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The COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need to Know (video)

How it works, safety, side effects and benefits of vaccination

How it works, safety, side effects and benefits of vaccination


The number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise, mainly due to the highly contagious Delta variant. But there is hope. Vaccines are widely available, and are both safe and effective.


People who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated wherever possible and as soon as possible to help protect themselves and those around them from the spread of the disease.


In this video, San Diego Health host Susan Taylor and guest Mark Shalauta, MD, a family medicine physician at Scripps Clinic and a member of the Scripps Vaccine Advisory Committee, discuss the COVID-19 vaccine, how it works, safety and possible side effects and the importance of getting vaccinated.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

According to Dr. Shalauta, the vaccine creates immunity to the disease without giving you the disease.


“It creates a memory immune response. If you get an injection and if in the future you are exposed to the disease, your body has a way to combat that,” says Dr. Shalauta. “You cannot get COVID disease from the vaccine.”


Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended in the United States to prevent COVID-19: Pfeizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.


The Pfeizer and Moderna vaccines are both a series of two injections given 21 to 28 days apart. While the first shot provides 50% immunity or possibly more, that initial protection wanes rather quickly. The second shot boosts immunity memory response to 95% or higher, so it’s important to get both shots. Moreover, both injections must be from the same vaccine manufacturer.


The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one injection.

What are common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Common side effects from the vaccine include body aches, headaches and fatigue; these are typical reactions as your body ramps up its immune response. It’s also important to continue to wear a mask after being vaccinated – the shots help protect you from being infected, but you may still spread the virus to others.


While some people are concerned about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, especially because it was developed so quickly, Dr. Shalauta says it is safe and followed the same scientific process as other vaccines. Additional funding helped the vaccine become available sooner.

Is it safe for everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is believed to be okay for just about everyone to get the vaccine, including individuals with an underlying medical condition and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have a compromised immune system or live with someone who does, it is still safe to get the vaccine, as it cannot give you COVID-19.


“There are very few exceptions to who can get the vaccine,” says Dr. Shalauta. “People who may be allergic to one of the vaccine components, which can be found on the CDC website, should not get it. Anyone who has had COVID, or been treated for COVID-19 in an infusion center with monoclonal antibodies, should wait 90 days to get the vaccine.”


If you have been vaccinated for something else, such as the flu or shingles, you should wait at least 14 days before getting the COVID vaccine.

Get vaccinated

If you are a Scripps patient and have not been vaccinated, don’t wait.


Scripps is currently offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments through its patient portal, MyScripps.org. Scripps patients who haven‘t enrolled in a MyScripps account can do so at the MyScripps sign-up page. Patients can also schedule a vaccine appointment by calling 858-227-6711.


Additional vaccine location sites may be found through the County of San Diego, or Vaccines.gov, which is co-sponsored by the CDC.