As Texas families head into the busy fall season, the best way to keep our communities protected against COVID-19 is for everyone to be fully vaccinated and boosted. More than 220 million Americans have been fully vaccinated. My recommendation is that if you or a family member have not been vaccinated, get vaccinated as soon as you can to keep yourself—and your community—healthy.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe? Yes. COVID-19 vaccines have undergone—and continue to undergo—the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. And 96% of all practicing U.S. physicians have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Can you get the virus from the vaccine? No. The vaccine does not contain the live virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
Did they rush the testing to get the vaccine approved quickly? No. Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. This includes studies for vaccines like the flu. This work made it possible for scientists to create the COVID-19 vaccine. Also, typically testing and manufacturing of vaccines are done in sequence, or sequentially. But for COVID-19 vaccines, testing and manufacturing were done in parallel, which saved a lot of time, thereby allowing much quicker availability.
What do I need to know about the updated COVID-19 boosters? The updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters are different from earlier COVID-19 vaccines because they are designed to protect against the original strain of COVID-19 plus the omicron variant.
The boosters are a single dose that uses the same mRNA technology as the original Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. People can get the updated booster as long as it has been at least two months since they completed any primary COVID-19 vaccine series or gotten a previous booster. Pfizer’s updated COVID-19 vaccine booster is available for people 12 years and older; Moderna’s is available for people 18 and older.
Should you get vaccinated if you already had COVID-19? Yes. Evidence shows that people can have added protection by getting vaccinated after having COVID-19. Evidence also shows that people who have already had COVID-19 and do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get vaccinated after their recovery are. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about when you should get the vaccine.
Should you get vaccinated if you are trying to get pregnant? Yes. It is recommended for people who
are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future. COVID-19 can make pregnant people very sick and lead to an increased risk of complications that can affect pregnancy. There is currently no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine causes fertility problems. Recent studies show that antibodies produced after COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy are transferred to the newborn, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization in infants younger than 6 months.
What are the short-term vaccine side effects? As with other vaccines, some people have experienced pain at the injection site, fever, chills, tiredness, headache, and joint and muscle pain. These typically last one to three days. The risks of serious long-term health problems from getting COVID-19 are much greater than the rare risks of serious side effects of the vaccine.
What are the long-term vaccine side effects? Vaccines have been safely given to billions of people worldwide for decades with no long-term side effects, saving countless lives.
Where can I get vaccinated? At local pharmacies and your doctor’s office. You can also visit CovidVaccine.texas.gov or call 1-833-832-7067 to find a vaccine near you.
How much does it cost, and do I need insurance? The vaccine is free for everyone, and no insurance or ID is required.
Can you get the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same time? Yes, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines, including the flu shot, without any gaps.
*CDC Data, June 2022
Dr. Farris Blount Jr. is a family medicine doctor in Houston, Texas, and is affiliated with Medical Associates of Houston. He has been in practice for more than 30 years.