COVID-19 Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness

Vaccine Safety Information

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness

Last updated: April 27, 2021

Who Should Get the Vaccine? 

Vaccination is key to ending the pandemic. If you are eligible, you should consider being vaccinated.

Please reach out to your care provider to confirm you should take the COVID-19 vaccine if you have any of the following medical conditions:

  • Allergies
  • A fever
  • A bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner
  • Are on a medicine that affects your immune system or are immunocompromised
  • Are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or are breastfeeding

Learn about the ingredients and more information about the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. You also must be old enough to receive the vaccine.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for people 16 and older. The Moderna vaccine is approved for people 18 and older.

If you have concerns about vaccination based on your specific medical history, please discuss them with your medical provider.

People who were pregnant or breastfeeding were not included in the first vaccine trials. This is not unusual, as clinical trials don’t typically include people who are pregnant or lactating until the vaccine has been shown to be safe in the general population. However, people who are pregnant and become sick with COVID-19 have been shown to have worse outcomes from the illness. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your physician about COVID-19 vaccination or visit the CDC to learn more.

No, if you are under quarantine for any reason, you should schedule vaccination for after your quarantine period ends. If you need to reschedule your appointment, please call the clinic where your appointment is scheduled.

Vaccine Development and Safety 

Three COVID-19 vaccines have been approved so far in the U.S. The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are now being given.

mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against disease. Instead of putting a weakened or inactive germ into your body like most vaccines, mRNA vaccines teach your cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside your body. The immune response produces the antibodies that help protect you from getting sick if the virus enters your body. mRNA vaccines have been held to the same safety standards as all other types of vaccines in the U.S.

The safety of the COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority for everyone who has helped develop them. All vaccines go through three phases of clinical trials to make sure they are safe and effective. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves all vaccines and closely monitors their use. It collects data on the vaccines’ benefits and side effects. So far, reports of severe reactions from the first two COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. have been rare.

Studies have shown that all three approved COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness. In fact, all three vaccines were 100% effective in the vaccine trials in stopping hospitalizations and death.

Because all three vaccines are highly effective, you should get whatever vaccine is available to you first.

No. None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. That means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot give you COVID-19.

Common side effects are similar to those of the flu vaccine. You may have pain, swelling and redness in the arm where you got the shot. You can also have chills, tiredness and headache for a short time. All side effects should stop in a few days. Severe reactions from vaccines given to date have been rare. Having side effects does not mean you have COVID-19. In fact, side effects are often a sign that the vaccine is working.

When you see vaccine information, it’s a good idea to check that the information is from a credible source and is up-to-date. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a good place to find that information. The CDC vaccine information is written and approved by physicians, researchers, epidemiologists and other experts. Here are some other websites where you can get information:

COVID-19 vaccines were purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars. You do not have to pay for the vaccine itself. Northwestern Medicine may bill your insurance to administer the vaccine, but there will not be an out-of-pocket cost for any patient.

We do not recommend routine antibody testing following vaccination. Different antibody tests can produce different results. If you choose to get an antibody test, you should discuss the results with your physician.