COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Page last reviewed: June 27, 2022, at 4:01 p.m.

I'm looking for:

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety and What to Expect

Are the vaccines safe?

Vaccines must pass some of the toughest safety measures in medicine. The process to approve and monitor vaccines has been around for decades. It is the same process used to develop vaccines for measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough) and the seasonal flu.

The process to bring a safe and effective vaccine to you begins with clinical trials. Trials are ongoing for COVID-19 vaccines under development. Throughout vaccine development and distribution, there are numerous safety measures. These include:

  • The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes and monitors the trials.
  • Two other independent advisory committees provide oversight and monitor for safety during vaccine development and testing. 
  • Another committee continues to monitor for safety and adverse effects when a safe and effective vaccine is ready for distribution. 

As vaccines receive Emergency Use Authorization or approval from the FDA, Washington State, along with other western states, does an independent review of the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Is the vaccine safe for kids?

The COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer underwent extensive testing and review before receiving the FDA’s and CDC’s authorization and recommendation. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for children as young as 6 months because the benefits of vaccination outweigh any risks of vaccination. 

With any vaccine, there’s always a risk of side effects. Possible side effects include a sore arm, fatigue, or pain, swelling, or inflammation near the injection site (upper arm). These side effects are normal and are a sign that the vaccine is working.

As with any vaccine, serious reactions have been rare during vaccine testing, and the benefits of getting kids vaccinated greatly outweigh any risk.

  1. If your child has had serious reactions to vaccines in the past or severe allergies, talk with your health care provider about getting them vaccinated for COVID-19.
  2. There have been rare reports of heart inflammation - myocarditis or pericarditis - after COVID-19 vaccination. Myocarditis and pericarditis are also possible side effects of COVID-19 infection, and the chance of suffering heart inflammation after COVID-19 infection is much, much higher than after vaccination. Public health and medical experts agree that the benefit of getting vaccinated is greater than the risk of heart inflammation.
  3. Read this full list of possible reactions.

It is natural and normal to be concerned about the choices you make about your child’s health. If you have more questions about getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19, talk to your child’s health care provider, just like you would for your other health concerns.

What should I expect when I get vaccinated?

You might have mild reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine, like fatigue or soreness where the vaccine was injected. As with any vaccine, serious reactions have been rare during vaccine testing, and the benefits of getting vaccinated greatly outweigh any risk.

  • If you have had serious reactions to vaccines in the past or severe allergies, talk with your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
  • Read this full list of possible reactions.

How much will it cost?

The vaccine will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance. 

The Whatcom County Health Department vaccination pop-up clinics will vaccinate uninsured persons at no out-of-pocket cost. Visit our vaccination page to see the upcoming pop-up clinics list.

When am I considered "fully vaccinated"?

You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after you’ve gotten the last shot in your vaccination series, meaning two weeks after your second shot of Moderna or Pfizer or two  weeks after one shot of Johnson & Johnson. All shots in your primary series must be from the same brand. 

 Moderately or severely immunocompromised people may be eligible for an additional dose in the primary series. If you need an additional (“third”) dose, you are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after receiving the additional dose. For any vaccination verification purposes, you are still considered fully vaccinated after your second dose. More information about additional doses here

 You must be fully vaccinated before you can be eligible for a first booster. Booster doses do not need to be the same brand as your first, second or third dose. You are considered fully vaccinated whether or not you choose to get a booster. More information about booster doses here.

What can I do once I'm fully vaccinated?

For more information on what to do after you are vaccinated, please refer to: 

How to Have Vaccine Discussions

As we work to vaccinate our community, we know that it will be a team effort, and that team includes you. You may have people in your life who are unsure about whether to get the vaccine. If you would like to talk to them about the vaccine, you can find some tips in the Whatcom County Health Department's vaccine confidence discussion guide.