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COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

1. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Munson Healthcare takes the safety of any vaccine very seriously. We will review the safety evidence for any potential vaccine as well as recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration, the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (APIC), and the CDC before offering any vaccine.

We understand that some people may be concerned about the COVID-19 vaccine. The process used to approve the COVID-19 vaccines is the same proven process that was used to create safe and effective vaccines for the flu, polio, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), and more. 

While these vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible through the help of global cooperation and unprecedented public and private funding, routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. Safety is a top priority. The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible.

For more information about the safety of the vaccine, visit

2. How can a safe vaccine be available so quickly?

It normally takes years to develop a vaccine. However, due to previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), vaccine research had already begun. This provided a head start for rapid development of vaccines to protect against COVID-19. 

Additional steps were also taken to shorten the timeline without sacrificing safety:

  • Overlapping phase I and phase II clinical trials. Phase I studies include a small number of people and evaluate whether the vaccine causes an immune response and is safe. Scientists could look at data from a group of people as phase II was progressing to make these evaluations.
  • While completing large phase III trials, manufacturers began producing the vaccine, so that if it were shown to be safe and effective, they would have large numbers of doses ready. This is not normally done because if the vaccine does not work, the manufacturer will have spent a significant amount of money to produce something that needs to be thrown away.
  • Traditional vaccine production involves growing viruses in living cells and purifying the virus. There are challenges associated with this process that takes time. The mRNA vaccine has an advantage in that large amounts of the mRNA can be synthesized very rapidly.
  • While waiting for a vaccine to be ready, many other aspects of vaccine delivery were prepared (e.g., developing plans for how to distribute the first, limited quantities available, and ensuring adequate supplies for distributing and administering vaccine.)

3. What is the process for approving a COVID-19 vaccine and ensuring it is safe?

According to the CDC, “the federal government has been working since the start of the pandemic to make a COVID-19 vaccine available as soon as possible. This accelerated timeline is unprecedented and has raised concerns for some people that safety may be sacrificed in favor of speed. However, as with all vaccines, safety is a top priority.

COVID-19 vaccines were tested in large, 3 phase clinical trials to make sure they meet safety standards. Many people were recruited to participate in these trials to see how the vaccines offer protection to people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions.”

After the clinical trials are complete:

  • 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.
  • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews all safety data before recommending any COVID-19 vaccine for use. Learn how ACIP makes vaccine recommendations.
  • FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, to make sure even very rare side effects are identified.

4. What are the potential side effects of the vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines now available require two doses to be effective. 

Most recipients do not report serious problems after being vaccinated. Some studies have begun to show that COVID-19 vaccines may cause a stronger immune response than other vaccines you are familiar with. Common COVID-19 vaccine symptoms include:

  • A sore, red, or warm arm (goes away within a week or less)
  • Low-grade fever
  • Headache 
  • A general “I’m not quite my normal self” feeling

These are normal signs that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to - produce an immune response so you have protection against the disease.

Some symptoms listed above may feel more significant after a second dose. Increased fatigue in the hours following a second dose has also been reported. However, there is no marked increase in vaccine recipients reporting severe adverse reactions following a second dose.

Please make sure to schedule and receive your second dose unless a vaccine provider or your doctor advises otherwise.

Click here for specific information on authorized and released COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

5. Why are children not included in the vaccine plan?

According to MDHHS, “We await further guidance on whether these groups will be recommended for vaccination. Vaccination of these groups is not recommended because of limited data on vaccine safety and efficacy for these groups at this time.”

6. Should I keep wearing a mask after I get vaccinated?

Yes. According to the CDC, “While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least six feet away from others. For more information, click here.

7. Can I just build immunity by becoming infected instead of getting the vaccine?

We cannot confirm at this stage whether initial exposure to COVID-19 creates future resistance. Getting the disease, especially a new virus that no one has immunity to means there is going to be a large number of people who get very sick. In some cases, this could lead to hospitalization or even death. Visit our recent What is Herd Immunity blog post to learn more. 

8. How can I track and report side effects from the vaccine?

Following your vaccine, you'll receive a link to access the “V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker” application for your phone. Through the V-safe app, you can quickly tell the CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC may follow up by phone to get more information.

9. What is V-safe?

V-safe is a smartphone app tool that provides personalized check-ins following your first COVID-19 vaccine dose. Among its many features, V-safe can help with the following: 

  • remind you when it’s time to get the second dose of the vaccine
  • report any symptoms you may be feeling following the vaccine 

10. What if I have more questions about the COVID-19 vaccine?

As you make your decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the upcoming months, we encourage you to do more research if you are so inclined. 

Here are some reliable sources of information about the COVID-19 vaccines:

If you have any specific questions about COVID-19 vaccines or any other COVID-19-related topic, you can also call the Munson Healthcare Ask-A-Nurse Hotline at 231-935-0951, available Monday – Sunday from 7 am - 7 pm.