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How do I know the vaccines are safe?

Healthy skepticism about the vaccines is normal. The vaccines were tested in large clinical trials to make sure they meet safety standards. Thousands of clinical trial participants were recruited to see how the vaccines offer protection to adults and racial/ethnic minority groups, including Black/African American people. Moving forward, the FDA will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines to make sure even very rare side effects are identified and reported.

What can I do once I’m fully vaccinated?

If you’re fully vaccinated, you can participate in many of the activities that you did before the pandemic. To maximize protection from the highly contagious Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask inside public places if you’re in an area of substantial or high spread of COVID-19.

If you’re not yet vaccinated, you should continue to:

  • Wear a mask when inside public places.
  • Keep at least 6 feet part from people who don’t live with you and who may not be vaccinated.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated people must still follow federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial laws, rules, and regulations. That includes public transportation, airports/airplanes, local business, and workplace guidance.

Do people with compromised immune systems need extra doses of a COVID-19 vaccine?

People with compromised immune systems are less able to fight infections. If any of the following apply to you, you may not be fully protected from COVID-19 even if you’ve received two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s or Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine:

  • You have a moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency disorder, such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.
  • You have an advanced or untreated HIV infection.
  • You’ve ever had an organ transplant or had a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years.
  • You’re being treated with corticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medicines for such conditions as arthritis, asthma, or an autoimmune disease like lupus, sarcoidosis, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.
  • You’re being treated for cancer.

To get the most benefit from the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, people with compromised immune systems should get a third dose. Wait at least 4 weeks after you get your second dose to get your third dose. An FDA and CDC review of data for Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine will determine whether a second dose is appropriate for people with compromised immune systems.

You should also continue to follow current COVID-19 prevention measures until your health care provider says it’s safe for you to stop:

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth around people you don’t live with and when inside public places.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water aren’t available.

At what point should I get a COVID-19 test?

There is no limit to how often you can be tested for COVID-19. If you are unsure whether you need to get a COVID-19 test, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have any symptoms of COVID-19?
  • Have I been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19?
  • Have I been in any situation or taken part in any activity where it was impossible to socially distance or that placed me at a higher risk of getting COVID-19?
  • Have I been asked to get tested by my school’s health department, my health care provider, or my state’s health department?

If you have answered yes to any one of these questions, even if you're fully vaccinated, then you may need to get tested for COVID-19. However, there are some exceptions:

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and have recovered, then you don’t need to get tested following an exposure as long as you do not develop any new symptoms.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus, and how do they compare to the common cold or flu?

People with COVID-19 have reported symptoms ranging from mild to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2–14 days after exposure to the virus. People with the following symptoms may have had or may currently have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all of the possible symptoms. For an updated list of symptoms, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus. CDC will continue to update the symptom list as more information becomes available.

Because some symptoms of the common cold and flu are similar to COVID-19, it may be hard to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. Testing may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis.

What’s the best mask to wear?

When selecting a mask to wear, there are many options to choose from. Here are some dos and don’ts when selecting a mask.

Do:

  • Select a mask that has two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric.
  • Select a mask that completely covers your nose and mouth.
  • Select a mask that fits snugly against the sides of your face and doesn’t have gaps.
  • Select a mask that has a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.

Don’t:

  • Select a mask that is made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, like vinyl.
  • Select a mask that has exhalation valves or vents that allow virus particles to escape.
  • Select a mask that is intended for health care workers, including N95 respirators.

The following masks are currently recommended by CDC:

  • Medical procedure masks (also known as surgical masks or disposable masks) not intended for medical use.
  • Masks that fit properly (snugly around nose and chin with no large gaps around sides of face;
  • Masks made with breathable fabric (such as cotton).
  • Masks made with tightly woven fabric (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source).
  • Masks with two or three layers.
  • Masks with inner filter pockets.
  • Gaiters with two layers or that can be folded to make two layers.

Remember to wear a mask when you're inside public places and when you’re around people who don’t live with you and who may not be vaccinated. By masking up, we can all continue to slow the spread. For more information on masks, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html