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Now that the COVID-19 vaccine has become more widely available, many patients are wondering: Should I get the vaccine?

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from our patients regarding COVID-19 vaccination:

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes. At the time of writing, approximately 95 million people in the US (about 28% of the population) have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and 140 million people (42% of the population) have received at least one dose.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The most common side effects are headache, fever, and chills. These side effects are normal and indicate that the body is developing an immune response to COVID-19. The symptoms will usually resolve within 1-2 days.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant or if I may be pregnant soon?

At this time, pregnant women are eligible for vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccine was not tested in pregnant women. However, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined over 35,000 women who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine during pregnancy and found no safety concerns. The CDC currently recommends that women who are pregnant or who are planning pregnancy talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits.

Are there risks if I contract COVID-19 during pregnancy?

Yes. Patients who contract COVID-19 during pregnancy are more likely to have a severe illness and have higher rates of hospitalization, need for intensive care, and need for special equipment to breathe (such as a ventilator). Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 may also be at higher risk for pregnancy complications, including preterm delivery.

Will my fertility treatment be delayed if I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

No. There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine impacts fertility treatment.

Is there a particular time in pregnancy that is best for vaccination?

There is no evidence that a particular time in pregnancy is best.

Will the vaccine protect my baby from COVID-19?

Initial studies have shown that women who were vaccinated in pregnancy can pass antibodies to the baby, which may help protect the baby from developing severe illness from COVID-19.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine has no impact on fertility.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

The vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are mRNA vaccines. These vaccines work by telling our bodies how to make the spike protein, which is a protein on the outside of the COVID-19 virus. When we receive the vaccine, our cells take in the mRNA and use it to produce the spike protein. When our immune cells come in to contact with the spike protein, they mount an immune response and produce antibodies to the spike protein. If we are exposed to COVID-19 in the future, then our bodies will immediately recognize the virus and prevent us from developing severe illness.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. The vaccine does not contain the COVID-19 virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine impact my DNA?

No. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines do not enter the cell nucleus, so they do not impact your DNA. Furthermore, after the mRNA is used to make proteins, the cells destroy the mRNA. So, the mRNA is only in the body for a short period of time.

What about the J&J/Jansen vaccine?

The J&J/Jansen vaccine also triggers the body to make antibodies to COVID-19’s spike protein, but it does it in a different way. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine uses an adenovirus that is not capable of reproducing. The adenovirus contains the DNA that generates the spike protein. When you receive the vaccine, our cells take in the adenovirus and then use the DNA to make mRNA, which then makes the spike protein. Our immune system then makes antibodies to the spike protein so that we can recognize it in the future.

The J&J/Jansen vaccine has the advantage of needing only one dose. Additionally, unlike the mRNA vaccines that require ultra-cold storage, the J&J/Jansen vaccine can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

I have heard about some people having serious side effects after the COVID-19 vaccine. Should I be worried about this?

A small number of people (approximately one in a million) who have the received the J&J/Jansen vaccine have developed a serious condition causing a blood clot in the brain. While serious, this condition is very rare.

Where can I find more information?

Here are some links for additional information:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/keythingstoknow.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html

https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding