About COVID-19 Vaccine - Minnesota Dept. of Health
As we learn more about COVID-19, recommendations and guidance are updated frequently. Please check back often.

About COVID-19 Vaccine

Every Minnesotan age 12 years and older can get vaccinated. We will update this page if information or recommendations change for COVID-19 vaccines.

On this page:
How to get vaccinated
Getting vaccinated
After getting the vaccine
For fully vaccinated people
Available vaccines
Vaccine safety
How a vaccine helps
More information

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How to get vaccinated

Minnesota has a COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program with several large-scale community vaccination sites. Minnesotans 12 years of age and older can register for an appointment or walk in at one of these sites. Insurance and identification are not needed, and signing up is free. Find more information on vaccination for people under 18 years old below.

Minnesotans can also Find Vaccine Locations and sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at a clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies near them. There is also a COVID-19 Community Mobile Vaccination Bus Project going into communities experiencing barriers to vaccination.

If you are looking for a specific vaccine product, you can sort by product at Vaccines.gov or at Minnesota: Find a Vaccination Clinic. We recommend you still check with the clinic location to make sure they have the specific vaccine available that you are looking for.

Minnesotans can use the online vaccine locator map to near them and contact those health care providers with questions.

People may also be contacted by their employers to get vaccinated.

If you tested positive for COVID-19, you may have some protection against the virus for at least three months after recovering. After those first three months, your chance of getting COVID-19 again increases, especially with new variants circulating. New variants may be too different from your initial infection and your natural immunity may not be able to protect you as well. You should get vaccinated even if you have had COVID-19.

You can get vaccinated after you have completed your isolation period. This means it has been 10 days since you felt sick (or 10 days since you got tested if you do not have symptoms), and you feel better and have not have a fever for at least 24 hours. You do not have to get tested before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

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 doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

At this time, the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for vaccination of people 12 years and older, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines are authorized for vaccination of people 18 years and older. This includes people with medical conditions, who have had COVID-19, and those of different ages, races, and ethnicities. Please see the section below, "considerations for special populations," for people who are pregnant and those with weak immune systems.

There are few reasons that someone should not get vaccinated. A person that had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine should not receive any further doses of that type of vaccine. Additionally, if a person has had a life-threatening reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine, they should not get that vaccine. They may want to talk to an allergy specialist. People who have had anaphylaxis (an immune response of the body that causes someone to go into shock) after taking other medicines, particularly medicines given by injection, may be vaccinated but should be observed for 30 minutes after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

At this time, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that has been studied and authorized for use by people ages 12 years and older. Data from Pfizer vaccine studies show the vaccine is safe and effective for this age group. Other vaccine manufacturers are also studying their vaccines in younger age groups but have not yet received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Learn more about parental consent for people under 18 years old, and how to find a vaccine appointment for this age group at Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for People Under 18 Years Old (PDF).

Because children and youth with specialized health needs and disabilities may be at higher risk for more severe illness from COVID-19, families and caregivers are asked to strongly consider vaccinating children 12 years and older with any underlying health condition or disability.

COVID-19 Vaccine for Youth with Special Needs or Disabilities: Information for Caregivers (PDF)
Includes guidance for requesting accommodations when making appointments or arriving at a vaccine site.

Learn more at Disabilities and Unique Health Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccines help protect your child from COVID-19. They also help keep your child from spreading COVID-19 to others. Help protect your whole family by getting yourself and your children 12 years and older vaccinated against COVID-19. Learn more about what to expect before, during, and after vaccination for your child in the information on this page. Find resources and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens.

It is important to know that for certain populations, we don't have much, or any, information about safety or how well the vaccine works. In these circumstances, people may be vaccinated but should speak with their health care provider so they understand what is known about their situation and vaccination.

Some studies about COVID-19 and pregnant people are going on right now and more data may be available soon. From the data we do have, there has not been an effect from the vaccine on pregnancy or pregnancy outcomes. There were vaccine study volunteers who were vaccinated and then learned they were pregnant. The manufacturer is following these people throughout the pregnancy and birth. In the meantime, the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology has said that they support pregnant people, people who are breastfeeding, and people considering pregnancy to get a COVID-19 vaccine. We know that pregnant people are at a higher risk of severe disease compared to non-pregnant people. A pregnant person may choose to be vaccinated.

