most are minimal and last only one or two days. This shows the vaccine is working and your body is building up protection.

You may experience:

  • Pain, swelling or redness at the injection site.
  • General symptoms up to two days after injection such as fever, chills, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, or headaches.

Most symptoms can be managed with acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Tylenol or Advil). If you experience more severe side effects, please contact your physician.

Do these vaccines cause allergic reactions?

COVID vaccines have been tested on tens of thousands of people. Serious side effects are extremely rare and generally occur in people who have had severe allergic reactions in the past.

We are still learning more about what is causing these rare but serious reactions. Once vaccinated, you will be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes to ensure you do not experience this reaction.

If you have a history of anaphylactic allergic reactions, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before receiving the vaccine. Seasonal allergies, pet allergies and other common allergies that do not cause anaphylaxis are not associated with allergies to this vaccine.

Should I get the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID?

The public health experts at CDC recommend receiving the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have previously had the virus. While your body produces antibodies with the virus, getting vaccinated ensures you have the greatest level of protection.

Also keep in mind that while you already had COVID, the risk of a second infection is possible due to the rise of new variants of the virus.

Do I still have to wear PPE after getting vaccinated?

You should continue to take all necessary precautions after getting the vaccine, especially if you live or work in a long term care facility. Wearing personal protective equipment, social distancing whenever possible, and conducting regular testing is still required for the time being. You should also continue these prevention practices while out in your community. This will help to keep residents and staff safe.

Do these vaccines affect fertility in females?

No. A rumor was started on social media that falsely claims this vaccine causes infertility. There is no known link between the vaccines and infertility. In fact, 12 women in the Pfizer vaccine trial and six in the Moderna vaccine trial became pregnant after being vaccinated. This is the same rate as those who received the placebo in the trials. Also, women who have recovered from COVID-19 and developed the same antibodies your body makes after the vaccine have become pregnant, too.

Is the vaccine safe for people who have cancer and/or are taking chemo treatments?

According to the American Cancer Society, many expert medical groups now recommend that most people with cancer or a history of cancer get the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available to them.

The main concern about getting the vaccine is not whether it’s safe for people with cancer, but about how effective it will be, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Some cancer treatments like chemotherapy (chemo), radiation, stem cell or bone marrow transplant, or immunotherapy can affect the immune system, which might make the vaccine less effective.

Since the situation for every person is different, it is best to discuss the risks and benefits of getting one of the COVID-19 vaccines with your oncologist or primary care physician. They can advise you and tell you when you should receive it.

Should I get my second dose if I had side effects from the first?

The public health experts at CDC recommend receiving your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine but there is some discussion about only using one shot. You may want to talk with your physician if you have one.

Side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working. People do tend to have more of these symptoms after the second shot and sometimes are a bit stronger, but they usually last less than 24 hours. Receiving the second dose will ensure you have the most protection against developing serious illness from COVID. You may be able to manage those minor side effects with acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Tylenol or Advil).

You also need to balance these short term side effects against the risk of getting COVID-19. The vaccines are the best chance we have to protecting everyone from this deadly virus and bringing an end to the pandemic.

Dr. David Gifford, Chief Medical Officer for the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, answered some of these questions. Hear why he thinks long term care staff should #GetVaccinated.

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?
Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause allergic reactions?
How was the COVID-19 vaccine developed so quickly?
Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine now when I can wait to see what happens?
Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?
Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause allergic reactions?
How was the COVID-19 vaccine developed so quickly?
Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine now when I can wait to see what happens?

Still have questions? Fill out this form and a medical expert from AHCA/NCAL will answer them!