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ABOUT BETTER TOMORROW

After more than a year of living through a pandemic, Better Tomorrow – created in partnership with community-based leaders and organizations focused on improving the lives of Black, Latinx, and Native American communities – is a destination for trusted vaccine information and resources. The campaign is an extension of the COVID-19 Vaccination Education and Equity Project.

Vaccines save lives. They also give us the freedom to enjoy some of life’s most precious moments. We are on a mission to create a tomorrow where we are better informed; have better access; and are better together.

QUESTIONS FROM THE COMMUNITY

With misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines spreading in our communities, it is important for trusted experts and leaders to provide information and answers to help speak to and ease vaccination apprehension. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the vaccines and the vaccination process.

  • GETTING A VACCINE

    Where can I get vaccinated?

    To find a COVID-19 vaccination location near you, use the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Vaccine Finder, which can be found here. Major pharmacies and drugstores are also providing vaccine appointments. (CDC) Be sure to keep an eye on local news outlets for information on vaccine locations near you. (CDC, HHS).

    I’m having trouble accessing vaccines with my tribal community. Can I get one somewhere else?

    Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are available free of charge for anyone ages 5 and older living in the U.S. The Indian Health Service has put together a list of vaccination centers across tribal nations to help tribal members find their nearest IHS-run vaccination center.

    Do I need health insurance to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

    No, the COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone living in the U.S., whether or not you have health insurance. Please be aware that if you are asked to pay for your vaccine, it may be an attempted scam. (CDC, UnidosUS).

    My loved one does not speak English. Can I help them through the vaccination process?

    If your loved one does not speak English, but you do, you can help them through the vaccination process. Make sure you have their permission to sign them up for a vaccine and, if needed, accompany them to the vaccination site. Find out how the vaccination site your loved one is visiting is set up and have a game plan to reunite with them after they receive the vaccine.

  • WHO CAN GET VACCINATED

    Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine?

    Currently, anyone ages 5 and older living in the U.S. can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are worried about a specific condition or allergy, check with your doctor before your vaccine appointment. (FDAWhite House)

    I have a chronic condition. Should I get vaccinated?

    If you have a chronic disease, speak with your doctor about whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine is right for you. People with chronic conditions infected by COVID-19 have a higher chance of becoming very sick and experiencing life-threatening consequences. (CDC)

    Can children get the vaccines?

    In October 2021, the FDA authorized the emergency use of one of the COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11. (FDA)

    Should my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?

    CDC recommends everyone ages 5 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. As of January 13, 2022, almost 9.5 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. Children can get very sick from the virus, have short-term and long-term complications, and spread COVID-19 to others at home and at school. Getting vaccinated can help protect children from getting COVID-19 and can help keep them from getting seriously sick if they do get COVID-19. (AAP) (CDC)

    Why should my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?

    Children can get COVID-19 and some children may develop serious complications if infected. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is one of the top 10 causes of death for children 5-11 years old. Getting vaccinated can help protect children from getting COVID-19 and can help keep them from getting seriously sick if they do get COVID-19. (CDC, CDC)

    Who can get a booster shot and how soon can I get one after being full vaccinated?

    As of January 5, 2022, anyone 12 and older who has been fully vaccinated (received first two doses for mRNA vaccines or one dose for the vector vaccine) for five months or longer is eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot. (CDC)

  • THE VACCINES AND SAFETY

    What is a vaccine?

    Vaccines help your immune system produce antibodies, the proteins that protect against viruses. They work by injecting a non-functioning virus or protein code into the body to trigger an immune response and produce antibodies. (CDC) The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and can help prevent you from becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 and spreading the COVID-19 virus to others.

    How many COVID-19 vaccines are available?

    There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. – one is a vector vaccine and two are mRNA vaccines. mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein which triggers an immune response and creates antibodies against COVID-19. This type of vaccine does not contain any part of the virus. (CDC)

    Vector vaccines are used to deliver protection against COVID-19. This type of vaccine uses a harmless virus to help the immune system make antibodies to protect us from getting infected if the COVID-19 virus enters our bodies. (CDC)

    For more details on the available COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the CDC website.

