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What questions should I ask my doctor about COVID-19 vaccines?

Updated September 03, 2023

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NVIC If You Vaccinate, Ask 8! Webpage downloadable brochure suggests asking eight questions before you make a vaccination decision for yourself, or for your loved one. If you review these questions before your appointment, you will be better prepared to ask your healthcare provider questions. 

Vaccine providers are federally required to provide vaccine recipients with the vaccine risk information, which can be found on the relevant FDA COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet. Vaccine providers must also inform COVID-19 vaccine recipients that the vaccine may be decline and must providing information on consequences of declining the vaccine.

To be more fully informed about COVID-19 vaccines, FDA Fact Sheets are available to the public on the FDA's website, and NVIC encourages the public to read these fact-sheets prior to vaccination to assist consumers in making an informed vaccination decisions and for use in asking questions of vaccine providers. Because the FDA has granted all COVID-19 vaccines in use in the U.S. with an EUA status, all vaccine injury claims are governed by the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not legally required to create a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS).  In this instance, the FDA issues Fact Sheets on EUA status vaccines which perform a similar function to the CDC’s VIS.

NVIC provides the public with referenced information on diseases and vaccines to empower informed decision-making and encourages consumers to further explore these references as vaccine decisions are made.

Additional questions to ask

Other questions that may be useful to discuss with your doctor before getting the COVID-19 vaccine are: 

  • What should I do if my child or I become ill after vaccination?
  • What other kinds of reaction symptoms should I call to report after COVID-19 vaccination?
  • If the coronavirus vaccine doesn’t protect me or my child, do we have any other options for preventing coronavirus infection?

In alignment with the informed consent ethic, which has guided the ethical practice of modern medicine, vaccine providers should answer your questions, and/or provide you with resources to learn more. The informed consent ethic, which is recognized globally as a human right, also states that individuals should be able to delay or refuse treatments and interventions without coercion or punishment. 

Under federal law, vaccine providers are required to report vaccine adverse events to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) that is co-administered by the CDC and FDA.  You can learn more about reporting vaccine reactions on NVIC’s reaction reporting webpage and can also directly report vaccine reactions to VAERS.

Remember, if you choose to vaccinate, always keep a written record of exactly which shots/vaccines you or your child have received, including the manufacturer’s name and vaccine lot number. Write down and describe in detail any serious health problems that develop after vaccination and keep vaccination records in a file you can access easily.

It also is important to be able to recognize a vaccine reaction and seek immediate medical attention if the reaction appears serious, as well as know how to make a vaccine reaction report to federal health officials at the Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS). NVIC’s Report Vaccine Reactions—It’s the Law webpage can help you file a vaccine reaction report yourself to VAERS if your doctor fails or refuses to make a report.

Vaccine Injury Compensation for COVID-19 EUA Vaccines

In the U.S., vaccine manufacturers are shielded from liability under the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act for vaccines developed in response to a health emergency.   

The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) invoked the PREP Act following the January 31, 2020 declaration of a COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency, stating that vaccines and drugs developed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic were covered countermeasures under the 2005 PREP Act. 

Individuals who die or suffer serious harm due to the administration of covered countermeasures, such as vaccines, may be eligible to receive compensation through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP),  whether the harm was a result of willful misconduct on the part of the vaccine manufacturer or person administering the vaccine.

The CICP is administered by employees in HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). HHS regulations govern CICP’s procedures and eligibility determinations. In general, eligible individuals (or their survivors) who suffer death or serious physical injury directly caused by the administration of a covered countermeasure may receive reimbursement for reasonable medical expenses, loss of employment income and survivor benefits in the case of death. Serious physical injuries under CICP are generally limited to those that warrant hospitalization or result in a significant loss of function or disability. Congress funds CICP awards through emergency appropriations to the Covered Countermeasure Process Fund. 

The CICP currently governs all vaccine injury claims for COVID-19 vaccines in use in the U.S. and this program has been previously used when a public health emergency was declared for the H1N1 “swine flu” influenza pandemic in 2009 and for the Ebola virus outbreak in 2016.  

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about covid-19 and the covid-19 vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. 

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