The COVID-19 vaccine teaches your immune system to recognize the coronavirus. When you get the vaccine, your immune system makes antibodies (“fighter cells”) that stay in your blood and protect you in case you are infected with the virus. You get protection against the disease without having to get sick.
When enough people in the community can fight off the coronavirus, it has nowhere to go. This means we can stop the spread quicker and get a little closer to ending this pandemic.
Watch this video on how vaccines work in your body.
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New COVID-19 variants are more dangerous and infectious to children than the original strains. The percentage of children hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased 240% in the U.S. in the last few months. While COVID-19 is often milder in children than adults, children can still get very sick and spread it to friends and family who are immunocompromised or vulnerable in other ways. Children who are infected with COVID-19 can also develop “long COVID-19” or persistent symptoms that often include brain fog, fatigue, headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath. Vaccination is the best way to keep kids healthy and safe.
No. The current COVID-19 vaccines we have in the U.S. are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against variants. However, public health experts are seeing reduced protection against mild and moderate COVID-19 illness, especially among high-risk populations.
Booster doses will help provide continued protection against severe disease. Booster doses were previously recommended only for populations at high risk for severe COVID-19, but the recommendation expanded in late 2021 and early 2022 to include everyone 12 years and older to help increase protection against COVID-19 illness. This is especially important with the rise of more contagious variants and cases of COVID-19 increasing across the United States.
The COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials and met the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA). Before they became available in Washington, they were also reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the western states Safety Review Workgroup. Both groups voted to recommend the vaccines for immediate use. The FDA and CDC also continue to closely monitor the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines to identify any adverse events related to the vaccines.
Read more about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines here.
The vaccine is widely available to anyone 5 and older. Youth ages 5 to 17 may get only the Pfizer vaccine while adults 18 and older can get the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Common side effects include sore arm, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. Side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection and should go away in a few days. For some people, side effects after the second dose may be more intense than the ones they experience after the first dose. Some people may have no side effects at all.
Find helpful tips to relieve side effects here.
No, the COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone at no cost regardless of insurance or immigration status.
If other services are performed along with the administration of the vaccine, it may be billed as an office visit. Seek clarification from your provider beforehand and from your insurance company if you are charged an office visit fee. If this doesn’t address the issue, you can also file a complaint with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. If you do not have health insurance, remember that providers are not allowed to charge you for the vaccine and therefore may be violating the requirements of the COVID-19 vaccine program. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The number of doses needed depends on which vaccine you receive. To get the most protection:
If you receive a vaccine that requires two doses, you should get your second shot as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, your second dose may be given up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessary.. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.
Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.
You are considered fully vaccinated:
If you do not meet these requirements, you are NOT fully vaccinated. Keep taking precautions to protect yourself and others until you are fully vaccinated.
As of August 18, 2021, masks are required in public indoor settings for everyone over the age of 2. This includes people who are fully vaccinated.
Additional recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals can be found at Life After Vaccine.
You should receive a paper vaccination record card when you get your first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This card will tell you which type of vaccine you got (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) and the date you received it.
If you got the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, the card will tell you when to go back for your second dose. Keep this card with you so your vaccine provider can complete it after your second dose.
If you lose your record card, log in to MyIR (“My Immunization Registry”) to look up your COVID-19 vaccination record, and then take a screenshot or photo of the information. If you do not have an account, you can sign up for MyIR any time.
Yes. Employers can require that their workers be vaccinated. Employers may confirm that workers are fully vaccinated by:
People with underlying medical conditions can receive a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people with underlying medical conditions. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
The vaccine should not be given to people with a known history of severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, to a previous dose of an mRNA or viral vector vaccine, or to any ingredient of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson–Janssen COVID-19 vaccines.
People who have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies may still be able to receive the vaccine. However, providers should do a risk assessment and counsel them about potential risks. If the patient decides to get the vaccine, the provider should observe them for 30 minutes to monitor for any immediate reactions.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that providers observe all other patients for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine to monitor for an allergic reaction.
You may choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are pregnant and have COVID-19, you are at increased risk for severe illness. We recommend talking with your healthcare provider to make the decision. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Yes, studies show the vaccines are equally safe for all racial and ethnic groups. The clinical trials intentionally recruited participants reflective of the U.S. population to assess safety and effectiveness across age, gender, and racial/ethnic groups.
You can download V-safe onto your smartphone to report any side effects to the CDC. Depending on the information you submit to this tool, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. V-safe will also remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one. You can also report adverse events after vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
VAERS is the nation’s early warning system that monitors the safety of vaccines after they are authorized or licensed for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). VAERS is part of the larger vaccine safety system in the United States that helps make sure vaccines are safe. The system is co-managed by CDC and FDA.
VAERS accepts and analyzes reports of possible health problems—also called “adverse events”—after vaccination. As an early warning system, VAERS cannot prove that a vaccine caused a problem. Specifically, a report to VAERS does not mean that a vaccine caused an adverse event. But VAERS can give CDC and FDA important information. If it looks as though a vaccine might be causing a problem, FDA and CDC will investigate further and take action if needed.
Anyone can submit a report to VAERS — healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the general public. VAERS welcomes all reports, regardless of seriousness, and regardless of how likely the vaccine may have been to have caused the adverse event.
There are several opportunities to get vaccinated in Yakima County. You can find locations on the Yakima Health District's COVID-19 Vaccine webpage.
The State Board of Health, not the Department of Health, has the authority to create immunization requirements for children in K-12 schools (RCW 28A.210.140). The Board has stated that at this time they are not considering adding COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required K-12 immunizations. However, older students preparing to go to college in the fall should check with their higher education institution for COVID-19 vaccine requirements as these institutions have authority to make their own immunization requirements.