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COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended for everyone 12 years of age and older.

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Questions about COVID-19 vaccines? Get information to make a decision that’s right for you. | ¿Tiene preguntas acerca de las vacunas contra COVID-19?

Vaccine Booster Doses

How long does protection against the COVID-19 vaccine last?

It’s not yet known how long COVID-19 vaccine protection lasts. Recent studies show that protection against the virus may decrease over time. This reduction in protection has led the CDC to recommend certain groups get a booster shot at least 6 months after completing their initial vaccination series.

Do I need to get a booster dose of the vaccine?

Booster doses are common for many vaccines. A “booster dose” is a supplemental vaccine dose given to people when a person has completed their vaccine series and protection against the virus has decreased over time. The booster dose is intended to boost your immune system for better, long lasting protection. Safety data from other countries and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that booster and additional doses are safe.

DHS recommends that the following people are eligible to get a booster dose if they received a:

  • Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago.
  • Pfizer or Moderna primary vaccine series at least 6 months ago and are:
    • 65 years and older
    • 18 years and older and live in long-term care settings
    • 18 years and older and have underlying medical conditions, such as:
      • Cancer
      • Chronic kidney disease
      • Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
      • Dementia or other neurological conditions
      • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
      • Down syndrome
      • Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension)
      • HIV infection
      • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
      • Liver disease
      • Overweight and obesity
      • Pregnancy
      • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
      • Smoking, current or former
      • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
      • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
      • Substance use disorders
    • 18 years and older and live or work in high-risk settings, such as:
      • First responders (health care workers, firefighters, police, staff at congregate care facilities)
      • Education staff (teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
      • Food and agriculture workers
      • Manufacturing workers
      • Corrections workers
      • S. Postal Service workers
      • Public transit workers
      • Grocery store workers

For more information about booster doses, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-dose.htm

Does it matter which booster shot I get?

The choice is yours on which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster shot. You may choose to stick with the original vaccine received, or you may prefer to get a different booster.

Kids and COVID-19

Is the COVID-19 vaccine available for children?

The CDC recommends that children and adolescents age 5 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for children and adolescents age 5 and up, as a 2-dose series taken 3 weeks apart. The dose for children aged 5-11 is one-third of the dosage of the vaccine for older adolescents and adults. For more information on vaccines for children and teens visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html.

Why should my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 has become one of the top 10 causes of pediatric death, and tens of thousands of children and teens have been hospitalized with COVID-19. While children and adolescents are typically at lower risk than adults of becoming severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, it is still possible. Medical experts are also learning about the long-term effects of COVID-19 in children. Getting your child vaccinated helps to protect your child, your family, and your community. Find more COVID-19 resources for parents and guardians (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/parents.htm).

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?

Yes. Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Before being authorized for children, scientists and medical experts completed their review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials of thousands of children. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was rigorously tested and reviewed, and over 11 million adolescents ages 12-17 have already safely received the COVID-19 vaccine. By getting vaccinated, your child will be protected from getting sick and reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others. Like adults, children may have some side effects after COVID-19 vaccination. These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 12 and older (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p02990.pdf).

When should my child stay home from school?

Your child should stay home if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had a positive COVID-19 test. Children who are not fully vaccinated should also stay home if a parent, guardian, sibling, or other household contact is sick and has had a positive COVID-19 test. Children who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine if they come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

How may my child get tested for COVID-19?

Regular testing, along with COVID-19 vaccination, helps protect students, staff, family members, and others who are at risk for getting seriously sick from COVID-19. Schools may offer free, regular COVID-19 testing for students and staff. Families can also find COVID-19 tests at a health clinic, local pharmacy, public health departments, etc. Testing programs help keep students in the classroom and allow them to take part in the other activities they love.

What should I do if my child tests positive for COVID-19?

Contact your school to allow for contact tracing if the test happened outside of school. Make sure to isolate your child immediately and to follow guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your household. This means your child should not go to school, socialize, or participate in any extracurricular activities. Ask your school about virtual learning options and about their current policies for when your child can return to school.

When should my child quarantine?

Quarantine if you have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19, unless you have been fully vaccinated. Quarantine should last 14 days after the last contact with a person who has COVID-19. Watch for symptoms for COVID during this time. If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact your local public health authority or health care provider.

People who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested 5-7 days after their exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative.

Should my child get a flu shot?

Yes. Experts are worried about an active flu season now that kids are back to school. All kids 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine can be given alongside other routine vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccine.

What are other ways I can help keep my child safe?

