Life after getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Life after getting the COVID-19 vaccine

In a little more than a year, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have been developed, tested, approved and are going into the arms of patients and frontline caregivers nationwide.

As the rollout continues, and more and more people receive both shots needed for protection from the virus, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.

But before life returns to normal, a lot of work remains. Dr. Minhaj Husain, infectious disease expert with Aurora Health Care, answers some common questions facing those who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.

Are there any long-term side effects from the vaccine?

Currently, there’s no data that shows any lasting long-term effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. However, we won’t know for sure until time passes and more data about the vaccine is gathered. The immediate side effects, including pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache and muscle pain, chills and nausea, are mostly mild and go away within a few days.

I’ve already had COVID-19 and have recovered. Do I need to get the vaccine?

Yes. Due to COVID’s severe health risks and the possibility of getting infected again, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. Right now, we don’t know how long recovered patients have natural immunity from COVID-19. However, if you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Recovered patients should talk with their doctor before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

I’ve gotten both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Can I still spread the virus?

It’s not clear yet whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus to unvaccinated adults and children, even if you don’t get sick yourself. It’s early in the vaccination process and we need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide.

Does getting vaccinated protect me from COVID-19 variants?

From what we know so far, it appears that the immune response generated by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is more than likely to protect people against COVID-19 and its variants. However, it’s important to note that we are still learning more about the variants and the effectiveness of vaccines against them

Do I still need to wear a mask and socially distance?

Yes. Because we’re learning in real-time how vaccinated people may or may not still spread the virus, continuing to follow COVID-19 safeguards is the best way to ensure more people who aren’t vaccinated yet don’t get infected. That means we must stay diligent by wearing masks in public, avoiding crowds, staying six feet away from others and hand washing. Keeping up with these safety precautions is key as more people get vaccinated and will help us defeat this virus together.

Check out our COVID-19 Info Center to learn more about the virus.

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  1. I have not had the vaccine yet
    I am concerned about my allergies. Will these affect me when I get the vaccine.
    I am allergic to biaxin, tetracycline and sulfa.

    Please respond. I will ask my doctor as well.

    Thank you

  2. I had the first Moderna vaccine on Monday. Several hours after receiving it, I became ill with fever (102.5), chills, headache, cough, food didn’t taste the same, joint pain and fatigue. I had COVID last April and I felt like I had all the symptoms in a condensed time frame. I’m not sure I want to take the second dosage. I’m also have more asthma symptoms. I’m concerned about the long term damage this may have done.

  3. I am part of the 1b over 65 With type2 Diabetes’s I have registered for the vaccine on several occasions but cannot get scheduled for the shot . I am a essential worker from the court system in Cook County and still cannot get registered for the shot are they waiting for the lower level of vaccine to be approved before scheduling what is considered the minority population.,because it seems that by the time we are notified about availability the schedule is already full!!

  4. Nice article, Matt. Great information for our team members!

  5. Nice article, Matt! Great information for AAH team members!

  6. I have recently read an article in Science magazine studying Antibody Enhanced Infection for the Zika virus. Is there any data or study of AEI as a possible vaccination side effect for COVID-19?

    • James its unlikely due to the high neutralizing antibody titers produced by either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, probably due to the fact that these vaccines (and others) use mRNA designed to encode a “prefusion” version of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

      Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) occurs when low-potency antibodies bind to, but do not neutralize, viruses and direct their uptake into, for example, macrophages or other cells bearing Fc receptors, to which the viruses then reproduce inside the cells. So far, SARS-CoV-2 does not show to infect macrophages like Dengue or Zika, so there’s significantly less reason to worry. It’s also associated with a “Th2” dominant immune response; studies on the covid vaccines show a “Th1” dominant immune response, which is another reason to NOT worry about antibody-dependent enhancement.

      Best advice is to just get the vaccine.

  7. I’ll Worry about what to do after the Vaccine after I get it. By the way when will I be contacted about receiving it.
    PS I would like a response

  8. I am 82 years old and a retired RN. It is time for my annual physical exam. My Dr. is Dr. David Olmsted. Can I please be scheduled for my exam and C-19 vaccine at the same time soon. Thank You.

  9. I would like to have COVID-19 vaccine first and second doses please Thank you !!

  10. I have had both vaccinations. If I want to travel by plane will I need to be tested or if by showing my card for proof that I was vaccinated will be enough. And if I do, will it show that I have covid? I’m not sure how this will work with airlines.
    Thank you.

  11. My personal anecdotal experience and conversations with people in my sphere of influence:
    1) – My wife and I have had the first Moderna shot. My wife had Covid in Sept. 2020, I never contracted Covid;
    2) – My wife had a reaction to the vaccination, I did not;
    3) – We were scheduled to travel out-of country in April, 2020, but it was postponed until April, 2021 and we have to decide wether to travel now or postpone again;
    My personal opinion based on the current situation and anecdotal information:
    1) – Some people, a small percentage, will have an adverse reaction to the vaccine, but it will be less severe and far shorter lasting with far fewer long term effects than contracting Covid-19, therefore you should be better off taking the vaccine rather than risking getting the disease;
    2) – Very few people have died after taking the vaccine, usually those with advanced age and severe underlying conditions, but many people have died from Covid-19;
    3) – If you are waiting for life to return to normal, there is now a new normal, just like the new normal that occurred after 9/11, so adapt to the changes we must all except;

    And finally, we will get through this and survive, hang in there, think positive, do the best you can with the circumstances we have been dealt, and practice best safe practices as outlined by the CDC. Good luck to us all.

  12. Some personal observations regarding all the above comments;
    1) – my wife and I have each had the first Moderna Covid vaccination, my wife had Covid in September, 2020, but I did not;
    2) – my wife had an adverse reaction to the vaccination, but I did not, anecdotally, most of our friends have just had a sore arm, but a few have had adverse reactions. Overall, the reactions to the vaccine are are less severe, but not trivial, and less severe when compared to the disease;
    3) – we were scheduled to travel out-of country in April 2020, but were postponed until April 2021. Now we have to decide to travel or postpone again, and I feel that it is better to give it more time for vaccinations to take effect;
    4) – CDC guide lines are that if you travel, then you will either have to take a Covid test within 3 days of returning to the USA, and test negative, or demonstrate with documentation that you have recovered from Covid-19. For reasons that I cannot explain, neither proof of vaccination, nor proof of antibodies currently satisfies this requirement;
    5) – There is a new normal now, similar but different from the new normal we experienced after 9/11. We will get through this collectively as a society, we just have to adapt as quickly as possible and carry on.

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About the Author

Matt Queen
Matt Queen

Matt Queen, health enews contributor, is a communication coordinator at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He is a former TV sports anchor and journalist with extensive public relations experience across the health care spectrum. Outside of work, Matt enjoys watching sports (of course), cooking, gardening, golfing and spending time with his wife and two young children.