“You Asked, We Answered” is a roundup of VHA’s answers to your top questions. This post continues a series your questions to COVID-19 vaccines.

Once I receive my vaccine, how soon am I protected?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you are most protected from COVID-19 after you are fully vaccinated. Those who receive two-dose vaccines like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines aren’t considered fully protected until two weeks after their second dose.

Those who receive single-dose vaccines like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine aren’t considered fully protected until two weeks after their dose. After two weeks, you will be most protected from COVID-19.

VA is following CDC and FDA guidance to pause in providing the Janssen vaccine. This pause is due to a concern about possible rare side effects. Your safety is our top priority. For more information, go to the CDC website.

Can I still spread COVID-19 after I am fully vaccinated?

Yes, you may still spread COVID-19 after you are fully vaccinated. Experts are continuing to study the virus to better understand the spread of COVID-19. Evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to experience any COVID-19 infection, including “asymptomatic” infection, when compared to people who haven’t had the COVID-19 vaccine.

Asymptomatic refers to when you are infected but do not experience any symptoms of illness – but might still spread COVID-19. Until experts know more, you should still follow precautions to make sure you do not spread COVID-19.

Once I am fully vaccinated, how soon can I safely visit friends and family?

Once you are fully vaccinated, you should still be careful around friends and family who have not received the vaccine. Experts are working to determine when we can safely stop wearing masks and physically distancing in specific settings.

The CDC has created guidance for fully vaccinated people, which can be found here:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html.

Remember that you should still wear a mask and practice physical distancing when in public, even after you have been fully vaccinated!

VA Program Information

Keep an eye out for more answers to your COVID-19 and vaccine questions, and remember to follow good health habits in the meantime. To keep it simple, follow the three Ws: wear your masks, wash your hands, and watch your distance from others!

To learn more, you can review CDC information about COVID-19 and vaccination.


Share this story

Published on Apr. 15, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.1 min.

Views to date: 439


  1. James Riley April 25, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    Hello fellow vets. I’m a 30 year AF guy living overseas now.
    I cannot get a straight answer from the VA regarding the vaccine in Thailand. All of my disability claims have been hassle-free. Except this Covid vaccine.

    Has any vet who it is covered by FMP received their vaccination yet? Did you pay and await reimbursement or was it provided free at a specific hospital in Thailand.

    Thank you all for serving!

  2. David Minnaar April 25, 2021 at 8:25 am

    Just so the readers know, my previous comment was initially noted by this site as under review for “moderation”. Subsequently, it no longer appears. Who makes these cancelling decisions for VA? Why wasn’t I made aware of the decision? I had simply questioned the lack of data that supports the need to continue masking for those who are already fully vaccinated for covid-19.

  3. Vincent Ghergia April 24, 2021 at 9:28 am

    The last time I got vaccinated was at the US Army indoctrination center in Boston 1972. I am 68 yrs young and healthy. I have no intentions of getting one. Some people may think that I am foolish, others may agree. Even if this becomes govt mandated, I will refuse. USA is slowly becoming a nation of sheep. Just my opinion!

  4. Glenda Krausef April 22, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    I’ve been thinking about the whiners and cowards not getting their shots and suddenly realized it’s Darwinism at it’s best those too stupid to get vaccinated will die off and take some others with them leaving those with enough Sense to come in out of the rain to populate this world. The strongest survive. Unfortunately, too many good people with no choice have gone too. Does your right to not mask include the right to infect? When are people going to start the wrongful death court cases against those that walk among us

  5. Ken hassebroek April 22, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    I am not getting a shot for now. The mask is causing me Manny issues, like breathing, dizzy orientation, and a general disorented feeling of dispare.

    If the vaccine is so good for you, then why are so Manny who took it still getting covid and dying from it?
    I’ll take my chances and survive just like I did in Vietnam. Thanks but No thanks.

    • Lawrence Shirley April 22, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      I had similar feelings when they first introduced the vaccines. Historically, some vaccines have caused more problems than just remaining un-vaccinated. However, when the VA started providing vaccines, I felt a bit more comfortable with the idea.

      The VA makes no profit from providing vaccinations as compared to other commercial providers. Additionally, as a body, the VA is far better informed than I am personally. I am 69 years old and the statistics are not good for people of my age that contract the virus.

      I have not been happy with a number of masks I have tried. What I am comfortable with is the normal surgical masks that doctors and nurses use. After a short period of time, I almost forget that I am wearing it.

      Something to think about is what I heard from a VA Nurse. She said, “the mask is not for your safety, but for the safety of everyone else you come into contact with. If we didn’t use masks during surgery or for other medical procedures, we would be passing on to the patients every type of disease and germs we had come in contact with.”

      • Earl Dinkler April 29, 2021 at 12:58 am

        I am a Veteran who also has degrees in Bacteriology and Virology.

