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COVID-19 Vaccination Information for Patients and the Public A male patient receives a COVID-19 vaccination from a healthcare professional.
 
 

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Getting the Vaccine From Johns Hopkins Medicine

  • Johns Hopkins Medicine is offering COVID-19 vaccines to patients 12 and older at our vaccine locations in Maryland.

    In Florida, please read more about All Children’s Hospital and COVID-19.

    In Washington, D.C., Sibley Memorial Hospital initially served as a vaccination site for D.C. residents when the vaccines were considered scarce resources. Sibley is no longer operating a public vaccination clinic. D.C. patients who need an initial vaccination or a booster should seek out local district resources, such as retail pharmacies.

  • Yes, we are offering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine boosters to eligible patients.

  • Yes, we are offering third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible patients.

    The FDA and CDC continue to evaluate data regarding the need for additional doses for other populations. For now, those who received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are not eligible to receive any additional doses of any authorized COVID-19 vaccines. Read more about getting a COVID-19 third dose at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

  • We will ask you:

    • The last four digits of your Social Security number so we can activate your MyChart account, a secure platform Johns Hopkins Medicine is using to schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments. We’ll use this information to match your medical record in our system. This information is voluntary, and you do not need to complete this field if it makes you feel uncomfortable. We can verify your identity using other information. If you have any questions about the MyChart activation process, please call our help desk at 1-800-318-4246.

    • Your health insurance information. For patients with health insurance coverage, we bill your health insurance company for the costs associated with our staff members’ time administering the vaccine. Whether you have insurance or not, Johns Hopkins Medicine will not bill you personally for any costs associated with getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • There is no cost for the vaccine itself. Johns Hopkins Medicine will not bill you for any costs associated with the COVID-19 vaccine. For patients with health insurance coverage, we will bill their health insurance company for the costs associated with our staff members’ time administering the vaccine. Whether you have health insurance or whether you do not, you will not receive a bill from Johns Hopkins Medicine if you get the vaccine from us.

  • Johns Hopkins Medicine is offering COVID-19 vaccines to patients 12 and older at our vaccine locations in Maryland.

  • Getting a mammogram too soon after your second dose of the coronavirus vaccine could result in a false positive and a callback due to temporarily swollen lymph nodes.

    The Johns Hopkins Division of Breast Imaging supports the recommendation from the Society of Breast Imaging: When possible, and if it does not delay care your doctor recommends, you should schedule screening mammograms before your first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or four to six weeks after the second dose.

    Breast imaging radiologists have noticed that underarm lymph nodes can become temporarily enlarged after a person is vaccinated for COVID-19. This is a normal reaction to the vaccine in some people. Four to six weeks after your vaccine(s), your lymph nodes are expected to return to their normal size.

    If you go ahead with getting your mammogram within six weeks of your COVID-19 vaccination and larger-than-usual lymph nodes show up on the test, you will get a callback for more tests. The doctor may follow up with an ultrasound of the lymph nodes under your arm and request that you come in again one to three months after that to be sure the lymph nodes return to their normal size.

    If you get a mammogram within the first six weeks after your COVID-19 vaccinations and your mammogram is negative for signs of breast cancer and does not show any enlargement of the lymph nodes, your results would be considered reliable that there are no signs of breast cancer.

    Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines and mammogram results.

  • If you are hospitalized at Johns Hopkins Medicine and miss your vaccine appointment, you or your care partner should contact the vaccination location and try to re-schedule your appointment.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can receive the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose. We do not advocate delaying the second dose if it can be helped, but the data from clinical trials support this range.

    If you are hospitalized for longer than the 42-day window, your hospital care team will help you understand your vaccination options.
  • Unfortunately, there have been cases of people posing as representatives from drug companies and offering people coronavirus vaccines and then asking for their Social Security number or credit card information.

    Here are some things you can do to check whether the organization contacting you is legitimate:

    1. Ask the person contacting you to identify themselves. They should be an employee of your state or city health department, or a hospital or medical care provider whom you know.
    2. Do not give out your financial information. The COVID-19 vaccine is being offered without charge across the nation. Legitimate vaccine providers will not ask you for any form of payment or financial information. You may be asked to verify your identity, such as by providing the last four digits of your Social Security number. You should not need to provide your full Social Security number.
  • All three FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are being given at Johns Hopkins Medicine: Pfizer-BioNTechModerna and Johnson & Johnson. We regard all three as highly effective in preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. People ages 12 to 17 can only have the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at this time, as this is the only vaccine currently authorized for this age group.

