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COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection. Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity, including:
- Pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given.
- Joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle pain
- Feeling unwell
- Swollen lymph nodes
Currently, several COVID-19 vaccines are in clinical trials. The FDA will review the results of these trials before approving COVID-19 vaccines for use. But because there is an urgent need for COVID-19 vaccines and the FDA's vaccine approval process can take months to years, the FDA will first be giving emergency use authorization to COVID-19 vaccines based on less data than is normally required. The data must show that the vaccines are safe and effective before the FDA can give emergency use authorization. Vaccines with FDA emergency use authorization include:
READ MORE FAQ with Mayo Clinic Here.
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus with symptoms. This vaccine is for people age 16 and older. It requires two injections given 21 days apart. The second dose can be given up to six weeks after the first dose, if needed.
- Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is 94% effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus with symptoms. This vaccine is for people age 18 and older. It requires two injections given 28 days apart. The second dose can be given up to six weeks after the first dose, if needed.
- Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. In clinical trials, this vaccine was 66% effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus with symptoms — as of 14 days after vaccination. The vaccine also was 85% effective at preventing severe disease with the COVID-19 virus — at least 28 days after vaccination. This vaccine is for people age 18 and older. It requires one injection. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended a pause in distributing this vaccine due to rare blood clotting reactions in a small number of people who have gotten the vaccine.
- What is the concern about the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?
- A rare and severe blood clotting reaction has occurred in a small number of the nearly 7 million people who have gotten the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. These reactions happened six to 13 days after vaccination. As a result, the FDA and CDC have recommended a pause in distributing this vaccine. Evidence of these blood clots haven’t been reported in the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.