Now that vaccines for COVID-19 are becoming available, many people have questions about whether they should get vaccinated and what to expect when they do.
These vaccines are an important part of the effort to protect our communities from the coronavirus. Kaiser Permanente recommends that people get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and able to do so.
Katie Sharff, MD, an infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest, answers questions and provides clarification about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Yes. The authorized vaccines underwent rigorous review by scientists, clinicians, and federal agencies before being distributed to the public. While the vaccines themselves are new, the process used to make them is not. mRNA vaccines, like those used for COVID-19, were discovered in the 1990s, so we have many years of research demonstrating that this type of vaccine is safe.
These vaccines do not contain the live virus and cannot give you COVID-19. They take advantage of our bodies’ natural immune response to generate protection.
Side effects are typically mild and are similar to other vaccines. They indicate that your body is responding and building immunity to the virus.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective?
Yes. The approved vaccines have been shown to be 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness. In accordance with guidelines, Kaiser Permanente is giving 2 doses of the vaccine several weeks apart. The first dose primes your immune system to start building a response, and the second dose boosts your immune system to give you longer-lasting immunity.
After I get the vaccine, can I go back to normal life?
Even after vaccination, there is still a small chance of infection, and it may be possible to transmit the virus even if you’re not sick. Therefore, it’s important to continue using all available tools to keep yourself safe and to prevent spreading the virus in your community. Continue to wear a mask, keep your distance from others, and wash your hands.
How can I get the vaccine?
Vaccines are in short supply, and every state is distributing them differently. Kaiser Permanente is following state and federal guidelines on who is eligible for the vaccine. We are committed to providing expedient and equitable COVID-19 vaccine access and are actively working with community partners and local officials to get eligible people vaccinated.
For the latest information on the vaccine and to determine whether you are eligible in your area, visit kp.org/covidvaccine.