    At some Johns Hopkins Medicine locations, we list the days which vaccine is offered. Only one type of vaccine is administered at each site on a given day. You can use this information to schedule vaccination with a preferred vaccine type, but you cannot choose which vaccine to receive on the day of your appointment.

  • Vaccinations are not currently required for patients being treated at Johns Hopkins Medicine; however, all community members are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Johns Hopkins Medicine will continue to require clinical staff to wear appropriate personal protective equipment, and patients will continue to be required to wear face coverings inside Johns Hopkins Medicine buildings.

  • The safety and well-being of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s patients and staff members are our top priorities. Since December 2020, Johns Hopkins Medicine has offered the FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines to all our health care personnel who deliver care or support the care of patients.

    Getting vaccinated is now a requirement and a condition of employment or appointment for all our employees working in Maryland and Washington, D.C., unless they have an approved exception for medical or religious reasons. At Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Florida, personnel must be fully vaccinated or participate in weekly testing, and the COVID-19 vaccination is likely to become a condition of employment at Johns Hopkins All Children’s in the future.

    Even after staff members are vaccinated, everyone continues to practice safety precautions, including masking, physical distancing and frequent hand-washing.

 

Getting the Vaccine

  • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given as two shots in the upper arm muscle, three or four weeks apart. The Johnsons & Johnson vaccine requires a single shot.

    According to CDC guidelines, you are fully vaccinated when it has been:

    • Two weeks after your second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
    • Two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, data from clinical trials are clear that there is further improvement four weeks after the single-shot vaccine, especially for preventing severe COVID-19 or having asymptomatic infection. For this reason, Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends four weeks after the single-dose vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.

    If you don’t meet these requirements, you are not fully vaccinated.

    Read more about vaccine safety and information about a rare but serious blood clot that developed in a few people after taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

  • Johns Hopkins Medicine views all FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines as highly effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

    Learn more about coronavirus vaccine safety and what you need to know about the COVID vaccines.

  • Some studies have suggested that taking medications such as Tylenol or Advil before getting a vaccination might reduce your body’s ability to mount an immune response to the vaccine. It’s unclear if these findings have any clinical significance, though, and other studies did not find any effect of anti-inflammatory medications on the immune reaction to vaccines. If you regularly take aspirin or other over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (e.g., Aleve) for other medical conditions, please continue to do so as directed by your physician or as needed. Otherwise, it’s probably best to not take over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen that reduce fever or inflammation before receiving a vaccine. If you are uncomfortable or have symptoms after vaccination, that is the time to take an over-the-counter medication to help you feel better.

  • Yes, we recommend that everyone who is eligible get vaccinated with one of the three currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines. We view all three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnsons & Johnson) as highly efficacious for preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Read more about vaccine safety.

  • If you have received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the second shot should take place three weeks after the first one.

    If your first coronavirus vaccine was from Moderna, the CDC says your second shot should be given to you four weeks after the first one.

    If something happens that prevents you from getting the second dose of either COVID-19 vaccine on time, you can still receive it up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose. We are not advocating for people to delay getting their second dose, but the data from clinical trials support this range. There are currently limited data on the efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. According to the CDC, however, if the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series.

  • You should not get the second vaccine dose earlier than the recommended times. But, if you’ve already received your second shot, and it was early by 4 days, or less than the recommended time window, your vaccinations are OK, and you do not need to repeat the vaccination series

  • The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or with other COVID-19 vaccine products. Each vaccine is manufactured differently — even those that use similar underlying technology, such as Pfizer and Moderna. Once you’re given one type of vaccine, the second vaccine dose should be the same type, from the same manufacturer as the first vaccine dose. Shortly after your first vaccination, your record will show which type you received, so you can schedule your second shot with the same brand and at the proper time interval between doses. These recommendations may change as further information becomes available or as other vaccine types are authorized for use. In rare cases, such as an allergic reaction, you may get a second dose from a different manufacturer.

