Will the vaccine affect my DNA or my fertility? Get answers to the most common questions about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in this list of FAQs.
Q: What is the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine?
A: The Pfizer-BioNTech product is a vaccine authorized under emergency use that may prevent you from getting COVID-19. Because this is an emergency utilization of the vaccine, this product has not been granted full approval yet. This means the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined at this time that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the risks.
Q: Will this vaccine affect my DNA?
A: No, it does not enter the part of your cell where your DNA is found (the nucleus) and therefore will not change or alter your DNA.
Q: Who can receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine?
A: The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and recommended for people ages 12 and older.
Q: How many doses will I receive and at what intervals?
A: All people for whom vaccination is indicated should receive two doses no fewer than 21 days apart.
Q: Should I receive the vaccine if I have an underlying medical condition?
A: Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for and can be administered to most people with underlying medical conditions.
Q: Is the vaccine recommended for people with weakened immune systems?
A: People with conditions leading to weakened immune systems due to illnesses or medication might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19. They may receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, talk to your healthcare provider. Even after vaccination, you may need to continue taking all precautions.
Q: How safe is the vaccine for me if I am of childbearing age?
A: If you are trying to get pregnant now or in the future, would-be parents can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. There currently is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause female or male fertility problems — problems getting pregnant. The CDC does not recommend routine pregnancy testing before COVID-19 vaccination. If you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. As with all vaccines, scientists are studying COVID-19 vaccines carefully for side effects and will report findings as they become available.
Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
A: No. None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means the COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause mild symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus.
Q: Is the vaccine safe for pregnant women?
A: Pregnant women may choose to get the vaccine; however, they should discuss the vaccine with their healthcare provider first in order to ensure they are well-informed about the potential risks and benefits.
Q: Is the vaccine safe for nursing mothers?
A: Yes, lactating mothers can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Q: Am I eligible to receive the vaccine if I tested positive for COVID-19 in the past?
A: People should get the COVID-19 vaccine regardless of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 infection. If you currently are diagnosed with COVID-19, you should wait until you have recovered from illness and can discontinue isolation (at least 10 days from symptom onset and 24 hours without fever).
Q: What are the most common side effects of the vaccine?
A: Pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever are the most common side effects and should resolve in two to three days. Most people will experience more of these side effects following the administration of the second injection.
Q: Can I take the COVID-19 vaccine if I am currently sick or have COVID-19 symptoms?
A: No. You will need to be free of COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, in order to be vaccinated. Temperatures will be checked at the time of vaccination, and anyone with a fever will not be vaccinated.