friends drink coffee and chat outsideHave someone in your life who is on the fence about getting the COVID-19 vaccine? An honest conversation can go a long way. Here is some information to help you discuss any fears or hesitancy your loved ones might be having about the COVID-19 vaccines.

The vaccine is free, and you do not need to show ID or have insurance in order to get it.

The vaccine is free for everyone, whether you have insurance or not. Some vaccinators may ask for insurance information, but you cannot be charged for the appointment or the vaccine itself. You cannot be charged a co-pay or other any other charge from the vaccinator. Those with insurance may have an administration fee or charge from the vaccinator, but that fee is covered by public and private insurance plans and cannot be passed onto to the patient. If you are charged, please first contact the vaccinator and ask that the charge be removed. Second, report this by emailing the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

You cannot be required to provide an ID. A vaccinator may ask for proof of ID to confirm the appointment or match health records, but it cannot be required.

No eligible person who seeks a vaccine in Wisconsin will be turned away from a vaccination site.

Vaccination is important, even if you think your risk is low.

The COVID-19 virus doesn’t care if you’re young or healthy. Young and healthy people have had severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. We also don’t know how many young people become COVID-19 “long-haulers”—people who have suffered from COVID-19 symptoms for months after infection.

While it’s certainly less common for young people to be hospitalized, it does happen. About 20% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Dane County were ages 18-39.  In many young people, COVID-19 symptoms are mild, but there’s just no way to know if you’re someone who will have a few days of discomfort or if you’re someone who needs a ventilator to breathe.

Why take a chance with your health and safety when you can get vaccinated? All three vaccines are extremely effective at preventing hospitalizations and death.

While the vaccines are new, the science behind them is decades old and there is no reason to believe there could be long-term side effects from the vaccines.

Vaccine Safety Basics

All vaccines go through the same four phases of development. No steps were skipped or rushed, despite the speed of the process. Scientists from around the world were able to build on decades of vaccine knowledge to speed up development. Tens of thousands of people of various ages, races and ethnicities participated in vaccine trials to ensure they are safe and effective. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and independent organizations closely reviewed the evidence from those studies. In the time since then, the vaccines have been given to tens of millions of people safely.

FDA Approval vs. Authorization

Full FDA approval requires a vaccine maker to prove efficacy of their vaccine over a year or two. The vaccines simply haven’t been around long enough to attain that yet. This pandemic is exactly why emergency use authorization exists. Thousands of people in the United States were dying each day from this virus. We needed vaccines that had met all the safety and efficacy protocols in trials to be authorized quickly so they could start protecting us all from the virus.

Just because the vaccines have emergency use authorization right now doesn’t mean they’re any less safe. The FDA vaccine advisory committee studied these authorized vaccines just as rigorously as the vaccines that are ultimately granted full authorization. There is no reason to believe these vaccines will not be granted full approval after the full year or two of data is complete.

Adverse Effects

There is no reason to believe there could be long-term side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines. With every vaccine ever created, any adverse side effects have shown up within the first couple of months. This is why the FDA requires eight weeks of post-vaccination data from clinical trials. We like this video from Dr. Paul Offit of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, who explains why we would know by now if there were adverse effects.

The COVID-19 vaccines do not hurt your fertility.

There is no evidence that any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccines, can affect someone’s fertility—either their ability to conceive now or at some time in the future. This myth seemed to start from someone’s misunderstanding that the vaccine mimics a protein on the surface of placental cells. This is not true.

People who participated in the vaccine trials and many people who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccines since have gotten pregnant. In the past several months, even more pregnant people have gotten the vaccine and delivered healthy babies. It’s especially important for a pregnant person to get vaccinated because pregnant people are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness. There is also some evidence that the vaccines in utero provide some protection for newborn babies.

Even if you’ve had COVID-19, getting vaccinated can help keep you healthy.

You should still get vaccinated, even if you’ve already had COVID-19. After someone has been infected with the virus, we don’t know how long they will be protected from getting sick again. While rare, people who have had COVID-19 have gotten reinfected with the virus again.

Getting vaccinated is a way to protect yourself from the virus without risking severe illness, hospitalization, or death from getting COVID-19. The immunity conferred from the COVID-19 vaccines is likely stronger and longer lasting than the immunity someone gets after being infected but scientists are still studying this.

You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

It is not possible to get COVID-19 from any of the vaccines that are currently authorized. None of them contains the actual coronavirus. The vaccine teaches your body how to fight COVD-19 so that if the virus enters your body, your body will know how to fight it.

Refusing to get vaccinated affects all the people in your life.

Someone may say, “Why do you care if I’m vaccinated or not?” The reality is that other people’s vaccination choices affect all of us. To contain the virus, we need a very large percentage of the population to be vaccinated. The more people who refuse the vaccine, the faster the virus is able to replicate and mutate. This creates more risk for all of us.

While the authorized vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death, no vaccine is able to prevent 100% of infections. Additionally, not everyone is able to get vaccinated. While trials are ongoing, it may be many months before infants and children are able to be vaccinated. Some adults, like people on chemotherapy, are not able to be vaccinated. These unprotected groups rely on the people around them being vaccinated to help keep them safe. If many people—especially those you are close to—refuse to get the vaccine, that choice could make others sick.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Public Health Madison & Dane County and a link back to the original post.