Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

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...

Ramstein Now Offers Novavax Vaccine

Article Around MHS
9/8/2022
Military medical gives Soldier a COVID-19 vaccine

The 86th Medical Group is now offering the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, which has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to members 18 years and older in the Kaiserslautern Military Community.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare Division | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Immunizations | Coronavirus

Latasha Smith: Warrior against COVID-19

Article Around MHS
2/18/2022
Military personnel looking at a patient's cardiac rhythm

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Latasha Smith, an Airman assigned to the 86th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, was celebrated as Airlifter of the Week, Jan. 27, 2022, after leading the assault against COVID-19 for over a year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

COVID-19 therapeutics support DOD pandemic response

Article Around MHS
2/11/2022
Military personnel getting COVID-29 doses ready

The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency is helping to protect the operational force by distributing several new therapeutic options that help to lessen the symptoms of mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 and keep Soldiers, their families and beneficiaries out of the hospital.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines continues to study long-term effects of COVID-19 on Marines

Article Around MHS
2/10/2022
Medical military personnel talking to a patient

A team composed of U.S. Navy medical personnel and civilian technicians based out of the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, assembled during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 to study the short and long-term effects that the virus has on Marines. 

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Getting up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine

Article Around MHS
2/8/2022
Military personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Guard Coast is that we have vaccines to help prevent serious illness if you contract COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Oregon National Guard surging to support hospitals again

Article Around MHS
1/27/2022
Oregon Army National Guard touring a hospital

Hundreds of Oregon National Guard members are increasing support of hospitals throughout the state in their second hospital relief mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Readiness Capabilities

Public Health nurses offer insights on living with COVID-19 now, looking into future

Article Around MHS
1/25/2022
The Challenges of Living with COVID

One of the more challenging jobs for any public health professional is dealing with unpredictability inherent in outbreaks like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Navy Hospital Corpsman steps into the breach in the war on COVID-19

Article Around MHS
1/18/2022
Hospitalman Hector Conde standing in front of a immunization office's refrigeration

First responders and those fighting on the medical battleground have earned well-deserved recognition for their efforts.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

This is my Why

Article Around MHS
12/30/2021
Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock poses for a photo after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination

Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock stated his reason for getting the vaccine was to help his mother and son be able to have a play date again.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

So others may breathe - Navy Medicine Respiratory Therapist cares for COVID casualties

Article Around MHS
12/13/2021
Military Health personnel posing for a picture

Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Tessa Hazard, a respiratory therapist, recently deployed to Alabama as a member of a COVID-19 response team.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Army Public Health Center provides update on Long COVID risks

Article Around MHS
12/1/2021
COVID19 Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

JTF Coyote begins pediatric COVID-19 clinics as adult booster vaccination numbers increase

Article Around MHS
11/23/2021
Military health personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The Vermont National Guard now supports the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccinations for youth in the 5 to 11 age group and booster clinics for the general adult population.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

USECAF receives insight into COVID19 vaccinations at Reserve wing

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visits with 433rd Airlift Wing members at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.

Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visited the 433rd Airlift Wing here to meet with Reserve Citizen Airmen leaders on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Oct. 2, 2021.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Compassionate Caring with COVID Vax Commitment

Article Around MHS
10/6/2021
A  female doctor poses for a photo.

When pregnant patients have an appointment with Lt. Cmdr. Megan Northup at Naval Hospital Bremerton, they get more than a qualified and caring OB/GYN physician.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Health Promotion duo optimizes health on Incirlik Air Base

Article Around MHS
9/30/2021
Air Force Capt. Sydney Sloan, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion element chief (right), and Air Force Senior Airman Gloriann Manapsal, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion technician (left), promote making healthy choices at the Sultan’s Inn Dining Facility on Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

The 39th Operation Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion team provides and integrates evidence-based programs to optimize the health and readiness, even during these unprecedented times.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus & the MHS Response
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: September 27, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.