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Get the Facts about the COVID-19 Vaccine

As the COVID-19 vaccine begins arriving in Washington and at Overlake Medical Center, there are several questions and misconceptions about the vaccine. So we brought these questions and concerns to Edward Leonard, MD, infectious disease specialist at Overlake.

The side effects are reported to be pretty severe—are the side effects worth getting the vaccine?

Dr. Leonard: The side effects of the vaccines are thought to be similar to what patients have reported from the newest shingles vaccine. The most significant side effects reported from the vaccine are fatigue, headache and muscle aches. These symptoms are related to the body mounting an immune response to the vaccine and should be short lived. Use of anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or Tylenol can help reduce the symptoms. The benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh the potential side effects a patient can develop after receiving the vaccine.

True or False: I don’t have to wear my mask anymore after getting the vaccine.

Dr. Leonard: FALSE. Receiving the vaccine does not allow one to stop wearing a mask. Mask usage is to prevent the spread of droplets that can carry COVID-19, and also provides an additional layer of protection to a patient. In addition, mask use has the additional benefit of reducing the spread of other respiratory viruses, including influenza.

I’ve had allergic reactions to vaccines in the past—can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Dr. Leonard: Yes. The components of the COVID-19 vaccine are different from other vaccines, so the risk of allergic reaction to these vaccines is low.

True or False: I already had COVID-19, I don’t need to get the vaccine.

Dr. Leonard: Likely TRUE. As with other infections, patients do develop immunity to the infection. What we do not know is how long the immunity lasts and how strong the immunity is against COVID-19. The vaccine will help augment the immune response against the virus.

I never get the flu vaccine, why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Dr. Leonard: We ALWAYS recommend getting the influenza vaccine to help reduce the risk of getting influenza, and if a person vaccinated ends up developing influenza, the disease will be less severe in that patient. Likewise with COVID-19, we would strongly recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccination for the same reasons.

Please note: Because initial supplies are limited and for prioritized groups, the COVID-19 vaccine is not available for the general public at this time. We will share information to the community as soon as it is available. Check our COVID-19 vaccine information page regularly for updates.