If you’ve had COVID, are pregnant, have allergies or other health conditions, here’s what you need to know.
The COVID-19 vaccine supply is currently limited, but is expected to become more widely available during the spring or summer. Whether you are eligible to get the vaccine right now or will be in the coming months, you may be wondering whether or not you should get vaccinated if you have certain health conditions.
Although the goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible to stop the spread of the virus, not everyone should be vaccinated. Read on for answers from the CDC to common questions about current vaccine recommendations. Be sure to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your doctor.
Should you be vaccinated if you already had COVID-19?
The CDC recommends vaccination even if you already had COVID-19. That’s because levels of natural immunity vary from person to person and it is unknown how long natural immunity to the virus lasts. Keep in mind that you need to recover from the virus and meet the criteria to come out of isolation before being vaccinated. You should also wait 90 days before getting vaccinated after receiving monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 symptoms.
Can people with underlying health conditions get the vaccine?
Having underlying health conditions should not be a reason to avoid vaccination. In fact, people with some medical conditions, including cancer, COPD, heart conditions, obesity and type 2 diabetes, are included in a high-priority vaccination group designated by the CDC. That’s because these conditions, as well as others, increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Can you be vaccinated if you have allergies?
Severe reactions to the vaccine are rare, but you should not get vaccinated if you’ve had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccines. You also should not get the vaccine if you are allergic to polysorbate, which is closely related to an ingredient in the vaccines called polyethylene glycol (PEG). If you have a severe or immediate allergic reaction to your first COVID-19 vaccine dose, you should not get a second dose.
If you’ve had an immediate allergic reaction (severe or not) to another type of vaccine or injectable medicine, talk to your doctor about whether or not you should get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have allergies unrelated to vaccines or injectable medicines (such as allergies to medications, food, pets, latex or environmental factors), you can be vaccinated.
Can you get the vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding?
People who are pregnant or breastfeeding may get vaccinated, but should talk to their doctor first. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding about vaccination:
- Pregnancy increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- Having COVID-19 during pregnancy may increase the risk of premature birth
- Initial clinical trials did not include pregnant women (although a small number of participants became pregnant during the studies), so data about the safety of vaccination during pregnancy is limited
- Experts don’t believe the vaccines are risky for pregnant women or their unborn babies (but as mentioned before, data is limited)
- Vaccine safety in breastfeeding women has not been studied, but experts don’t believe getting vaccinated poses a risk to vaccine recipients’ babies
- More data will become available in the future, since studies of vaccines in these groups are planned
Can children be vaccinated?
There are currently no COVID-19 vaccines recommended for children under age 16 since this age group was not included in the original studies. Research is underway to determine if vaccines are safe for children. Once there is more data, recommendations will be made regarding which vaccines are safe for specific age groups.
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Date Last Reviewed: January 21, 2021
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD