Vaccine Education Toolkit

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) COVID-19 Talking Points

The talking points below are provided by HHS to help increase vaccine confidence while reinforcing basic prevention measures.


Below are evidence-based facts on COVID- 19 that radio personalities can use in interviews, news reports, and on-air conversations.

COVID-19 and Risk Factors

  • COVID-19 spreads most commonly between people who are in close contact with one another. Stay at least 6 feet (which is about 2 arm lengths) from people who don’t live in your household.
  • COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening effects on your health, and there is no way to know how it will affect you. What we do know is that getting vaccinated will help protect you from getting COVID-19.
  • Older adults are at greater risk of going to the hospital or dying if they get COVID-19.
  • Long-standing health and social inequities— such as discrimination, occupation, poverty, housing, and health care access—have put many people in certain racial and ethnic groups at greater risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.

Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Vaccines are here and will be available to all adults as the supply increases. To stay safe, don’t let your guard down yet—stopping a pandemic means using all the tools available to us. This means getting vaccinated when it’s available to you and following the CDC’s recommendations to continue protecting yourself and others by:

  • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Staying at least 6 feet away from others who don’t live in your household
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Avoiding poorly ventilated spaces
  • Washing your hands often

Vaccine Safety

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the first two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, and they are now being delivered and given across the United States after rigorous testing in diverse populations. Both of the available vaccines require two doses taken a few weeks apart. When you receive your first dose, you will be told when to come back for your second dose.
  • After getting the vaccine, some people may experience side effects, such as a fever, injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and chills. This is normal and a sign that the body is building protection against the disease. Side effects usually go away on their own in a few days.
  • The authorized COVID-19 vaccines met FDA’s rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines will undergo extensive safety monitoring.
  • This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to continue to assess the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Vaccine development was done quickly because it was well-funded and used new science and technology to produce vaccines while they were still being tested. It was done by scientists, doctors, and other experts and met the highest standards for safety and effectiveness testing.
  • The currently authorized vaccines do not contain any live virus and can’t cause the disease.

Vaccine Effectiveness

  • In clinical trials, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were shown to be 94-95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in individuals who received the vaccine compared to those who received a placebo.
  • A COVID-19 vaccine reduces the likelihood that you will develop COVID-19. Getting vaccinated may also protect you from getting a severe case of COVID-19 in the unlikely event you get the disease after getting the vaccine.
  • COVID-19 vaccines will help protect you by creating an antibody, or immune system response, without getting the illness.
  • The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness, but it’s important that we continue to use all the tools available to help stop this pandemic while experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life use.

Vaccine Distribution and Availability

  • COVID-19 vaccines are free to the public.
  • The current supply of COVID-19 vaccines is limited, but the supply will continue to increase in the weeks and months to come. It is expected that most of the American population will have access to the vaccine later this year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
Vaccines train our immune system to recognize the COVID virus and make cells to fight the virus. With vaccines, we can build immunity to a disease without getting the disease.

What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?
Some people get temporary side effects such as a fever, injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills after they take the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Side effects are usually mild and last only a few days. They happen when the body is building protection against the virus.

How do I know the vaccine won’t give me COVID-19?
You cannot get COVID-19 from any of the COVID vaccines in use or being tested in the United States because none of them contains the live virus that causes the disease.

What does it mean that a vaccine is 95% effective?
Clinical trials showed that the vaccines are 94-95% effective, meaning they prevented 94-95 of every 100 vaccinated people from getting COVID-19. A COVID-19 vaccine reduces the likelihood that you will develop COVID-19.

Will I still be able to transmit the virus if I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines reduce the likelihood that you will develop COVID-19. More studies are needed to determine whether a vaccinated person who is infected despite vaccination is less likely to infect others.

Why are people having allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine?
A few people have had allergic reactions called anaphylaxis after getting a COVID-19 vaccine but were treated and have recovered. Your doctor can help you decide if it is safe for you to be vaccinated.

Do the vaccines work on the new COVID variants?
Scientists are studying variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 to see whether existing vaccines will protect people against them.

Why is there a heavy focus on vaccinating people from racial and ethnic minority groups?
People from racial and ethnic minority groups who get COVID-19 are at much higher risk for severe cases of the disease as well as death from the disease. It’s important that they receive vaccines as soon as possible.

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccines are being distributed now and as larger supplies become available, more people will be able to receive a vaccine. Most adults should be able to get the vaccine later in 2021.

Do I need to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
Scientists are still reviewing this question. We don’t yet know how long natural antibodies in people who have had COVID-19, or antibodies created as a result of vaccines, will be effective.

How long do COVID-19 vaccines last?
We don’t know right now how long COVID-19 vaccines protects people, but clinical trials are investigating this. What we do know is that among people who were vaccinated in clinical trials of the vaccines now available, the vaccines were 94-95% effective in preventing COVID-19 compared to people who received a placebo.

Is information available specifically addressing the needs of communities of faith?
Yes; the CDC regularly updates its recommended guidance for Communities of Faith. It even provides steps to help minimize community sharing of worship materials, as well as mitigation, cleaning and disinfecting recommendations.

Want to learn more?

We encourage our listeners to learn more about COVID-19, the benefits of getting vaccinated and how to protect yourself and those you love. Please visit or call 1-800- 232- 4636.

And remember, while waiting for our turn to get a vaccine, we need to stay the course and keep:

  • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Staying at least 6 feet away from others who don’t live in your household
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Avoiding poorly ventilated spaces
  • Washing your hands often


These materials have been developed for educational purposes only, not as a substitute for professional medical or legal advice. Should you have questions or concerns about any topic described here, please consult your medical or legal professional.

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