The vaccine

How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?


Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) and Moderna vaccines

These vaccines are more than 90% effective in preventing disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This means that in a group of vaccinated people, there will be 90% fewer people who get COVID-19 than in a group (of the same size) of unvaccinated people. The vaccines are also very effective in adults aged 65 and older. The studies show that people who did contract COVID-19 even after vaccination became less seriously ill.

AstraZeneca vaccine

This vaccine is 60% effective in people aged 18 to 55 years.  The Health Council expects the vaccine to also work well in persons aged 60-64 and now recommends that this group be the first to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

How long are you protected after COVID-19 vaccination?

We are not sure yet. There is insufficient data about this yet, since these are new vaccines.

Efficacy and protection

Do I still need to follow the coronavirus measures after vaccination?

Yes, you do. Everyone who is vaccinated must still follow the general coronavirus rules. Vaccination protects you from illness due to COVID-19, but we do not know yet if vaccinated people can still spread the virus. In addition, 60-90% of vaccinated people are protected against COVID-19 one to two weeks after vaccination. This means that not everyone is protected. The chance of getting COVID-19 after two vaccinations is very small, but not zero. For that reason, you must still follow the rules, even after vaccination. That is why vaccinated people are subject to the same basic rules as people who have not been vaccinated, for the time being.

Can I still get COVID-19 after vaccination?

Yes, you can. The vaccination works, but it takes some time for your body to produce antibodies against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. You will receive a total of two vaccinations. Seven days after the second vaccination, over 90% of vaccinated people are protected against COVID-19. If you are infected with the virus just before or after the vaccination, it is still possible for you to become ill. The chance of getting COVID-19 after two vaccinations is small, but not zero. However, the course of illness is usually less serious. There is more chance of getting COVID-19 after only one vaccination. That is why it is important to get the second vaccination as well. And it remains important to always get tested when you have symptoms that could indicate COVID-19.

Can I still infect others with COVID-19 after vaccination?

Vaccination protects against illness from COVID-19. We do not know yet if vaccinated people can still spread the virus. That is why we are erring on the side of caution: for now, vaccinated people are subject to the same measures as people who have not been vaccinated.

Do vaccines still work against new mutations of the virus? 

Yes, the vaccine is still effective. It is normal for the virus to change. This does not mean the vaccine will no longer be effective, because the changes in the virus will be minimal. For now, there are no indications the vaccination will not be effective against new mutations of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, such as the new UK variant. Countries worldwide are monitoring whether the vaccination protects against new virus mutations.

Side-effects

What should I do if I get side-effects?

Some side-effects occur regularly after COVID-19 vaccination. They usually start within 2 days after the vaccination. They almost always go away on their own. Common side-effects include pain at the injection site, fever, headache, tiredness and muscle pain. You can take paracetamol to relieve the symptoms. Do not take more than the amount stated in the paracetamol package leaflet. If you are concerned even so, you can contact your family doctor. 

These kinds of side-effects are not a reason to avoid getting the second vaccination. You can report side-effects to the Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb (report form in Dutch).

Should I and my household members stay home if I develop a fever after vaccination?

If you develop a fever that started within 48 hours after receiving the vaccination, it is likely that the fever is a side-effect of the vaccination. In that case, it is best to stay home yourself, but your household members do not have to stay home. If you have a fever, but also have other symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, such as cold symptoms, coughing, or sudden loss of smell or taste, make an appointment to get tested. Except for the test, you must stay home, and your household members must also stay home until you get the results of the test. In case of doubt, you can consult the GGD infectious disease control department. If you develop a fever more than 48 hours after vaccination, you may have COVID-19. In that case, get tested; you and your household members must stay home until you get the results of the test.

Illness and medication use

I am feverish and have flu-like symptoms. Can I get vaccinated? 

If you have symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, you should stay home and get tested. You cannot come to the vaccination site. Make a new appointment for the vaccination.

Can I get vaccinated if I have COVID-19?

If you have COVID-19, you must stay in home isolation until you are no longer contagious. You cannot be vaccinated until then. Vaccination can only take place at least four weeks after you started having symptoms.

Pregnancy

Is it safe to get vaccinated while I am pregnant?

Studies have not provided any evidence that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy would have an adverse effect. But given how little is currently known, vaccination is not currently recommended during pregnancy. The recommendation is to get vaccinated after your pregnancy. 

If you have any health conditions that put you at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, then the benefits of vaccination during pregnancy may outweigh the (theoretical) risks. Talk to your doctor about whether vaccination during pregnancy might be the better option.

If you are vaccinated during your pregnancy, please report it to Lareb. Lareb is conducting research on the safety of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. All pregnant women can participate in the study during their pregnancy through Mothers of Tomorrow.

Can I breastfeed after being vaccinated?

Yes, you can. There are no indications the vaccine enters breast milk or reaches the child through breastfeeding.