There is no evidence that any of the COVID-19 vaccines affect future fertility. People who want to have a baby someday, or are currently trying to get pregnant, can get vaccinated.

For more information on the current data for pregnant people, go to CDC: Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States: Vaccination of pregnant or lactating people.

COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnancy (PDF)
Fact sheet for people who are pregnant or who may want to get pregnant in the future.
Updated 4/29/21

Learn more about getting vaccinated during pregnancy at CDC: Information about COVID-19 Vaccines for People who Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding.

A person who is breastfeeding can get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. There is no reason to avoid starting or continuing breastfeeding after getting vaccinated. Learn more about getting vaccinated while breastfeeding at CDC: Information about COVID-19 Vaccines for People who Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding.

Immunocompromised means a person has a weak immune system. People with HIV infection, other immunocompromising conditions, or who take medications or therapies that weaken the immune system might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19. We currently do not have data on vaccine safety and efficacy in these groups. We do know that none of the current COVID-19 vaccines contain COVID-19 virus, which would be the main safety concern. The vaccine may not work as well in immunocompromised people because they may not have a strong immune response to the vaccine (they may have less protection). They should continue to follow guidance to protect themselves from COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated

  • A mask. It is strongly recommended for unvaccinated people to wear a face covering. Some vaccination locations may still require use of a face covering.
  • Your health insurance information, if you have it. If you do not have health insurance, that is OK. You do not need health insurance to get the vaccine.
  • Legal ID, if you have one and feel comfortable sharing it. You do not need a legal ID to get the vaccine.
  • If you are getting a second dose, bring your vaccination card if you have it.

Some COVID-19 vaccines require one dose and some require two doses. Your health care provider will let you know which vaccine you are getting. If you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you only need one dose. You do not need to make a second appointment.

Two doses are needed for the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The time between the doses depends on the vaccine you are getting. The Pfizer vaccine should be given 21 days (three weeks) apart and the Moderna vaccine should be given 28 days apart (one month).

Second dose for two-dose COVID-19 vaccines

It is very important that someone gets both vaccine doses, the same product for each dose, and that the doses are given at the correct time apart. The vaccine works best after two doses. If someone only gets one dose, they may not be as well protected against COVID-19. If it has been longer than 21 or 28 days (depending on which vaccine product you got) before you get your second dose, try to get your second dose as soon as you can. The second dose boosts your immunity to COVID-19 and provides longer time of protection. Even if it is beyond the recommended amount of time (21 or 28 days), go get your second dose. You will not have to start over.

We recommend that you schedule an appointment for your second dose when you get the first dose. Make sure you write down the appointment date somewhere you will remember.

You should receive a card when you get your COVID-19 vaccine that has the vaccine product you got and the date you were vaccinated.

  • The vaccine card is for your own record. The State of Minnesota will not require proof of vaccination for events such as traveling, concerts, or other activities.
  • Hold on to your vaccine card between shots (if you got a two-dose vaccine) and after you are fully vaccinated. Bring the card with you to your second appointment so that both doses can be recorded on the same card.
    • Keep your card in a safe place with your other records.
    • Take a picture of your card on your phone.
    • You do not need to laminate your vaccine card, but if you do, wait until you are fully vaccinated.

MDH cannot provide a replacement CDC vaccine card. If you lose your card:

  • It is OK if you lose your card. If you lose it between shots, ask for a new one when you get your second dose and ask them to record the first dose on it.
    • If you have not made an appointment for your second dose and need the information about your first dose, you can request your vaccination record from the health department to see which vaccine product you got and when you need your second shot. Go to Find My Immunization Record.
    • Your health care provider can also look up your vaccination record to help determine when you should get your second dose.
  • If you are fully vaccinated, you can request a copy of your vaccination record, which includes the same information as the vaccine card, at Find My Immunization Record.
  • If you were vaccinated in another state or country, go to Find My Immunization Record under “What if my MIIC record is missing immunizations?”

Lost Your Vaccine Card? (PDF)
Fact sheet with steps you can take if you lose your vaccine card.

