FAQs COVID-19 Vaccine: Vaccine development and safety

April 18, 2021

Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? We have answers! You can also see part 2 of this blog post for more answers to your questions.

How do the COVID-19 vaccines work? Can the vaccines give me COVID-19?

All of the current vaccines give the cells in your body instructions that teach your immune system how to recognize and fight the COVID-19 virus. The vaccines do not change your DNA in any way. DNA is the part of your genes that contains instructions for how your body grows and works. None of the vaccines contain the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccines will not give you COVID-19.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The vaccines received emergency use authorization (EAU) because they met the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) strict scientific standards for safety, effectiveness and quality. EUA allows products to be used in certain situations, such as a public health emergency. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines and have been closely monitored for safety.

How were the COVID-19 vaccines made so quickly?

It usually takes many years to develop and test a vaccine. But scientists have been studying coronaviruses and how to protect people against them for years before the COVID-19 pandemic began. This research helped them quickly create vaccines that protect against COVID-19. To save more time, the vaccine was made at the same time it was being studied in clinical trials.

Were people of color were included in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials?

Yes. The FDA is working to make sure that clinical trials include a variety of people, especially for COVID-19 vaccine trials. Here are the participation levels for the first two COVID-19 vaccines to undergo clinical trials:

Number of participants- Pfizer Vaccine Trial

  • American Indian/Alaska Native: 253
  • Asian: 1,763
  • Black or African American: 3,829
  • Hispanic or Latino: 10,553
  • Multiracial: 1,016
  • Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander: 83
  • White: 33,006

Number of participants- Moderna Vaccine Trial:

  • All people of color: 10,156
  • American Indian/Alaska Native: 217
  • Asian: 1,300
  • Black or African American: 2,707
  • Hispanic or Latino: 5,552
  • Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander: 63
  • Other: 591
  • White: 22,083

The percentage of people of color included in these trials is similar to the percentage of people of color in the U.S. population.

Were the vaccines found to be any less safe or effective for people of color?

No. During the clinical trials, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were just as safe and effective for people of color as they are for white people.

Should pregnant people get the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you are pregnant, you may choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant people who have COVID-19 are at higher risk for serious illness and pregnancy problems such as preterm birth. Clinical trials are studying the vaccine in pregnant people. And, vaccine safety is being monitored. You can enroll in a safety monitoring system such as the CDC’s V-safe program. So far, there have not been any safety concerns for pregnant people.

Is the vaccine safe for people who have a disability or a health condition?

Having a disability alone doesn’t make you at greater risk for serious illness with COVID-19. But research shows you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 if you have certain health conditions, such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, Down syndrome, heart conditions, certain lung conditions, diabetes and other conditions. As of now, research shows that most people with these health conditions can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Talk with your provider if you have questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit marchofdimes.org/covid19 for more information