COVID-19 vaccines are becoming available each day, and with them come questions about access, safety, eligibility and more. Here, we've collected answers to some of the common questions that healthcare officials are getting about vaccinations.
Planning is currently underway for how Western Washington University will handle vaccinations on campus. Topics such as mass vaccination clinics, whether to require the vaccine, and more are being discussed by university stakeholders. As information becomes available, this page will be updated and communicated widely to our campus community.
Questions about Vaccines
What does the vaccine protect me from?
The vaccine protects you from getting seriously ill if you contract COVID-19. It is unknown yet if the vaccine prevents you from catching and spreading the virus; this is why measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing are still important.
When can I receive the vaccine?
Eligibility for the vaccine depends on several factors such as potential exposure to the virus, age, health conditions, and more. For information on when you will be eligible, visit CovidVaccineWA.org to learn who is currently eligible for the vaccine or reference the visual timeline of phases. If you are a Western student living outside of Washington state, please see your own state guidelines for eligibility.
On February 5, the Student Health Center was approved to be a vaccine provider by the state Department of Health, meaning the center will be able to vaccinate members of the Western community in the future. Planning is still underway for how this will work, but we will share more information as plans are solidified.
How can I be sure that the vaccine is safe?
Some people may be concerned if the vaccine is safe due to how quickly it became available. The vaccines currently available went through the same rigorous testing and trials as any other vaccine. The reason it moved through the processes so quickly is due to the urgent need for it, which allowed for many of the roadblocks for a vaccine, such as funding concerns, to be dealt with swiftly. You can learn more about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines on the Washington Department of Health website.
What are common side effects after the COVID vaccination?
Common side effects from vaccination include pain, swelling or redness where the shot was given, a mild fever, chills, fatigue, headache, and muscle and joint aches. These side effects were also noted in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. Side effects are more common after the second dose. If you have concerns or questions about any side effects after receiving the vaccine, check with your medical provider
How much does the vaccine cost?
The vaccine itself will be of no cost, as it was purchased federally with taxpayer funds. However, depending on where you go to get your vaccine, they may choose to charge an administrative fee for the act of vaccinating you. Many insurance providers will cover this cost, but especially if you do not have insurance, it is important to be aware of this potential cost.
How long will the vaccine protect me? Will I need to get another shot every year?
There hasn’t been enough research yet to know how long immunity from the vaccine will last. As research continues, we will learn if people need to get regular boosters of the vaccine.
What are the differences between the vaccines currently available?
Right now, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have similar levels of efficacy and safety. The key differences for patients are that the Pfizer vaccine is approved for people aged 16 and up, whereas the Moderna vaccine is approved for people aged 18 and up. Additionally, the time you need to wait between the first and second dose is 21 days for Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna.
Will the vaccine give me COVID-19?
No. The vaccine does not use any live COVID-19 molecules, so you are not getting inoculated with the virus, which means it cannot give you COVID-19.
Can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing once I’m vaccinated?
No, because it is not known yet if the vaccine prevents you from catching and spreading the virus. While you may not get sick, you could still be infecting other people in your community. Additionally, it can take a few weeks after getting the second dose of the vaccine for the vaccine to protect you fully.
Should I get vaccinated if I’ve already had COVID-19?
If you have had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated once you are eligible. The natural immunity from being previously infected with COVID-19 decreases over time, so you will be best protected if you get vaccinated and continue to social distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands.
Is there anyone who should not be vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine?
Individuals with a known history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) or immediate allergic reaction to a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine or any component of a COVID-19 vaccine should not receive the vaccine.
If I have allergies, can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. Seasonal allergies and even food allergies, including allergies to shellfish and peanuts, do not exclude you from getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals who had severe reactions, like anaphylaxis, to injectable medication or vaccines in the past should not get the COVID-19 vaccine at this time.