It is not recommended to take over-the-counter medications before getting your vaccine to prevent side effects. We do not know if taking these medicines before getting vaccinated could impact how the vaccine works. Taking over-the-counter medicines after getting the shot is OK if you have side effects. Take what you normally would take in that situation.

If you take over-the-counter medications for a different condition/pain management, it is OK to take them on your regular schedule even when you are getting the vaccine.

When you get your COVID-19 vaccine, you will be asked to share your full name, date of birth, address, phone number, and gender. You will never be asked about your immigration status when getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting vaccinated will not impact your eligibility to gain lawful permanent residence status (green card). You will not be identified as a public charge.

The person who gives you the vaccine is required to enter vaccine data into Minnesota's immunization information system, the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC). MIIC keeps track of someone's vaccination history and makes sure they get the right vaccinations at the right time. Find more information on MIIC at About MIIC. MIIC collects name, date of birth, address, phone number, and various information related the vaccination itself (administration date, vaccine type, lot number, etc.). MDH shares de-identified vaccine data (general information that does not include the person’s name) with the federal government (CDC) every day. This means that the data could not be traced back to a specific person. MDH does not share any information with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

CDC has removed wait times between COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines. If you have recently received another vaccine, you may still receive COVID-19 vaccine. If other vaccines are needed at the time you receive your COVID-19 vaccination, discuss with your provider. You may be able to get all vaccines at the same visit. Learn more about the timing of other vaccines at CDC: Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine.

You do not have to be a resident of Minnesota to get vaccinated here.

All COVID-19 vaccines are free. However, health care providers can charge an administration fee to insurance companies for giving the vaccine to someone. This means that you might be asked for your insurance information when you get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have insurance, you should provide that information when you get your vaccine. The administration fee helps cover costs of staffing, space, printing, extra supplies, and more. You can still get the COVID-19 vaccine if you do not have insurance. No one should receive a bill for the vaccine or administration fee. If you get a bill, call the place where you got your vaccine and let them know you should not have to pay.

Providers can get the administration fee reimbursed by the patient's public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration's Provider Relief Fund at COVID-19 Claims Reimbursement to Health Care Providers and Facilities for Testing, Treatment, and Vaccine Administration for the Uninsured.

After getting the vaccine

After your final COVID-19 vaccine dose, it takes about two weeks for your body to build up protection. After those two weeks, you have good protection against illness for yourself. Early data shows that vaccines not only prevent you from getting sick from COVID-19 once you are fully vaccinated, they also help you from spreading it to others.

Anyone, whether vaccinated or not, should wear a mask in specific situations, such as health care settings, correctional settings, and shelters, or businesses and communities that set their own face covering rules. Refer to Recommendations for Wearing Masks.

We recommend that you continue to wear a mask and stay 6 feet from others until you are fully vaccinated.

People who are fully vaccinated may choose to continue to wear a mask.

Even when you are fully vaccinated, you should:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Stay home if you are sick, especially if you have been around someone who has COVID-19. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested. Learn more at CDC: Symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Although protection is good two weeks after the final vaccine dose, there is still a small chance you could become infected with COVID-19 and develop symptoms.
  • Do not visit people who have had close contact to someone with COVID-19 and are in quarantine.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly-ventilated spaces.
  • If you travel, follow CDC requirements and recommendations: Domestic Travel During COVID-19.
  • Follow guidance specific to your workplace.

There are currently no recommendations to get a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This means people who are fully vaccinated (two doses in a two-dose series, one dose in a one-dose series) do not need to seek out an additional vaccine dose of any brand. Medical researchers are continuing to study how long protection lasts and how variants affect how well the vaccine works. It is possible people may need a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine, like needing a tetanus shot every 10 years or getting a flu shot every year. We will provide more information if recommendations change.

Some side effects are common after vaccination. They are a result of your body responding to the vaccine (it's also OK if you don't have any side effects at all). Common side effects from the vaccine can include pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given, and sometimes feeling achy and tired. Some people may have a headache or fever. Side effects happen within a day or two of vaccination and go away one to two days later. You may have:

  • Pain where you received the vaccine
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Achy muscles and joints
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Swelling in your armpit

If your symptoms don’t go away or get worse, you may have been exposed to COVID-19 before your body had time to build the protection from the vaccine. Get tested if you think you may have COVID-19.

