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COVID Vaccine Facts

We understand that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated once a COVID-19 vaccine is available in the United States. While these vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. Safety is a top priority and no steps are skipped during the clinical trial process for COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine safety checks are in-progress and will continue as long as a vaccine is available.

Five Things to Know

1. Safety

No steps are skipped during the clinical trial process for COVID-19 vaccine.

  • The FDA authorizes vaccines after they pass three phases of clinical trials
  • These clinical trials require thousands of people and months of data
  • The vaccine development is faster than normal because some steps are being done at the same time instead of one after another

Vaccine safety checks are in-progress and will continue as long as a vaccine is available.

  • When a vaccine trial is paused or cancelled, it is normal and means the safety checks are working
  • Vaccine recalls are rare. If a recall is issued, the FDA and CDC will let health officials and the media know immediately
  • After the vaccine is authorized, FDA and CDC will continue to monitor it using three federal safety systems that are already in place

2. mRNA Vaccines

The two vaccine candidates that have completed enrolling Phase III clinical studies in the United States were developed using a new vaccine technology employing messenger RNA (mRNA). When authorized or approved, these will be the first vaccines approved using mRNA technology.

  • mRNA vaccines are being held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines in the United States. The only COVID-19 vaccines the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will make available for use in the United States (by approval or emergency use authorization) are those that meet these standards.
  • mRNA vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19. They do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.
  • mRNA vaccines do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our genetic material (DNA) is kept. The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions.

Learn more at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

3. Benefits of Getting COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 vaccination will help keep you from getting COVID-19

  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccination will be a safer way to help build protection

  • COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. And if you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you.
  • Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. But experts don’t know how long this protection lasts.
  • The risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.

COVID-19 vaccination will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic

  • Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and everyday preventative actions will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
  • Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

For more information, see Facts about COVID-19 vaccines.

4. Number of Doses

The first COVID-19 vaccines will require two shots. The first shot starts building protection, but everyone will have to receive the second shot to get the most protection the vaccine can offer.

5. Availability and Cost

A small amount of a COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be available in suburban Cook County before the end of 2020. CCDPH is required to follow federal guidelines for distribution. The vaccine will be offered at no cost to all suburban Cook County residents who want it as soon as larger quantities become available.