Building Confidence and Busting Myths

Although there are normal side effects to the vaccine...you're in more danger getting into your car every day than you are from developing a severe outcome from the vaccine.  Dr. John H. Vassall, Physician Executive for Quality, Safety, and Equity, Comagine Health

You can have confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine!

Most people in the United States are planning to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but some may want more information before getting vaccinated. This is perfectly normal. We all want to be confident in making any decision that affects our life.

To be confident, we need information from trusted sources.

Help your friends and family distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can help people become confident in their decision to get vaccinated. You can do this by:

You have the ability to influence those around you by what you say and what you do. View these tips on how to talk about COVID-19 vaccines with friends and family. Learn more about building confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.

Check out the vaccine facts below and share them with those you know. We've categorized them into popular topic areas.

Safety and Efficacy

Why does it matter if I get the COVID-19 vaccine or not?

It's absolutely your choice to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but we need as many people as possible to get vaccinated to end this pandemic. It's harder for the COVID-19 virus to spread when many people in a community are immune – through vaccination or recent infection. The higher our vaccination rate, the lower our infection rate.

People who aren't vaccinated can still catch the virus and spread it to others. Some people can't get the vaccine for medical reasons, and this leaves them especially vulnerable to COVID-19. If you aren't vaccinated, you are also at higher risk of being hospitalized or dying from a COVID-19 variant. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but also your family, neighbors, and community.

Check out this message from Dr. Ben Danielson about what the COVID-19 vaccine does for you:

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if most people survive?

Many people who get COVID-19 only have mild symptoms. However, the virus is extremely unpredictable, and we know some COVID-19 variants are more likely to make you really sick. Some people can get very sick or die from COVID-19, even young people with no chronic health conditions. Others, known as “COVID long-haulers” may get symptoms that last for months and affect their quality of life. We also don't know yet all the long-term effects of COVID-19 since it's a new virus. Getting vaccinated is our best protection against the virus. Even if you're young and healthy, you should get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Are the vaccines actually safe or effective?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Scientists tested the vaccines on tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to get emergency use authorization. They were all found to be very good at preventing people from getting sick with COVID-19. Since then, these vaccines have been given safely to millions of people.

Watch these videos to learn more about how the COVID-19 vaccines are made:

Is the vaccine safe for my child?

Yes. The Pfizer vaccine was tested on thousands of youth and shown to be safe. It was also very effective – none of the youth volunteers who got the vaccine got COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone 5 years and older.

Check out this message to parents from Dr. Ben Danielson about the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine:

How can I trust that the vaccines are safe?

The COVID-19 pandemic impacts everyone in the United States – our health, the health of families and communities, and our economic system. Health officials across the country are tackling this pandemic aggressively and ensuring the safety of vaccines because it impacts everyone.

It's important for us, as a health department, to acknowledge that many members of Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color (BIPOC communities) worry about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine because of the history of harmful and racist practices in science and health care. We cannot ignore this history and rightful distrust, and we must move forward with transparency.

Scientists and public health are sharing everything we know about the vaccines, including when we have concerns. We know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and they give you protection against getting very sick with COVID-19. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine equity.

Can I get COVID-19 from the COVID-19 vaccine?

No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the virus that causes COVID-19.

This video explains more about how the COVID-19 vaccines work in your body:

Do I need to get the vaccine if I already had COVID-19?

Yes, you should still get vaccinated if you already had COVID-19. Data show it is uncommon to be re-infected with COVID-19 in the 90 days after you were infected. That means you might have some protection from COVID-19 (called natural immunity) for a little while. However, we don't know how long natural immunity lasts. Learn more about why you should still get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine, or watch this video from Dr. Paul Offit about getting the vaccine after an infection.

Reproductive Health

Will I be able to have children if I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Your worries around reproductive health and vaccines are understandable. Here is what we know: there is no scientific evidence that vaccines cause infertility or impotence. When the vaccine enters your body, it works with your immune system to create antibodies to fight the coronavirus. This process does not interfere with your reproductive organs.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who may want to get pregnant in the future or is currently pregnant or breastfeeding. Many people who have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 have since gotten pregnant or given birth to healthy babies.

See Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients for more information, or watch this video from Dr. Paul Offit with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. You can also see the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) COVID-19 Vaccines webpage for facts about the vaccines.

Is the vaccine safe for people who are pregnant?

Yes, you can get vaccinated if you are pregnant, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends the vaccine for pregnant people. There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine causes any problems with pregnancy, the development of your baby, birth, or fertility.

In the Pfizer vaccine trials, 23 volunteers became pregnant. One participant suffered a pregnancy loss, but this participant received a placebo, not the actual vaccine. Getting COVID-19, on the other hand, can have a potentially serious impact on your pregnancy and health. The vaccine is your best protection against COVID-19.

See COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnancy for more information, or watch these videos from Dr. Katia Castillo and Dr. Hank Bernstein:

Is the vaccine safe for people who are breastfeeding?

Yes, you can get vaccinated if you are breastfeeding. You do not need to stop breastfeeding if you want to get vaccinated. In fact, early reports suggest the vaccine might help your body pass antibodies to your baby through breastmilk. More studies are needed, but if this is confirmed, it will help protect your baby from COVID-19.

Read more about how the COVID-19 vaccine protects mothers and their newborns. You can also watch this video from Dr. Hank Bernstein about why it's safe for breastfeeding mothers to get the COVID-19 vaccine:

Will the vaccine change my menstrual cycle?

