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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 COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in San Diego County. Thousands of people have been vaccinated, and more doses are on the way. There‘s no out-of-pocket cost for the vaccine, and more vaccination sites are opening each week.

In this video, San Diego Health host Susan Taylor talks with Mark Shalauta, MD, a family medicine physician at Scripps Clinic and a member of the Scripps Vaccine Advisory Committee, about how the vaccine works, what to expect and more.

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.”

The COVID-19 vaccine is 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.

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. 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.

Dr. Shalauta urges patience as the vaccines are distributed.

“We‘re relying on federal, state, and county government to supply us vaccines. There‘s going to be a lot of speed bumps and frustration, but I think things are just going to get better and better,” he says.

Scripps will be offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments through MyScripps. Scripps patients who haven‘t enrolled in a MyScripps account can do so at the MyScripps sign-up page. Additional vaccination appointments are offered through the County of San Diego at or visit for additional locations.