Is the vaccine effective?

Each vaccine has a slightly different efficacy, however each of the three available provide significant protection against COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19, while the Moderna is 94.1% effective and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is 72% effective against infection. Each vaccine also prevents a vast majority of severe illness, hospitalization, death, and transmission. (Source: Yale Medicine)

What side effects should I anticipate after getting the vaccine?

Though everyone may experience side effects differently, the majority of those receiving the COVID-19 vaccine do not experience any adverse reactions. The most common side effects are fever, chills, tiredness, or headache. At the injection site, you may experience pain, redness or swelling. Although these side effects may be unpleasant for 1-3 days, they are not dangerous. (Source: CDC.gov)

Should I take the vaccine if I have a weakened immune system or an autoimmune condition?

According to the CDC, people with weakened immune systems or autoimmune conditions may receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals with weakened immune systems should also be aware of the potential for reduced immune responses to the vaccine, as well as the need to continue following current guidance to protect themselves against COVID-19. (Source: CDC.gov)

COVID vaccines were produced at a record speed, are they safe?

While the COVID-19 vaccine was developed at record speed, that does not mean it is any less safe than other vaccines in use. No safety measures were cut in its design, testing, nor manufacturing, and comprehensive studies have shown the vaccine to be both safe and effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19. Further information regarding the vaccine manufacturing process can be found on Health and Human Services’ website.

Is it safe to get the vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding?

The CDC has recommended that women who are pregnant get vaccinated for COVID-19. Though there are not completed studies on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy, there are no known risks from the vaccines to pregnant people. Pregnant people who get infected with COVID-19 are at risk for more severe illness, such as ICU admission, being on life support, or death. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. (Source: chicago.gov)

Will employees be mandated to receive vaccinations before returning to work?

Under Illinois state law, employers can require their workers to get vaccinated, however we have not yet seen any major employers in the state do so. We encourage you to continue communicating with your company to learn its specific requirements moving forward, as each company and its Human Resources department will handle vaccination differently. (Source: Chicago Tribune)

If you are allergic to penicillin, codeine, or aspirin products, should you take the vaccine?

Individuals with existing allergies should consult their primary care physician or a healthcare professional before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. (Source: CDC.gov)

How long does the vaccine last?

While we don’t know currently how long immunity lasts from receiving the vaccine, preliminary data shows vaccine effectiveness lasting at least six months, with more data being collected every day. We will continue to monitor scientific studies as they are published and share that information with the organization. (Source: CDC.gov)

Why are kids currently unable to get the vaccine?

Children will eventually be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, however adults are currently being prioritized due to safety requirements around clinical studies involving children. All three currently-approved vaccine manufacturers have begun or plan to begin clinical trials to test their vaccines in children of varying ages to ensure all safety requirements are met. (Source: clevelandclinic.org)

Why do some vaccines require two doses while others only require one?

The simple explanation is that the two dose shots are made using a different technology than the single dose shot. Moderna and Pfizer’s shots use mRNA technology, while the Johnson and Johnson vaccine uses more traditional virus-based technology, similar to how flu shots are made. Though, it should be said, all COVID-19 vaccines are more effective than the annual flu shot. Additionally, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine can be stored in less cold temperatures than both of the mRNA vaccines require, allowing it to be used in more widespread, harder to reach communities. (Source: VCUHealth.org)

Will the vaccine work against new variations of COVID-19?

While some preliminary research suggests that the current COVID-19 vaccine has lower efficacy against some variants, they still provide protection against severe COVID-19. Further research is being done to quantify the differences, however vaccine manufacturers are also creating booster shots to improve protection against variants. (Source: mayoclinic.org)

After I receive the vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing?

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose. For those receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, this means two weeks after your second dose. For those receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, this means two weeks after your single dose. The CDC recommends continuing practicing safety guidelines until you have reached this point.

With that said, the CDC now allows for indoor gatherings of fully vaccinated people without wearing masks, travel without quarantine, as well as gathering indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (unless those individuals carry an increased risk of severe illness). Mask wearing in public is still recommended regardless of when you received your vaccination. (Source: CDC.gov)

Who is eligible for the vaccine and how do we sign up?

Vaccine eligibility continues to expand in the city of Chicago as well as around the state of Illinois. The city of Chicago is currently in Phase 1C of vaccine distribution, which qualifies the following groups for vaccination:

  • Healthcare Workers

  • Long-term care and other residential healthcare facilities

  • Non-healthcare residential settings

  • Chicagoans 65 and older

  • Frontline essential workers

  • Chicagoans age 16-64 with underlying medical conditions

  • All other essential workers

For more information on distribution and how phases are determined, visit chicago.gov.