COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, people should still wear masks even after receiving the vaccine. Until we learn more about the protection COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue wearing a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.

Some physical side effects are normal after receiving the vaccine. People may experience local site inflammation, fever, headaches, muscle pain and body aches. These symptoms are more frequent after the second dose. The symptoms typically resolve within 1-2 days.

It’s important in some diseases, like COVID, to prime the body to get an optimal immune response. The first dose primes the immune system — prepares the body to respond appropriately to the next dose and form antibodies. That first dose helps ensure a robust immune response that will get coded into the memory cells in the body. These are the cells we will rely on when we see COVID-19 next time around.

As of right now, we understand that the vaccine produces a robust immune response for at least 3 months. However, as time goes by, we will learn more.

No. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA-based — essentially a code that tells the body to make protein that will generate an immune response. That protein alone is not the virus, and so won’t trigger a positive test result.

On 12/18, we announced that Keck Medical Center of USC and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital received their first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and we immediately began inoculating hospital workers most at risk for infection.

Given the fast-moving developments in shipments of the first approved vaccine, and the recent emergency use authorization of the second vaccine, the timeframe for vaccine availability is being updated nearly daily. Please visit the USC COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout page for more details about USC's phased distribution approach.

On 12/3, Rod Hanners, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Keck Medicine of USC, announced that he is the chair of USC's vaccine working group, which is principally engaged in developing an evidence-based strategy for the vaccination of USC staff, faculty, students, and patients. The group will also support efforts for the vaccination of the community at large. Its members include:

  • USC Provost, Charles F. Zukoski;
  • Interim Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Narsing Rao;
  • Dean of the USC School of Pharmacy, Vassilios Papadopoulos; and
  • Interim Vice President and Executive Director of Capital Construction and Facilities Management, Christopher Toomey

The Los Angeles Department of Public Health has thus far distributed and approved vaccines for Phase 1A: health care workers, clinical and medical students and others in the health care environment. We expect vaccinations for 1B, which includes essential workers and those over 65, to begin in February. The university will share more information as soon as it becomes available.

Yes. Current data indicates that vaccinated individuals may be able to transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if they themselves do not develop the illness.

For more comprehensive information about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the Keck Medicine of USC Coronavirus Vaccine resource center.