Serious adverse events

A serious adverse event is something that results in hospitalization or is life-threatening. Most adverse effects occur in the six weeks after getting a vaccine.

If you have a severe reaction, contact your health care provider. If it is an emergency, go to a hospital or call 911.

There have been reports of some serious allergic reactions or anaphylaxis, most occurring 15-30 minutes following vaccination. Allergic reactions like this are known to happen after taking medicines or getting vaccinated, but they are still very rare. Clinics are prepared to respond quickly to adverse reactions. You will be asked to wait 15-30 minutes after you have been vaccinated so that clinic staff can observe you.

Myocarditis and pericarditis

Some people who have received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have had rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart). In most cases, symptoms began a few days after the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine and went away quickly. Most cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been in young men. The chance of having this occur is very low. Seek medical attention right away if you have any of the following symptoms after receiving COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart

For more information, visit CDC: Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination.

Blood clotting issues

A few people who have received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine have developed blood clots involving blood vessels in the brain, abdomen, and legs along with low levels of platelets (blood cells that help your body stop bleeding). Most people who developed these blood clots and low levels of platelets were adult women younger than 50 years old. The chance of having this occur is very rare. For women 50 years and older and men of all ages, this adverse event is even more rare. This condition is treatable. For three weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, be on the lookout for these symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Abdominal/stomach pain that doesn't go away
  • Severe headaches or headaches that won't go away
  • Blurred vision
  • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection

If you have any of these symptoms after getting the vaccine, you should seek medical attention right away. Tell the health care provider that you recently received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than a month ago, you are unlikely to develop this condition.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Pause: What You Need to Know (PDF)

Side effects can happen after vaccination and can be similar to symptoms of illnesses, like COVID-19. These side effects can include pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given. Less common side effects can include headache, fatigue, or fever.

  • If you are experiencing side effects where the shot was given (such as pain, swelling, or redness), but you are otherwise well, you can return to work or school. Typically, side effects start within a day of receiving the vaccine and may last for three days.
  • If you are experiencing other symptoms of illness like fever, headache, or noticeable tiredness, then you should stay home. These may or may not be due to the vaccine. With any of these symptoms, stay home until your symptoms are improved and you have not had a fever for 24 hours. If symptoms worsen or last longer than three days, stay home and call your health care provider. Because the virus that causes COVID-19 is still in our communities, it is possible that you were exposed to COVID-19 before or around the same time you were vaccinated, so it may be helpful to get tested.

Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen are effective in managing vaccine side effects including pain where the shot was given, body aches, and fever after you get vaccinated. Cool cloths may relieve the swelling or pain at the injection site. Move or exercise your arm. Take the medicine you usually take when you have pain or fever or follow the instructions of your health care provider.

If you have a severe reaction, contact your health care provider. If it is an emergency, go to a hospital or call 911. Providers should report severe reactions to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This reporting system helps the CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.


CDC has also launched a new patient reporting tool for COVID-19 vaccine. It is a smartphone app called v-safe. This app can help with active monitoring for COVID-19 vaccine safety after you get the COVID-19 vaccine. Your health care provider will give you more information on v-safe. You can learn more at V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker and access an information sheet and flyers in multiple languages at V-safe Print Resources.

For fully vaccinated people

If you have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and it has been at least 2 weeks since the final dose of vaccine (enough time for your body to develop immunity), you have good protection against illness for yourself. Early data shows that vaccines not only prevent you from getting sick from COVID-19, they also help you from spreading it to others.

If you’ve been fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series or first dose in a one-dose series), you can resume most activities without wearing a mask. For more information, visit CDC: When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated may choose to continue to wear a mask

  • In specific situations, such as health care settings, correctional settings, and shelters, or businesses and communities that set their own face covering rules, you may need to still wear a mask. Refer to Recommendations for Wearing Masks.
  • If you travel, follow CDC requirements and recommendations: Domestic Travel During COVID-19.
  • Follow guidance specific to your workplace. If you have questions or concerns about safety in the workplace, contact MNOSHA Compliance at 651-284-5050 or osha.compliance@state.mn.us.

