COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

The following responses were provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison public health experts Ajay Sethi, Ph.D., MHS, Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences and Faculty Director of the Master of Public Health Program and Devlin Cole, MD, MPH, Preventative Medicine Resident, School of Medicine and Public Health.

Last updated February 19, 2021.

Vaccine Technology and Development

How can the vaccine be safe if it was made so quickly?

Who was included in the trials?

Were participants in the trials exposed to COVID-19? If not, how were the vaccines challenged?

Manufacturers claim that their vaccines are 90% or 95% efficacious. What do these numbers mean in terms of vaccine effectiveness?

How long are the vaccines effective? Will people need to get the vaccine annually like the flu shot?

Are the vaccines effective against the new variants? How concerned should we be about these mutations?

Can mRNA vaccines change or mutate our own DNA?

What are examples of mRNA-based vaccinations/therapies used in the past?

Vaccine Distribution

Who can get the vaccine right now? Which groups of people can we anticipate will be eligible for vaccination next?

In what situation(s) would people who are not part of the groups 1a or 1b be able to get the vaccine?

Are undocumented workers included in the essential food chain category? If yes, would the vaccine be free?

What factors are influencing the rate and pace of vaccination?

Who is administering the vaccines?

Will the vaccine be required or optional?

Is the vaccine safe and effective for pregnant, breastfeeding women and women of reproductive age?

When will a vaccine be available for children under the age of 16?

Is it the size of the child or the age of the child that determines the vaccine dosage?

Receiving a Vaccine

Where and when can I get the vaccine?

I have an underlying health condition, should I get the vaccine?

How will I get my vaccine?

Can I choose which vaccine I receive?

What side effects should I expect? Are they worse after you receive your second dose?

Are there any known side effects for people with chronic diseases?

How do you address the unknown long-term side effects question?

Is it possible to test positive for COVID-19 after having received the vaccine?

If someone already had COVID-19, do they need to get vaccinated?

How long after having COVID-19 should someone wait to get vaccinated? What if it was a serious case of COVID-19?

What do we know about COVID-19 transmission among individuals who have been vaccinated?

If a person is vaccinated, do they still need to wear a mask and social distance?

If a person is vaccinated and exposed to COVID-19, do they still need to quarantine?

Should a person get a vaccine if they are on medication that weakens the immune system, like medication for rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases?

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