COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Can the vaccine make me sick from COVID-19 or can I spread COVID-19 to someone after receiving the vaccine?

  • mRNA vaccines do not contain actual virus and do not carry a risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person, or of the person being vaccinated spreading the disease. Following vaccination, a person can develop some fevers and chills which is the body’s natural response when creating the antibodies, but this should not be confused with a COVID infection.

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have recently been infected with the COVID-19 virus?

  • At a minimum, any vaccination should be deferred until recovery from acute illness and/or end of quarantine period.
  • People who have received COVID-19 antibodies (either through plasma or monoclonal antibody medications) may receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but it should be deferred for at least 90 days.
  • Current evidence suggests reinfection is unlikely in the 90 days after initial infection. Persons with documented acute infection in the preceding 90 days may defer vaccination until the end of this period.

Should people be tested for COVID-19 or antibodies prior to administration of the vaccine?

  • No, it is not recommended a person obtain a COVID test or COVID antibody test prior to vaccination.
  • If you are not experiencing symptoms, it is not necessary to be tested for COVID-19 prior to vaccination.
  • Vaccination is recommended regardless of prior infection; thus, presence or absence of antibodies does not need to be confirmed prior to vaccination.

Can immunocompromised people receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Persons with HIV infection and other immunocompromised conditions, or who take immunosuppressive medications or therapies, might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19.
  • These individuals may still receive COVID-19 vaccine unless otherwise contraindicated. Please speak to your provider.
  • Individuals should be counseled about:
    • Unknown vaccine safety and efficacy profiles in immunocompromised persons;
    • Potential for reduced immune responses;
    • Need to continue to follow all current guidelines to protect themselves against COVID-19.

Can persons who have received COVID-19 antibody infusion therapy (i.e., bamlanivimab or casarivimab/imdavimab) or Convalescent plasma still get the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Currently there is no data on safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination in persons who have received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment.
  • Vaccination should be deferred for at least 90 days to avoid interference of the treatment with vaccine induced immunity. This is based on estimated half-life of therapies and evidence suggesting reinfection is uncommon within 90 days of initial infection.

Can persons with underlying medical conditions be vaccinated?

  • This vaccine may be administered to persons with underlying medical conditions who have no contraindications to vaccination.
  • Phase 2/3 clinical trials demonstrated similar safety and efficacy profiles in persons with underlying medical conditions, including those who are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19, compared to persons without comorbidities.

Can persons who are Breastfeeding / Lactation be vaccinated?

  • There are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or milk production/excretion.
  • mRNA vaccines are not considered live virus vaccines and are not thought to be a risk to the breastfed infant.
  • If a lactating woman is part of a group (i.e. healthcare personnel) who is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, she may choose to be vaccinated.

Can pregnant women be vaccinated?

  • There is no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant woman, but studies in humans are ongoing and more are planned.
  • mRNA vaccines are not live, and are degraded quickly by normal cellular processes and do not enter the nucleus of the cell. (As per the talk, the mRNA may not even be systemic and really may be localized to the injection site and regional lymph nodes).
  • COVID-19 in pregnant patients are associated with increased risk of severe illness (ICU admission, mechanical ventilation and death) and may be associated with increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes (i.e., preterm birth).
  • If a pregnant woman is part of a group (i.e., healthcare workers) recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, she may choose to be vaccinated. A discussion with her healthcare provider is appropriate and necessary to help her make an informed decision.
  • A letter from the provider stating the patient is suitable for vaccination is required prior to scheduling. This letter can be faxed to (215)345-2064, hand delivered to Occupational Health or emailed into

Should I be concerned about allergies and the vaccine?

  • For history of allergies, please refer to the following chart

Should I be concerned about getting the COVID-19 vaccine if I have a history of an egg allergy?

  • No. Since the mRNA vaccines do not contain whole or part of a virus they do not need to be grown in eggs or cells like the flu vaccine so this is not a contraindication. Any person with food allergies or other allergies are going to be observe from 15-30 minutes after vaccination to be on the safe side.

Should I take Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen) before I get the vaccine?

  • There is currently not any specific information pre-treating with acetaminophen or ibuprofen with the vaccines. Right now, we are recommending if people need to take something for fever or pain, that the preferred agent is probably acetaminophen (Tylenol) in case the anti-inflammatory effect of NSAIDs like ibuprofen blunt any immune response. There is no known issue with the NSAIDs decreasing the immune response of these vaccines but just recommending out of caution until we know more. Of note, research studies did look at “antipyretic or pain medication” use after the vaccine as an adverse event in the Pfizer study but there is not data on which medications were included in this list nor if it had any impact on efficacy. There were about 20-30% usage after the first dose and about 35-45% usage after the second dose.