It is still important to wear a mask:


  • Do not visit with people who have COVID-19. If someone in your household gets sick, do your best to keep them away from others in the house. If you are fully vaccinated, you can take care of the person who is sick, but try to stay 6 feet away from them as much as you can.
  • Do not visit people who have had close contact to someone with COVID-19 and are in quarantine.

If someone is fully vaccinated and is exposed, they do not need to quarantine if BOTH of the following are true:

  • The COVID-19 exposure was at least 14 days after their vaccination series was fully completed.
  • They do not currently have any symptoms of COVID-19.

People who live or work in a health care or long-term care facility, have been vaccinated, and have a COVID-19 exposure should refer to COVID-19 Recommendations for Health Care Workers (PDF).

We will continue to evaluate these recommendations as more people in the community get vaccinated and we see how this impacts spread of disease.

Breakthrough cases (where someone becomes sick with the disease after being fully vaccinated) are expected. No vaccine is works 100% of the time, but there is still a lot of value in getting vaccinated. We know these vaccines are safe and can help keep people from ending up in the hospital or dying from COVID-19. If you do get sick, it is likely that your symptoms will be milder than if you didn’t get vaccinated.

The more people are vaccinated, and the fewer chances for someone to be exposed to and get COVID-19, the less likely we are to see breakthrough cases. We have seen a small amount of breakthrough cases compared to the millions of people who have been vaccinated.

People who have been vaccinated should make sure they still get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19 disease.

Available vaccines

There have been three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

An EUA is used in public health emergencies when: A product shows that it likely works, is safe but hasn't yet gone through the whole process of FDA licensure, and no other remedy is available.

You have the right to refuse or accept the COVID-19 vaccine, as stated in the EUA fact sheets. We strongly encourage you to get the COVID-19 vaccine if it is available to you. Getting the vaccine will help protect you and your family, co-workers, residents, patients, and community.

Several other COVID-19 vaccines are in development. They are going through different studies and checks (called clinical trials) to make sure they are safe, and that they work, before they are given to the public.

We are still learning about new variants. The data we have so far shows that the COVID-19 vaccines are working against the most common variant strains. Even if the vaccines do not work as well against some of the variant strains, scientists think the vaccines will still offer some protection against most COVID-19 variants.

All available COVID-19 vaccines are very good at preventing people from getting sick or very sick from COVID-19. The data between the COVID-19 vaccines look very similar. There are not recommendations for certain populations (e.g., older people, people with immune disorders, women under 50 years etc.) to get one vaccine over the other. All three types of vaccine are available now and Minnesotans can choose what COVID-19 vaccine they get. If you are looking for a specific brand, you can call the clinic or look online.

The COVID-19 vaccines that are available are not live virus vaccines. This means that they cannot give you COVID-19. After getting the vaccine, you will not shed live virus around your home or put others in your household at risk of COVID-19 disease. The vaccine will not affect a PCR COVID-19 test.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were made using mRNA technology. mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person's genetic makeup (DNA). Learn more about mRNA vaccines at CDC: Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines.

How mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Work (PDF)
This fact sheet explains how mRNA is used to fight the COVID-19 virus.
Updated 3/29/21

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is made using a harmless cold virus, called an adenovirus. The adenovirus is grown using what is called an immortalized cell line, and the virus then is pulled out and purified. The cell line came from a legal abortion that occurred in 1985. This cell line has been maintained by Johnson & Johnson for decades to make life-saving vaccines and other medical products. The cells today are clones of the early cells, not the original tissue. There is not fetal tissue in the vaccine. Many faith groups and bioethics institutes have stated that people may ethically receive these vaccines when there is not an alternative vaccine.

These vaccines do not contain a preservative. They do not contain gelatin or eggs. For more information about ingredients, refer to the FDA vaccine fact sheets available in multiple languages.

For specific concerns about certain ingredients visit:

Vaccine safety

Having a safe and effective vaccine is the top priority. The manufacturers must present the study data that shows the vaccine is safe and that it works before it is approved for general populations. This data is closely reviewed by several scientific groups at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and other groups look at available information about a vaccine and make informed decisions about the risks and benefits of using it. MDH is committed to making vaccines available that we are confident are safe and effective.

