Is there a vaccine against COVID-19?
As of May 2021, some COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized in some countries. WHO has also granted authorization to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, to two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine - SKBio and the Serum Institute of India-, the Janssen vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. Other vaccines continue to be assessed.
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Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Vaccine safety is always a top priority, and this is no different for COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccines go through clinical trial phases before they are approved for use in the population. These trials aim to ensure the safety and ability of the vaccine to protect against the disease (efficacy).
The vaccines that are being developed against COVID-19 are following these same phases. COVID-19 vaccines will not be approved or introduced in countries for use in the general population until their safety has been proven to regulatory agencies. Likewise, WHO will not grant an Emergency Use Listing until it has analyzed all of the trial data. After COVID-19 vaccines are approved, monitoring for safety continues. This monitoring is a normal part of immunization programs and is done for all vaccines.
Are COVID-19 vaccines efficacious?
The COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for use in some countries have provided information, through their clinical trials, on how effective they are at preventing the disease. National regulatory agencies then analyze this data to authorize them. The effectiveness of the vaccines continues to be closely monitored even after they have been introduced in a country. Only those vaccines that have proven to be effective at preventing the disease will be approved to be used in the population.
Which vaccines have been approved and where?
As of May 2021, there are some COVID-19 vaccines for which certain national regulatory authorities have authorized their use. WHO has also granted authorization to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, to two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine - SKBio and the Serum Institute of India-, the Janssen vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.
For more detailed information on where certain vaccines have been approved, please visit: COVID-19 vaccine tracker
How will individuals access COVID-19 vaccines?
As vaccines against COVID-19 are available, individuals will be able to access them through their countries´ National Immunization Programs.
When will vaccines against COVID-19 be available in my country?
While some countries in our Region have granted Emergency authorization to certain vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines are still unavailable in most countries. PAHO encourages the people of the Americas to follow information from their national health authorities to determine when COVID-19 vaccines will be available in each country of the Region.
Which vaccine should I get? Which one is the best?
PAHO encourages people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with whichever vaccine is offered to them by their national health authorities when they are eligible.
For more information on the different vaccines please visit:
How do mRNA vaccines work? Are they new?
mRNA vaccines provide instructions to our bodies for them to produce a small part of the virus, that in turn, our immune system will react to protect us. These vaccines are new but not unknown. Researchers have been studying and working with them for decades for other diseases like flu and Zika.
For more information see: How do mRNA COVID-19 vaccines work? (Video)
Are mRNA vaccines safe?
mRNA vaccines are being held to the same rigorous safety standards as all other vaccines. Vaccines are not approved or rolled out for use in the general population until the safety data has been thoroughly reviewed by regulatory agencies and WHO.
Is it better to get COVID-19 naturally than to get vaccinated against it?
No. Vaccines build immunity without the damaging effects that COVID-19 can have, including long-term effects and death. Allowing the disease to spread until herd immunity is reached could cause millions of deaths and even more people living with the long-term effects of the virus.
How long does the immunity given by the COVID-19 vaccine last?
As of January 2021, there are still many unknowns for most of the COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed. Of those vaccines that have been granted Emergency Use Authorizations, we still do not know how long the vaccines´ protection lasts. This question and others will be answered in the coming months, as the vaccines are further studied.
Will COVID-19 vaccination be required every year?
To date, research has continued to determine the duration of immunity (protection) provided by the COVID-19 vaccines that are available. Additionally, the protection of the vaccines against the new SARS-CoV-2 variants continues to be studies. We will have the answer to this and other questions as we have more studies in the vaccinated populations that will determine whether annual vaccinations or vaccinations at different periods will be necessary.
Can different COVID-19 vaccines be used in the same country?
Yes, it is possible. In fact, it is possible that a country may need to use vaccines from different platforms or manufacturers. For this reason, PAHO/WHO has recommended strengthening the immunization registration systems, as this is key to keep track of the type of vaccine received by each person and to follow up on when the second dose is administered. PAHO also suggests that everyone who is vaccinated keeps their vaccination card.
How are countries preparing to monitor and potentially address any adverse events following immunization (AEFI) with COVID-19 vaccines?
With PAHO’s support, countries in the Americas are working to strengthen and develop surveillance systems to identify and respond quickly to any adverse effects following immunization (AEFIs). This is a routine step when introducing any new vaccines into the regular national immunization schedules to monitor their safety and effectiveness.
How will the COVID-19 vaccination campaign be synchronized with the annual influenza campaigns?
PAHO/WHO recommends that COVID-19 vaccines not be administered at the same time as other vaccines, including influenza vaccines. They should be separated by a period of at least 14 days. This recommendation may change as more evidence becomes available.
All countries should continue routine immunization programs during the pandemic, including influenza vaccination in countries that have introduced this vaccine - especially in at-risk populations.