American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Talk It Up Patient Guide

Information for patients about COVID-19 vaccination

Your surgeon is providing you with this current scientific information about COVID-19 so you can accurately make the best decision for yourself.

Download the PDF version

Q: Why should surgical patients get vaccinated?

A: Vaccination is the safest and most effective way for patients to protect themselves from getting COVID-19. Vaccination prepares your immune system to fend off the virus and keeps your immune system focused on recovering from your operation.

Q: How do I know if the COVID vaccine is safe?

A: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The FDA has approved the first vaccine to prevent COVID, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, in individuals 16 years of age and older. Emergency authorization remains in place for those 12-15 years old. It's been reported that the Moderna vaccine is currently undergoing the FDA approval process, and Johnson & Johnson will seek approval soon. Like the Pfizer vaccine, the latter two were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials and met the FDA's rigorous standards to support emergency authorization. Since then, millions of people in the U.S. and worldwide have been vaccinated. All COVID-19 vaccines continue to undergo intensive monitoring to ensure continued safety.
Sources:,, 1622054

Q. I'm healthy and in good shape. Since I rarely get sick, why do I need to get vaccinated?

A: The effects of COVID are unpredictable. Even in young and healthy people, the symptoms of COVID can be severe or long lasting. Vaccination ensures you are protected from severe illness due to COVID. Further, being vaccinated helps those around you by reducing the spread of COVID within your household, your workplace, and in your community.

Q: Should I get a booster vaccination?

A: A COVID-19 booster dose has been recommended for those with compromised immune systems. For others, federal health officials have a plan to begin offering a vaccine booster in fall 2021, pending final FDA evaluation of third doses.

Fast Facts

Q: Can vaccinated patients with no symptoms still spread COVID?

A: Yes, but a vaccinated patient is less likely to spread COVID than an unvaccinated patient.

Q: If you recover from COVID, do you still need to get vaccinated?

A: Yes, you should get vaccinated regardless of whether you have already had COVID-19.

Q: How likely am I to have a severe reaction to the vaccine?

A: It's been reported that serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. Reactions to the vaccine are far less common and far less severe than are reactions to being infected with COVID-19.

Q: How long does immunity last with vaccination?

A: Immunity is still being studied, but COVID-19 vaccines provide immunity for at least six months and likely much longer.


Q: Because of the Delta variant, should vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks in public?

A: Mask recommendations are changing based on current case volumes. Visit the CDC website for the latest recommendations.

Q: What is the best type of mask?


  • Surgical masks
  • Masks that fit properly
  • Masks made with breathable fabric
  • Masks made with tightly woven fabric
  • Masks with two or three layers
  • Masks with inner filter pockets

Ask your surgeon about your hospital's policy regarding the following:

  • Whether a COVID test is required before an elective procedure
  • Whether family and friends can accompany and visit you in the hospital
  • If you need a COVID test before going to the emergency room

Further reading:

This document draws from data and reports available as of 8/23/2021.