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Note: We will continue to update this post as news comes out. This post was last updated on January 5, 2022.
Everyone 5 years of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic.
Check the websites of your state and local departments of health for information about vaccine availability in your area, or visit Vaccines.gov.
Three COVID-19 vaccines are available in the United States: the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine available for children in the 5-11 and 12-15 age groups.
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are administered in two doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose.
What should people with asthma and other respiratory diseases know about the COVID-19 vaccine? Here’s what we know…
Should people with asthma get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, says board-certified allergist Purvi Parikh, MD, national spokesperson for Allergy & Asthma Network. People with underlying medical conditions such as asthma can receive the COVID-19 vaccine as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or any of its ingredients.
“I encourage everyone who is offered or has access to the vaccine to get it as soon as possible,” Dr. Parikh says.
When you do get either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, it’s important to remember to schedule a time for the second dose. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is given 21 days after the first dose, while the second dose of the Moderna vaccine is 28 days.
Should people with asthma get the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot?
The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for everyone ages 12 and older. The booster shot is intended to bolster protection, especially against more transmissible variants. It may be particularly beneficial for people with weak immune systems, including those with asthma and COPD.
Booster shots are available for Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. It is recommended people receive the same vaccine dose as their initial series. According to FDA, people may receive as their booster shot a different vaccine than the one they received as their original dose. Some research suggests this mixing and matching approach may make your vaccine more effective, according to National Institutes of Health.
The booster dose for Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna would be administered six months after a person received the second dose of the vaccine. The booster dose for Johnson & Johnson would be given two months after a person received the dose.
Side effects to the vaccine booster shot are considered similar to side effects of the initial vaccine dose. The booster dose, just like the initial dose, is safe for pregnant women and has not been linked to any fertility concerns.
Should people with asthma who use inhaled corticosteroids, oral corticosteroids or biologics get the COVID-19 vaccine?
People with asthma who use inhaled corticosteroids can get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). There is no evidence to indicate that taking low or moderate doses of inhaled corticosteroids for asthma weaken the immune system and impact the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
People with asthma who take oral corticosteroids can get the COVID-19 vaccine, ACAAI says. However, more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine as there is a potential for a reduced immune response. It may depend on the patient’s daily dose and how long the patient has been on oral corticosteroids.
People who are on biologics for asthma can get the vaccine, but it’s recommended there be a 1-7 day waiting period between injections, according to ACAAI. Contact your doctor before getting the vaccine.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine make you sick with COVID-19?
No. You cannot become sick with the COVID-19 virus from any of the vaccines. The Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines do not contain the “live” virus, according to CDC.
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are Messenger RNA vaccines that contain a synthetic material that mimics the COVID-19 virus. It sends your body a message to produce antibodies and t-cells that build up an immune system defense against COVID-19.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine that uses a common cold virus with genetic code from COVID-19 introduced into it. The vaccine delivers the genetic code to our cells to train our immune system to defend itself against COVID-19.
When the vaccines start to teach our bodies how to recognize and fight the COVID-19 virus, this can cause you to experience symptoms:
- muscular or joint pain
These symptoms are normal as the body builds protection against the virus. They usually go away within a day.
It can take a couple weeks for the body to build immunity. It is possible you could become infected with COVID-19 either just before you’re vaccinated or shortly after, before your body builds protection.
Can you get sick with COVID-19 even after you have been vaccinated?
Yes, people can still catch the virus after getting vaccinated. CDC is calling these “vaccine breakthrough cases.” However, most people who do get COVID-19 post-vaccination develop mild symptoms and are less likely to get hospitalized or die from the virus.
Remember, no vaccine is 100% effective. In clinical trials, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was shown to be 95% effective in preventing symptomatic illness. The Moderna vaccine was shown to be 94.5% effective in preventing symptomatic illness. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, and 85% effective in preventing severe or critical disease.
What should I do until I get the vaccine?
While you wait to schedule your vaccine appointment, follow all guidance to protect yourself against COVID-19. This includes:
- Wear a mask
- Keep at least 6 feet away from others and avoid crowds
- Wash hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
If you have asthma, keep it under control by following your Asthma Action Plan and taking your medications as prescribed.