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COVID-19 Vaccine: Frequently Asked Questions

All New Yorkers age 16 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as you are eligible. COVID-19 vaccination, wearing masks and social distancing are the best ways to protect against COVID-19 illness.

COVID-19 vaccines have met The United States Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA).

“It’s important to point out that in developing a vaccine for COVID-19, researchers weren’t starting from scratch,” notes Catholic Health’s President and Chief Executive Officer Patrick M. O’Shaughnessy, DO, MBA, MS-PopH, FACEP, CHCQM. “Past research on SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) had already identified potential approaches.”

Frequently Asked Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine 

Visit the CDC for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine

What are the side effects? 

According to the CDC, you may have some side effects after getting vaccinated. But these are normal signs that your body is building protection. Common side effects are pain, redness, and swelling in the arm where you received the shot, as well as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea throughout the rest of the body. These side effects could affect your ability to do daily activities but they should go away in a few days. 

Can I get the vaccine if I'm pregnant?

Talk to your health care provider before getting the vaccine. Based on how COVID-19 vaccines work, experts think they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant. However, data is currently limited on the safety because these vaccines have not been widely studied in pregnant people. Systems are in place to continue to monitor vaccine safety, and so far, they have not identified any specific safety concerns for pregnant people. Clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people are underway or planned.

How many doses do I need?

Dosage depends upon the vaccine. For vaccines that require two shots, you should get your second shot as close to the recommended interval as possible.

  • Two Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses should be given 3 weeks (21 days) apart.
  • Two Moderna vaccine doses should be given 1 month (28 days) apart.
  • Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J/Janssen) vaccine requires one dosage. Read CDC recommendations for the J&J vaccine.

How long does the COVID-19 vaccine last?

Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

If I have already had COVID-19 should I get the vaccine? 

Yes, it is recommended that even those who have had COVID-19 get the vaccination. If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your health care provider if you are unsure what treatments you received.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine free?

Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. 

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying condition?

Check with your health care provider. COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to most people with underlying medical conditions once they are eligible to receive a vaccine. 

Can a COVID-19 vaccine be given to a person sick with COVID-19? 

No. People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation. Those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the quarantine criteria before getting vaccinated. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine.

Do I have to continue wearing a mask after I get the vaccine? 

For now, fully vaccinated people can gather indoors without physical distancing or wearing masks with:

  • Other people who are fully vaccinated
  • Unvaccinated people from one other household, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19

Until more is known, fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks and stay six feet apart from other people in other settings, like in public or visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.

Page last updated April 30, 2021. Continue to check the CDC for the most up-to-date information.