    What are the differences between the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available in the U.S.?

    The three COVID-19 vaccines currently available use different technologies (mRNA vs vector vaccines), have different dosage requirements, and the time between dosages varies. To learn more about the differences visit the CDC website.

    How do I know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe?

    The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. They were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants during clinical trials, which took place over many months. In addition to the trials, the vaccines have met the FDA’s safety requirements for emergency use authorization (EUA). EUA allows the FDA to make medicines and products available for use during times of emergency, like a pandemic. Additionally, in August 2021, one of the vaccines received full FDA approval. (CDC, UnidosUS)

    What are the benefits of getting vaccinated?

    All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. are effective in helping prevent people from getting COVID-19, and experts believe that getting a vaccine can also help keep you from getting very sick if you do get COVID-19. Getting vaccinated can also help you protect the people around you, especially people who have a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. (CDC)

    What are common side effects of the vaccines?

    While some people may not have any side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, most feel side effects a few hours after getting the first shot and side effects of the second dose may be stronger. Injection site soreness, redness and swelling are expected, and tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea have all been reported. These side effects are normal and a sign that your body is building protection. For more information about potential side effects, contact your healthcare provider. (CDC)

    Have any long-term effects from the vaccines been reported?

    Health agencies like the CDC and WHO continue to collect information about long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. Most side effects from the vaccines happen within the first few days after getting an injection. (WHO) Please refer to the vaccines’ manufacturer website for specific answers about each vaccine currently approved under the EUA.

    Do the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?

    As of now, there is no proof that any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, can cause fertility problems. Like all vaccines, scientists continue to study COVID-19 vaccines carefully for any side effects and will keep the public updated on any findings. (CDC)

    What are the risks of getting the vaccines?

    Aside from commonly reported side effects after vaccination, like tiredness and muscle soreness, there is no risk of getting COVID-19 from the vaccines and they cannot affect your genetics or DNA. (CDC)

    Do COVID-19 vaccines protect against variants?

    Scientists continue to learn about COVID-19 variants and are working to learn more about how they spread, whether they could cause more serious sickness, and if the current COVID-19 vaccines will protect against them. So far, studies suggest that the current vaccines protect against severe illness, hospitalization, and death caused by most variants. This is being closely monitored by scientists and the CDC. (CDC)

    How many times a year will I need to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

    Experts are working to learn more about natural immunity after having the COVID-19 virus. Natural immunity is thought to last at least 90 days. The CDC is studying the length of immunity provided by vaccines and post-infection and will keep the public informed as new information becomes available. (CDC FAQCDCUnidosUS)

    Were people from my community included in the vaccines’ clinical trials?

    According to data from the clinical trials for the mRNA vaccines, participants from Black, Latinx and Native American communities were included in clinical trial populations. (KFF)

    What should I do after I am fully vaccinated?

    You are fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last dose of the vaccine. Once fully vaccinated, you should continue to wear masks, social distance, and follow proper personal hygiene habits to make sure we slow the spread of the virus among unvaccinated people.  (UnidosUS)

    According to the CDC, people who are fully vaccinated can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart and can go outside without a mask. You can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people without masking or social distancing if the unvaccinated parties aren’t at a high risk for developing serious illness from COVID-19. (CDC)

    How did the FDA determine the safety and effectiveness of the booster shots?

    Studies show that the protection offered by full vaccination against COVID-19 and some variants – including Delta – decreases over time. COVID-19 booster shots are now authorized for anyone ages 12 and older who has been fully vaccinated. Data from clinical trials show that a booster shot increases the immune system’s response and, as such, should offer improved protection against COVID-19. (CDC)

    Why do I need to get a booster shot?

    After getting vaccinated, protection against COVID-19 may decrease over time. Booster shots help preserve protection against COVID-19. For more information about who should get a booster shot, click here. (CDC)

    Why are vaccinated people getting infected with COVID-19 and why should I get vaccinated if they aren’t 100% effective?

