COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: 12 Things You Need to Know
Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first COVID-19 vaccines, more than one hundred million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated. You may be considering what the COVID-19 vaccines mean for you and your family.
Johns Hopkins Medicine views all authorized COVID-19 vaccines as highly effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. To support you as you make your decision, here are 12 facts and insights, shared by Sherita Golden, M.D., M.H.S., chief diversity officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine, who specializes in diabetes, heart conditions and patterns of disease in diverse communities.
The COVID-19 vaccine was created quickly, but was carefully tested for safety.
The development of the COVID-19 vaccines did not cut corners on testing for safety and efficacy. The vaccines were made using processes that have been developed and tested over many years, and which are designed to make — and thoroughly test — vaccines quickly in case of an infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19. The vaccines themselves were extensively tested by independent scientists, and more than 100 million people in the U.S. have been safely vaccinated.
COVID vaccine side effects are temporary and do not mean you’re sick.
The vaccines do not contain live coronavirus, and you cannot and will not get COVID-19 from getting vaccinated. After the shots, you might experience a sore arm, a mild fever or body aches, but this doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. These symptoms, if they happen at all, are temporary, usually lasting only a day or two. They signal a natural response as your body’s immune system learns to recognize and fight the coronavirus. On the other hand, getting COVID-19 can make you seriously ill, with symptoms that linger for months or even longer. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from getting sick.
The COVID-19 vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the coronavirus if you are exposed to it — including coronavirus variants such as delta. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, getting the vaccine is a powerful step in taking charge of your health. When given as directed, the FDA-authorized vaccines can prevent severe COVID-19 illness and death.
Diversity in COVID-19 vaccine testing helped assess safety and effectiveness.
COVID-19 affects everyone, so scientists made sure clinical trial participants for the vaccines were diverse. The clinical trials for the first two COVID-19 vaccines included Black (about 10% of participants) and Hispanic (about 20% of participants) people, older age groups (about 25%), and people with conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart and respiratory conditions. The U.S. study participants for the one-shot COVID-19 vaccine were 15% Hispanic/Latinx; 13% Black/African American; 6% Asian and 1% Native American.
New and future clinical trials will also include pregnant women and children under 12.
Do you have allergies? You can probably still get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC says people with allergies to certain foods, insects, latex and other common allergens can get a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine, be sure to discuss that with your doctor, who can evaluate you and assess your risk. However, if you are severely allergic to any of the coronavirus vaccines’ ingredients, you should not be vaccinated.
People of color are especially vulnerable to severe COVID-19.
Generations of health inequities have caused Black and Hispanic/Latin Americans and other communities of color to be overrepresented in severe COVID-19 cases and deaths. People of color are vulnerable to COVID-19 risk factors, and are more likely to be working front-line, essential jobs that cannot be performed from home, increasing their chances of being infected. Getting vaccinated can provide protection for you and those you love.
If you’ve already had COVID-19, getting the vaccine will add extra protection.
Even if you have already had COVID-19, you can still get a vaccine – and it may help you stay safe, especially from variants such as delta. Current guidelines suggest that anyone previously infected with COVID-19 should be vaccinated. The shots may offer longer and stronger protection than your natural immunity.
Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 helps others in your community.
Older people and those living with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are more likely to experience severe — even fatal — cases of COVID-19 if they catch it. The more people who receive the coronavirus vaccines, the sooner vulnerable people can feel safe among others. Also, since every COVID-19 infection gives the coronavirus a chance to mutate, being vaccinated helps prevent variants.
More vaccinations for COVID-19 mean a chance to get back to normal.
After over a year of coronavirus pandemic closures, cancellations and postponements, everyone is eager to think about returning to work, school, sports, family celebrations and social activities. Though no one is sure when the pandemic will be over, every person who gets protection from the coronavirus by getting a vaccination helps us move closer to normal life.
Here’s what we know about pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility concerns with the COVID-19 vaccines.
Pregnant women should discuss a COVID-19 vaccine with their doctors. Although the vaccines have not yet been tested in pregnant women, getting COVID-19 while pregnant can be dangerous to you or your baby, so your doctor can help you decide if the vaccines are appropriate for you. The vaccines are safe for breastfeeding mothers, and do not harm a woman’s ability to become pregnant.
COVID-19 Vaccines: Time is of the essence.
People hesitate to get vaccinated for COVID-19 for many reasons, from personal views and fears to logistical problems getting to vaccine sites. But waiting too long to be vaccinated allows the coronavirus to continue spreading in the community, with new variants emerging. Severe COVID-19 can be very dangerous: The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner you are protected.
How can you decide if you should get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Do your research: Your questions are important, and getting the right answers from reliable sources can add to your peace of mind. Talk to your family doctor and people you know who have been vaccinated and learn all you can about the COVID-19 vaccine so you can make the most informed decision about getting vaccinated.