Frequently Asked Questions
For those who may still be considering whether to get the vaccine (especially long term care staff and residents), we asked medical professionals to answer some common questions.
Have another question that’s not included below? Contact us.
Getting vaccinated will help protect you, your family members, friends, coworkers, and our most vulnerable—like long term care residents—from COVID-19. The vaccines are highly effective in preventing individuals from getting sick or seriously ill from COVID-19 as well as slowing the spread. The vaccines are the best tool we have, especially when new variants of the virus emerge.
Ultimately, when we all get vaccinated, we can help end the pandemic.
Extremely. All COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be highly effective at reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. The vaccine does lose some of its effectiveness over time, which is why medical professionals recommend a booster dose a few months after you have completed your COVID-19 vaccine regimen. Learn more about when to get your booster shot.
COVID-19 is a serious threat. Seniors and those with underlying conditions, especially long term care residents, are particularly at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. But even younger individuals can have severe reactions. While most people recover from the virus, many also experience long-term effects.
Additionally, if you contract COVID-19, you may spread it to others, including those who are especially vulnerable. So, getting vaccinated not only protects you, but also protects others.
Yes. Public health experts recommend receiving the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have previously had the virus. While your body produces antibodies when you have the virus, we cannot know for certain how protective they are against reinfection, and they decrease over time.
Also, the risk of reinfection is possible due to the rise of new variants of virus. Getting vaccinated ensures you have the greatest level of protection.
Yes. The vaccines have been subject to the most extensive safety monitoring effort in U.S. history. They were thoroughly tested in hundreds of thousands of individuals and the data from those clinical trials was rigorously examined. The vaccines continue to be monitored closely to ensure their safety and severe reactions to the vaccine have been extremely rare.
Four vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, and Novavax) have been approved for use by the FDA for individuals 18 and older. All of them have been shown to be safe and highly effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19. The CDC recommends individuals receive the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (COVID-19 mRNA vaccines) when getting their booster shot.
You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects.
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 headache
Most symptoms can be managed with acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Tylenol or Advil). If you experience more severe side effects, please contact your doctor. Learn more.
Receiving the second dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax vaccines will ensure you have the most protection against developing serious illness from COVID. Side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working.
Some people tend to have more of these symptoms after the second shot and sometimes they are a bit stronger, but they usually last less than 24 hours. 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.
You should talk to your doctor about any specific concerns.
Serious allergic reactions have been documented but are extremely rare and generally occur in people who have a history of severe allergic reactions.
Individuals are monitored for 15-30 minutes after vaccination to ensure they 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.
No. This is a rumor that started on social media. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 6 months and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems. In fact, there is growing evidence about the safety of vaccinations during pregnancy.
Also keep in mind that pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people. Learn more about the CDC’s recommendations. Also check out this handout for more information.
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 is 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.
It’s important that your COVID-19 vaccinations stay up to date. Vaccine effectiveness wanes over time and new COVID-19 variants continue to emerge. If it’s been a couple months since your last COVID-19 vaccination, it may be time to get a booster shot (find out if you’re eligible). Learn more about bivalent boosters.
A vaccine booster shot is administered after the initial (primary) doses of a vaccination to help build back up immunity that might have decreased over time. Essentially, booster shots help you maintain protection against the virus.
COVID-19 vaccination significantly lowers your risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death if you get infected.
Like all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection. However, staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations means that you are less likely to have a breakthrough infection and, if you do get sick, you are less likely to get severely ill or die. Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccination also means you are less likely to spread the disease to others and increases your protection against new variants.
You can also search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.
Vaccine Spotter also scans local pharmacies to help individuals find vaccine appointments.
If you’re a long term care resident or staff member, talk your facility’s administrator about getting a vaccine. They may be able to help facilitate your shot on-site.
The need for masks and other PPE while you’re out in the community may depend on the level of COVID in your area. Check with your local or state government about current guidance.
Health care settings must still follow specific guidance by federal, state, and local governments. This currently includes wearing personal protective equipment in certain situations. For example, staff should still wear source control masks throughout the facility and might be asked to wear full PPE in the event of an outbreak or if the surrounding community has a high level of COVID-19. This is to help keep vulnerable residents and staff safe.
Fully vaccinated staff at long term care facilities can meet, socialize, and dine without masks or physical distancing in break rooms and meeting rooms unless unvaccinated staff are present.
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.
Still have questions? Fill out this form and a medical expert from AHCA/NCAL will answer them!