  • Yes. If you are receiving the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you must get both doses of these two-dose vaccines. It’s important to get both shots, because getting only one may not adequately prepare your immune system to fight the coronavirus if you are exposed to it. Also, your protection from COVID-19 may not last as long after just one shot as it does after you have received both. Getting both doses also improves the chance that the vaccination will protect you against variant viruses.

  • If you are a Johns Hopkins patient, you can log onto your MyChart account and locate your COVID-19 vaccination information under the immunization tab. Maryland residents can request a copy of your immunization record for yourself or your child by creating an account in Maryland’s ImmuNet. You can also sync your MyChart account with your Apple Health to access your immunization records.

    Otherwise, contact the place where you received your COVID vaccine, and see if they can assist you. You might have to contact your state health department. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not keep a record of individual vaccinations and cannot issue replacement vaccination cards.

    To keep a record of your vaccine card, photograph it as soon as you receive it. When you get a text or email from your local health department confirming your appointment, don’t delete that message, which may help you get another card if you lose your original. Make sure your doctor has an electronic image of your card also.

    Keep your card in a safe place instead of carrying it with you. Some people laminate their cards, but this could make it difficult for care providers to make notes on your card in the future. Do not post a picture of your vaccination card online, since someone could use the image to forge a fake card.

  • Yes. Three COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for emergency use among specific age groups by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and now the Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval. Johns Hopkins Medicine views all authorized and approved COVID-19 vaccines as highly effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. 

    Learn more about coronavirus vaccine safety and what you need to know about the COVID vaccines.

  • A COVID-19 vaccine mandate is a requirement to get a COVID-19 vaccination. A person whose employer has mandated COVID-19 vaccinations may be able to get an exception (for example, for certain medical or religious reasons) if the mandate allows them and they meet certain criteria.

    Some organizations, including Johns Hopkins Medicine, require COVID-19 vaccinations for all personnel. The goal is to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the people who work in or interact with the organization. Data show that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing serious illness or death due to COVID-19.

    JHED login required: Johns Hopkins Medicine’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement

  • Yes, evidence continues to indicate that getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection against getting COVID-19, whether you have already had COVID-19 or not.

    • A study published in August 2021 indicates that if you had COVID-19 before and are not vaccinated, your risk of getting reinfected is more than two times higher than for those who were infected and got vaccinated.
    • While evidence suggests there is some level of immunity for those who previously had COVID, it is not known how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again. Plus, the level of immunity provided by the vaccines after having COVID-19 is higher than the level of immunity for those who had COVID but were not subsequently vaccinated.
    • Getting vaccinated provides greater protection to others since the vaccine helps reduce the spread of COVID-19.

    At the time of vaccination, be sure to tell your care provider about your history of COVID-19 illness, including the kind of treatment, if any, you received and when you recovered. Wait until your isolation period ends before making an appointment to get the vaccination.

  • Yes, you should get vaccinated, but according to the CDC, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine if you received either monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma therapy. Check with your doctor if you do not know what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

  • We view all three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnsons & Johnson) as highly efficacious for preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Serious side effects are rare.

    Read more about COVID-19 vaccine safety.

  • You cannot and will not get COVID-19 from any of the vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccines do not have any virus or other infectious material in them.

     
  • Yes, we recommend that everyone who is eligible get vaccinated with one of the 3 currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A rare but serious blood clot developed in a few cases out of more than 8 million J&J vaccines administered in the U.S., as of April 23, 2020. After careful review of these cases, the FDA and CDC determined that administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could safely continue.

    We view all three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnsons & Johnson) as highly efficacious for preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Read more about vaccine safety.

    Read about the pause and resumption of the J&J vaccine.

  • We view all three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnsons & Johnson) as highly efficacious for preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

    A rare but serious blood clot developed in a few cases out of more than 8 million J&J vaccines administered in the U.S., as of April 23, 2020. After careful review of these cases, the FDA and CDC determined that administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could safely continue. Read about the pause and resumption of the J&J vaccine.

    Read more about COVID-19 vaccine safety.