CDC and FDA continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccines for safety once they are being used in the general population. The pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine showed that this safety system is working – CDC and FDA were able to spot seven very rare cases of a blood clotting issue out of almost a million people vaccinated. The pause allowed CDC time to review data and information. It also allowed CDC to prepare health care providers to recognize and diagnose patients, treat them appropriately, and report cases that may be related to the vaccine. This condition is treatable, but doctors must know how to recognize it, how to report it, and how to treat it. This pause ensured that can happen. There are high benefits from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and it is an important tool to help end the pandemic. Ongoing safety monitoring also helped health officials find rare cases of heart issues (myocarditis and pericarditis) in young people after vaccination with Pfizer and Moderna. Learn more about this low risk in the "vaccine side effects" section.

The available vaccines for COVID-19 were shown to be highly effective and safe in clinical trials, and the evidence from real-world use backs that up.

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Information with Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann: Transcript (PDF)

How COVID-19 Vaccines Are Made (PDF)
This handout explains how the COVID-19 vaccine processes and timelines were made more efficient compared to other vaccine development.

The requirements for COVID-19 vaccine are the same as all other vaccines. The companies making the vaccines have to share information with specific agencies like the FDA and CDC that shows how the vaccine studies were designed, what their process was, how they got their data, and what the results were.

Health officials, FDA, vaccine manufacturers, and others have committed to only put out vaccines that are shown to be safe. The FDA has given guidance to vaccine manufacturers about what information is needed to prove that a vaccine is safe and that the vaccine works. For more details about expectations and commitments, refer to:

Learn more about how vaccines are made from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia at Making Vaccines.

The CDC has more information on COVID-19 vaccine safety at Ensuring the Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines in the United States.

Pregnant people and children

The first vaccine studies are usually done with groups that are at highest risk for the disease, or who will get very sick if they get the disease. Then the studies are expanded to other groups such as pregnant people and people who are immunocompromised (cannot easily fight off a disease). For COVID-19 vaccine, studies focused on non-pregnant adults ages 18 years and older at first (16 years and older for Pfizer). Vaccine manufacturers have expanded to include pregnant people and children in their studies as they get more data from the first part of their studies.

Diverse and underserved communities

The COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials include people from diverse communities. It is important for these studies to have equitably more people from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. This way they have enough information to be confident that the vaccine is safe and works for these groups. It's especially important that COVID-19 vaccine trials include people from diverse communities, because these communities have been severely impacted by the disease and could greatly benefit from getting vaccinated.

How a vaccine helps

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your community. The more people who get vaccinated against COVID-19, the better it is for everyone. More people vaccinated means that there will be less disease in our communities. Vaccination will also help prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants. We will get back to the activities we love, open up business and schools, and scale back our public health prevention measures, such as masking and social distancing. Vaccination is how we will end the pandemic.

Herd immunity is also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or social immunity. This is when most people in a population or group are immune to a disease. Being immune means they cannot get the disease because either they got a vaccine, or they already had the disease and cannot get it again, at least for a while.

When a lot of people are immune, it helps to protect other people in the population who are not immune. Having herd immunity can stop or slow the spread of disease because it is harder for the germ to find people who are susceptible to disease and make them sick.

  • We do not know enough about COVID-19 to be sure herd immunity is possible. This is a new disease, so there has not been enough time to fully study immunity yet. It is possible that even with most of the population vaccinated, COVID-19 will still be able to spread in the population but at a much lower level/rate.
  • We do not know how long a person cannot get sick again after they already were sick with COVID-19 (how long they are immune).
  • We do not know if being infected before will make the next infection better or worse.
  • We do not know if a person who was sick before, and then has contact with COVID-19 again, will be able to pass the virus to others again.

People can become very sick , be hospitalized, and or even die from COVID-19. This is why we do not want to rely on herd immunity happening naturally. Vaccination is a way to reach herd immunity without people getting sick and/or dying. Vaccination lets a person's body develop protection against a disease without having to actually get sick.

More information

Updated Wednesday, 21-Jul-2021 14:59:59 CDT