I have recovered from COVID-19. Should I still get the vaccine once I am eligible?
Yes, and congratulations on your recovery. The vaccine is both safe and recommended for anyone who has recovered from COVID-19. It is still not clear how, or how many, protective antibodies develop in those who had a previous COVID-19 infection, so you can and should still get the vaccine.
What if I’m sick with COVID-19 or another illness that involves a cough or fever?
In order to protect others from getting sick, you should wait until you feel better before scheduling your appointment.
What do I need to bring to my appointment?
Please bring your appointment confirmation and a valid photo ID. Please also remember to wear your mask
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine while in quarantine?
No. You must wait until your quarantine period ends in order to enter a facility to get vaccinated. For more specifics on when to start and end quarantine, visit this page on the CDC website.
What if I’m pregnant, trying to conceive or am breastfeeding?
As of now, the vaccine has not been tested in pregnant or lactating women, but we are otherwise confident of its overall safety based on the information we currently have.
If you are pregnant, lactating or trying to conceive and are eligible for the vaccine (if you work in healthcare or are a first responder), we recommend you speak with your obstetrician. Your medical team will help you make the decision that’s best for you.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes. Based on the information available to us now, the vaccine is very safe for those in it was studied: healthy adults, even with comorbidities like diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure. There is not enough information about the safety of the vaccine for who are immunocompromised, pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding (see question above), or the pediatric population.
Anyone with a history of anaphylaxis to a vaccine or injectable medication should not get either of these two vaccines. Allergies to food, insect stings, or oral medications are not a cause for concern. Should you choose to get the vaccine, you will be asked about your medical history, including any allergies.
What side effects can I expect?
The most common side effect from the vaccine is soreness at the injection site. In addition, fever, muscle aches and headaches can develop after the COVID-19 vaccine. Symptoms typically go away on their own within a couple of days.
These side effects are normal, and a sign that the immune system is working. As with any medical intervention, there is a remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death. Again, these are all very unlikely.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No. The vaccine does not contain live or dead versions of the virus, so it cannot give someone COVID-19.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine make you test positive?
No. The vaccine itself will NOT give you a positive test for the virus. If you do test positive after receiving the vaccine, the most likely explanation is that you had already been exposed to the virus before the vaccine had a chance to make you immune.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect against the new variant?
Many viruses mutate over time, so it is not surprising that mutations have been detected in coronavirus strains isolated in Connecticut. At this time, we have no reason to believe these variants will "outsmart" the COVID-19 vaccine, and our vaccination plans remain the same. We are in close contact with both the CDC and the state regarding the characteristics of these mutations. Right now, we are being vigilant but see no cause for immediate concern regarding the usefulness of the new vaccines.
What is an mRNA vaccine?
mRNA is short for messenger RNA. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine used to protect against infectious diseases.
How do the vaccines that are currently available (Pfizer and Moderna) work?
The mRNA is encased in tiny lipid envelopes that are taken up by our cells. From there, the mRNA directs the cells to make proteins that stimulate our immune system and protect us against the virus. Traditional vaccines put a weakened, inactivated, or synthetic germ into the body, stimulating our immune system directly. All types of vaccines, however, produce immunity that can be measured by checking antibody levels against the virus. For more detail on how mRNA vaccines work, visit this page on the CDC website.
Also, both vaccines are a 2-shot series that are given roughly three – four weeks apart. It’s important to note that this vaccine does not have any impact on our genes. The vaccine ingredients break down in the body shortly after being taken up into our cells.
How long should I wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine if I just got another vaccine?
Right now, there are no studies that show that the COVID-19 vaccine interacts with any other vaccine. In order to be safe and cautious, however, experts recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine by itself with at least two weeks between different vaccines in the unlikely event of a reaction.
How can I convince my vaccine-hesitant or vaccine-opposed loved ones to get the vaccine?
The decision to get a vaccine, especially a new one, is highly personal and a sensitive subject for some. In full transparency, Stamford Health is not mandating this vaccine for staff in order to respect any wishes or hesitations. Over the years, our best expert guidance has always been to present those you care about with 3 key considerations:
- Vaccines don’t work effectively to protect the population unless enough people get them. This collective defense is called “herd immunity.”
- In most cases, vaccines are the best defense against a preventable infectious disease.
- Regardless of your decision, make every effort to protect those around you. Remember to practice the 4 W’s: Wash your hands, Wear a mask, Wipe down surfaces and Watch your distance.
When will I develop immunity to COVID-19 after getting the vaccine?
There is a small response seen after the first dose, but a robust immune response is seen 1-2 weeks after the second dose. It is very important to get both doses of vaccine.
How long will the vaccine protect me from COVID-19?
While the studies haven’t indicated how long protection will last, early data show the COVID-19 vaccine is very effective for several months after the second dose. The degree of protection might be different for people who are immunocompromised, but the vaccine can still be given safely. Booster doses might be needed in the future, but this is still being studied.
Why do I still need to wear my mask and practice social distancing even after receiving both doses of the vaccine?
While the vaccine is extremely effective, a small percentage of those who receive it may not be fully protected, so we need to continue to practice the 4 Ws: Wear a mask, Wash your hands, Wipe down surfaces and Watch your distance.
Again, the vaccine will give us the opportunity to be more proactive in our response to COVID-19 as a community, but stopping a global pandemic requires that we use all tools available to us.
Read more about what to do after your COVID-19 vaccine.
Should I wait to get my mammogram after my COVID-19 vaccine? I keep hearing that a side effect of the vaccine is swollen lymph nodes, which can present as a false “finding” on a mammogram.
Yes. According to the Society of Breast Imaging, you should plan your mammogram around your vaccine. One side effect of the vaccine is swollen lymph nodes in the underarm area in response to injection site inflammation caused by the vaccine. When your breast radiologist sees swollen lymph nodes on a mammogram, it often requires further investigation. So in order to avoid false positives and unnecessary anxiety, experts recommend either scheduling your mammogram before your vaccine, or waiting until 4-6 weeks after your vaccination.
I keep hearing about the COVID-19 vaccine and testing for tuberculosis. What do I need to know?
There is no link between COVID-19 and tuberculosis. Although both infections attack the lungs, they present very differently. Because it is unknown whether the COVID-19 vaccine might change the reliability of TB testing (either the skin test or the blood test), right now it is recommended to have your TB test before your COVID-19 vaccination, or at least 4 weeks after completing the vaccine series.
Where can I learn more?