It's ok to feel anxiety about the COVID-19 vaccine. Below is a set of clear responses to common vaccine concerns that we hope will help you make the best decision for yourself.
I’m worried about...
Whether the vaccine is safe
“Help me understand the Omicron variant and how it’s different.”
Omicron is basically the same, but has a few key differences from Delta, and the previous variants. Here are the 3 key ways it’s different:
It looks like omicron spreads from person to person more easily. Even when you don’t have symptoms.
For Delta, it takes about 5 days after exposure before you get symptoms. For Omicron, it’s about 3 days.
The good news: it looks like Omicron is less severe than Delta. BUT that’s true mostly for boosted people. AND even if it’s less severe, if more (mostly unvaccinated) people end up in the hospital, that could still overwhelm the healthcare system.
“I’m worried that the vaccine will affect my period.”
Good news here! They’ve been looking into this in a few studies, and it looks like it might temporarily affect the one cycle when you get the vaccine, and then you’ll be back to normal.
“I just want to understand how the vaccine was developed. I’m worried that the vaccine was developed too quickly and isn’t safe.”
We can understand why it might be concerning! We really like this example that explains how they made this vaccine. Our big takeaway was that it’s not that different from past vaccines, and they’ve been looking at mRNA vaccines for a looong time.
“I’m worried about all the side effects of the vaccine.”
That’s understandable - some people have mild side effects. Side effects might include: fever, headache, fatigue, and pain in your arm where you got the vaccine, but these go away after a few days!
You might have a few more intense side effects after the second shot. These side effects are normal signs that the body is building protection.
“I don’t know about the long term effects of the vaccine, so I’m not gonna risk it”
That’s a fair concern since we are just experiencing COVID-19 now and we can’t predict the future. However, we do know what the side effects are now, and severe side effects have been very, very rare in young people.
We do know that there are long-term side effects of a COVID-19 infection, even if you have no symptoms when you were sick. The risks of long COVID are greater than the risk of side effects from the vaccine.
We’ve also been studying this type of vaccine for a long time, about 20 years.
“I’m worried that I shouldn’t get the vaccine because I’m pregnant.” “I’m worried that if I get the vaccine I won’t be able to have children.”
The bottom line: it is SAFE to get the vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding, or thinking about having children. In fact, the vaccine protects moms from getting COVID-19, and mothers may also pass on some protection against the virus to their newborns.
We totally get why people are concerned, since they initially didn’t include pregnant women in the trials. But there have been new trials that did include pregnant women, and a bunch of studies specifically checked the risk of miscarriage in women who received the vaccine versus those who didn’t get the vaccine. Put simply, they found that the vaccine had no effect on rates of miscarriage.
“I’m worried that the vaccine will alter my DNA.”
We get why you might be worried about that, but turns out - it definitely won’t! We found this funny video that explains how the vaccine works in a super simple way.
Bottom line: it won’t change your DNA, just helps you create protection in case you get Covid.
“I want to know more about long COVID.”
Here are the symptoms: some people develop a variety of mid- and long-term effects including fatigue, breathlessness, and lack of mental focus and clarity.
People who are vaccinated are less likely to get COVID-19, and therefore, less likely to get long-covid.
The research behind all this is ongoing, and we’ll continue to learn more! Here’s where we're looking for information, we like their Q&A.
The price and legal requirements of getting it
“How much will the vaccine cost? Do I need to get insurance to get it?”
Bottom line: It’s free, and you don’t need insurance!
They might ask you for your insurance, but if you don’t have it, you can still get a free vaccine. If you do have insurance, the vaccine won’t cost you anything.
Right now the most important thing is to keep everyone safe so that could be one reason that you don't need insurance to get the vaccine. If you are in college or in school, you can probably get the vaccine on campus! It should be totally free.
“I’m the only one who speaks English in my family - what’s a good 1-2 sentence way to explain the need for and benefit of the vaccine to my family?”
The vaccine helps keep everyone safe. Even if you are healthy, it protects others around you from getting infected too. It’s free, safe, and very effective!
“I want to get the vaccine but I can’t afford to take time off work.”
