Many U.S. adults have safely received a COVID-19 vaccine. This has been done, in part, thanks to the work happening at free and charitable clinics.
As you know, there are still many areas in our country where people have a tough time getting COVID-19 tests and vaccines. COVID-19 hits them hardest. You're there on the frontlines trying to get the vaccines into the arms of the people who need them the most. Through it all, your heart and hard work have not gone unseen.
You’ve shown up every day.
You remember the forgotten. You treat the sick. You work tirelessly for those who need you the most.
We support this life-changing work that you do. Your patients and co-workers might have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. You might have them too.
The tools below will help answer those questions. You can use them to improve what you know about the vaccines. They can also help guide your conversations with people who are still on the fence about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Free Clinic Workers Share Their COVID-19 Experience
COVID-19 Vaccine Questions from the Field
Your colleagues had questions — we have answers. Here’s what fellow staff and volunteers at Free and Charitable Clinics nationwide also want to know about COVID-19 vaccines.
- Do the COVID-19 vaccines affect DNA?
- No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with DNA in any way. All authorized vaccines in the U.S. deliver instructions (genetic material) to cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, this material never touches or even talks to DNA. These instructions tell your cells how to make proteins that look like the virus—almost like sending out a ‘model’ for your immune system to follow.
- Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
- No. None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. contain a live virus that causes COVID-19, so they cannot make you sick with the disease. These vaccines teach your cells how to make proteins that look like the virus. You might experience some symptoms (like a fever) as your immune system responds to these new proteins, but it is just training to fight a real virus if it’s ever exposed to it!
- Do I need the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
- Yes. You should get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve previously had COVID-19. Some studies show that vaccination strongly boosts protection in people who’ve contracted COVID-19 in the past. If you currently have COVID-19, you can get a vaccine as soon as your quarantine ends. However, if you were treated for COVID-19 with antibodies or ‘convalescent plasma,’ you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Do I need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if I am young and healthy?
- Yes. Being young and healthy doesn’t offer immunity to COVID-19. Young people who catch the virus can still get serious long-term symptoms or die from the disease. Even if you don’t develop any symptoms from COVID-19, you can still pass it along to other people who are older or at higher risk, including friends and family members. To protect these vulnerable groups, everyone needs to get vaccinated, even those who may otherwise be young and healthy.
- What does FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) mean?
- In a public health emergency, manufacturing and approval of vaccines can be streamlined through an EUA. An EUA does not affect vaccine safety, because it does not change how we research and develop vaccines. Instead, it speeds up how we mass produce them and deal with the paperwork. Companies pursuing an EUA can mass produce their vaccines during the testing process while they await authorization, which means that they can send out their vaccines as soon as the paperwork clears review.
- How were COVID-19 vaccines made so quickly?
- Scientists were able to make COVID-19 vaccines so quickly because they had decades of research to build on and a lot of resources at their disposal. Due to the EUA, manufactures could mass produce vaccines while they awaited approval, and regulators brought the review of these vaccine applications right to the top of their to-do lists. This teamwork allowed COVID-19 vaccines to be developed, tested, and authorized in record time.
- Is the vaccine safe for adolescents and children?
- Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for their authorized age groups: 16 and up for Moderna and J&J, and 12 and up for Pfizer. Like adults, younger people may have some side effects after COVID-19 vaccination. These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine.
- Can pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Yes. If you are pregnant, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can lower that risk. There are not any known safety concerns, however the available information is limited for pregnant people. You might want to talk to your healthcare provider to help you decide whether to get vaccinated and assess your personal level of risk based on your location and level of activity.
- Can women who are breastfeeding get the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Yes. Lactating people can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines have not been studied extensively on lactating people, but there are no known safety concerns. Recent reports even show that breastfeeding people who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk. These antibodies can help protect their babies in the future, but more data is needed to see just how much protection is gained.
- Can I get the vaccine if I want to have children someday?
- Yes. If you want to get pregnant now or in the future, you can still get a COVID-19 vaccine. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.
- Does the vaccine have a magnetic effect?
- No. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including in the arm where you received the shot.
- Does the vaccine have a microchip?
