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COVID-19 Vaccination

Vaccination against COVID-19 is free, safe, and the most effective way to prevent infection, severe illness, and death from the virus that causes COVID-19. Currently, there are three types of COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States. Speak to your doctor to determine the best type for you based on your age, exposure risk based on your community and lifestyle, and the health of your immune system.

mRNA Vaccines
The major COVID-19 vaccines (produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. Researchers have been studying mRNA vaccine safety and effectiveness for decades. This type of vaccine triggers the body to produce an immune response that creates antibodies that protect the body from infection with a particular virus. mRNA vaccines do not use any live virus and cannot cause COVID-19 infection. They do not affect or interact with human DNA.

The CDC considers mRNA vaccines to be the most effective type of vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection.

Viral Vector Vaccine
The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, not an mRNA. For most people, the CDC recommends the use of an mRNA vaccine instead of a viral vector vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be considered only in certain cases.

Researchers have been studying and working with viral vector vaccines for decades. This type of vaccine use a harmless, modified version of the virus that teaches the body to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. This vaccine does not cause COVID-19.

Protein Subunit Vaccine
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine. This type of vaccine uses harmless pieces of the virus that causes COVID-19 to create an immune response in the body to protect against COVID-19 infection.

Vaccine Administration Guidelines
A child or adult is “up to date” with the vaccine once they have received all doses in the primary series and all booster shots for which they are eligible. Vaccine recommendations consider each person’s age and immune health, if they recently had COVID-19, the type and brand of vaccine administered, and the amount of time between each injection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly updates its vaccine recommendations based on the latest research-supported best practices.

Side Effects
Mild and temporary side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine are normal. These include soreness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, low-grade fever, chills, muscle aches, and nausea. Side effects like these typically go away in 24 to 72 hours.

As with any vaccine, some people experience rare allergic reactions or more serious adverse effects that may require medical treatment. Those who experience an adverse reaction to the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine may be eligible for a different type of vaccine or another type of injectable protection against the virus for subsequent doses and booster shots.

The presence, absence, or severity of side effects from the vaccine do not reflect the effectiveness of the vaccine to protect against COVID-19 infection.

Breakthrough Infections
Those who are up to date on the vaccine can still catch COVID-19, but being fully vaccinated significantly reduces the risk of severe symptoms and disease, hospitalization, and death.