Skip to main content

Military Health System

Q&A: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe and Effective?

Image of Military health personnel wearing a face mask and a face shield administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Army Pfc. Tanner Tate, a medic assigned to the 528th Field Hospital, vaccinates a community member at the state-run, federally-supported Elizabeth High School COVID-19 Community Vaccination Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, March 5, 2021 (Photo by: Army Pfc. Jailene Bautista/5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

As the fight against COVID-19 continues, vaccination is one way to slow the spread and protect yourself. Chances are you know someone who's already been vaccinated. Still, you may be concerned about safety - and wondering when to schedule the vaccine for yourself.

"It's important for people to know that these vaccines, though produced in record time, have gone through the same safety processes as other vaccines," said Dr. John Kugler, chief of the Clinical Support Division at the Defense Health Agency. "I got the vaccine when I became eligible and encourage you to get it to help keep you and your family safe."

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to you, you may have questions. Here are some answers about the vaccine.

Question: Will I experience side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: You may. most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. You may also have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These symptoms are a sign that your body is building protection against the coronavirus. They should go away in a few days. Contact your doctor if the side effects are worrying you or don't seem to be going away after a few days. Since vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, carry a risk of allergic reactions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that your vaccine provider monitors you for 15 to 30 minutes after vaccination. In the rare case that you think you're experiencing a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Question: Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
Answer: No. It can't make you sick with COVID-19. According to the CDC, none of the authorized and recommended vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. When you do get the vaccine, though, your body will begin to build antibodies to protect you from the coronavirus.

Question: I'm pregnant. Is it safe for me to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: If you're pregnant, you may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Vaccination may reduce that risk and is available to pregnant women. Individuals should discuss with their provider when deciding whether to be vaccinated.

Question: How many shots of COVID-19 vaccine do I need?
Answer: It depends. Currently, the Janssen vaccine (also known as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) requires only a single shot. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots given at least 21 days (for Pfizer) and 28 days (for Moderna) apart. If the pandemic continues, people may need additional shots (boosters) in the future, similar to how booster shots are needed to protect against other diseases.

Question: Does it matter which COVID-19 vaccine I get?
Answer: There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines authorized and recommended for people in the U.S.:

  • Janssen vaccine (1 shot)
  • Moderna vaccine (2 shots, at least 28 days apart)
  • Pfizer vaccine (2 shots, at least 21 days apart)

"All three of these vaccines can reduce your risk of serious illness or death due to COVID-19," Kugler added. "Vaccines differ by age authorized, and in how they are produced and work. The CDC has information for patients about each vaccine."

Keep in mind, it typically takes a few weeks after your last shot for your body to build immunity to COVID-19. Once fully vaccinated, new guidelines from the CDC provide recommendations for private settings.

When in public settings, even if fully vaccinated, all individuals should continue to practice healthy habits , like wearing a mask, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, and washing your hands. If you've already had COVID-19 and recovered, you likely have some immunity. However, vaccination is still recommended to help build additional immunity against re-infection.

So, explore options for where you can go to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and be sure to check out the TRICARE COVID Vaccine page for updates. If you get the COVID-19 vaccine at a local or state health department vaccination site or a retail pharmacy, let your primary care manager know so a record of your vaccination gets included in your medical records.

Do you have more questions about vaccine safety and effectiveness? Read these COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs. Take command of your health, and do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated.

Sign up for email alerts, and keep up with TRICARE and COVID-19 updates.

You also may be interested in...

Time to Get Your Flu Shot and Your COVID-19 Booster, Too

Article
10/14/2022
Senior MHS officials and medics from the Pentagon stand together Oct. 13 after receiving their flu shots and bivalent COVID-19 boosters.."

It's flu shot time. Get your COVID-19 booster at the same time.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Toolkit | Immunizations | Coronavirus

Prevent the Spread of Influenza and COVID-19 Viruses Within Your Community

Article
10/11/2022
A person getting an injection on their arm.

As families return from summer vacation and students return to school, the influenza (flu) season is approaching while the COVID-19 pandemic is still on-going.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Immunizations | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Toolkit

Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Now Available for 12 to 17 Year-Olds

Article
8/30/2022
Air Force Staff. Sgt. fills a syringe with a COVID-19 vaccine at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine is Available for Those 12 Years' Old and Above

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

New COVID-19 Boosters Against Subvariants Coming Soon

Article
8/29/2022
Marine on right gets a COVID-19 booster vaccination from a nursing student on his left.

Brooklyn Marine gets COVID-19 booster vaccination.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

How to Get Your Kids Up to Date on Vaccinations

Article
8/25/2022
Child wearing a mask getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Resources to help you get and keep your child’s immunizations up to date in time for back to school.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Back to School | Immunization Healthcare Division

Learn the Most Recent Age Requirements for COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters

Article
8/10/2022
A man fist bumps a child.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get your vaccines and booster shots.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy Expands Access to MHS Care

Article
8/10/2022
Infographic featuring Lt Col Legault

MHS has Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy: A fast, efficient process that enables providers to file one application and get permission to virtually treat patients anywhere in the MHS.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Telehealth Program

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Article
5/5/2022
Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Nursing in the Military Health System

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

Article
5/5/2022
In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Pandemic Spotlights the Vital Role of Military Lab Workers

Article
5/2/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Solomon, 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of microbiology, unloads blood samples from a centrifuge at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks, U.S. Air Force)

MHS clinical labs produce results.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Helping Your Child to Cope with Grief and Losses Related to COVID-19

Article
4/28/2022
Shirley Lanham Elementary School students perform Taiko drumming during a Month of the Military Child celebration aboard the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ange-Olivier Clement, Naval Air Facility Atsugi)

Many military children have lost loved ones to COVID-19. How parents can help with the grief.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

How to Help Military Children Reconnect After Two Years of the Pandemic

Article
4/25/2022
Airman 1st Class Rocio Romo, Space Launch Delta 30 public affairs specialist, and her son pose for a photo at Cocheo Park on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, March 25, 2022. During the month of April, we celebrate Month of the Military Child to highlight the sacrifices military children make on the home front while their parents serve the United States. (Photo: Airman Kadielle Shaw, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs)

How parents can help children stressed by more than two years of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness Remained High During Omicron Surge

Article
4/18/2022
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, assigned to the combat ship USS Tulsa, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster to Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson Jan. 10, 2022, at Apra Harbor, Guam. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer, Command Destroyer Squadron 7)

Two new studies of active-duty service members show COVID-19 booster vaccines are effective, but uptake rates in the military community lagged behind the civilian population.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

Article
4/15/2022
A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Children's Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 14
Refine your search
Last Updated: September 27, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery