COVID. It’s all we hear about, and people are getting tired. Everyone is ready to see their friends and families, celebrate birthdays, and get back to normal life.

Unfortunately, none of this is possible yet. Cases are surging, and hospitals are bursting at the seams. Health care staff have been working tirelessly to fight against this terrible disease, and the emotional toll is great.

But there is hope. In order for life to return to normal, without masks or restrictions, it is imperative that everyone who is able gets the vaccine. There are many circulating myths and fears regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. We hope to dispel some of those myths here.

Q. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe, even though it was developed and tested quickly?

The vaccine is safe. Significant funds were invested into the development of this vaccine, and no safety measures or testing were bypassed. The Pfizer vaccine trial had about 43,000 people included in its study worldwide, and it was reviewed by the FDA and the Advisory Committee on Immunization.

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Q. If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I need to get vaccinated?

Yes, because it is unclear how long immunity lasts after having the infection. If you have been infected with COVID-19, you will need to wait 90 days from your positive test before getting the vaccine.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause terrible side effects?

The trial showed that some people who received the vaccine had short-lived mild to moderate symptoms, including muscle aches, chills, fever, headaches, and fatigue. These symptoms indicate the body is responding to the vaccine appropriately and is not a result of a new COVID-19 infection.

After I get my COVID-19 vaccine, can I ditch the mask?

The vaccine will protect you from being infected, but it is still unclear if you would be able to spread it to others. Until a large enough number of people have been vaccinated, it will not be safe to ditch your mask.

Won’t more people die from the vaccine than from the virus?

No, there have been no reported severe symptoms or deaths after receiving the vaccine. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has a mortality rate of 1% to 2%, which makes it 10 times more lethal than influenza.

This vaccine is the key to ending the pandemic, and only when enough people are vaccinated will life return to normal. The vaccine is safe and effective, and we encourage everyone who is able to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them to do so. Until then, keep wearing a mask.

Dr. Anthony Hacker is a family medicine resident in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and Dr. Mattie Strub is a family medicine resident in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Both are members of the University of Minnesota’s Residency Advocacy Committee. They completed medical school at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and they wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.