Vaccine to Prevent COVID-19
The COVID-19 vaccine can help you avoid getting COVID-19.
The number of doses you need depends on which vaccine you get. It also depends on your age and health. Most people also need "booster" doses later to help them stay protected. You are considered to be up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines when you've received all the recommended doses and booster doses.
The vaccine prevents many cases of COVID-19. But if you do still catch COVID-19, your symptoms will probably be less severe than if you hadn't gotten the vaccine. You can't get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
Who should get the vaccine?
Everyone who is able to get the vaccine should get it as soon as possible. The more people who get vaccinated, the better we'll be able to slow the spread of the virus.
The vaccine is extra important for people who are at high risk. This includes people who may be exposed to COVID-19 more often because of their jobs. It also includes people who are at high risk for complications from COVID-19 if they catch it. Some examples of people at high risk include those who:
- Work in health care.
- Are considered essential workers.
- Have certain health conditions.
- Are older than age 65.
If you've already had COVID-19, you may still be able to catch it again. Getting the vaccine gives you extra protection.
Why should you get the vaccine?
Getting vaccinated will help protect you from COVID-19. It will also help protect others around you from getting the virus, including people who are more likely to get very sick or die from COVID-19. If you get the virus, you could spread it to friends, family, and other people in your community—including those who are at high risk.
The vaccine is one of the best ways to help the pandemic end sooner so things can return to normal. That means being able to safely go out and see friends and family, meet new people, and do all the things you enjoy. Getting vaccinated can help save lives and help your community thrive.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
You might not have side effects. But if you do, they'll probably be like those of other vaccines, including:
- Feeling very tired.
This is normal. Your body is building protection against COVID-19.
You may also have other side effects, including:
- Pain, redness, a rash, or swelling in the arm where you had the vaccine.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit of the arm where you had the vaccine.
Side effects will likely go away in a few days. Until then, it may be harder to do your usual activities.
If you think you've been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms like a cough, trouble breathing, or a new loss of smell or taste, call your doctor. These aren't vaccine side effects. You may need a COVID-19 test.
How can you care for yourself after getting the vaccine?
- If you have a sore arm or a fever after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the sore area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
- If you have side effects, such as a fever, be sure to get enough rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Current as of: April 28, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine
Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine
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