Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Q&A: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe and Effective?

Military health personnel wearing a face mask and a face shield administering the COVID-19 vaccine Army Pfc. Tanner Tate, a medic assigned to the 528th Field Hospital, vaccinates a community member at the state-run, federally-supported Elizabeth High School COVID-19 Community Vaccination Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, March 5, 2021 (Photo by: Army Pfc. Jailene Bautista/5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

As the fight against COVID-19 continues, vaccination is one way to slow the spread and protect yourself. Chances are you know someone who's already been vaccinated. Still, you may be concerned about safety - and wondering when to schedule the vaccine for yourself.

"It's important for people to know that these vaccines, though produced in record time, have gone through the same safety processes as other vaccines," said Dr. John Kugler, chief of the Clinical Support Division at the Defense Health Agency. "I got the vaccine when I became eligible and encourage you to get it to help keep you and your family safe."

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to you, you may have questions. Here are some answers about the vaccine.

Question: Will I experience side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: You may. most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. You may also have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These symptoms are a sign that your body is building protection against the coronavirus. They should go away in a few days. Contact your doctor if the side effects are worrying you or don't seem to be going away after a few days. Since vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, carry a risk of allergic reactions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that your vaccine provider monitors you for 15 to 30 minutes after vaccination. In the rare case that you think you're experiencing a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Question: Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
Answer: No. It can't make you sick with COVID-19. According to the CDC, none of the authorized and recommended vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. When you do get the vaccine, though, your body will begin to build antibodies to protect you from the coronavirus.

Question: I'm pregnant. Is it safe for me to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: If you're pregnant, you may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Vaccination may reduce that risk and is available to pregnant women. Individuals should discuss with their provider when deciding whether to be vaccinated.

Question: How many shots of COVID-19 vaccine do I need?
Answer: It depends. Currently, the Janssen vaccine (also known as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) requires only a single shot. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots given at least 21 days (for Pfizer) and 28 days (for Moderna) apart. If the pandemic continues, people may need additional shots (boosters) in the future, similar to how booster shots are needed to protect against other diseases.

Question: Does it matter which COVID-19 vaccine I get?
Answer: There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines authorized and recommended for people in the U.S.:

  • Janssen vaccine (1 shot)
  • Moderna vaccine (2 shots, at least 28 days apart)
  • Pfizer vaccine (2 shots, at least 21 days apart)

"All three of these vaccines can reduce your risk of serious illness or death due to COVID-19," Kugler added. "Vaccines differ by age authorized, and in how they are produced and work. The CDC has information for patients about each vaccine."

Keep in mind, it typically takes a few weeks after your last shot for your body to build immunity to COVID-19. Once fully vaccinated, new guidelines from the CDC provide recommendations for private settings.

When in public settings, even if fully vaccinated, all individuals should continue to practice healthy habits , like wearing a mask, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, and washing your hands. If you've already had COVID-19 and recovered, you likely have some immunity. However, vaccination is still recommended to help build additional immunity against re-infection.

So, explore options for where you can go to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and be sure to check out the TRICARE COVID Vaccine page for updates. If you get the COVID-19 vaccine at a local or state health department vaccination site or a retail pharmacy, let your primary care manager know so a record of your vaccination gets included in your medical records.

Do you have more questions about vaccine safety and effectiveness? Read these COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs. Take command of your health, and do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated.

Sign up for email alerts, and keep up with TRICARE and COVID-19 updates.

You also may be interested in...

COVID-19: Get Your Second Shot

Infographic
6/22/2021
Get Your Second Shot! You're not fully vaccinated - or protected - until you receive your second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

You're not fully vaccinated - or protected - until two weeks after getting your second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines - Main Infographic

Infographic
6/9/2021
An infographic describing the COVID-19 Vaccines, How they Work and Safety Monitoring Processes

This infographic pulls all three COVID-19 topics together in one graphic: Getting to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines, How they Work and Safety Monitoring

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

Infographic
6/9/2021
Describes how the mRNA and viral vector vaccines work to educate beneficiaries about the COVID-19 vaccines.

This graphic showing how the mRNA and viral vector vaccines work to educate beneficiaries about the COVID-19 vaccines. Graphics are informational and provide facts on how they work in our bodies.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

Infographic
6/9/2021
Assures beneficiaries that the COVID-19 vaccines will not give you the virus, does not affect our DNA, and is safe.

This graphic that assures beneficiaries that the vaccines will not give you the virus, does not affect our DNA, and is safe. Graphics include a person receiving the vaccine and a comparison graphic of COVID-19 trials versus other trials.