 

Is the COVID-19 vaccination safe for diverse groups of people?

The FDA and other reviewers involved diverse populations in the trials for safety and efficacy. The clinical trials for the first two COVID-19 vaccines included underrepresented minorities (about 25% of participants), older age groups (about 25%), and people with conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart and respiratory conditions. Note: The trials did not include pregnant women or children under 12. Trials with these groups are in progress or starting soon.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects and Reactions

  • For COVID-19 vaccines generally, some people notice pain or swelling where they got the vaccine. You may also get fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches or a combination of these symptoms.

    Side effects may last about a day or two. These are signs that your immune system is responding and preparing to fight the coronavirus if you catch it. If symptoms persist, you should call your doctor.

    Serious side effects are rare. Read more about COVID-19 vaccine safety.

    Learn more about what to expect when getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Both the Pfizer and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations involve two injections separated by several weeks. If you previously had COVID-19, the first injection may cause more noticeable side effects than it does for people without a history of COVID-19. If you have not previously had COVID-19, you may notice more side effects after the second dose of the vaccination series than for the first dose.

  • According to the CDC, anyone who has a severe allergy (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine ingredients should not receive this vaccine.

    The CDC says people with allergies to certain foods, insects, latex and other common allergens can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Those with a history of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to injectables or other vaccines should discuss the vaccination with their doctor, who can evaluate  and assess their risk.

  • Both the Pfizer and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations involve two injections separated by several weeks. For these two-shot vaccinations:

    If you previously had COVID-19 before being vaccinated, the first injection may cause more noticeable side effects than for people who have not had the virus.

    If you have never had COVID-19, you may notice more side effects after the second dose than after the first dose.

  • Since April 2021, there have been more than a thousand reports of cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart) happening after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Considering the hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses that have been administered, these reports are very rare. The problem occurs more often in adolescents (teens) and young adults, and in males. The myocarditis or pericarditis in most cases is mild and resolves quickly.

    Seek medical attention right away if, within a few days of receiving the second injection of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna), you or your child experiences chest pain, shortness of breath, or feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heartbeat.

    Read more about COVID-19 vaccine safety.

How the Vaccines Work

  • Vaccines help people develop immunity to a virus or other germ. A vaccine introduces a less harmful part of that germ — or something created to look or behave like it — into a person’s body. The body’s immune system develops antibodies that fight that particular germ and keep the person from getting sick from it. Later, if the person encounters that germ again, their immune system can “recognize” it and “remember” how to fight it off.

    Learn more from our COVID-19 Vaccines Infographic.

  • The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has spikes of protein on each viral particle. These spikes help the viruses attach to cells and cause disease. Some of the coronavirus vaccines in development are designed to help the body “recognize” these spike proteins and fight the coronavirus that has them. An effective vaccine will protect someone who receives it by lowering the chance of getting COVID-19 if the person encounters the coronavirus. More important is that the vaccines prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. At this time, all three vaccines are very good at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Widespread vaccination means the coronavirus will not infect as many people. This will limit spread through communities and will restrict the virus’s opportunity to continue to mutate into new variants.

  • In the past, vaccines have taken many years to develop. However, the relatively quick development of this vaccine does not mean safety measures were skipped. There are several reasons why the COVID-19 vaccines were developed faster than other vaccines:

    • The mRNA technology used to develop the COVID-19 vaccines has been years in development to prepare for outbreaks of infectious viruses. Thus, the manufacturing process was ready very early in the pandemic.
    • China shared genetic information about the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus when it was available, which gave vaccine developers an early start at finding a vaccine.
    • The testing processes for the vaccines didn’t skip any steps, but the vaccine developers conducted some stages of the process simultaneously to gather as much data as quickly as possible.
    • Governments gave money to vaccine developers in advance, so the companies had resources they needed.
    • Some types of COVID-19 vaccines were created using messenger RNA (mRNA), a new technology that allows a faster approach than the traditional way vaccines are made.
    • Social media enabled companies to reach out to and enroll study volunteers, and plenty of people wanted to help, so there were enough research participants to test the COVID-19 vaccines.
    • Because the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is so contagious and widespread, many volunteers who got the vaccine were exposed to the virus, and with so many exposures, the trials took a shorter time to see if the vaccine worked.
    Companies began manufacturing vaccines ahead of their authorization or approval so some supplies would be ready if authorization occurred.
  • The mRNA approach works differently. When a virus such as SARS-CoV-2 enters the body, it sets in motion a means of producing copies of itself like a photocopy machine. The copies of the virus invade other cells. The mRNA coronavirus vaccines cause the body to produce copies of just one part of the coronavirus: the spike proteins on its surface that give the virus its telltale appearance. The spike protein helps the virus attach to cells and make people sick, but by itself, cannot cause COVID-19.