The CDC recommends universal  masking indoors by all individuals in areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission. Talk to your kids and make sure they know how important masks are for protecting themselves and others from getting sick. Help your kids learn how to use masks properly. Handwashing is very important. Teach your child how to wash their hands properly and for how long. Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to wash hands for the full 20 seconds.

Flu Vaccine and COVID-19

Do I need a flu vaccine if I wear a mask and practice physical distancing?

Yes. Wearing a mask and physical distancing can help protect you and others from respiratory viruses, like flu and the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the best way to reduce your risk of flu illness and its potentially serious complications is for everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine each year. By getting a flu vaccine, you may also be protecting people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

Can I get a flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

Yes, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time.

Even though both vaccines can be given at the same visit, people should follow the recommended schedule for either vaccine: If you haven’t gotten your currently recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can, and ideally get a flu vaccine by the end of October.

What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?

Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and seasonal flu (most often just called “flu”) is caused by infection with one of many influenza viruses that spread annually among people.

Because some symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, people may need to be tested to tell what virus is causing their illness. People can be infected with both a flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time. In general, COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. Compared with people who have flu infections, people who have COVID-19 can take longer to show symptoms and be contagious for longer. This FAQ page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.

Because symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, how will I know if I have the flu or COVID-19?

Your health care professional may order a test to help confirm whether you have flu or COVID-19 or some other illness. Get more information on COVID-19 and flu testing and symptoms of COVID-19 and flu.

Vaccine Safety

How do we know COVID-19 vaccines are safe?

These vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Vaccines are authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which sets strict standards for clinical trials. The FDA continues to monitor vaccines very closely for safety.

How are vaccines tested for safety?

Every vaccine must go through rigorous testing and inspection to ensure it is safe. Vaccines for COVID-19 followed a 3-phase process where there are several stages required before FDA authorization. After a vaccine is authorized by the FDA and made available to the public, FDA continues to monitor its safety very closely.

How were the vaccines made so quickly?

The science behind the breakthrough had a head start. Researchers had already made progress developing vaccines for other types of coronaviruses. The rapid spread of COVID-19 made developing these vaccines an international priority, unlocking billions of dollars in funding to ensure safety while moving with urgency to save lives.

Do vaccines impact fertility?

There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems. If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Should I worry about long term side effects?

Serious side effects that would cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely. There has never been a ‘long-term’ vaccine side effect that emerged more than a few months after administration of a vaccine. Thousands of people were initially vaccinated over a year ago and no new long-term side effects have been detected. Serious side effects that would cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely.

Vaccine Efficacy

How do the COVID-19 vaccines protect me?

When we get a vaccine, it activates our immune response. The vaccine helps our bodies learn to fight off the virus. COVID-19 vaccines provide significant protection against serious illness and hospitalization.

What are the benefits to getting vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccines protect against getting sick from COVID-19. They provide significant protection against serious illness and death. Studies show vaccines provide protection against variants such as the Delta variant.

Should I get a vaccine if I had COVID-19?

Yes, health experts recommend getting vaccinated regardless of whether you have already had COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible (although rare) that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, talk to your doctor about when you should get vaccinated.

Wearing a Mask

Should I still wear a mask once I’m vaccinated?

If you are fully vaccinated, you can start to safely resume many activities. However, with the more contagious Delta variant circulating across the United States, health experts are encouraging all people to wear a mask indoors in public. This will maximize protection against the Delta variant and prevent spread.

I’m not yet fully vaccinated. Should I wear a mask?

Yes. It’s best to keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated, which is 2 weeks after your final vaccine dose. This includes continuing to wear a mask, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, and staying 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you. Taking these precautions help to protect yourself and others.

Vaccine Access

How much does it cost?

There is no cost to getting vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are provided at 100% no cost to recipients. The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.

What type of vaccine will I get?

Currently, three types of vaccines authorized for use in the United States: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. At this time, children and teens aged 12 and up are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, but those younger than 12 years of age are not. Those receiving the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccine must be 18 or older. Every vaccine that is recommended by FDA and CDC has been thoroughly tested and found to be effective and safe.

How old do I need to be to get vaccinated?

In the United States, everyone aged 12 and over is currently eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

The Delta Variant

Do the vaccines protect against the Delta variant?

The Delta variant has been categorized as a variant of concern. It has led to a sharp rise in cases, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates. So far, studies suggest that all vaccines authorized for use in the United States are effective against known variants, including the Delta variant.

How common are breakthrough cases?

Vaccine breakthrough cases are expected. COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness in vaccinated people. There will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who still get sick, are hospitalized, or die from COVID-19. There is some evidence that vaccination may make illness less severe for those who are vaccinated and still get sick.

 

Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison
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