You may have questions about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and that’s ok. Let’s talk about it. The pandemic is scary and stressful. Talking about what’s on our minds, honestly is the best way to get the information we need to protect the people we love.
So, how safe are COVID-19 vaccines?
The short answer: Very. All COVID-19 vaccines being used today went through rigorous clinical studies to ensure they are as safe as possible, before being authorized for use by our country’s leading medical experts. These trials were conducted across a diverse group of Americans from all backgrounds: Black, Native American, White, Hispanic, and Asian. Men and women.
And both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) watch for any problems reported by the millions of people across the country who are already vaccinated against COVID-19. You may know the FDA has a role in approving medicines for use, but the FDA also sometimes has a second role of continuing to watch the safety of medicines after they become available too—and they are doing this with the COVID-19 vaccines. Because of this monitoring system, the healthcare system is rapidly detecting and sharing any potential concerns.
Results are reassuring. Some people feel no side effect at all. Many feel mild side effects—typically, a sore arm for a few days, headache, chills, or fever.
These mild reactions are normal. In fact, they are signs that the vaccine is working: your body is building up a response to protect you from COVID. A vaccine teaches your body to recognize the virus without exposing you to the virus itself. This activates your immune system. Fighter cells and proteins learn to recognize the virus, so they’ll be ready to fight back if you’re ever exposed to the real thing. If you have pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (commonly known as Tylenol or Advil).
In full transparency, we also want to let you know that a small number of people have had a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, after vaccination. This is extremely rare. It’s also treatable. A healthcare provider always stays with you for 15-30 minutes after you receive your vaccination and, in that extremely rare case of allergic reaction, they give you medicine to effectively and immediately treat the reaction. In this situation, the medicine they give is epinephrine, commonly known as an EpiPen.
You have a choice and you can help end the pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. To protect your loved ones. To get kids back to their activities. To see family and friends at the holidays. To be able to hug again. So, take time to learn the facts. We hope you will choose to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are able.