        I challenge your statement “Historically, some vaccines have caused more problems than just remaining un-vaccinated”; Specifically:
        1. Tell me just what problems have been caused by vaccines>
        2. Tell me just when and where did the problems occur?
        3. Tell me just which vaccines have caused the specific problems you can document in #1, above?

        The questions aren’t “are there NO problems?”, or “How effective will the vaccine be?”. The questions should be “Are there any side effects?”, “Just how effective will this vaccine, or medication be?”


        If you want an example: there have been people who have reacted to Aspirin by going into anaphylactic shock, having convulsions, and sometimes dying, yet I was just in CVS Pharmacy today and there were shelves dedicated to Aspirin and Aspirin containing compounds. Same thing with Acetaminophen, Tylenol & hundreds of others.

        There WILL be some people who react badly to EVERY vaccine. Four women experienced blood clots after receiving a COVID vaccine. Using your brain, you should realize 4 bad reactions out of millions of vaccinations is pretty small odds:. 0.000005% or better. You take bigger chances with your life every time you cross the street, even using the crosswalk with a green “WALK” sign flashing at you.

        Due to the near catastrophe this pandemic has caused, emergency procedures were put in place to get vaccines made & available in the millions of doses that would be needed. A year ago the numbers of people dying each day from the Coronavirus was in the thousands. Today it is in the hundreds; that’s STILL TOO HIGH! But an improvement of over 80% IS Good News, and is getting better.

        I know there are many people who don’t trust any vaccination and never will. To them I would say they have the right to refuse the vaccination, but they also have the duty to NOT infect others! So for all the above who are saying they won’t take the vaccination you have the Duty to “STAY HOME AND NOT INFECT OTHERS!”


    • ANGIE EDMUNDS April 23, 2021 at 7:31 pm

      I haven’t heard about anyone that got vaccinated getting covid, or dying of covid.

    • James Riley April 25, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      That’s what is play about serving in the American forces. We did what we did so that guys like you can have opinions that make no sense

  6. David helt April 22, 2021 at 10:09 am

    Lots of stupid people with stupid questions at this site.Makes u wonder how they made it thru the military.

  7. Jean F Leslie, Sr. April 22, 2021 at 8:28 am

    Where the heck is the RESPONSES to all these replies? Seems to me most of these replies are in the form of a question so I would like to see the answers!

  8. Jean F Leslie, Sr. April 22, 2021 at 8:17 am

    What the heck does “Mostly Protected ” mean? What part of me is not protected?

    • John Adams April 22, 2021 at 9:08 am

      Mostly protected means you’re not immune. So basically you can still get it.

    • Lawrence Shirley April 22, 2021 at 4:52 pm

      “Mostly protected” is used to identify things that don’t provide 100% protection. For example, “you are mostly protected with a condom”. Condoms do break so they are not 100% safe. Masks do not provide 100% protection. Vaccinations do not provide 100% protection. There is always a risk associated with any protective gear, vaccine, or other forms of protection.

    • Michael Patrick King April 23, 2021 at 4:02 am

      @Jean F Leslie, Sr.: The phrase is “most protected”, not “mostly protected”. A subtle but significant distinction.
      “Most protected” means that you have the highest level of protection presently possible. No vaccine currently provides complete protection from either contracting or spreading COVID-19. Those currently available have received only emergency clearance–not unconditional clearance–from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. In other words, no vaccine currently available has been conclusively demonstrated as fully effective or completely safe by the FDA. They’re not perfect; they’re just the best we have for the time being. I hope that this answers your question.

  9. Freddie John wieder Junior April 22, 2021 at 7:22 am

    Seven days after my first Covid vaccine my feet were on fire why is that

  10. Toni Jeanette Dixon Williams April 22, 2021 at 5:44 am

    My husband is my caregiver at this point. I am the veteran and we were married after i got out of the military. Could he get health care from the va clinic and also the Covid shot? Thank you

    • Connie White April 22, 2021 at 3:49 pm

      My understanding is that he cannot get medical care from VA as he is not the veteran, however, because he is your care giver he should be able to get the shot.

    • ANGIE EDMUNDS April 23, 2021 at 7:42 pm

      Absolutely! I am the Veteran in my situation. I live with a partner of 25 years, but we aren’t married. March 24, or thereabouts
      it was mandated that even Veterans that don’t qualify for benefits, or spouses, or caregivers may get the Covid shot. When I found this out I called the VA Hospital I get all my care from, told them we aren’t legally married but I was encouraged to call anyway. The person who answered told me she would just put him in as my spouse, and we got an appointment for the next day; and another for 3 weeks later. NO PROBLEM!

    • ANGIE EDMUNDS April 23, 2021 at 7:45 pm

      Also, you CAN get VA care for your husband under the CHAMP VA program.

  11. John wray April 22, 2021 at 4:50 am


  12. John wray April 22, 2021 at 4:48 am

    All of the replies seem to be that the experts don’t have a clue

  13. Thomas Greene April 22, 2021 at 1:06 am

    If everyone in a group or family has been fully vaccinated can we return to normal pre Covid reunions?