    The new mRNA vaccines for the coronavirus contain “instructions” for how to make copies of the spike protein. The mRNA is synthetically made in a lab (meaning it is not taken from the virus directly). It is manufactured to be injected and to find its way into cells. In the cell, mRNA instructs the cell to make copies of the coronavirus’s spike proteins. When the cell releases these proteins, the immune system identifies them as foreign and destroys them, but not before making antibodies to detect and react to the protein and the virus that causes COVID-19.

    Then, later, if a live, complete coronavirus enters the person’s body, the immune system “remembers” the spike protein and attacks the coronavirus so it cannot reproduce and make someone sick with COVID-19. Vaccines created with mRNA may be even better at protecting people from disease than those made with dead or weakened viruses.

  • No, the mRNA in the COVID-19 vaccines does not enter the nucleus of your cells, where the DNA is, so it does not affect your DNA or change your genes.

  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. This is another difference between this shot and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which use messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

    Viral vector vaccines take a harmless virus, known as a vector,  — which cannot cause disease or replicate — and load it with information that informs cells how to manufacture a look-alike, harmless part of the coronavirus. That part, the spike protein, cannot infect a person or cause COVID-19 illness by itself.

    Once a person gets the shot, their cells receive the “directions” from the vector, telling them how to create copies of the spike protein. The cells then go to work and make them. As the spike proteins accumulate in the body, the immune system is alerted to their presence and creates antibodies and an immune reaction to fight them. After about four weeks, there is enough protection to fight off the coronavirus that has the spike protein, and prevent severe illness.

    Viral vector vaccines have been created and used against infections since the 1970s. They have also been used in gene therapy to treat cancer. In addition, they have been used in studies for HIV and influenza. Some of the vaccines developed to fight the Ebola virus used this technology.

Protection and Immunity

  • Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, has mutated (changed), resulting in different variants. One of these is called the delta variant. Delta is regarded as one of the most contagious forms of the coronavirus so far, and currently accounts for the majority of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

    Traveling internationally if you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is not recommended, because it puts you at risk for infection with the delta variant. This includes unvaccinated children.

    Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can protect you from the delta variant.

    All three FDA-authorized or FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines can protect you from the most severe effects of the delta variant. While COVID-19 vaccines are not perfect, and fully vaccinated people can still catch and transmit the virus, they are highly effective against serious coronavirus disease and greatly decrease the likelihood of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

    Learn more about the delta variant.

  • According to CDC guidelines, you are fully vaccinated when it has been:

    • Two weeks after your second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
    • Two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, data from clinical trials are clear that there is further improvement four weeks after the single-shot vaccine, especially for preventing severe COVID-19 or having asymptomatic infection. For this reason, Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends four weeks after the single-dose vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.

    If you don’t meet these requirements, you are not fully vaccinated.

  • This is a question researchers are eager to answer. Data from the vaccine trials show strong immunity for at least several months after vaccination, with some studies indicating possible long-term immunity. People who are infected with the coronavirus show a decline in protection within a few months, but their immunity may last significantly longer than that. (A few people appear to have caught COVID-19 twice, but this is unusual).

  • There is new evidence from laboratory studies that some immune responses driven by current vaccines could be less effective against some of the new strains.

    Whether that means that people who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccines could get sick with the new variants is not yet known. The immune response involves many components, and a reduction in one does not mean that the vaccines will not offer protection.

    People who have received the vaccines should watch for changes in guidance from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], and continue with coronavirus safety precautions to reduce the risk of infection, such as mask wearing, physical distancing and hand hygiene.