Many employers are supportive of employees getting vaccinated. See if you can talk to your manager or boss about getting vaccinated and any time off that you might need. Some places have cash incentives for getting vaccinated to cover your time off if you have to take it unpaid.
Many pharmacies also offer vaccinations late in the evening, you can try using vaccines.gov to find a location near you!
If you get COVID-19 you might have to take at least 5-10 days off work - more than the time off from getting the vaccine.
“Will my visa or migration/ immigration status be affected?" "What if I’m undocumented, can I still get the vaccine?"
Anyone can get a free vaccine regardless of their immigration status. You can get a vaccine even if you are not legally in the US. Your info will not be tracked. They are not supposed to ask for your status at vaccine clinics, and even if they do, just keep saying you want your vaccine. Learn more about your rights here in English, here in Spanish, and here in Haitian Creole.
The Department of Homeland Security promised that everyone will have equal access to COVID-19 vaccine sites. DHS said, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will not conduct enforcement operations at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics.”
What my friends and family will think
“Most of my friends haven’t gotten the vaccine or are against it.”
Good thing we don’t do everything our friends do ;)
We’d encourage you to consider why your friends are choosing not to get vaccinated, and do your own research - which is probably what you’re doing on this website!
“I have a lot of friends who got the vaccine and got COVID anyway. And I have friends who didn’t get the vaccine, got COVID, and were fine. So what’s the point of getting it if the outcome is similar?” “Why should I get the vaccine? I’m young and healthy and probably won’t get sick.”
COVID affects people differently! And you never know how your body will react - even if you’re perfectly healthy. Some people have mild effects from COVID while others spend weeks in ICUs. Vaccines prevent you from getting seriously ill if you do get COVID-19.
On the other hand, side effects of the vaccine are mostly mild. To be honest getting the vaccine is up to you but we do have a good preventative measure.
Also, getting the vaccine is actually a way for you to keep others safe. Vaccinated people are less likely to be asymptomatic carriers.
"I want my family to get the vaccine but don't know how to talk to them about this."
It can be hard to bring it up out of the blue, so we’ve created a few things you can share. You might try sharing the videos or social media sparks with them, or even the information on this website about the vaccine!
"I want to get the vaccine but my parents or family disapprove."
Yeah, it can be hard to go against your family. But if you are older than 18, your parents can't control your medical records so you should have the freedom to be able to get it without their legal consent.
If you’re under 18, this website and some of the information you find here might be a good thing to share with your parents.
Either way, it’s hard to go against your parents' wishes, and we can empathize that you’re in a tough spot.
I don’t trust the government or healthcare institutions
“I just don’t trust the government.”
Honestly, that’s fair. Governments have done some pretty shady/scary things in the past. BUTTT, these vaccines have been developed by medical experts in service to the public. Scientists all over the world were working together to develop the vaccine. Governments are there to distribute and provide resources - as a support. Vaccines are there if you choose to use them. The option and choice is ultimately yours.
“All the incentives make me suspicious. If it’s so great why do we need all of those?
Well initially, they didn’t have incentives, and people were scrambling to get the vaccine. Remember the loooong lines, and sold out appointments? Now that there are extra vaccines, people are offering incentives to make it easier to get vaccinated! For example, if you need to take time off work, the incentive might make it easier to do that.
“People like me have been discriminated against by the healthcare system.”
That’s a super valid concern. Unfortunately, our government doesn’t have a great track record, but in this case, human rights groups, advocacy groups, and governments are on the same page that this vaccine is good for everyone!
“I just don’t want to be told what to do!”
We get that, but we have to do things for the greater good and to protect ourselves all the time! At school you have to do what you’re told to do in class, at work you have to do tasks. And there are often consequences for ourselves or others if we don’t. In fact, you probably had to get a few vaccines to be able to go to school or travel!
“It’s in God’s hands. If I’m going to get it, I’m going to get it. If it’s my time, it’s my time.”
Definitely God is protecting us but we hope They would want us also to take precautions to protect ourselves too - like stopping at the stop light or wearing a seatbelt or eating healthy foods to live longer lives. And when we protect ourselves, we protect others too, like the wonderful grandmas who we may pass on the street or in our homes.