COVID-19 vaccines: Why you shouldn't wait

A healthcare worker prepares to give an older woman a shot.

Millions of people in the U.S. have been vaccinated against COVID-19. But we still have a long way to go. And it's important that those who can get a vaccine do so as soon as possible.

Some people, however, are not eager to be among the first to get the new vaccines. But taking a "wait and see" approach is a big gamble. COVID-19 has already killed millions of people around the world.

Plus, there are good reasons you can be confident in getting the vaccines now.

They're safe and they work

The COVID-19 vaccines now in use have been studied in thousands of people. Those studies showed that the vaccines are safe and cause few side effects.

The vaccines are also very effective at preventing COVID-19, studies show. And even if you do get sick, your illness may be less severe if you've had your shots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also continue to keep a close watch for any problems in those who have been vaccinated, just as they do for all vaccines.

While we still have things to learn about the long-term effects of the vaccines, there's no reason to think they're any less safe than other vaccines that have cleared the clinical trial process. On the other hand, the dangers of getting COVID-19 are very real.

3 more reasons to roll up your sleeve

Besides reducing your own risk of getting COVID-19, there are other reasons to get a vaccine now. For starters, you'll be helping to:

  1. Bring an end to the pandemic. When enough people are immunized against COVID-19, the virus will be less able to spread around. That's called herd immunity. We don't know the exact percentage needed. But a large portion of people will need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, the World Health Organization says.
  2. Protect the healthcare system. You've heard about the strain COVID-19 has placed on hospitals. When infections surge or if nurses and doctors get sick, they may have less capacity to care for the very ill. Staying healthy helps ensure that care will be available for those who need it.
  3. Safeguard those around you. Getting your shots as soon as you can may make it less likely that you will spread COVID-19 to your inner circle. This could include your loved ones who may not be able to get the vaccine yet.

It's worth doing—for yourself and your community. To learn more about specific COVID-19 vaccines, check out our Coronavirus health topic center.

Reviewed 2/22/2021

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