UNC Health is confident in the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were each studied in large clinical trials that enrolled tens of thousands of people. These trials include both women and men from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. They found that the vaccines are well-tolerated with no unexpected unfavorable effects. The FDA continues to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. As of July 1, 2021, more than 157 million people in the U.S. have now received a vaccine. There are no current safety concerns for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. A small number of women out of over a million who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed a rare type of stroke.
The development of the COVID-19 vaccines – and the clinical trials testing their safety and effectiveness – were accomplished in record time. This was to respond to the emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists from across the world, including at UNC, worked hard to conduct large, rigorous studies to ensure the safety of the vaccines before they became available. These clinical trials did not cut any corners and also included a diverse group of participants. Also, two groups of non-government scientists – along with the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – independently reviewed the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine before they became available in the U.S.
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No. The vaccines do not contain the SARS-CoV02 virus, which causes COVID-19. All of the COVID-19 vaccines work by helping your body build up its defenses against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
At this time, children under the age of 12 cannot get a vaccine. If you have a history of serious allergic reactions – especially to vaccines –talk to your healthcare provider before you schedule a vaccination appointment. Please tell the person giving you the vaccine if you have a history of severe allergic reactions, especially to vaccines. If you have a known allergy to the components of the COVID-19 vaccines you should not receive them.
If you have a history of fainting with needles or a fear of shots, CDC recommends doing the following:
- Have a beverage or snack before getting your vaccine.
- Breathe slowly and deeply before getting the vaccine and think of something relaxing.
- Sit or lie down after you receive your vaccine.
The CDC recommends that individuals with a weakened immune system who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines obtain a supplemental dose (commonly referred to as a ‘booster dose’), ideally of the same type you have already received. In addition, the CDC recommends that anyone who is immunocompromised continue to take COVID-19 safety precautions such as wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and using good hand hygiene even after vaccination.
At this time, only those with a known allergy to the components of the COVID-19 vaccines should not receive them. If you have a history of severe allergic reactions – especially to vaccines – you should discuss your situation with your primary care provider before scheduling your vaccination appointment. For all other types of allergies including to food, pollens, pets, insect stings, latex and oral medications, the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly recommended. Additionally, a history of allergic reactions to other vaccines may not indicate an allergy to this one.
Everyone is monitored for at least 15 minutes after getting the shot, and if you have a history of severe allergic reactions, you will be monitored for 30 minutes. It is important that you share any history of severe allergic reactions to those providing a COVID-19 vaccine, so you can be monitored appropriately.
Although the likelihood of a bad reaction is very small, our patients’ safety is our priority and our medical staff is fully prepared. The observation period is required, medication (epinephrine) is available, and everyone has the right training to make sure you are safe.