Who might be the priority groups to get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Because vaccine supply is limited, countries have to prioritize who will be vaccinated first. In most cases, these priority groups include essential workers - including health care workers - as well as older adults and adults with underlying health conditions.
WHO and its Strategic Advisory Group on Immunizations (SAGE) have published a values framework that provides guidance on principles and objectives and target groups for vaccination. The recommendations regarding priority groups will be taking into consideration epidemiologic scenarios, overall public health strategy, and vaccine supply scenarios. However, each country will need to adapt those recommendations to their context.
Click here for more information on the framework for the allocation and prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination.
Should people who have had COVID-19 still be vaccinated against it?
Yes, PAHO/WHO recommends that those who have had COVID-19 still get vaccinated against it, whether or not that person had no symptoms or was very ill. The vaccine further boosts the body’s immune system against COVID-19.
However, if the person has symptoms at the time of vaccination, SAGE recommends postponing vaccination until the person has recovered. This recommendation is applicable to all eligible persons, including older adults.
Can I get vaccinated against COVID-19 if I am currently infected with COVID-19?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been diagnoses with COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated. However, you need to follow the local isolation guidance before going to get vaccinated, and it is best to wait to get vaccinated after your recovery. You can receive the vaccine then.
How long should I wait to get vaccinated after having had COVID-19?
WhO’s SAGE recommends waiting 6 months to vaccinate individuals who have had COVID-19, due to the limited vaccine supply.
However, emerging data show that people who have previously had COVID-19 may fall sick again, especially in areas where variants of concern are circulating. In these settings, individuals who have previously been infected with COVID-19 should ideally be vaccinated within 90 days of infection. The length of this period may change as we learn more about immunity from natural infection.
Can pregnant women get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Yes. Like all of us, pregnant women are at risk of contracting COVID-19, but because their immune systems change throughout pregnancy pregnant people are more vulnerable to respiratory infections such as COVID-19. If they do become ill, they tend to develop more severe symptoms whose treatment may require longer hospitalization in intensive care units, greater need for ventilatory support, and a higher chance of dying when compared to non-pregnant women of the same age and ethnicity.
Data from 24 countries indicate that more than 200,000 pregnant women have contracted COVID-19 in the Region, and at least 1,000 have died from complications of the disease.
Although we have limited data regarding COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant women, the evidence is clear that these women are at increased risk of severe illness and hospitalization due to SARS-CoV-2 infection, which has led the United States’ Centers for Diseases Controls and Prevention (CDC) to include all pregnant women as a group to be prioritized for vaccines. However, based on limited evidence of long-term effects (especially in neonates), WHO recommends offering the COVID-19 vaccine to pregnant or breastfeeding women if they belong to one of the high-risk groups (e.g., health care workers or persons with comorbidities) or whenever it is understood that the benefits outweigh the risks of receiving the vaccine.
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines have an effect on unborn babies.
Can breastfeeding people get vaccinated?
Yes. Lactating people can get vaccinated and because breastfeeding offers substantial health benefits to lactating women and their breastfed children the recommendation is continuing breastfeeding their babies. As of June 2021, there are no contraindications for this group.
Can people with underlying conditions get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Yes, people with underlying conditions are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as they are able because they tend to be at higher risk of complications from COVID. The available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in people with known medical conditions associated with increased risk of severe disease, such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver, or kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled.
Although further studies are required for immunocompromised persons, people in this category who are part of a group recommended for vaccination may be vaccinated after receiving information and counseling from their doctors.
Can individuals who have been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) be vaccinated against COVID-19?
Yes, people who have previously had GBS may receive a COVID-19 vaccine. To date, no cases of GBS have been reported following vaccination in participants in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. One case of GBS was reported in a vaccinated participant in the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine clinical trial (compared to one GBS case among those who received placebo).
The independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) general best practice guidelines for immunization do not include a history of GBS as one of the precautions to vaccination with other vaccines.
For more information visit: Vaccine considerations for people with underlying health conditions.
Can children be vaccinated against COVID-19?
As of July 2021, WHO has approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in people ages 16 and up. The other vaccines who have been approved by WHO continue to be authorized for ages 18 and up.
Are people with certain characteristics are more likely to have significant side effects after getting vaccinated against COVID-19?
As of June 2021, no. According to the evidence available at this time, no risk factors associated with serious adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination have been identified.
Can people with allergies or immune system problems be vaccinated against COVID-19?
In most cases, yes. If a person suffers from allergies that are not related to a component of the COVID-19 vaccines, they can be vaccinated against COVID-19 when it´s their turn.
People with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should consult with a healthcare professional before getting vaccinated against COVID-19.