    We deal with mutations every year for flu virus, and will keep an eye on this coronavirus and track. If there would ever be a major mutation, the vaccine development process can accommodate changes, if necessary, but we’re not yet at the point when we need to consider that.

    Find out more about new variants of coronavirus.

  • People who have been fully vaccinated can feel safer when they are out among other people but should take steps to protect those who haven’t yet received their vaccines. The coronavirus vaccines can prevent you from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. But even if you have been vaccinated you might still be able to pick up the coronavirus, harbor it in your body without any symptoms (asymptomatic infection) and pass it to another person. New data show that the risk of this is low, but it’s not zero.

  • A breakthrough infection is a case of COVID-19 in a person who has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. In other words, the individual has encountered SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and become ill with COVID-19 two weeks or more after their vaccines are complete. 

    Breakthrough COVID-19 cases are rare in the general population, but do happen, since the vaccines protect against severe forms of COVID-19 but are not 100% effective in preventing infection. More breakthrough infections are being seen now with some of the newer variants that are circulating like the delta variant.

    The COVID-19 vaccines are very good at protecting a person from severe coronavirus infection, and they help people avoid going to the hospital, being treated with a ventilator or dying. However, immunosuppressed patients, including organ transplant recipients, are more likely to experience breakthrough infections after a complete course of COVID-19 vaccination. So, we advise that even fully vaccinated individuals, and especially immunocompromised patients, continue to follow all safety precautions (masking, distancing and hand hygiene) while there is ongoing COVID-19 transmission in the community.

  • Ivermectin is a medicine that controls parasites in animals and humans. Misleading reports are circulating on social media and elsewhere that use of the drug is safe to prevent or cure COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. The FDA has received reports of people taking veterinary ivermectin. The formulas for horses and other animals can be very toxic (poisonous) for humans. Taking ivermectin for nonapproved reasons or in large doses can be harmful.

Masking and COVID-19 Precautions

If I get a coronavirus vaccination, do I still have to wear a mask? Physical distance?

The CDC continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and makes recommendations for wearing face masks, both for those who are fully vaccinated as well as those who are not fully vaccinated.

The CDC also recommends that masks and physical distancing are required when going to the doctor’s office, hospitals or long-term care facilities, including all Johns Hopkins hospitals, care centers and offices.

Johns Hopkins Medicine’s current mask safety guidelines have not changed, and we still require all individuals to wear masks inside all of our facilities.

Vaccine and Kids

  • The Pfizer COVID-19 is authorized for use in kids ages 12 to 15. Current safety and efficacy testing of the vaccines for children ages 2 and up may lead to authorization of one or more of the COVID-19 vaccines for younger kids in the months ahead.

  • Yes, it is possible for a child infected with the coronavirus to transmit COVID-19 to another person. Data from some studies suggest that young children may be less likely than older children and adults to spread the coronavirus to others, but it can still happen.

  • According to a report published by the CDC, going back to in-person school is not a major COVID-19 risk factor for children if they maintain prevention measures such as wearing masks and physical distancing. Attending parties, playdates and in-person family gatherings such as weddings and funerals is associated with a higher risk of children testing positive for the coronavirus. Having your teen or child vaccinated as soon as he or she is eligible will help prevent infections and spread of COVID-19.

  • There’s a very good chance that being fully vaccinated will protect you. All three FDA-authorized vaccines appear to be very effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19. Learn more about the safety and effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines.

Vaccine and Pregnancy

  • No, getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect your fertility. Women actively trying to conceive may be vaccinated with the current COVID-19 vaccines — there is no reason to delay pregnancy after completing the vaccine series.

    Confusion around this issue arose when a false report surfaced on social media, saying that the spike protein on this coronavirus was the same as another spike protein called syncitin-1 that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy. The false report said that getting the COVID-19 vaccine would cause a woman’s body to fight this different spike protein and affect her fertility. The two spike proteins are completely different, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect the fertility of women who are seeking to become pregnant, including through in vitro fertilization methods. During the Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 women volunteers involved in the study became pregnant, and the only one in the trial who suffered a pregnancy loss had not received the actual vaccine, but a placebo.

