As the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer has recently been approved for emergency use authorization from the FDA, there is a multitude of information across media outlets surrounding the vaccine that may be confusing or conflicting. We’ve compiled frequently asked questions along with their answers directly from the CDC to inform our readers so they may be properly equipped with accurate information.
Q: How many shots of the COVID-19 vaccine are needed?
A: The two authorized and recommended vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States both need two shots to be effective. There is one COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States that uses one shot.
Q: Do I need to wear a facemask when I receive the vaccine?
A: Yes. The CDC recommends that during the pandemic, people wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth when in contact with others outside your household, when in healthcare facilities, and when receiving any vaccine, including a COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove a mask without assistance should not wear a mask.
Q: Who is paying for the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
Q: Are there special considerations for who should get the COVID-19 vaccine first?
A: The CDC is making recommendations for who should be offered COVID-19 vaccine first when supplies are limited. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as large quantities of vaccine are available.
While the CDC makes recommendations for who should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine first, each state has its own plan for vaccine prioritization, distribution and allocation. Please contact your state health department for more information on their planning for COVID-19 vaccines.
Q: If I have already had the COVID-19 vaccine and recovered, do I still need to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. You should not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated.
However, anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation.
Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired.
Q: Why would a vaccine be needed if we can do other things, like social distancing and wearing masks, to prevent COVID-19 from spreading?
A: Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
Q: Do I need to wear a mask and socially distance when I have received two doses of the vaccine?
A: Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.
Q: When can I stop wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others after receiving the vaccine?
A: There is not enough information currently available to say if or when the CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.