Skip to Content

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

Generic Name: COVID-19 (coronavirus 2019) vaccine, Pfizer (KOE vid-19 koe ROE na vye rus VAX een)
Brand Name: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Dec 14, 2020. Written by Cerner Multum.

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). Coronaviruses are common causes of illness worldwide. COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus never seen in humans before 2019. COVID-19 is spread from person to person through the air.

COVID-19 can affect your lungs or other organs. COVID-19 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. This vaccine is for use in people who are at least 16 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.

Important Information

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.

You should not receive a second vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

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

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive this vaccine if you've ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine.

Tell your doctor if you have a fever, or if you have ever had:

  • an allergy to a medicine, food, dye, or preservative;

  • a weak immune system caused by disease or by using certain medicine (this vaccine may not be as effective if you are immunosuppressed);

  • bleeding problems; or

  • if you use a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin, or Jantoven).

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

It is not known how COVID-19 vaccine will affect other vaccines. Tell your doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received.

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, in a series of 2 shots given 3 weeks apart. The timing of these shots is very important for the vaccine to be effective. You will receive a reminder card showing the date of your first injection. Take this card with you when you get your second shot.

Infection with COVID-19 can pose severe health risks and a person may become infected more than once. You may need to receive this vaccine even if you've already been infected with COVID-19. Follow your doctor's instructions or the recommendation of your local health department.

It may take a few weeks for your body to build immunity to COVID-19. You may become infected with COVID-19 if the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

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.

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).

If you've already had COVID-19, this vaccine may not keep you from becoming infected a second time. COVID-19 vaccine is still being studied and all of its risks are not yet known.

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.

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 doctor, pharmacist, 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.

This vaccine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; fast heartbeats, feeling weak or dizzy; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

A severe allergic reaction is more likely to occur within a few minutes to 1 hour after you receive the vaccine. You will be treated quickly if you have an allergic reaction.

You should not receive a second vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot. Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive the second injection, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.

Fever may be a normal symptom as your body begins to develop immunity to COVID-19. Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • a fever that lasts 24 hours or longer;

  • headache, body aches, unusual tiredness;

  • cough or swollen glands;

  • stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea;

  • feeling dizzy or light-headed;

  • rapid breathing, fast heartbeats;

  • skin rash, eye redness; or

  • redness or swelling in your hands or feet.

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

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.

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.

What other drugs will affect this vaccine?

Before receiving this vaccine, tell your doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received. Also tell your doctor if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system.

Other drugs may affect COVID-19 vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

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.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

More about Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (sars-cov-2 (covid-19) mrna bnt-162b2 vaccine)