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Q: Should I still get tested for COVID after I get the vaccine?

If you have symptoms after getting the first or second COVID vaccine, self-isolate for a day or two and wait to see if they go away. It’s not unusual for people to have side effects, including fatigue, chills, fever, headache, and soreness at the vaccine site. These symptoms are caused by the immune system activating in response to the vaccine and usually resolve within 48 hours. If symptoms don’t go away after a few days, get a COVID test -- you might have been exposed to COVID before you were vaccinated. So if you do develop symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, chills, body aches, headache, or loss of taste or smell, you should still get a COVID test, even if you’ve been vaccinated.

About two weeks after you get the second dose of the vaccine, you should be protected from COVID-19. While no vaccine is 100% effective, the vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA are more than 94% effective. This greatly reduces the risk of getting sick with COVID-19. However, studies are still being done on whether someone who has received both doses of the COVID vaccine can still carry the virus, and therefore spread it, without ever feeling sick. That is why it is still so important that everyone, those vaccinated and not vaccinated, continue to be vigilant in protecting themselves and their loved ones. The fight against COVID is not over. The vaccines bring us a glimmer of hope. But until more vaccine becomes available and more people are vaccinated, it is critical that we continue to be accountable for our own protective actions and decisions. Together, we can help end this pandemic.

Michael J. Shea , MD

Critical Care Medicine

Maui Memorial Medical Center
221 Mahalani Street
Wailuku, HI 96793