- No, the vaccine does not contain a microchip. There might be trackers on vaccine shipment boxes to protect them from theft, but there are no trackers in the vaccines themselves. State governments record where you got the vaccine and which kind you received by using a computerized database to make sure that you get your doses on time. As proof of vaccination, you will also get a card showing that you have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Latest COVID-19 Vaccine News and Research
We’ve compiled the latest updates, created relevant infographics and shared other resources for you to access and share about the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Unmask the Facts: Weekly Round-up of the Latest COVID-19 News and Research
- How MRNA Vaccines Work
- How NRVV Vaccines Work
- COVID-19 Questions and Answers
- Adverse Effects
- EUA v FDA Approval
- Pregnancy Trifold
- Immunocompromised Trifold
- Infertility Trifold
- Adolescents Trifold
- What it Means to be Vaccinated
- Motivational Interviewing Cheat Sheet
- Talking Points Cheat Sheet
- Pediatric Guide
- Navigating the Infodemic
- COVID-19 Question and Answer Session Videos
- Protecting Your Clinics: New OSHA Requirements and Vaccine Mandates
- Infectious disease expert, Stephen Schrantz, MD (University of Chicago Medicine assistant professor of medicine), and Breanna Lathrop (Chief Operations Officer at Good Samaritan Health Center in Atlanta) lead a 75-minute online discussion about meeting new OSHA requirements and the possibility of mandating vaccines in your clinics. This session includes an epidemiological update on COVID-19, tips for creating your written COVID-19 plan (the new OSHA requirement), and conversations about mandating vaccinations for staff and volunteers.
- Long COVID: The Long and Short of It
- Infectious disease expert, Dr. Stephen Schrantz, MD, University of Chicago Medicine assistant professor of medicine, and Breanna Lathrop, Good Samaritan Health Center chief operations officer in Atlanta, lead a 75-minute online discussion about Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC)— better known as “Long COVID.” This session includes an epidemiological update on the lasting effects of COVID, an overview of long COVID symptoms, and open discussions with other healthcare workers in the FCC sector about how to care for COVID ‘long-haulers.’
- Variants, Vaccines and Breakthrough Infections
- Infectious disease expert, Stephen Schrantz, MD, University of Chicago Medicine assistant professor of medicine, and Breanna Lathrop, Good Samaritan Health Center chief operations officer in Atlanta, lead a 75-minute online discussion about COVID-19 variants and how they affect authorized vaccines and what this means for breakthrough infections. This session includes an epidemiological update on the variants, an overview of vaccine effectiveness against these variants, and tips to help you talk to your colleagues and patients about these new developments.
- Addressing COVID-19 in Adolescent Populations
- Pediatric infectious disease expert, Stephen Schrantz, MD, University of Chicago Medicine assistant professor of medicine, leads a 75-minute online discussion about COVID-19 in adolescent populations, which includes a review of their infection rates, vaccination rates, and some rare side effects that might follow their vaccination.
- Self-Care for Caregivers during COVID-19
- Infectious disease expert, Stephen Schrantz, MD (Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of Chicago Medicine), and Glenn Goss, DSW (Senior Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Technical Advisor at Americares), lead a 75-minute online discussion about addressing stress and fatigue in free and charitable clinics. This session includes an epidemiological update on COVID-19, strategies for practicing self-care during COVID-19, and time to discuss best practices with trained experts.
- Care for the Caregivers: Addressing Stress and Burnout during COVID-19
- Infectious disease expert, Stephen Schrantz, MD (University of Chicago Medicine assistant professor of medicine), and Breanna Lathrop (Chief Operations Officer at Good Samaritan Health Center in Atlanta), lead a 75-minute online discussion about supporting staff and volunteers through the pandemic. This session includes an epidemiological update on COVID-19, tips for keeping staff and volunteers updated and supported, and a time to strategize about best practices for maintaining staff morale.
- Protecting Your Clinics: New OSHA Requirements and Vaccine Mandates
Motivational Interviewing Pt 1: Health Workers Can Build COVID-19 Vaccine Trust through Motivational Interviewing - Part 1
Motivational Interviewing Pt 2: Health Workers Can Build COVID-19 Vaccine Trust through Motivational Interviewing - Part 2
Disclaimer: This project was funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant number 1 NU50CK000588-01-00. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this resource center do not necessarily represent the policy of CDC or HHS and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.