A bottled COVID-19 vaccine fresh from the freezer

It’s okay if feel uncertain about getting a COVID-19 vaccination. It’s only natural to be unsure of something so new.

Yet, you want to return to your pre-pandemic life.

So, what is the real deal on the claims you’ve heard? Read on as we separate fact from fiction.

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe.

Fact. The U.S. vaccine safety rules rely on extensive safety tests and standards, the same as for other vaccines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration looked at clinical trials, each testing tens of thousands of people.

No one has died from getting vaccinated in the U.S., as can be seen on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at https://vaers.hhs.gov. In fact, post-vaccination deaths have been extraordinarily rare and have only happened overseas. Those deathsmay have been due to a vaccine not offered in the United States.

You could have a fatal allergic reaction.

Fiction. Severe allergic reactions, including plummeting blood pressure, as in anaphylaxis, are as unlikely with the COVID-19 vaccines as after any other vaccination. Shortness of breath, hives and other reactions also are rare.

Just in case, hospitals and nurses giving vaccinations have epinephrine or EpiPens onsite to treat any hypersensitive reactions. It’s also why medical staff monitor you for 15 minutes post-vaccination. If you’re prone to allergic reactions to vaccines, talk with your healthcare provider in advance.

Do not have a second dose if you have an allergic reaction to the first shot.

Vaccines cannot give you COVID-19.

Fact. There is no live virus contained in vaccines offered in America. Instead they rely on a new approach, in which molecular couriers ship COVID-19’s genetic coding directly to our cells so they’ll recognize and destroy the virus should it try to invade. These couriers are called mRNA, which is short for Messenger RNA vaccines. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines.

The vaccines teach our immune system to recognize and battle the virus if we catch it. And they are impressive warriors: Studies have shown that they thwart up to 95 percent of cases. Even if you get infected post-vaccine, you’ll experience mild or no symptoms. Without a vaccination, you could be at risk of complications, long-term disabilities or even death.

You should take a day off from work post-vaccine.

Fiction. Most people are fine the next day. Some have soreness where they were injected, feel tired or have a mild fever or headache. You may feel like you have the flu—which actually is a good sign. Symptoms mean the vaccine is working to teach your body to fight the virus. Side effects are more common after the second dose and should fade in a few days at most. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you’re concerned.

If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you should check with your OB/GYN before getting vaccinated.

Fact. Pregnant women and new mothers were not tested widely in clinical trials. But the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) says they should not be excluded from getting vaccinated. Talk with your doctor first. He or she can assure you that your fertility will not be harmed by the vaccines.

COVID-19 Vaccines are not offered to kids.

Fact. The goal to develop safe and effective vaccines led companies to focus on adults. Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is approved for ages 16 and above, while Moderna’s vaccine is approved for ages 18 and above. Clinical studies in youth are underway, and a vaccine is likely to be approved for children by year’s end.

You can help researchers.

Fact. Download the v-safe smartphone app. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed the post-vaccination tracker to help health professionals make sure vaccines remain safe. Visit CDC.gov to learn more.

Learn more about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine »

The information in this article was accurate as of March 26, 2021.

Get your daily dose of Health & Wellness

Sign up to receive the latest articles in your inbox.

A tray of purple-topped medical vials


COVID-19 Vaccine: Your Questions Answered

Read More
A person's hands holding a wooden spoon and a bowl of creamy orange-colored soup topped with seeds.


What Do You Eat When You Can't Taste or Smell Anything?

Read More