COVID-19 (coronavirus 2019) vaccine, Pfizer (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine PF)

Generic Name: COVID-19 (coronavirus 2019) vaccine, Pfizer

What is the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 is a serious disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 (Serious Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2). COVID-19 is spread from person to person through the air.

COVID-19 can affect your lungs or other organs. Symptoms may be mild or serious and include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, tiredness, body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, runny or stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized emergency use of COVID-19 vaccine to help prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2. The Pfizer vaccine is for use in people who are at least 12 years old.

This vaccine may help your body develop immunity to SARS-CoV-2. However, this vaccine has not been approved to prevent or treat coronavirus or COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccine is experimental and all of its risks are not yet known. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain coronavirus and cannot give you COVID-19.

Like any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine may not provide protection in every person.

What are the possible side effects of this vaccine?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, itching; confusion, dizziness, fainting; vomiting, diarrhea; fast heartbeats, wheezing, difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

An allergic reaction is more likely to occur within 30 minutes after you receive the vaccine. You will be treated quickly if you have a reaction.

You should not receive the second vaccine if the first shot caused an allergic reaction. Your healthcare provider will determine if you can safely receive the second dose.

Becoming infected with COVID-19 is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. Serious side effects other than an allergic reaction may include:

  • pale or clammy skin, sweating, feeling warm or cold;
  • feeling anxious, nauseated, weak, or light-headed;
  • slow heartbeats, rapid breathing; or
  • changes in vision or hearing.

Fever may be a normal symptom as your body begins to develop immunity to COVID-19. However, you should call your doctor right away if you have any side effects that concern you.

Common side effects may include:

  • fever, chills, swollen glands;
  • pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given;
  • nausea, not feeling well;
  • feeling tired; or
  • headache, muscle pain, joint pain.

You may be able to treat these effects with an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and others). Follow the label directions or your vaccination provider's instructions.

Other side effects, mild or serious, may occur with more widespread use of COVID-19 vaccine.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

You may also use a smartphone-based program called V-safe to communicate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about any health problems you have after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine:

What is the most important information I should know about this vaccine?

The FDA has authorized emergency use of this vaccine as it may help prevent infection with COVID-19. This vaccine has not been approved to prevent or treat coronavirus or COVID-19.

Becoming infected with COVID-19 is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine.

If you have a certain type of reaction after the first dose of this vaccine, your healthcare provider will determine if you can safely receive the second dose.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving this vaccine?

You should not receive this vaccine if you've ever had an allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine. Your healthcare provider will determine whether any reaction you have would prevent you from safely getting the second dose.

If you are infected with COVID-19, are waiting for testing results, or are exposed to someone infected with COVID-19: You may not be able to receive this vaccine until you have no symptoms and/or your required quarantine period has ended. Receiving this vaccine will not make you less contagious to other people if you are infected with COVID-19 but you have no symptoms.

If you had COVID-19 and were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma: You should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Ask your doctor if you are unsure about any COVID-19 treatments you received.

Tell the person giving you this vaccine if you have a fever, or if:

  • you've received any treatment or medication for COVID-19 infection in the past 90 days;
  • you've received or will receive any other vaccine within 14 days before or after your COVID-19 vaccine;
  • you have a weak immune system caused by disease or by using certain medicine (this vaccine may not be as effective if you are immunosuppressed);
  • you have bleeding problems;
  • you use a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin, or Jantoven); or
  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

COVID-19 is more likely to cause serious illness or death in a pregnant woman. Not all risks are known yet, but this vaccine is likely to be less harmful than becoming infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy.

How is this vaccine given?

Read all vaccine information sheets provided to you.

COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle. The Pfizer vaccine is given in a series of 2 shots given 3 weeks apart. Your first and second shot should both be the Pfizer type of COVID-19 vaccine.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is transported and stored at ultra-cold temperatures. However, this vaccine will be at room temperature when it is injected into your arm.

You will receive a reminder card showing the date and type of your first injection. Take this card with you when you get your second shot.

You will be "fully vaccinated" if it has been at least 2 weeks since you received your second dose of this vaccine. You may become infected with COVID-19 if the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

Receiving this vaccine will not make you less contagious to other people if you are already infected with COVID-19 but you have no symptoms. Keep using infection control methods such as self-isolation, social distancing, hand-washing, using protective face covering, disinfecting surfaces you touch a lot, and not sharing personal items with others.

Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not cause you to test positive on a coronavirus test. However, once your body develops immunity to COVID-19, you could test positive on an antibody test (a test to detect immunity in your body from previous exposure to coronavirus).

It is not known how long this vaccine will protect you from infection with COVID-19. It also is not known how long immunity will last in a person who's been infected with and recovered from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccine is still being studied and all of its risks are not yet known. Updated federal public health recommendations may be found at

What happens if I miss a dose?

Be sure to receive all recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine or you may not be fully protected. Contact your vaccination provider or health department if you miss your second dose.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid after receiving this vaccine?

Avoid receiving other vaccines without first seeking medical advice.

What other drugs will affect this vaccine?

Before receiving this vaccine, tell your vaccination provider about all other vaccines you have received in the past 14 days. Also tell the provider about all your current medicines. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here.

Where can I get more information?

Your vaccination provider, pharmacist, or doctor can provide more information about this vaccine. Additional information is available from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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Reviewed on 3/17/2022

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