Answering Patients’ Questions About COVID-19 Vaccine and Vaccination


Information for Healthcare Providers and Pharmacists

CDC now recommends that people aged 65 years and older, residents in long-term care settings, and people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine at least 6 months after completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series. Other groups may receive a booster shot based on their individual risk and benefit. Learn more. Patients seek health information from trusted sources, including healthcare providers and pharmacists. Your patients often consider you as one of their most trusted sources of information when it comes to vaccines. Your answers to their questions matter and will help them make an informed decision about getting a COVID-19 vaccination. Be clear and make a strong recommendation when you provide answers. Use language that assumes they will want to get vaccinated when it’s available to them.

Prepare yourself to answer common questions about COVID-19 vaccines you may be asked by your patients. Some patients will have questions about COVID-19 vaccination even after you give your strong recommendation. These are new vaccines, and it’s normal for patients to have questions about them. If a patient questions your recommendation about COVID-19 vaccination, this does not necessarily mean they will not accept a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccine safety given the speed of vaccine development and rollout

The federal government has worked since the start of the pandemic to make COVID-19 vaccines available as soon as possible. This accelerated timeline is unprecedented. Some people are concerned that vaccine safety may have been sacrificed in favor of speed. However, as with all vaccines, safety is a top priority in the United States and globally.

Key Points

  • Millions of people in the United States and around the world have received COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.

  • The United States is using established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

  • Results from U.S. and global monitoring efforts are reassuring. No unexpected patterns of reactions or other safety concerns have been identified during early vaccine safety monitoring. And, if they show up, we have systems in place to quickly identify them and take action.

  • All of the currently authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines, have been carefully reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA is responsible for reviewing all safety data from clinical trials to determine if the expected benefits of vaccination outweigh potential risks.

  • Learn more about FDA’s emergency use authorization (EUA) in this video.

  • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviewed all safety data before recommending the current COVID-19 vaccines for use. Learn how ACIP makes vaccine recommendations.


Natural immunity versus vaccine immunity

Because some people with COVID-19 can have very mild symptoms, some may see natural infection as preferable to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Some people may be concerned that getting a COVID-19 vaccine could make them sicker if they do get COVID-19.

Key Points

  • COVID-19 can cause severe illness or death, and we can’t reliably predict who will have mild or severe illness. You can also spread COVID-19 to others, including family. And, some people continue to have long-term health issues after COVID-19 infection.

  • Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. However, experts don’t know for sure how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity.

  • Currently available vaccines have been tested in large clinical trials and FDA has determined that they are safe and effective.

  • The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine for use under what is known as an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Watch a video on what an EUA is.

  • Millions of Americans have already been vaccinated and these vaccines are undergoing the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. The same vaccines are used globally and the World Health Organization reports that hundreds of millions of vaccinations have been administered.

  • Once you’ve been fully vaccinated, you are able to more safely do some things, including travel.

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