8 Things to Know about the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program
The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority.
The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed a new tool, v-safe, as an additional layer of safety monitoring to increase the ability to rapidly detect any safety issues with COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe is a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines.
COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. Two doses are needed.
You need 2 doses of the currently available COVID-19 vaccine. A second shot 3 weeks after your first shot is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer against this serious disease.
Right now, CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine be offered to healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities.
Because the current supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is limited, CDC recommends that initial supplies of COVID-19 vaccine be offered to healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents.
There is currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, but supply will increase in the weeks and months to come.
The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as large enough quantities are available. Once vaccine is widely available, the plan is to have several thousand vaccination providers offering COVID-19 vaccines in doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.
After COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection.
The side effects from COVID-19 vaccination may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Learn more about what side effects to expect and get helpful tips on how to reduce pain and discomfort after your vaccination.
Cost is not an obstacle to getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers may be able to charge administration fees for giving the shot.
The first COVID-19 vaccine is being used under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many other vaccines are still being developed and tested.
If more COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved by FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will quickly hold public meetings to review all available data about each vaccine and make recommendations for their use in the United States.
All ACIP-recommended vaccines will be included in the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program. CDC continues to work at all levels with partners, including healthcare associations, on a flexible COVID-19 vaccination program that can accommodate different vaccines and adapt to different scenarios. State, tribal, local, and territorial health departments have developed distribution plans to make sure all recommended vaccines are available to their communities.
Learn more about EUA by watching the video on this page.
COVID-19 vaccines are one of many important tools to help us stop this pandemic.
It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will I be able to get a vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed in a multi-phased approach,
- Phase IA will include healthcare workers, emergency medical services and long term care facility staff and residents.
- Phase IB will include people over 65, people with pre-existing medical conditions, educational staff, childcare staff, law enforcement, corrections, college students, and large critical industry employers.
- Phase 2 will include more critical industries and second doses for all of Phase I.
- Phase 3 will be the general population.
* The vaccines have not been tested on children, therefore this population is not included in the phases yet.
Which vaccines are available?
There are currently two vaccines that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration
for an Emergency Use Authorization, the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine.
How effective are the vaccines?
The Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections and nearly 100% effective in preventing severe cases.
Pfizer/BioNTech's two-dose vaccine is about 95 percent effective against COVID-19, regardless of age, race or other risks for severe illness from an infection, an FDA analysis shows.
Do the vaccines have side effects?
Yes, like all available medications and vaccinations, some people will have side effects. It is important to talk with your doctor about any medications you are currently taking, your medical history and any reactions you have had to other vaccines before you get the COVID-19 vaccine.
What are the side effects of the vaccines?
For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, side effects include:
- Pain at the injection site
- Myalgia/ Muscle Pain
- Arthralgia/ Joint Pain
Moderna vaccine side effects include:
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
For both vaccines, fewer than 2% of persons developed fevers of 102.2 F to 104 F.
If I am pregnant or nursing, can I get vaccinated?
The COVID-19 vaccines have not been studied on people under 18 yet. These trials are just beginning and we will have more information as the studies continue.
The studies have also not been completed on pregnant and nursing women. If you are pregnant, nursing, or considering becoming pregnant within two months of your second dose of the vaccine, you need to talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine about what is best for you.
Will East Central District Health Department force me to get the vaccine if I don't want it?
No. The decision to receive or not receive the COVID-19 vaccine is yours to make and based on your unique circumstances. We understand this vaccine will not be the right choice, right now, for everyone. We encourage everyone to do their own research and talk with their doctor about what choice is right for them.
How are the vaccines monitored for safety?
The safety of the COVID-19 vaccines are the highest priority for East Central District Health Department. There are a number of systems in place to monitor the safety of these vaccines and there are new systems being developed to track any symptoms that may develop after receiving a vaccination.
CDC: V-SAFE — A new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines. V-SAFE will use text messaging and web surveys from CDC to check in with vaccine recipients for health problems following COVID-19 vaccination. The system also will provide telephone follow up to anyone who reports medically significant (important) adverse events.
CDC: National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) — An acute care and long-term care facility monitoring system with reporting to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System or VAERS
CDC and FDA: Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) — The national system that collects reports from healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the public of adverse events that happen after vaccination; reports of adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns are followed up with specific studies
CDC: Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) — A network of 9 integrated healthcare organizations across the United States that conducts active surveillance and research; the system is also used to help determine whether possible side effects identified using VAERS are actually related to vaccination
CDC: Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project — A collaboration between CDC and 7 medical research centers to provide expert consultation on individual cases and conduct clinical research studies about vaccine safety
FDA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Medicare data — A claims-based system for active surveillance and research
FDA: Biologics Effectiveness and Safety System (BEST) — A system of electronic health record, administrative, and claims-based data for active surveillance and research
FDA: Sentinel Initiative — A system of electronic health record, administrative, and claims-based data for active surveillance and research
V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And v-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one.
Your participation in CDC’s v–safe makes a difference — it helps keep COVID-19 vaccines safe. Learn more about V-safe here.