Some people have reported changes in their menstrual cycles after getting vaccinated, but there is no data currently available to suggest these are long term effects. Menstrual cycles can change due to many different things, like stress. Learn more about the truth behind COVID-19 and women's health.

Ingredients

What ingredients are in the vaccines?

You may see some rumors and untrue ingredients listed online or in social media. These are generally myths. The ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines are pretty typical for vaccines. They contain the active ingredient of mRNA or modified adenovirus along with other ingredients like fat, salts, and sugars that protect the active ingredient, help it work better in the body, and protect the vaccine during storage and transport.

See this Q&A webpage from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for more information about ingredients. You can also find the full ingredients lists in the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson fact sheets.

In this video, Dr. Paul Offit talks about what ingredients are and are not in COVID-19 mRNA vaccines:

Does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine contain fetal tissue?

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was created using the same technology as many other vaccines. It does not contain parts of fetuses or fetal cells. One piece of the vaccine is made in lab-grown copies of cells that originally came from elective abortions that took place over 35 years ago. Since then, the cell lines for these vaccines have been maintained in the lab. No further sources of fetal cells are used to make these vaccines. This might be new information for some people. However, vaccines for chickenpox, rubella and hepatitis A are made in the same way. A comprehensive list of COVID-19 vaccines in development and any connection to abortion-derived cell lines is available here.

In this video, Dr. Paul Offit addresses fetal cells and COVID-19 vaccines:

Do the vaccines contain microchips?

No, the vaccines do not contain a microchip or tracking device. They only contain an active ingredient that helps your body create antibodies to fight COVID-19, plus fats, salts, and sugars.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me magnetic?

No, you won't become magnetic if you get the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines do not contain ingredients that could make an electromagnetic field, and they're free of metals. You can see the ingredients list for more information.

Other Health Concerns

Could I get a blood clot from the vaccine?

The risk of getting blood clots is extremely low. The number of people who got blood clots after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was very low compared to the millions of people who got vaccinated and didn't get blood clots. However, DOH and CDC recommend people 18 years and older choose to get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) instead of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to the potential risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which involves blood clots and a low platelet count, and Guillain-Barré syndrome, which is an autoimmune disorder that can cause nerve damage.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still available if you aren't able or willing to get an mRNA vaccine. You can talk to your health care provider about your risk. Most reports of blood clots after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were in adult women younger than 50 years old. If you are a woman between 18 and 50 years old, you should be aware that you have a higher risk of getting blood clots, which could lead to death. The blood clot concern was only associated with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, not the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Learn more by reading about birth control and the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and Blood Clots: What You Need to Know. You can also watch this video from Dr. Paul Offit discussing the blood clotting condition a few people have experienced after getting the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and what is known about the risk for individuals:

Should I be worried about myocarditis or pericarditis?

Cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the heart lining) after COVID-19 vaccination are very rare. Only a very small number of people might experience it after vaccination. For people who do, most cases are in teens and young adults, symptoms are mild in most cases, and people typically recover on their own or with minimal treatment. Myocarditis and pericarditis are much more common if you get sick with COVID-19.

As of July 30, 2021, out of less than 1500 reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), there are only 699 confirmed cases in the United States, while over 177 million people have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can talk to your doctor about your risk. If you have any symptoms after vaccination, you can report them to VAERS.

Learn more about myocarditis and pericarditis following COVID-19 vaccination.

Can I get the vaccine if I have an underlying health condition?

Most people with underlying health or medical conditions can get COVID-19 vaccines. Let your health care provider know about all of your allergies and health conditions. In fact, many underlying conditions put you at high risk of complications from COVID-19 disease, so the vaccine is even more important to keep you from getting sick.

These specific groups of people may get a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • People with HIV and those with weakened immune systems.
  • People with autoimmune conditions.
  • People who have previously had Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).
  • People who have previously had Bell's palsy.

If you have a history of severe allergic reactions or think you might have a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine ingredient, read about COVID-19 vaccines for people with allergies. Anaphylaxis after COVID-19 vaccination is rare and has occurred in approximately 2 to 5 people per million vaccinated in the United States.

This information aims to help people in the above groups make an informed decision about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. This video from Duke Health explains the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccines as it relates to different underlying health conditions:

Will the vaccines change my DNA?

No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not change or alter your DNA. The vaccines deliver instructions to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine does not enter the part of the cell where our DNA is kept. Instead, the vaccines work with our body's natural defenses to build immunity. Learn more about mRNA and​ viral vector COVID-19 vaccines. In this video, Dr. Paul Offit explains how COVID-19 vaccines based on messenger RNA technology work:

Does the vaccine cause any long-term side effects?

We have a lot of scientific data on vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases. Based on those data, experts are confident that these vaccines are very safe. Almost all reactions to the COVID-19 have been mild, like fatigue or a sore arm, and only last a couple of days. Serious or long-term reactions are extremely rare.

Any long-term side effects usually happen within eight weeks of vaccination. This is why the vaccine manufacturers were required to wait at least eight weeks after clinical trials before they could apply for Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Experts are also continuing to monitor COVID-19 vaccines for safety concerns. The FDA investigates any reports of serious side effects or reactions. Learn more about what we know so far about long-term side effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

In this video, Dr. Paul Offit explains why COVID-19 vaccines would not be expected to cause long-term side effects: