COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
Vaccine Appointment Information
- If you are a Mercy Primary Care patient and you are interested in a vaccine appointment, please contact your doctor.
- If you are not a patient of Mercy and have questions about vaccine appointments, please call 410-801-3045.
- Appointments for other sites are available via Maryland's COVID-19 Vaccination Website.
Common Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination
You may have general questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Below are answers to the most common questions.
Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Getting the vaccine not only protects you from getting COVID-19, but it also greatly reduces the risk that you spread the virus to your family and friends. The vaccine is the biggest piece to stopping the pandemic and returning to normal life.
How do we really know if COVID-19 vaccines are safe?
COVID-19 vaccines have met all the safety milestones set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization. The FDA safety review procedures are no different for COVID-19 vaccines than for other vaccines and drugs.
Nearly 74,000 people were part of the first clinical trials for safety and effectiveness. Studies found no serious safety concerns for those who received it. As of 1/15/21, over 11 million Americans have received a COVID-19 vaccination.
The vaccine is safe and effective for adults of different ages, sexes, races and those with underlying health conditions.
Is the vaccine that helpful? Don't I become immune if I get COVID-19?
If you get COVID-19 you risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. We know COVID-19 can cause serious illness and potentially death. Getting the vaccine is a much safer choice.
Over 2 million people have died worldwide from COVID-19. Zero people have died from the vaccine.
Studies show this vaccine greatly lowers your chance of getting seriously ill if you are infected with COVID-19.
If you are infected with COVID-19, you may have short-term immunity from the antibodies, but some studies suggest this varies among people and some people have been re-infected with COVID-19.
Keep in mind, the vaccine is one tool to help end this pandemic. You will still need to practice other precautions like wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing, and other measures until public health officials say otherwise.
What are the side effects? Can getting the vaccine cause you to get very sick?
The likelihood of side effects is low. The most common side effects reported are arm pain, fatigue, and headache. When they do happen, they end quickly on their own, usually within 1-2 days.
Less common side effects include:
- Fever, chills, muscle and joint aches
- Redness and swelling at the injection site
These side effects are signs that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do—working and building up protection to disease.
The vaccine is brand new. Could it cause problems that we don’t know about yet? What about long-term issues?
Both COVID-19 and the vaccine are new. We don’t know exactly how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccines have been tested for safety in very large studies—more than 70,000 people have volunteered for these studies so far. There is a slight chance that very rare side effects will be seen as we vaccinate more people. Thus far, over 11 million Americans have received the vaccine.
The FDA requires safety monitoring after emergency use authorization. Studies to understand if the vaccines are safe for specific groups, such as pregnant women and children under 16-years old, are happening now.
If there is a safety issue, FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will look into it immediately, determine if it is vaccine-related, and, if necessary, change how the vaccine is used.
How many doses are needed and why?
Both of the current COVID-19 vaccines being used in the United States require two shots.
The first shot starts building protection. Everyone must come back a few weeks later for the second shot to get the most protection the vaccine can offer.
Even after receiving the vaccine it is still important to continue following CDC guidelines for wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing, and other hygiene measures until public health officials say otherwise.
If you have additional questions, see the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination. This site is regularly updated with answers to common questions.