Understanding COVID-19 Vaccinations

This resource developed as part of the Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching & Engagement (EXCITE) Program.

Get Your Vaccine

There are several different places to sign up for and receive vaccinations including mass clinics, county health departments, and local pharmacies. Check out our list of locations and vaccination providers.

Find state and local vaccination providers 

COVID-19 Vaccinations: An Update

This presentation by Dr. Matthew Laurens, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health, was held Oct. 21, 2021, and hosted in cooperation by the University of Maryland Extension and University of Delaware Extension.

COVID Challenges in Rural Areas

Learn how western Maryland health care providers are responding to the challenges of COVID-19 in their communities in our Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching & Engagement (EXCITE) program webinar.

The Truth

COVID-19 Vaccines are Safe and Effective

Over 189 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through April 12, 2021. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA). Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines will undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

You May Have Side Effects

The side effects from COVID-19 vaccination may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities. These are normal signs that your body is building protection. Most of these side effects should go away in a few days. Learn more about what side effects to expect and get helpful tips on how to reduce pain and discomfort after your vaccination.

The Vaccine is Free

The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to people living in the United States. Vaccine providers may request insurance information to be reimbursed by your insurer, but Marylanders will not receive a bill for their COVID-19 vaccination.

It Will Help to Stop the Pandemic

To stop this pandemic, we need to use all our prevention tools. Vaccines are one of the most effective tools to protect your health and prevent disease. Vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed (also called “immunity”).

You will still need to wear a mask and socially distance after getting each shot of the vaccine to continue to protect yourself and others and stop the spread.

Information is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Myths

MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines are used to microchip people.

FACT: There is no vaccine microchip, and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database.

MYTH: You can get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

FACT: None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines will alter my DNA.

FACT: According to the CDC, the first COVID-19 vaccines to reach the market are messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines. Messenger RNA vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Injecting messenger RNA into your body will not interact or do anything to the DNA of your cells. Human cells break down and get rid of the messenger RNA soon after they have finished using the instructions.

Resources in other languages

Maryland GoVAX COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center

About the Vaccines

COVID-19 Clinical Trials Fact Sheet

COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet – Herd Immunity