    No vaccine can ever be 100% effective. A wide variation in our population’s immune systems means some people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can still get sick. A vaccine breakthrough infection happens when a fully vaccinated person gets COVID-19. Fully vaccinated people with a vaccine breakthrough infection are less likely to develop severe symptoms and serious illness than unvaccinated people. This means they are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than those who have not been fully vaccinated. (CDC)

    Why should I get vaccinated if there are pills that cure COVID-19?

    COVID-19 antiviral pills are available under the FDA’s emergency use authorization and help treat mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19. The pills are only available by prescription for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have a high risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19. This means if you test positive for COVID-19, but are otherwise healthy and are not high risk, you are not eligible to receive it regardless of your COVID-19 symptoms. The pills should not be considered a substitution for vaccination as they don’t prevent serious illness. COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone 5 years and older and help protect against serious illness, hospitalization, and death. (FDA, CDC)

  • YOUR PRIVACY AND RIGHTS

    Will my personal data be collected when I sign up for vaccination?

    Your name, date of birth, address, and ethnicity are the only data needed to receive a vaccine. Tracking who gets vaccinated is important for public safety and helps the CDC map national vaccination rates to ensure all areas of the country have access to the vaccines. In December 2020, the CDC signed an agreement promising personal data would not be shared and asking states to limit sharing personal information in existing vaccine registries. (CDC)

    Will I be asked about my immigration status while getting a vaccine?

    No, the COVID-19 vaccines are free and available to everyone living in the U.S. You will only be asked for basic information including your name, date of birth, address, and ethnicity. (CDCDHS)

    Is vaccination required?

    At the moment, there is only a vaccination mandate for health care personnel who work for an institution that receives government funding through Medicare or Medicaid. Your state or local government may require you to be vaccinated if you are a healthcare or essential worker. Private companies may ask you to be vaccinated to return to the workplace or office, depending on state and local laws. (CDC, White House)

    If I refuse to get a vaccine, will it impact the care I receive at future medical appointments?

    The government has not made vaccination a requirement so your vaccination status should not affect the care you receive at medical appointments. As it becomes easier to get COVID-19 vaccines, your healthcare provider may ask you about your vaccination status before visits. (CDC)

ADDITIONAL VACCINE RESOURCES

The following list of additional vaccine resources was created in partnership with our community of healthcare professionals, and partner organizations. This information is based on guidelines from the CDC and public health officials and will be updated as new information, and recommendations are received. Please continue to check the CDC for updates.

  • INFLUENZA AND MORE

    Where can I get the flu vaccine near me?

    Visit the American Lung Association HealthMap Vaccine Finder. Many national and local drugstores and pharmacies offer flu shots.

    Are vaccinations for influenza and other illnesses safe?

    In the U.S., there are several protective steps required by law to help ensure vaccines are safe. All vaccines are held to high safety standards because they are given to millions of healthy people—including children—every year to prevent disease and illness. (HHS)

    What strains does the 2020-2021 flu vaccine protect against?

    There are many types of flu strains, and the strains change each season. U.S. flu vaccines are reviewed every year and updated to protect against the flu strains reported as most common during that specific season. For more details, visit the CDC website.

    Does a flu vaccination increase your risk of getting COVID-19?

    There is no proof that getting a flu vaccine will increase your risk of getting COVID-19. (CDC)

    Will getting a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?

    A flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, but flu vaccines can reduce the risk of sickness, hospitalization, and death caused by the flu. (CDC)

    Do I need to get the pneumonia vaccine? Where can I learn more?

    There are two types of pneumonia (Pneumococcal) vaccines available in the United States: Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. The CDC recommends the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for all infants as a four-dose shot and recommends all adults 65 years or older receive one dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.
    For more information on the pneumonia (Pneumococcal) vaccine by age group and medical condition, click here and here.

    Will getting a pneumonia vaccine protect me against COVID-19?

    The pneumonia vaccine protects against a type of bacterial pneumonia, not the COVID-19 virus. It is still important to get the pneumonia vaccine – especially if you are over 65 or have a weak immune system caused by medications or a condition. It can keep you safe from other sicknesses or shorten the intensity of your sickness if you get bacterial pneumonia. (UChicago Medicine)

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