COVID-19 VACCINE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
IDPH is adopting the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) A Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine. This framework focuses on reducing severe morbidity and mortality and negative societal impact due to the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Emphasized in the framework is that the goal of the COVID-19 vaccination program is to vaccinate all those who choose to be vaccinated and who do not have medical contraindications to the vaccine.
Long-term care facility staff and all residents
Other identified congregate care staff and all residents
Persons aged 65 years and older
Frontline essential workers
Persons aged 16 to 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions
Other essential workers
Do I need a vaccine if I have already had COVID-19?
Yes, people who have already had COVID-19 should plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine, because the science is currently inconclusive as to whether you will be naturally protected from a second COVID-19 infection in the future. The CDC currently suggests that if you were infected with COVID-19 during the previous 90 days, it is likely that you still have immune protection and that you will be asked to wait to receive your vaccine to allow others to be vaccinated first.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause me to become infected with COVID-19 or infect others?
No, you cannot become infected or infect others from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. None of the early COVID-19 vaccines tested in the U.S. use a live virus that causes COVID-19. The goal for each vaccine is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine directs your body to produce a protein that teaches your body how to fight off the virus. At this time, the vaccines that have received approval are mRNA - messenger ribonucleic acid - vaccines. Like other vaccines, mRNA vaccines work by training the immune system to recognize a virus threat and begin producing antibodies to protect itself.
How does the vaccine cause my body to be protected from COVID-19?
Your immune system makes antibodies to fight infections. The COVID-19 vaccine causes your body to make antibodies that target the COVID-19 virus. In the event that your body is exposed to the actual COVID-19 virus, the new antibodies prevent infection.
How long will it take for the COVID-19 vaccine to take effect in my body?
The COVID-19 vaccine is expected to provide some protection a couple of weeks after your first shot and reaches its greatest effectiveness after your second shot. It is very important to take the second shot within the recommended time period for maximum vaccine effectiveness.
Could I contract COVID-19 between my first and second doses of the vaccine?
Although the first dose of vaccine offers some immunity, you will still be considered susceptible to COVID-19. The first dose of the vaccine will provide some protection, but the recommendation is to receive two doses to be protected as intended. Pfizer and Moderna have indicated their vaccines are approximately 95% effective.
How long will the vaccine protect me from COVID-19?
We are still learning about length of immunity. To determine how long protection lasts, follow-up studies are required to detect levels of both types of immune responses – antibody and Tcell – as well as any repeated exposure risks. As more information becomes available, more information will be shared on the length of immunity.
Can children get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Currently, a pediatric vaccine is not available, and it may be some time before one is approved and becomes available. Clinical trials need to be conducted with children before determining if the existing COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for them.
I have allergies, is this vaccine safe for me?
While serious allergic reactions were not seen in vaccine clinical trials of thousands of patients, rare allergic reactions to vaccines are possible. If you have a history of serious allergic reactions, you should discuss your situation with your healthcare provider. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any animal products such as eggs.
What are the side effects of this vaccine?
If I get the vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask?
No. While the COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, it not 100% effective. Until the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled, people who receive the vaccine need to continue following Illinois Department of Public Health guidance such as the use of facemasks, social distancing, and regular hand washing. This protects you as well as your family and community.