Recommended Content:

Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccines Safety Monitoring

Infographic
6/9/2021
Graphic that assures beneficiaries that the COVID-19 vaccines are monitored for safety. Has information on how they are being reviewed. Graphics include doctors in a laboratory and a doctor with a shield fending off the virus. The MHS and TRICARE logos are on the bottom right.

Graphic that assures beneficiaries that the COVID-19 vaccines are monitored for safety. Has information on how they are being reviewed. Graphics include doctors in a laboratory and a doctor with a shield fending off the virus.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Facemask Required

Infographic
6/4/2021
COVID-19 poster showing doctors and patients in a health care setting wearing masks. The sign reads, "Masks are required in health care settings even if you're fully vaccinated. Please make sure your mask is on."

While the CDC relaxed mask requirements for vaccinated people, you're still required to wear masks in health care settings. Print this poster and put it around your facility to let patients and visitors know the requirements.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Prevent COVID-19

COVID-19 Vaccination Card Second Shot

Infographic
5/27/2021
Graphic saying that keeping track of your vaccination card is important. Includes a helpful tips section, a link to www.tricare.mil/covidvaccine, and what to do when you didn’t get your vaccination card or don’t have a copy. The TRICARE logo is on the bottom right of the page.

Keep track of your vaccination card. Tips include keeping your card on you and taking a picture of it as a backup copy.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Costs and Documentation | Coronavirus

COVID Vax Fact Children Get Vaccine

Infographic
5/19/2021
that the Pfizer vaccine is approved for children ages 12 to 15 and that children should be vaccinated. Graphic includes the TRICARE logo on the bottom right, and outlines of medical related items on the left of the page. Links include www.tricare.mil/COVIDVaccine

Graphic saying that the Pfizer vaccine is approved for children ages 12 to 15 and that children should be vaccinated. Graphic includes the TRICARE logo on the bottom right, and outlines of medical related items on the left of the page.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts

Pharmacy Options During COVID-19

Infographic
5/17/2021
This infographic describes the way your military pharmacy's operational status may change based on local COVID-19 conditions.

This Infographic describes the ways your military pharmacy's operational status may changed based on local COVID-19 conditions.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Pharmacy Operations Toolkit

Pharmacy Beneficiary Options

Infographic
5/17/2021
This Infographic describes your pharmacy options if your military pharmacy is closed due to COVID-19.

This Infographic describes your pharmacy options if your military pharmacy is closed due to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Pharmacy Operations Toolkit

Vaccinations for Adolescents Printed Letter

Infographic
5/14/2021
A graphic saying that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved for those ages 12 and older. Includes a photo of adolescents at the top of the page, has the TRICARE logo at the bottom right. Links in the content include www.TRICARE.mil/VaccineAppointments and www.Vaccines.gov.

An infographic saying that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for those ages 12 and older.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Vaccine Eligibility

Vaccinations for Adolescents Flyer

Infographic
5/14/2021
A graphic saying that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved for those ages 12 and older. Includes a photo of adolescents at the top of the page, has the TRICARE logo at the bottom right. Links in the content include www.TRICARE.mil/VaccineAppointments and www.Vaccines.gov.

An infographic saying that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for those ages 12 and older.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Vaccine Eligibility

Vaccinations for Adolescents Social Media Post

Infographic
5/14/2021
A social media graphic saying that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved for those ages 12 and over. Includes a photo of adolescents on the left of the graphic, has the TRICARE logo at the bottom right. Links in the content include www.TRICARE.mil/VaccineAppointments and www.Vaccines.gov.

A social media infographic saying that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for those ages 12 and older.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Vaccine Eligibility

Vaccines Save Lives

Infographic
5/14/2021
Polio and smallpox are almost non-existent because of vaccines. We can eliminate COVID-19 if you get vaccinated. Graphic showing that vaccines work and save lives. Includes a black and white image on the top half listing polio and smallpox on the left hand side. Includes a QR code to schedule vaccination appointments, and the TRICARE logo on the bottom right of the page.

Polio and smallpox are almost non-existent because of vaccines. We can eliminate COVID-19 if you get vaccinated. Graphic showing that vaccines work and save lives. Includes a black and white image on the top half listing polio and smallpox on the left hand side. Includes a QR code to schedule vaccination appointments, and the TRICARE logo on the bottom right of the page.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

Teleworking New Normal Get out in the Sun

Infographic
5/12/2021
get sun while teleworking

Get sun while teleworking

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Staying Resilient
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 5

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.