The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have released detailed information about why and how vaccines keep us safer and healthier. Here are some key reasons to get vaccinated as soon as you have the opportunity.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe.
All three of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States have been shown to be safe. None of the vaccines contain live virus, and they cannot infect recipients with COVID-19. Side effects are generally mild, and may include pain at the injection site, a headache, chills or fever, all of which generally resolve within 24-48 hours. In extremely rare instances, allergic reactions have occurred. These reactions can be effectively and immediately treated at the vaccination clinic; this is why it is important that you remain at the clinic for 15 to 30 minutes after receiving your shot.

COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective.
Each of the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. is proven to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19, especially severe disease. You should not wait for a specific vaccine—take the first vaccine that is offered to you!

COVID-19 vaccines allow you to do more.
Once you have been fully vaccinated—meaning, at least two weeks have passed since your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine—you can start doing more in your own life, including gathering indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. Based on your living circumstances, you may also be able to gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, provided those individuals do not have increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Some things won’t change immediately, however. Even those who have been fully vaccinated must continue to physically distance and wear masks in public, when visiting with those at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and when gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one other household. Pitt’s health and safety rules are also not changing at this time. Even fully vaccinated people must continue to observe all the regular mitigation measures while the vaccine rollout process continues.

COVID-19 vaccines will help to end the pandemic.
Ending the pandemic requires all of us to use every tool available to us. That means we must all wear our face coverings, practice physical distancing and get vaccines if and when we are able. More importantly, the more people who get vaccinated, the lower the circulation of COVID-19 will be—and the fewer chances the disease will have to mutate. 

COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested.
Clinical trials for all three of the vaccines included people of all races and genders. Tests were also conducted across a range of ages, though no vaccine is currently recommended for those under age 16.   

COVID-19 vaccines protect against variants.
While much is still being learned about the level of protection provided, all three vaccines provide some protection against new virus variants. It is possible that, going forward, people will need COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to help bolster protection against these variants, much like a seasonal flu shot.