Safe & Effective Vaccines for COVID-19

Vaccines for COVID-19 help reduce damages from the coronavirus pandemic. The vaccines:

  • help fewer people be infected.
  • lower the number of people who have to be cared for in the hospital.
  • reduce the long-term effects of COVID-19.
  • lower the number of deaths from COVID-19.

The Pfizer/BioNTech (FDA-approved for people ages 12 and older and authorized for use in children 6 months to 11 years old) and Moderna (FDA-approved for people ages 18 and older and authorized for use in children 6 months to 17 years old) mRNA vaccines, and the vaccines made by Janssen (a Johnson & Johnson company) and Novavax, are the only COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States.

In most situations, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) prefers COVID-19 vaccines and boosters made by Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna. This is due to the risk of serious adverse effects from the Janssen vaccine.

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COVID-19 Vaccines & Booster Shots Available

COVID-19 can be a serious disease. U of U Health recommends getting vaccinated as soon as possible. The COVID-19 vaccine is freely available to anyone who lives in the US and is 6 months of age or olderVisit vaccines.gov or call 1-800-232-0233 to find a vaccine provider with available appointments near you. 

U of U Health is currently offering limited appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to all patients 6 months of age and older and the Moderna vaccine (for children 6 months of age to 5 years old only), in addition to booster shots for eligible populations. Schedule an appointment at U of U Health.

Find a Vaccine Provider

Why Should I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Vaccine Effectiveness

The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, and Janssen (a Johnson & Johnson company) vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. However, the CDC prefers people get the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in most situations. This is due to the risk of adverse side effects from the Janssen vaccine.

You will need two doses of Moderna vaccine, Novavax vaccine, or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (three doses for children 6 months of age to 4 years old) to fully protect you against COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose. It takes about two weeks after the final dose of each vaccine to reach full immunity.

Vaccine Side Effects

Temporary, flu-like symptoms that typically resolve one to two days after vaccination are normal and a sign that your immune system is building up protection against disease. Side effects for the COVID-19 vaccines include:

  • mild pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site where you get the vaccine;
  • fever, usually mild and short-lived;
  • chills;
  • feeling tired;
  • headache;
  • muscle and joint aches;
  • diarrhea (seen in Pfizer/BioNTech clinical trials);
  • nausea (seen in Moderna clinical trials); and
  • swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection site (seen in Moderna and Novavax clinical trials). 

Some people who received the vaccine reported worse fevers and aches than others. Side effects were usually short-lived and able to be managed with fever-reducing medications, such as Tylenol. For people who received the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, side effects were more common after the second dose than the first dose. 

Heart Inflammation Symptoms

There have been rare reports of people—particularly male adolescents and young adults—who received the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech & Moderna) and experienced symptoms of myocarditis or pericarditis (heart inflammation conditions) within several days of getting their shot. Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have also been reported in people who received the Novavax vaccine. This rare adverse reaction occurred more often after the second dose of vaccination. But with proper treatment and care, most patients saw their symptoms improve quickly. However, it's important to keep in mind that the known risks of COVID-19 illness, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death, far outweigh the risks of having a rare adverse reaction to the vaccines.

TTS Symptoms

People—particularly women younger than 50—who receive the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson vaccine) should be aware of an increased risk for a rare and serious, but treatable, blood clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Due to these concerns, the CDC prefers people get the vaccine made by Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna if they can. See additional information for other Janssen side effects.

Allergic Reactions to Vaccines

Severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis to vaccines are extremely uncommon. If a severe allergic reaction does occur, it typically happens within a few minutes to one hour after receiving the vaccine. However, some people have experienced non-severe allergic reactions (i.e., hives, swelling, and wheezing) within four hours after getting vaccinated.

You should not get the COVID-19 vaccine if:

  • you have had a severe allergic reaction after the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
  • you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine.
  • you are allergic to polyethylene-glycol (ingredient in Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines) or polysorbate (ingredient in the Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines that is closely related to PEG). 

For a list of vaccine ingredients, see the ModernaPfizer-BioNTech, Novavax, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson company) fact sheets.

People with a history of immediate allergic reactions — even if it was not severe — to other vaccines or injectable therapies should consult with their doctor before getting the COVID-19 vaccine, according to CDC recommendations.

I Had COVID-19. Should I Get the Vaccine?

We don’t know if or for how long after infection you will be protected from getting COVID-19 again. Health experts recommend you get the vaccine even if you have been infected by COVID-19. CDC guidelines say you may delay your vaccine for three months after having COVID-19.

Have More Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Visit our FAQs page for expert-based answers

Vaccine Cost

The COVID-19 vaccine will be given to everyone at no out-of-pocket cost. However, your insurance company will be billed a vaccine administration fee to cover vaccination operations costs. For those without insurance coverage, assistance programs will cover the administrative fee. Nobody will be denied a vaccine if they can’t afford to pay.

Social Distancing & Masking Guidelines after Vaccination

Clinical trials show the vaccines will protect you from getting seriously ill from COVID-19. According to CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated people can resume most indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing from others, except:

  • if you are in a public indoor setting in an area of high transmission.
  • if you are at high risk for getting very sick and in an area with medium or high transmission levels.
  • when required by laws, rules, or regulations, including local business, health care setting, and workplace policies. 

You are considered fully vaccinated:

  • two weeks after your second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax vaccines.
  • two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Children 6 months of age to 4 years old will need three doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. 

Watch our experts to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and why you should get it.

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