In almost all cases, adults who become eligible to start the COVID vaccine series of two doses should begin as soon as they are eligible. Those 16 years and older may receive the Pfizer vaccine while those over 18 may receive the Moderna vaccine.
In the cases of age-appropriate individuals, there are a few situations that would necessitate waiting or doing more investigation with a specialist prior to receiving the vaccine. And, in most cases if you have received another type of vaccine recently you should wait for 14 days after that vaccine before you start the COVID vaccine. There are some exceptions to this, so if you have questions talk to the provider administering the COVID vaccine first.
Also, if you have any of the following you should not receive a COVID vaccine until you have been evaluated by an allergist-immunologist:
Severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components;
Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components (including polyethylene glycol [PEG]);
Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to polysorbate (due to potential cross-reactive hypersensitivity with the vaccine ingredient PEG).
The vaccine can cause side effects, many of which are seen with other vaccines, such as fever, chills, body aches, tiredness and others. Generally speaking however, these vaccines have been well tolerated and the potential benefits far outweigh the risks. If you are concerned about the new coronavirus variants, preliminary data suggests that at least one of the brands of vaccine has activity against the newer strains. Chances are that the other brand will as well. For now, the best approach would be to get vaccinated as soon as you are able.
John R. White is the chair of the Department of Pharmacology at WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences based in Spokane.