Updated September 13, 2021
What COVID-19 vaccines are available in the US?
There are currently 3 vaccines available in the US to protect people against COVID-19. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) gave full approval to Pfizer’s vaccine on August 23, 2021, while both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J)* vaccines remain available under the FDA’s emergency use authorization.1
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?*
Yes, all 3 vaccines are considered to be safe, and the Pfizer vaccine was recently granted full FDA approval, while the Moderna vaccine is expected to receive full approval in the near future. They were all tested in thousands of people who took part in clinical trials so researchers could make sure the vaccines were safe and worked well.
Trials for all 3 vaccines have had fully independent safety monitoring boards. The safety monitoring boards are made up of research experts, doctors, and patient advocates who check the safety as the trial is taking place. And the FDA and expert panels continue to review safety data after the clinical trials.2
The full FDA approval of Pfizer’s vaccine means that the FDA has reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents and conducted site visits to ensure proper manufacturing of the vaccine.
Can my children get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Doctors recommend that people 12 years and older may get the Pfizer vaccine, while people 18 years and older may get the Moderna or J&J* vaccine.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine affect my fertility?
There is no evidence that any of the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility.
Can I get the vaccine if pregnant or breastfeeding?
Pregnant women and their babies are highly susceptible to COVID-19, with a greater risk of miscarriages or pre-term birth and death. It is recommended that all women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or thinking about getting pregnant get vaccinated as soon as possible. Mothers may also be able to pass antibodies to their babies through breast milk, helping protect their newborn infants.
Will I need to get a COVID-19 vaccine every year?
Based on current studies, it is recommended that immunocompromised patients get a third dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Patients should wait at least 4 weeks after their 2nd shot to get their 3rd shot. We are still waiting on further guidance for people who got a single J&J shot.
The NCCN recommends that all patients on active cancer treatment should get a 3rd shot. They also recommend that caretakers should consider getting a 3rd dose.
Based on current studies, the Biden administration may recommend that all individuals get a 3rd shoot 8 months after their second shot. This recommendation still needs to be approved by both the FDA and the CDC but could go into effect as early as September 20, 2021. Those who should get 3rd shots first include the elderly and healthcare workers.
Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine?
Although early recommendations were to space out COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccinations, updated guidance from the CDC now says it is safe to get your flu shot and COVID-19 shot at the same time. You may want to consider alternating arms if getting both shots at the same time.
Do I still need to isolate myself if I come into contact with an infected person?
CDC advises that vaccinated people should get tested within 3 – 5 days after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in pubic for 14 days following exposure or until you test negative. You should isolate for 10 days if your test is positive.
Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?
Because the delta strain of COVID-19 is much more contagious than earlier forms of the virus, the CDC recommends that everyone should wear a mask indoors in public in places where virus transmission is substantial or high. People may also want to wear masks in crowded outdoor settings.
What things can I do after getting vaccinated?
Current COVID-19 vaccines available in the US are extremely good at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. With the more contagious delta strain, the vaccines are less effective at preventing infection. Patients with lung cancer should continue to layer protections including wearing masks, washing their hands, practicing social distancing and getting vaccinated to decrease the likelihood of getting COVID-19.
There is no “one size fits all” guidance regarding what activities are safe. While we are in this latest surge of the virus and depending on local conditions, you might want to choose safer activities (outdoor vs indoor exercise, dining, online church services vs in-person, travel by car if travel is necessary).
My child is too young to get vaccinated. Is it safe for him/her to go to school?
COVID-19 vaccines are not yet authorized in children less than 12 years old. To minimize their risk of exposure (and limit the possibility of them bringing back virus to other family members), they should wear masks at school and in other indoor public places.
Though children may not get seriously ill from COVID-19, they may bring the virus back to family members who are at increased risk, including grandparents or family members who are immunocompromised, including those with cancer. Because of this, all individuals ages 12 and up in the child’s family should get vaccinated.
*See Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety | CDC