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COVID-19 Vaccines are important part of stopping COVID-19; the vaccines cannot give you COVID-19 | Graphic Courtesy of CDC

Answering Your COVID-19 Vaccine Questions

By Kristy Warren

Dr. Lara Jaussi, Chief Clinical Officer for the Laurel Health Centers answers your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine

Safe, effective vaccines play a vital role in preventing, reducing, and even eradicating disease. The approval of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines is a major milestone in our battle against Coronavirus COVID-19, made possible by unprecedented collaboration between scientists and clinicians around the world. 


The Laurel Health Centers realize you may have questions about the vaccine. Our Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Lara Jaussi answers common questions about the vaccine below and shares why getting the vaccine is so important to getting our communities back to normal sooner.



When you get the vaccine, you aren't just protecting yourself—you are protecting others, including family, friends, and neighbors. Everyone aged 16 and up is recommended to receive the vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19. Why 16 and up? Because the rigorous clinical safety trials for the two approved vaccines were studied in populations aged 16+. COVID-19 vaccination in children 15 and under is still being studied, and pediatric guidance will be issued once those studies have concluded.


Having enough people take the vaccine is critical to its success, as the virus can more easily mutate and adapt in a large unvaccinated population. Some people cannot get certain vaccines due to allergies or immune conditions, so vaccinating everyone that can be safely immunized helps protect them as well; the vast majority of people can safely be vaccinated for COVID-19. 




Yes, they are safe. These vaccines were developed quickly due to exceptional collaboration and focus between organizations around the world, and they were still subjected to all of the same intensive safety trials prior to approval. 


The COVID-19 vaccines have been:

  • Rigorously tested through all stages of clinical trials on thousands of volunteers

  • Reviewed in-depth by top clinical experts 

  • Held to the same thorough testing and safety monitoring as all other vaccines

  • Have been repeatedly demonstrated to be safe with no cases of severe long-lasting side effects during months of study


The research shows that the benefits of being vaccinated and the low risk of serious side effects far outweighs the much greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing serious complications, including death. Patients are screened ahead of receiving the vaccine to ensure it is appropriate for them, and the vaccines continue to be monitored closely for safety.




Misinformation about COVID-19 can cost lives. Be wary of COVID-19 information passed around social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, especially by random users or posts that have been copied & pasted from other sites. Look instead to official sources for COVID-19 vaccine information and guidelines like the PA Dept. of Health (health.pa.gov), the CDC (cdc.gov), your family medicine provider, and the Laurel Health Centers (laurelhc.org).




Both of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines are very effective. They are 94-95% effective in preventing someone from contracting COVID-19 and greatly reduce the risk for serious complications or death if you become infected. The vaccine supply is currently limited and no single tool is 100% effective against COVID-19, so for now, it’s important to continue using our full toolkit of preventive measures: masking, social distancing, disinfecting commonly touched surfaces / objects, frequent handwashing, and getting the vaccine when available to you.


Everyone, including those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, should continue using all these tools to prevent transmission and protect themselves and others until the vaccine can be administered widely.

COVID-19 Prevention Measures Infographic by the CDC and PA DOH - Use Our Whole Toolkit - Handwashing, Masking, Social Distancing and Vaccine



Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines use two doses to teach your body how to fight the COVID-19 virus effectively. The first shot helps your immune system learn to recognize the virus, and the second shot strengthens your immune response. You need both doses to get the best protection.




Yes. Side effects don’t mean a vaccine is unsafe. Side effects often mean that the vaccine is prompting a strong immune response, a necessary part of building immunity and teaching your body how to fight COVID-19. The most common side effects for the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and resolve quickly, similar to the yearly flu shot: sore arm, temporary pain at the injection site, headache, and fatigue. These side effects do not mean you have COVID-19, and they’re over in a couple of days.


Serious side effects like allergic reaction are rare, and patients are screened ahead of time to determine if they should receive the vaccine. It’s also important to remember that any medical treatment—be it a vaccine, surgery, prescription, or lifestyle change—can have side effects. Knowing what to expect and keeping in mind the benefit-to-risk ratio can make you feel more confident when making healthcare decisions.




No. None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines use the live virus that causes COVID-19. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination, and as a result, you could become infected with COVID-19 just before or shortly after vaccination and still get sick—another reason it’s always important to mask, stay six feet apart from anyone not living in your immediate household, and regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water for a full 20 seconds. If you do catch COVID-19 following inoculation, the vaccine can greatly reduce your risk of serious symptoms, complications, or death.




Yes, it is still recommended that you receive the vaccine even if you had COVID-19 because it is unclear how long immunity lasts following infection; the studies conducted thus far on patients recovering from COVID-19 indicate short-term natural immunity. The vaccine is designed to teach your body how to fight COVID-19 more effectively and confer longer-term immunity.




Due to the current limited supply, Pennsylvania has established a phased rollout plan that ensures the people most at risk for COVID-19 exposure and serious complications receive the vaccine first (e.g., healthcare workers, seniors, and those with underlying health conditions).

A male patient in hid late 60s receiving phone call from Laurel Health clinic

To find your COVID-19 vaccine category, visit the PA Dept. of Health website at health.pa.gov.


We understand that many people are anxious to know when it will be available and how to sign up. Laurel Health has been working hard behind-the-scenes to ensure vaccines are distributed as quickly and efficiently as possible according to the PA Dept. of Health guidelines.


We will be reaching out to first-phase patients directly to schedule them as soon as possible when we receive additional doses. 

The Laurel Health Centers will keep you fully informed on our progress through the vaccination phases and any updates to our scheduling process via our social media and our news page.  


For more information about the vaccine and how it works, click here. For updates on our vaccine roll out, stay tuned to laurelhc.org