    • John Adams April 22, 2021 at 9:11 am

      Only if you wear a bubble suit can you have a reunion.

  14. William Allen Rush April 21, 2021 at 11:58 pm

    I got my moderna shots here in Killeen at my local HEB pharmacy, how do I get credit for the shots with the VA?

    • Talina Altman April 22, 2021 at 6:51 pm

      Give a copy to your primary care dr

  15. Robert delgado April 21, 2021 at 11:40 pm

    I can’t get to see a doctor and was not offered the covid shot

  16. William E. Schneider April 21, 2021 at 11:35 pm

    Why with previous flu we didn’t have to practice isolations, quarantines wearing face masks and all the other inconveniences as we now do? I am 82 years old and never recall such a panic and restrictions to our personal freedoms.

    • John Adams April 22, 2021 at 9:17 am

      It’s to get us in lock step so we do what big government tells us without question

    • Joe Momma April 22, 2021 at 9:40 am

      We’re so sorry that your personal “freedoms” are so affected by wearing a piece of cloth on your face.

    • Steve Popkin April 22, 2021 at 11:07 am

      As I understand it the difference between this and previous flu variants is that this one is much more likely to kill you and, if you do get it, you’ll likely spread it to those nearest and dearest to you. I’m five years younger than you and I take this bug VERY seriously. It’s your life and your choice.

      [Editor: From the CDC: COVID-19 is not the flu or a flue variant. “Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.” https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm ]

  17. Joaquin Guzman April 21, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    What are the point of the appointment for the vaccine is canceled due to lack of supply. S-4 procurement is supposed to be efficient and effective. I am a amputated 100% Service Connected Veteran and it’s difficult for me to travel. Moreover, when my first appointment was canceled, I received a appointment letter stating that for the SECOND dose I may have to travel hours to get the shot. We are veterans and we have plenty of vaccines in our bodies except for the most important one. I’m going to make another appointment while I Lieutenant Dan my but into a Victor which is easier for me to get into the F-18(c) which Class A Mishap caused the compensated disability. The VA is improving, but some facilities create burdens on veterans and many staffers are rude when you ask questions about the two canceled appointments for a crucial vaccination. I’m a Naval Aviator the math question is hard for Officers.

  18. James Roberts April 21, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    So what you are telling us is that getting the vaccine has done nothing to make our lives any different than it has been for the past year without having the vaccination. No wonder people are skeptical about taking it. Now I understand that having your vaccination shot card is not being accepted as proof that you are fully vaccinated. So since I didn’t get the disease for the whole year before I was fully vaccinated has done absolutely nothing to improve my quality of life.

  19. Joseph A. Melton April 21, 2021 at 7:18 pm

    Can I make a appointment at my local VA for administering the Vaccination to my 17 year old son.. My wife and I already received both doses.

  20. Dennis Dougherty April 21, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    I received my second dose of Maderna on Monday at the Coatesville VA. I experienced joint pain, headaches, and I had trouble sleeping last nite, very restless. The symptons are now subsiding.
    Good luck

  21. Melissa S April 21, 2021 at 9:45 am

    Can I just show up to get vaccinated or will I get a text messages for an appointment to get the vaccine, since the vaccine is open to everyone now. Thank you.

  22. David Paul Morse April 15, 2021 at 11:46 am

    Is there a way to get a copy of my vaccination record, other the card I received at the time I got my shot. I heard the cards are being forged and are not being accepted at some locations.

    • Veterans Health Administration April 16, 2021 at 9:16 am

      How to Access your COVID-19 Vaccine Article https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhv-portal-web/ss20210112-covid19-vaccine-records-online provide guidance on how to access results online. Non-enrolled Veterans who got their vaccine from VA under the SAVE LIVES Act may also get proof of a COVID vaccine on My HealtheVet https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhv-portal-web/home. When they register with VA to get the COVID vaccine, they become eligible for a My HealtheVet Premium account and may access their COVID vaccination results in the same manner as an enrolled Veteran would.

    • Robert Silva April 22, 2021 at 6:54 am

      Call your VA Doctor and they can provide a record of your shots for you.

    • John Adams April 22, 2021 at 9:20 am

      It’s best if after you’re vaccinated that you get number tattooed on your forearm so you can show your vaccination.

  23. Terry Motley April 15, 2021 at 10:16 am

    Well I have received my first dose and that went very well no side effects. My second dose will be next Friday and I am looking forward to it.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Innovation revolutionary: Entrepreneur in Residence Dr. Priya Joshi works to develop a more equitable process in treating and identifying Veterans with kidney disease, hypertension and diabetes.

  • Houston VA has performed more than 160 head and neck free flap reconstructive surgeries since the program was developed in 2017.

  • Chronic pain interferes with women Veterans’ daily lives. Talk to your VA provider about an individualized pain management plan.