All COVID-19 shots have been through randomized clinical trials to test their quality, safety, and efficacy. To be approved, shots are required to have a high efficacy rate of 50% or above. After approval, they continue to be monitored for ongoing safety and effectiveness. Shots to prevent COVID-19 are perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic.
HOW DO WE KNOW THE SHOTS ARE SAFE? HOW WERE THEY DEVELOPED SO QUICKLY?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a shot for use only if it is proven safe and effective and only after clinical trials have been conducted, including thousands of people, and when the benefits outweigh any risks.
COVID-19 shots were developed based on years of scientific research and a high level of scientific investment and cooperation. Every study and phase of every trial was carefully reviewed and approved by a safety board and the FDA. The process was transparent and rigorous throughout, with continued oversight and expert approval. The Pfizer shot included more than 40,000 people, while Moderna had nearly 28,000 over many months without any serious incidents.
Since shots became available in December 2020, millions of people have received the shots with a relatively small number of reports of serious adverse reactions.
For many people, they may experience mild pain, redness, or swelling in their arm. Other symptoms may include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea.
Helpful Tips to Relieve Side Effects
Contact your healthcare provider about taking over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines. You can take these medications to relieve post-shot side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications usually.
For pain relief at shot location site:
Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area.
Use or exercise your arm.
To reduce fever:
Drink plenty of fluids.
There is a rare but serious side effect, myocarditis which usually can occur within a few days of receiving the vaccine. Out of 296 million doses, there were 1,226 cases of myocarditis reported. The benefits of receiving the vaccine still far outweigh this risk.
mRNA SHOTS HAVE BEEN USED FOR YEARS IN STUDIES
Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA shots for decades. These can shots be developed in a laboratory allowing the process to be standardized and scaled up, making a shot development faster than traditional methods.
mRNA shots have been studied before for flu, Zika, and rabies. When the required information about the virus that causes COVID-19 was available, scientists began designing the mRNA instructions for cells to build the unique spike protein into an mRNA shot.
Beyond shots, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells.
What You Need to Know
mRNA shots are a new type of shot to protect against infectious diseases.
mRNA shots teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies.
Like all shots, the benefit of mRNA shots is that vaccinated individuals get protection without every having to risk severe consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.
Historically, side effects of the shots tend to occur within six weeks of receiving. The CDC notes that millions of people have received the shot, and no long-term side effects have been detected.
The CDC and the FDA have several monitoring systems in place to spot any issues quickly. V-safe, allows individuals to use their smartphones to report any side effects to the CDC.
WERE THE SHOTS TESTED ACROSS RACES AND ETHNICITIES
Yes. The shot clinical trials included thousands of people of color. The trials also found that the shots are safe and effective across races and ethnicities.
Here are some details:
Black people made up about 10% of those in the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials and 17% in the Johnson & Johnson trials.
Hispanic/Latino people comprised about 20% of Pfizer and Moderna participants and about 45% in the Johnson & Johnson trials.
The Pfizer trials alone included about 4,000 Black people and about 10,500 Hispanic/Latino people.
Indigenous people (American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander) made up smaller portions. Still, hundreds took part in the trials.
I HAVE HAD COVID-19 AND RECOVERED; DO I STILL NEED THE SHOT?
Yes, it would be best if you were vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 because:
Research has not shown how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again after recovering from COVID-19.
Vaccination helps protect you even if you’ve already had COVID-19.
Evidence indicates individuals get better protection from the virus by being fully vaccinated compared with having had COVID-19. A study showed that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than twice as likely as fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19 again.
If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 SHOT. Talk to your health care provider if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 shot.
Yes, you will not pay anything for the shot. You also do not need health insurance to receive the shot.
If you do have health insurance, though, you may be asked to bring your insurance card. Shot providers are allowed to charge your insurance a fee to cover the cost of providing the shot.