18 Questions about the Coronavirus Vaccine (COVID-19)

Vaccination against COVID-19 is a very controversial topic, especially since vaccines were developed in record time to try to combat the worldwide pandemic caused by the new coronavirus.

For this reason, many doubts and myths have arisen about the vaccine, especially related to its safety and efficacy. Below is a list of the most frequent questions, explained and clarified based on scientific evidence.

1. Is the vaccine safe?

The COVID-19 vaccine has been subjected to various tests to ensure its efficacy, safety and quality. Regardless of the laboratory and type of vaccine, all have been duly approved by the WHO and are considered safe.

2. Is the vaccine mandatory?

Vaccination against the new coronavirus is provided free of charge and is voluntary, that is, it should only be done by those who wish to have the vaccination, and it is not mandatory. Still, health authorities recommend vaccination as a means of individual protection and to help control the pandemic.

3. Who can get the vaccine?

The vaccine against COVID-19 is indicated for all people, however, it is advisable to consult the doctor in some specific situations, such as having a previous history of allergies, especially to some type of vaccination, or having a weakened immune system, as it happens in cancer patients or undergoing treatments that hinder the functioning of the immune system.

As the access to vaccination is limited, each country has implemented a vaccination plan that divides the population into priority groups, in order to provide the first vaccines to those most at risk of a serious infection.

4. Can I get the vaccine if I have a fever, cough or flu symptoms?

The vaccine is not recommended in this situation, as the immune system is more fragile.¬†In addition, as the symptoms of COVID-19 can be confused with flu, the recommendation is that the person remain in isolation and follow all guidelines for a suspected case.¬†Here’s what to do if you suspect COVID-19.

5. Who has had COVID-19, need to be vaccinated?

Vaccination against COVID-19 is indicated even for those who have already been infected since studies show that it is possible to develop the infection again.

18 Questions about the Coronavirus Vaccine (COVID-19)
18 Questions about the Coronavirus Vaccine (COVID-19)

People with an active infection should not be vaccinated, being advised, in Brazil, to take the vaccine more than 30 days after the initial diagnosis, and if they are part of the group being vaccinated, according to the vaccination plan. In the case of Portugal, the vaccine is recommended 6 months after COVID infection.

6. Can I get the COVID vaccine together with the flu vaccine?

There are no studies that demonstrate the safety of administering the COVID vaccine at the same time as the flu vaccine. For this reason, the Ministry of Health indicates that they should be done with an interval of at least 15 days. People who are called to have both vaccines in the same period should give priority to the COVID-19 vaccine, then having the flu vaccination.

In the case of vaccines against COVID-19 that need 2 doses administered less than 4 weeks apart, as with Coronavac, you must first do the two doses of this vaccine and only then receive the flu vaccine, respecting the 2-week interval from 2nd dose.

As for vaccines that need a longer interval between doses, such as the AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, the flu vaccine can be administered between the 2 doses, as long as the period of 2 weeks from the 1st is respected. dose and 2 weeks before the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

7. What adverse reactions can arise?

As with any other type of vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine can also cause some side effects, especially pain at the injection site, such as swelling, pain, and redness. In addition, some people may experience tiredness, muscle pain, fever, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and tend to go away within a few days.

8. How long does the vaccine take to take effect?

The COVID-19 vaccine takes a few weeks to show the expected protective effect, as the body needs time to produce the antibodies that will ensure immunity against the virus. Thus, people who have been in contact with the virus in the weeks prior to vaccination, or shortly after receiving the vaccine, can still develop an infection, as the body does not yet have the necessary antibodies.

It is also important to remember that, in the case of vaccines that need 2 different doses, the highest rate of protection only happens 2-3 weeks after the 2nd dose.

9. Can I delay the 2nd dose of the vaccine?

Ideally, the second dose of the vaccine should be given within the stipulated period, as this ensures that the booster is made at the peak of antibody production that occurs after the first dose. However, if vaccination is not possible on that date, it is recommended that the second dose be given as soon as possible. This is because, although the first dose is not without effect, the effectiveness of the vaccine is only guaranteed after the two doses are administered.

Thus, the second dose should be made according to the manufacturer’s recommendations:

  • Coronavac¬†: 2 to 4 weeks;
  • Pfizer and BioNTech¬†: 28 days;
  • Modern¬†: 28 days;
  • Covaxin¬†: 28 days;
  • Astrazeneca¬†: 12 weeks;
  • Sputnik V¬†: 21 days.

Whenever possible, WHO recommends that the two doses be of the same vaccine. However, if there are situations in which this is not possible, the second dose must be given with another vaccine of the same type.

10. How long does the vaccine’s immunity last?

The duration of immunity conferred by the vaccine is not yet known, however, early studies suggest that protection is maintained for at least 4 months, gradually decreasing thereafter. Still, more studies will be needed.

11. Is it necessary to repeat the vaccination periodically?

It is not known for how long the COVID-19 vaccine confers immunity, so it is not possible to say whether the vaccination will need to be done periodically. However, if it is found that protection is short-lived, it is possible that periodic vaccination will be necessary, especially for groups at higher risk.

12. Can I get sick from getting the vaccine?

None of the approved vaccines against COVID-19 contain the live virus in their composition. For this reason, the vaccine is not capable of causing COVID-19.

13. Does the vaccine alter the DNA?

No type of vaccine against COVID-19 causes changes in DNA.¬†Although some vaccines contain pieces of the virus’s mRNA, these pieces do not alter the DNA of human cells at all, only stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies capable of fighting the virus.

14. Is it possible to transmit the virus after being vaccinated?

The vaccine only protects against the development of the infection, which means that a vaccinated person, while having a low risk of developing symptoms, can still carry and transmit the virus to other people.

15. Should I continue to wear a mask after vaccination?

Since vaccination does not prevent the transmission of the virus, it is recommended that after vaccination, individual protection measures are maintained, such as using a mask, frequent hand washing and social distancing. These measures should be maintained until a large percentage of the population is vaccinated.

16. Is it true that the vaccine can cause infertility?

There is no scientific evidence to indicate that vaccines against the new coronavirus can cause infertility.

17. Who should not be vaccinated for COVID-19?

There is no definitive contraindication against COVID-19 vaccination. However, pregnant women, children or adolescents under the age of 16, and people with any type of serious illness that can affect the immune system, such as cancer, should always discuss the possibility of vaccination with a doctor.

18. Can pregnant women get the vaccine?

So far, there are few studies carried out with pregnant women that can ensure the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. For this reason, the recommendation for vaccination varies according to the health authority in each country.