If you have a heart condition, you are more likely to get very sick from the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To protect yourself, wear a mask, keep a safe distance from others, and wash your hands.
Vaccines given as shots will soon be available to more people and will become a powerful way to help prevent you from getting COVID-19.
You might have concerns about the new COVID-19 vaccines. Here are answers to some common questions.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency. Manufacturers have responded to this urgent need by developing vaccines for the new coronavirus as quickly and safely as possible.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for protecting the public health in partnership with the United States government and others. The FDA can grant an emergency use authorization (EUA) to a manufacturer if it provides enough evidence that a vaccine is safe and effective.
The government (via the FDA) has selected vaccines that are promising. It has also helped fund large-scale production of these vaccines while safety data were being collected. This was done so that distribution of vaccines could begin quickly after they receive emergency approval.
The approval of a vaccine is not affected by having the clinical trial and the manufacturing process take place at the same time. If a vaccine does not meet standards, then it will not be used.
The COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same standards used to assess the safety and effectiveness of other vaccines currently available in the United States. The only COVID-19 vaccines the FDA will approve for use are those that meet these standards.
The approval process has many layers. In addition to a careful review by the FDA, independent scientific and public health experts study the safety and efficacy data to offer input on whether the vaccines should be approved.
Even after vaccines are distributed, monitoring for safety will continue.
The first COVID-19 vaccines in the United States will be messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines. Researchers have been studying mRNA vaccines for decades.
Unlike other vaccines, mRNA does not use an inactive form of the virus to cause your body to react and learn to defend itself. Instead, mRNA delivers instructions to your body to tell it how to protect itself against the virus.
The first COVID-19 vaccines approved in the U.S. require two shots in total. The two shots should be given three or four weeks apart.
Importantly, you cannot get COVID-19 from being vaccinated.
The FDA has approved two vaccines for emergency use in the United States. Emergency use may be granted if there is strong enough evidence that the vaccines are safe and effective.
Vaccines are being shipped to hospitals and other sites for the first round of vaccinations. Supply will be limited at first. Certain groups will be given priority to receive the vaccines.
In the first phase of distribution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that health care workers and people in long-term care facilities receive the vaccines.
Essential workers will likely be in the second phase. After that, people older than 65 and those with underlying health conditions who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness could be next in line.
The order of who gets the vaccines will be decided by each state. Contact your care provider to find out more.
Check with your care provider or local drugstore. The United States government is working to ensure that the vaccines will be distributed in a convenient way and at no cost.
There may be some side effects. Participants in the vaccine clinical trials have reported some side effects, such as a fever or aches lasting a day or two. Other side effects may be arm soreness or headache.
But overall, the vaccines were found to be safe.
Yes. Not everyone you meet will have gotten a shot. While the vaccine protects you from getting sick with COVID-19, you still might be able to give the virus to others.
So, wear a mask, keep a safe distance from others, and wash your hands.