COVID-19. This word conjures up a lot: disruption, fear, anxiety, limitations, 6 feet apart, masks, no gatherings, social distancing, no hugs or hanging out with friends, and for many death and loss.

The fight is not over.  Vaccination is one way to arrest this virus and return to some normalcy.    To reach safe levels of protection experts report we need up to 80-90% of the population vaccinated.  Many have concerns about the vaccine.  Below are some common beliefs and concerns people have about the vaccines.  I’ve also included the facts. These may speak to you and help with your decision making.

“I don’t need to get vaccinated. I am a young adult without any chronic conditions. I will be able to just fight it.” Some young people do die from COVID-19. Survivors may have long-term health issues after recovery,  that we do not fully understand.
“I’ll have better immunity from COVID-19 than from the vaccines.” Getting sick from COVID-19 can have serious health consequences and you risk spreading it to loved ones who may get very ill. There is no assurance that getting COVID-19 protects against getting it again.  We do not know how long protection lasts from getting sick or vaccinated.

Getting a vaccine is a safer choice compared to the risks of COVID-19 infection.

I worry that the vaccines are unsafe.  “They were developed too fast.” Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines.  These mRNA vaccines are new, but not unknown.  Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades.  They are developed in laboratory settings using readily available materials.  This allows vaccine development to evolve faster compared to the traditional making of vaccine.  Understanding mRNA COVID19 Vaccines

Johnson and Johnson is a viral vector vaccine.  “Viral vectors cannot cause infection with COVID-19 or with the virus used as the vaccine vector. They do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way.”

Understanding Viral Vector COVID 19 Vaccines

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully reviews all safety data from clinical trials and authorizes emergency vaccine use only when the expected benefits outweigh potential risks.” Vaccine safety


“The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews all safety data before recommending any COVID-19 vaccine for use.” Learn how the ACIP makes vaccine recommendations

Monitoring of vaccine safety is ongoing by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and FDA, and the ACIP continually takes action to address any safety concerns.  As more people are vaccinated, we learn more about any rare or long-term side effects, which are immediately addressed by the experts.

“I heard the vaccine will make me infertile.” There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects fertility or causes problems with pregnancy.  Women’s health groups, including maternal/fetal medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have issued statements in support of the vaccines.
“It will make me sick.” The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19.  There is no live virus in the vaccine.

Side effects can occur and are a sign that your body’s immune system is working.  Your arm may be sore, develop redness and/or swelling and be warm to touch – these symptoms usually go away within a week.  Some may feel tired, get a headache, have fever, chills, nausea and/or muscle aches which should go away in a few days.

Prepare for the possible need to rest and care for yourself  24-36 hours following your vaccine.

If you receive a second shot, side effects may be more intense compared to the first.  This is a sign your body is protecting you. While these side effects may be a nuisance, you will know your body is now making antibodies to fight COVID-19. And, remember, COVID-19 could be fatal.

Helpful tips to combat side effects

“The vaccines are not equal.” Currently there are 3 vaccines available in the USA:

Pfizer:  two shots; 21 days apart; 95% effective; ages 16+

Moderna:  two shots; 28 days apart; 94.1% effective; ages 18+

Johnson and Johnson:  one shot; 66.3% effective; ages 18+All vaccines provide significant protection, even after one dose, and result in a lower case and death rate from COVID-19.

It takes two weeks after vaccination for full vaccine protection.

COVID Vaccines

“A vaccine will not keep me safe.” We are seeing mutations of the COVID-19 virus.  These mutations form variants of the virus that are more infectious.  Scientists believe that the current vaccines will make infections and concurrent illness from these mutations less severe.

As the virus continues to evolve, vaccines will need to be tweaked to combat these mutations.  Updated vaccines will be needed, much like the yearly flu vaccine, to keep you well.

COVID-19 Variants and Mutations


Look at where you are getting your information from:  friends, relatives, social media or reputable sources?   Get the FACTs and Take Action!

Consider vaccination, and follow CDC guidelines to protect yourself and others:  continue to wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, and avoid large groups, indoor gatherings, and poorly ventilated spaces.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have, “Let’s have a conversation!”

University Health and Counseling Services @ 207-780-5411; University of Southern Maine Health Services

Submitted by Malinda Scannell, Nurse Practitioner


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