  • Yes. Johns Hopkins Medicine agrees with and strongly supports the recommendations of the CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) who recommend that all pregnant or lactating individuals, along with those trying to get pregnant, be vaccinated against COVID-19.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes pregnant women as a high-risk group for severe COVID-19 illness, though severe disease is fortunately uncommon. The decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine should be a shared decision among individuals, their care partner(s) and medical provider(s).

  • Yes. In fact, it is now recommended by ACOG, SMFM, and Johns Hopkins Medicine Obstetrics leaders. Based upon available data, it appears safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are nursing a baby. Although the vaccines were not initially studied in nursing mothers, review of the evidence by ACOG, SMFM, and CDC revealed no adverse safety issues in women and their babies. The vaccines do not contain live virus, so being vaccinated does not pose a risk to the baby. If you are vaccinated for the coronavirus, there is no need to delay or discontinue breastfeeding.

  • Yes. If you discover you are pregnant after you have received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you can go ahead and get your second shot. Learn more about pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccines.

Myth Busters

Review some common myths circulating about the vaccine and clear up confusion with reliable facts.

 

Specific Conditions

  • Yes, based on information currently available, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for people with epilepsy, says neurologist Khalil Husari. Although the data are limited, he explains, so far there is no evidence that patients with epilepsy are at a higher risk of adverse complications after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Read more about coronavirus, the COVID-19 vaccine and epilepsy.

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for all solid organ transplant candidates and recipients provided they do not have a severe allergy to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Likewise, families and household members of those having a transplant should get vaccinated against the coronavirus as soon as CDC and local guidelines, as well as vaccine quantity, allow.

    Because transplantation involves immunosuppression, which can make the vaccine ineffective, those awaiting transplants should, ideally, get a complete COVID-19 vaccination regimen before their transplant. However, the vaccine series should be completed two weeks before the transplant is scheduled. If a patient does not get vaccinated before the procedure, the vaccine should be delayed for one to six months after surgery or for as long as his or her doctor recommends.

  • People living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can get the COVID-19 vaccine once you are eligible to do so, as long as you do not have a severe allergy to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. It is OK to receive the COVID-19 vaccine while you are taking immunosuppressant medications to treat IBD. Available data suggest that the timing of when you take your IBD medication does not affect when you can receive your COVID-19 vaccination.

    Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine in immunocompromised patients. Therefore, you should continue to keep yourself protected by following CDC COVID-19 prevention guidelines, such as mask-wearing, physical distancing and hand hygiene.

  • Those with autoimmune conditions can receive the COVID-19 vaccine once they are eligible to do so unless they have a severe allergy to any of the vaccine’s ingredients.

  • This depends on the type of surgery and the timing of the procedure. It is best to ask your surgeon and follow his or her advice. The surgeon might recommend that you wait a few days after your COVID-19 vaccination to have the surgery. Some people have side effects following vaccination, and the surgeon may want to be able to tell if a mild fever or other changes to your health that you experience are associated with your surgical procedure or are a normal response to getting the COVID-19 vaccination.

  • The vaccines currently available are effective in protecting you from getting sick, but not 100%. Some people who were vaccinated might have mild or moderate illness if they catch the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In addition, depending on the timing of your vaccination, your body may not have had enough time to build up protection, which takes about two weeks from your final shot. People have caught the coronavirus between their two vaccinations. Ensuring you are not sick with COVID-19 is essential to providing you with proper care when you are undergoing surgery.

  • People having a transplant (kidney, liver, bone marrow, etc.) must have their immune system weakened so their body does not reject the donor organ. New studies show that some people being treated with immune system suppressing medications (such as rituximab) may not develop enough protection against COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine, especially if those treatments deplete their B cells (a B cell is one of the types of cells in the immune system).

    We do not yet know the extent to which people in this situation can improve their antibody response from a third dose of the vaccine, a different vaccine, or treatment with remdesivir or monoclonal antibodies. Scientists are exploring these and other possibilities for helping immunosuppressed people respond to the COVID-19 vaccines. A study of a third dose of COVID vaccine for kidney transplant recipients is anticipated to start in the near future.

    If you are preparing to undergo a transplant, talk to your transplant team about timing your COVID-19 vaccine before the transplant when the vaccine is likely to work better than after the transplant.

   
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