COVID-19 Vaccines: 7 Things Your Dentist Wants You to Know
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. Throughout 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.
Now, we have COVID-19 vaccines to add to the other tools we’ve all been using to fight the pandemic — like wearing masks, washing our hands and avoiding crowds. As vaccines become available to more people, you may have some questions about them. Here’s what the CDC (and your dentist!) want you to know about COVID-19 vaccines.
1. The Vaccines are Safe and Effective
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. These vaccines were tested by thousands of people to make sure they work and are safe for patients like you. The Food and Drug Administration reviewed the data from the tests and authorized them for emergency use after determining they are safe and effective for the public.
As an additional safety measure, the CDC has set up expanded safety monitoring systems like the V-Safe smartphone tool to monitor vaccinations in real time.
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 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, but some people do get re-infected. It’s unclear how long natural immunity to COVID-19 lasts and it can vary from person to person. The CDC recommends that people who’ve had COVID-19 still get the vaccine.
4. Get All Recommended Doses
If you are receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, you need two doses to get the same level of efficacy seen in the clinical trials. For the Pfizer vaccine, the second dose is recommended three weeks after the first. For the Moderna vaccine, the second dose is recommended four weeks after the first. And if you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you only need a single dose.
5. Vaccine Eligibility Expands to All Americans 12 and Older
Anyone 12 and older can now receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Adolescents 12 – 17 are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and anyone 18 or older may receive any of the currently available vaccines.
The CDC created easy-to-use tools to help you find a vaccine nearby:
- 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.
6. Mask Guidance Is Changing (But Don’t Get Rid of Yours Yet)
Vaccines can help you resume the activities you enjoyed doing most before the pandemic. And once you’re fully vaccinated, you may be able to do them without a mask on.
In May 2021, the CDC said people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can stop wearing masks in most places. You will still need a mask in the following places:
• Healthcare settings (like your dentist or doctor’s office, a hospital or a nursing home)
• Using public transportation
• Transportation centers (like airports or train stations)
• Local businesses and workplaces that require masks
• Additional places where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations
7. You Can Get the Vaccine If You Are Planning to Get 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.
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.