Building confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine

Basics of the COVID-19 vaccine

  1. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to the public regardless of immigration or insurance status
  2. The vaccine protects against COVID-19 and reduces the chances of hospitalizations or death. Even if you had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated.
  3. Because none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, the vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.
  4. Nearly all the ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines are also ingredients in many foods – fats, sugars, and salts
  5. The COVID-19 vaccine, including the doses for children ages 5 and older, has undergone thorough evaluations by both FDA and CDC. COVID-19 vaccines have and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.


There are multiple vaccines that have been used in the United States against COVID-19. 

Pfizer (Comirnaty) VaccineModerna VaccineJanssen (Johnson & Johnson) Vaccine
95% effective in preventing illness94% effective in preventing illness66% effective against illness and 93% effective against hospitalization
Requires 2 doses, 21 days apartRequires 2 doses, 28 days apartRequires 1 dose
FDA authorized for use in ages 5 to 15FDA authorized for use in ages 18 and olderFDA authorized for use in ages 18 and older
FDA approved in ages 16 and older

Boosters available to individuals 5 and older:

  • 1st booster: 
    • after 5 months if primary series Moderna/Pfizer
    • after 2 months if primary was J&J
  • 2nd booster after 4 months for ages 50 and older or for 12 and older if moderately or severely immunocompromised

Boosters available to individuals 18 and older:

  • 1st booster:
    • after 5 months if primary series  Moderna/Pfizer
    • after 2 months if primary was J&J 
  • 2nd booster after 4 months for ages 50 and older or for 12 and older if moderately or severely immunocompromised

Boosters available to individuals 18 and older:

  • Moderna or Pfizer recommended for boosters
  • Anyone who received J&J booster (18+) after 2 months, is eligible for a 2nd Pfizer or Moderna booster after 4 months.


Fully vaccinated means a person has received all recommended doses in their primary series of COVID-19 vaccine. Up-to-date means a person has received all recommended doses in their primary series COVID-19 vaccine and booster dose when eligible.

Studies show that, after getting vaccinated, protection against the virus may decrease over time due to changes in the virus. This is why booster doses are recommended. The number of primary or booster doses recommended for you may be different from someone else based on things like age and underlying conditions. Please talk to your doctor if you are not sure about booster doses.

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How mRNA Vaccine Works

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How Adenovector Vaccine Works

What to expect: Safety and side effects

There is a difference between side effects and adverse events. 

A side effect is an expected response to the vaccine. These are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.

Common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine:

On the arm where you got the shot:
Throughout the rest of your body:
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

An adverse event is a very rare and an unexpected response. Adverse effects that could cause a long-term health problem are extremely unusual following vaccination. If adverse effects occur, they generally happen within six weeks of receiving a vaccine dose. For this reason, during clinical trials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) collected data on each of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines for a minimum of two months (eight weeks) after the final dose. CDC, FDA, and other federal agencies continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines even now that the vaccines are in use.


COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing infection, serious illness, and death. Most people who get COVID-19 are unvaccinated. However, since vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection, some people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19. An infection of a fully vaccinated person is referred to as a “breakthrough infection.” Even though vaccinated individuals still can get sick with COVID, they are much less likely to be hospitalized or to die from the illness.

Common Questions, Myths and facts about the vaccine

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe even though they were developed rapidly?

Scientists have been working for many years to develop vaccines against viruses like the one that causes COVID-19. This knowledge helped speed up the initial development. All vaccines in the U.S. must go through three phases of clinical trials to make sure they are safe and effective. During the development of COVID-19 vaccines, phases overlapped to speed up the process, but all phases were completed. 

What are the ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines?

Vaccine ingredients vary by manufacturer and the lists are open to the public. None of the vaccines contain eggs, gelatin, latex, or preservatives. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth alloys. They are also free from manufactured products such as microelectronics and electrodes. 

If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Yes. Research has not yet shown how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again after you recover from COVID-19. Vaccination helps protect you even if you’ve already had COVID-19. One study showed that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than 2 times as likely than fully vaccinated people to get it again.


Anyone with a mobile device or a computer can access or share inaccurate information on the internet. Word of mouth can also be misleading. Often, people share opinions that only represent their personal experiences. What one person says or believes might not be accurate under different circumstances or in another location.


Make sure the information you access comes from credible sources like your doctor or health care provider, state or local health department, established medical or educational institutions, or trusted community leaders. One good way to identify the source of an article is paying attention to its web address. Web addresses that end in .edu or .gov generally come from trustworthy sources. Sites ending in .edu are published by educational institutions, like universities or research centers. Sites with a .gov address belong to governmental organizations, including public health agencies like the Washington State Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you can’t find a source or author, consider it a red flag. Also, remember that health information changes frequently, so always check the date to see when the information was last updated.


Fact checking is checking information to find out if it is true or not. To be proven true, a statement must come from credible sources. Since it’s so easy for misinformation to spread on social media, remember to use good judgment when interacting with others online.