What do flossing, fluoride and the COVID-19 vaccine have in common? Preventing disease.
Your dentist cares for your mouth because your oral health is essential to your overall health. Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, your dentist has been working to put your health and safety first by taking extra steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the dental office.
It’s still important to take precautions against COVID-19, including washing your hands, avoiding crowds when you’re sick and getting vaccinated. Here’s what the CDC (and your dentist!) want you to know about COVID-19 vaccines.
1. The Vaccines are Safe and Effective
Anyone 6 months or older can get the vaccine. As doctors of oral health, credible scientific information is important to us when recommending treatments for our patients. While these vaccines were developed in a shorter time frame than some other vaccines, it’s important to know that the science behind them was not rushed. And as of September 2023, 230 million people in the US (69.5% of the population) have been fully vaccinated.
2. The Vaccine Won’t Make You Sick, But It Does Have Some Side Effects
There is no possible way COVID-19 vaccines can give you COVID-19. They might, however, come with some mild side effects that make you feel uncomfortable for a short time.
Because vaccines teach your body how to recognize and fight off a COVID-19 infection, you might feel some of the symptoms you’d get if your body were fighting off the real virus, such as a fever, according to the CDC. While unpleasant, this is actually a sign the vaccine is working in your body.
3. You Should Still Get the Vaccine Even If You’ve Had COVID-19
Those who have recovered from COVID-19 have some natural immunity that may protect them from getting sick again. Data from the CDC shows that vaccination of people who have had COVID-19 significantly improves their level of protection against being infected again and against having serious COVID-19 illness. The CDC recommends that people who’ve had COVID-19 still get the vaccine.
4. Stay Up to Date on Your Vaccine
As of September 2023, the CDC recommends everyone six months old and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against potentially serious outcomes of the virus.
The COVID-19 virus is constantly changing, and protection from vaccines declines over time. Receiving an updated vaccine can protect you from new variants currently responsible for most infections and hospitalizations in the U.S.
5. When to Wear a Mask
Being vaccinated is your best protection against becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. Still, masks can be an important tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19. If you choose to wear a mask, the CDC recommends a high-quality mask that fits well over your nose and mouth.
Your dentist may also ask you to continue wearing a mask in the waiting room if state or local jurisdictions have guidelines around masking. Dental offices need to adhere to those guidelines or mandates.
All dental team members will continue wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and following strict infection control protocols during exams and procedures.
6. You Can Get the Vaccine If You Are Planning to Get Pregnant
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends vaccination for those who are pregnant. Whether you are planning to get pregnant soon or in the future, you should still get the vaccine when it is available to you. The CDC states there is no evidence that the antibodies created from COVID-19 vaccines will cause problems with a pregnancy. The CDC also says there is no evidence that fertility issues are a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine.
7. Where to Find a Vaccine
Not sure where to get your vaccine? The CDC created easy-to-use tools to help you find one near you:
- Visit Vaccines.gov to search by vaccine type and zip code.
- Text GETVAX (438829) for English or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish to receive vaccine sites on your phone.
- Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 1-800-232-0233.
Have more questions? Talk to your dentist or physician. You can also visit the CDC’s website for more information about COVID-19 vaccines and find contact information for your local health department.