Vaccine Hesitancy Q&A

In a study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, West Virginians listed their main concerns surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination and their reasons for not getting vaccinated/completing vaccination.

Addressing West Virginian’s Concerns

Information sourced from West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources COVID -19 Frequently Asked Questions
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (2022, September 2). COVID-19
Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved September 9, 2022 from

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of volunteers in clinical trials that met the same rigorous standards set by the U.S. FDA for all vaccines. Although side effects from vaccination can occur, they are usually mild to moderate and short lived. Severe reactions to the vaccine are extremely rare (see more below). COVID-19 vaccines have been safely administered to billions of people in the U.S. and around the world. COVID-19 vaccines have had the most robust safety monitoring in history.”

Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalizations, and death. The majority of people with severe illness who are hospitalized or pass away from COVID-19 complications in West Virginia have been unvaccinated. Keeping up-to-date with vaccination, including booster shots when due, is the best protection against existing variants and keeping new variants from forming (variants are new strains that happen when a virus is able to spread and mutate).

Are there COVID-19 vaccination side effects?

Sometimes. Some people have mild to moderate side effects that happen within the first few days of vaccination, and others don’t feel anything. Side effects after vaccination are a sign the body is building immunity to fight the virus. Common responses are pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Some people also feel tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, or nausea. Hundreds of millions in the U.S. have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most rigorous safety monitoring in history. The known risks of COVID-19 illness and its complications far outweigh potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination. Safety reports have identified extremely rare adverse events:

What is myocarditis/pericarditis, and how is it related to COVID-19?

Myocarditis/pericarditis is inflammation in or around the heart. Many things cause heart inflammation, such as viral or bacterial infections and medical conditions. Myocarditis/pericarditis can happen from COVID-19 disease. In very rare cases, it has been reported after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer or Moderna), particularly among male teens and young adults.

Risk of myocarditis/pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination is lower than risk of myocarditis from getting COVID-19 disease. The known risks of COVID-19 illness and its complications far outweigh potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination.

How do COVID-19 vaccinations work?

COVID-19 vaccines work by helping the body’s immune system build antibodies to recognize and fight the virus. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are made of sugar, salts, lipids (fats), and messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA is used to make protein, which teaches our cells how to recognize the virus. COVID-19 vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. The mRNA breaks down and goes away quickly, leaving in its place the blueprint for protection.

What are “variants” and how do they relate to vaccination?

Viruses constantly change, allowing new variants (or strains) of a virus to form. Some variants spread more easily and quickly. Getting any strain can lead to severe illness, including in younger people. COVID-19 shots protect against the virus and are the strongest tool to prevent new variants from forming.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or want to become pregnant?

Yes. People who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or want to become pregnant are recommended to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring and research studies have not identified any concerns for vaccinated pregnant people or their babies. Vaccinated pregnant and breastfeeding people can even pass along immunity to protect their babies for a few months.

Also, pregnant and recently pregnant people who get COVID-19 disease have an increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications, such as preterm birth and stillbirth. Pregnant people with symptomatic COVID-19 have a 70% increased risk of death.

For those considering pregnancy, recent research has shown vaccination is safe for fertility (getting pregnant) and safe for early pregnancy outcomes. In fact, some of the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants became pregnant, and many West Virginians have gotten pregnant after vaccination.

If I had COVID-19 and recovered, should I still get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. You are at risk of contracting COVID-19 again without protection from vaccination. Immunity from previously having COVID-19 can wear off, and previous infection does not give adequate protection against new variants. People who had minimal or no symptoms with a previous COVID-19 infection could get severe disease with another infection. Someone who currently has COVID-19 may get vaccinated after their isolation period. 

Is it ok to get a COVID-19 shot when getting other vaccines?

Yes. COVID-19 shots can be received at and around the same time as others, such as a flu shot or other immunizations.

Is it possible to get/give COVID-19 to others by getting vaccinated?

No. It is impossible for COVID-19 vaccines to infect anyone with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines free?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are readily available and free of charge for the person getting vaccinated.”

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