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Published on August 20, 2021

Woman getting covid vaccine shot

I Got the COVID-19 Vaccine – Now What?

Congratulations — you made the important decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine — a decision that will protect both you and others. However, you might still have questions. Below we offer common questions you might have that have been answered and supported by Avera experts.

What if the COVID-19 Vaccine Gives Me Side Effects?

Side effects generally are only mild and temporary, like headache, muscle aches, fatigue, mild fever and possible pain at the injection site — which may be similar to other vaccines you’ve taken in the past. Side effects typically last only a day or two. Very few people are expected to experience serious side effects and it is impossible to get the COVID-19 virus from the vaccine.

“Symptoms like these are a result of the body’s immune response and show that your body is working to build immunity,” said David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality.

What if I Don’t Have Any Side Effects?

Not everyone will experience side effects. If you don’t have any, it means you are one of the lucky ones. Not having symptoms does not mean that the vaccine is not working.

Can I Expect Any Long-term Side Effects From the Vaccine?

The way the vaccines are designed means that there will be very low risk for long-term side effects.

Why do I Need to Have a Second Dose?

One approved vaccine is a one-dose vaccine; two are two-dose vaccines. If you get a two-dose vaccine, getting both doses is very important. The first dose is a “priming” dose giving you about 50% immunity while the second dose sets in immunity to around 94–95%. You will not develop sufficient immunity to COVID-19 without both doses. Vaccines from different manufacturers should not be mixed.

Is It Safe to Get the COVID-19 and Flu Vaccines at Once?

Yes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are no contraindications to completing both vaccinations at one time or separately. Contraindications are things that would make a treatment unrecommended.

Should I Still Get the Flu Shot?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you from getting the flu. Like COVID-19, influenza can result in serious complications and lost time from work. If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet this season, there’s still time to benefit from one as the flu season extends into the spring months. 

How Long Will My Immunity to COVID-19 Last?

It’s still unknown how long immunity lasts after getting the vaccine. Additional doses are currently available to those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. As early as this fall, it is likely that other vaccinated adults will be encouraged to get an additional dose as well.

Will It Be Safe For Me To Gather With Friends and Family Again?

After you, your family members and friends are vaccinated, it will be much safer to gather together. The vaccine is now available to everyone 5 and older.

Precautions are still important; we should all remain aware of updates from the CDC.

Do I Still Need to Wear a Mask and Social Distance?

We are counting on the COVID-19 vaccine to be the most effective measure against the spread of the virus. Although the vaccine does a good job giving you personal immunity, it is unclear whether you might still be able to pass on COVID-19 to others.

Even as more people are vaccinated, it’s important to follow the CDC’s recommendations on masking. You should also:

You can expect hospitals and clinics to continue to follow these guidelines, too. Staff will still wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and visitation will be limited in some health care facilities.

When Will COVID-19 End?

“The more people who get the vaccine, the closer we get to ‘back to normal.’ As a result, we’ll see reduced illness and hospitalizations due to this virus,” said Basel.

While masking and social distancing are important, vaccinating a large number of people is the only way this virus will get under control. The ultimate goal in ending this pandemic is by vaccinating as many individuals as possible against COVID-19.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, including where you can find a vaccination site, or get COVID-19-related information about what to do if you get sick or need to be tested.

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