If you’re like a lot of Children’s Hospital Colorado team members, you may have already gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. Or you may still be meaning to get it. Or maybe you’re still on the fence about when or whether you will.

Wherever you are on your journey, it’s good to know the facts. We consulted our health and infectious disease experts and tracked down answers to the most common questions we hear. If your question isn’t listed, you can view our complete list of vaccine FAQs or even submit a question of your own.

Read on for a few of our top questions and answers.

What do we know about the COVID-19 vaccines?

While the vaccines to prevent COVID-19 are new, we actually know quite a lot about them. Here are the top five facts to know about the COVID-19 vaccines that have been recommended for use in the U.S.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is much more likely to cause you long-term problems than the vaccine.

  1. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
  2. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
  3. You may have side effects after vaccination. These are normal and should go away in a few days.
  4. If you are fully vaccinated (2 weeks after vaccination) you can resume activities that you did before the pandemic without a mask or social distancing, except where required.

What don’t we know?

Medical experts are still studying several longer-term questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. We’ll learn more about the vaccines as additional studies are published.

Here are several things we don’t know — yet.

  1. We are still learning how well vaccines stop you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not have symptoms. Early data show that vaccines help keep people with no symptoms from spreading COVID-19.
  2. We’re still learning how long COVID-19 vaccines protect people.
  3. We’re still learning how many people have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the whole population can be considered protected (also known as herd immunity or population immunity).
  4. We are still learning how well the vaccines work against new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

How do we know the vaccines are safe when they were developed so quickly?

One way to think about it is that while the business side of vaccine development and distribution was fast-tracked, the science was not. Although the process has been accelerated, no corners have been cut.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this work is building on decades of remarkable progress in the development of vaccines. When the Food and Drug Administration authorizes a COVID-19 vaccine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it, it means that vaccine has gone through every single step of the vast, rigorous and complex process required to understand the safety and effectiveness of any new vaccine.

In short: Vaccines have historically been remarkably safe and effective, and they’re the single best way to prevent infectious diseases. We need them to stay safe. This is true for COVID-19, and dozens of other vaccine-preventable diseases from polio to measles to the flu.

We believe in the safety of currently authorized vaccines and that they will help us end the pandemic. Please be sure to speak with your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about your personal risk.

Get answers to more questions like “Which vaccine is better?” and “Should I get the vaccine if I’m planning to have a baby?” from the full article, “Vaccine Deliberation: Learn About the COVID-19 Vaccines” at childrenscolorado.org.