COVID-19 Vaccines For People With Lung Conditions

Last updated: September 2021

People living with cystic fibrosis face a higher chance of serious illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Having other long-term lung diseases like COPD and moderate-to-severe asthma may also raise your risk.1

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved 2 COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. Now, federal, state, and local health officials are working to deliver millions of doses and get them into the arms of people across the country.

Here, we explore what people with lung conditions should know about the COVID-19 vaccines.

When will I be able to get the vaccine?

Right now, there is a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. States need to give these limited vaccines to the public in ways that prevent the most deaths. This means people who are more likely to get severely ill from the virus can get the vaccine first.

Each state decides who will be offered these early vaccine doses, but the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) provides guidelines. HHS suggests healthcare workers, people who live in long-term care facilities, frontline essential workers, and people 75 years and older get the vaccine first.2

In January 2021, health secretary Alex Azar offered new guidelines for the next phase of distribution. He urged states to provide COVID-19 vaccine shots to everyone:3

  • 65 and older
  • 16 to 64 years old with health issues that put them at high risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19

People with cystic fibrosis, asthma, COPD, or other lung conditions may be offered a vaccine under these new guidelines. If you are interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine, contact your local health department for information about vaccines in your area.

Is the vaccine safe for people with lung conditions?

As of January 2021, the FDA has approved 2 COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in the United States. One is from Pfizer-BioNTech, and the other is made by Moderna.

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with lung illnesses. Scientists have tested them on people with long-term illnesses and a range of other groups. The vaccines also do not interact with other medicines.4

Vaccines go through research studies in which scientists create data. The FDA then uses this data to figure out if a vaccine is safe and works well. Some people have had mild to severe allergic reactions from the COVID-19 vaccines. However, trial data shows that the benefits outweigh the possible harms of getting the virus.5,6

What can I expect after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Each approved vaccine requires 2 shots, usually 21 to 28 days apart, in order for it to work properly. After you get the full dose from both shots, it takes a week or 2 for your body to build protection against the coronavirus. Side effects of the vaccine include:5,6

  • Arm pain and swelling
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Headache

Health experts are still learning how COVID-19 vaccines affect people outside of research studies in the real world. If you get the vaccine, you should still protect yourself from the virus. Wear a mask over your nose and mouth, stay 6 feet apart from people outside of your household, and wash your hands often with soap and water.7

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