What are mRNA vaccines? What are the ingredients in COVID-19 vaccine? 10 common vaccine questions

As the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out to more eligible groups across the nation, people have many questions regarding the shots. 
Below are answers to some of the most common vaccine questions:

Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve had the virus?

Yes. Regardless of previous infection, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people should plan on getting vaccinated when it's their turn.
After someone recovers, their immune system should keep them from getting sick again right away. 
If you’ve been infected in the last three months, the CDC says it's OK to delay vaccination if you want to let others go first while supplies are limited. Read more about this here.

What are the benefits of getting the vaccine?

Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. Read more about eight benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine according to the CDC here.

What are mRNA vaccines?

mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies, according to the CDC
mRNA vaccines are new, but not unknown. Researchers have been studying, and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. According to the CDC, mRNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccine side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Most common side effects include pain and swelling on the arm you got the shot, and fever, chills, tiredness and headache. Learn more about what to expect when you get the vaccine here

Can I get a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine?

An allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen, or if they must go to the hospital. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends that you should not get that specific vaccine. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies, you should ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated. Learn more about allergies to the shot with this guide.

What are the ingredients in the vaccines?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine includes the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose. Read more here.
The FDA says Moderna’s vaccine contains the following ingredients: messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose. Read more here

For the vaccines that require two shots, how quickly do I need a second COVID-19 vaccine shot?

For the vaccine by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, the second shot is supposed to be after three weeks. For Moderna, it’s four weeks.

Will COVID-19 vaccines work on the new coronavirus variant?

A coronavirus variant in the United Kingdom has caused alarm because of the possibility that it might spread more easily. But even if that turns out to be true, experts say the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out will likely still work on the variant. Dr. Sharon Nachman explains how the vaccine works in mutations:

What should I know about COVID-19 vaccines if I’m pregnant?

Vaccination is likely the best way to prevent COVID-19 in pregnancy, when risks for severe illness and death from the virus are higher than usual. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says COVID-19 vaccinations should not be withheld from pregnant women, and that women should discuss individual risks and benefits with their health care providers. CLICK HERE to learn more about the vaccine and pregnancy.

Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Health officials across the tri-state are opening mass vaccination sites, and making it easier for residents to make appointments to be inoculated. Right now, you will need to make an appointment and register through your state's health department in order to get a vaccine. CLICK HERE to learn how to get a vaccine.