Do you have any questions about Covid-19 vaccination? Here you can find out why you should be vaccinated, how the vaccination works, how long the vaccination protection lasts, which side effects can occur in rare cases and which vaccines are already in use.

Who should vaccinate when, where, why and how often

Why should I get vaccinated?

A vaccination against Covid-19 will help protect you and contain the pandemic. The virus is very contagious. Some of those infected suffer from a severe course of the disease. People aged 65 and over, pregnant women and adults with previous illnesses are particularly at risk. In addition to the rules of conduct and hygiene, vaccination is the most effective means to date to reduce the number of serious illnesses and deaths in Switzerland. Only when around ninety per cent of the population are immune will the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 be reduced to such an extent that this pandemic will pass.

Do I have to get vaccinated?

Vaccination is not compulsory in Switzerland. However, we recommend getting vaccinated. Vaccination offers good individual protection and helps contain the pandemic.

When and where can I get vaccinated?

The authorities in your canton can tell you when and where you can get vaccinated. 

What does the vaccination cost?

The Covid-19 vaccination is free of charge for you.

How often do I have to get vaccinated?

For complete vaccination protection, you need to be vaccinated twice with an interval of three to four weeks.

Vaccination is also recommended if you have already been infected with the new coronavirus. One dose of the vaccine is sufficient in this case. You do not need to get a second dose. Exceptions apply for people at particular risk. Consult your doctor for more information. It is generally also possible to have two doses of the vaccine after a coronavirus infection.

Who shouldn't get vaccinated?

The only contraindication to the vaccination is in people with a severe, confirmed allergy to any component of the vaccine (especially PEG).

The Covid-19 vaccination is currently not recommended for the following people:

  • Children under 12 years

The Swiss Federal Immunisation Commission (EKIF) also recommends that pregnant women be vaccinated from the twelfth week of pregnancy. If you are pregnant, please discuss your options with your doctor.

If you have a high fever, feel sick or unwell, are waiting for your Covid-19 test result, are in isolation or quarantine, do not get the vaccination. Get the vaccination as soon as possible.

Vaccination protection

Is the vaccination effective and safe?

Every vaccine needs approval and a recommendation in Switzerland. To do this, it must meet high standards for safety, effectiveness and quality. The Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, Swissmedic, carefully examined and approved the vaccine against Covid-19. It is safe and it works. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccine in medical studies. It is also safe and effective for the elderly and those with chronic diseases. Swissmedic continues to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. In general: The risk of serious side effects after vaccination is much smaller than the risk of serious disease progression after infection with the coronavirus.

How does vaccination protect?

Your body builds up protection against Covid-19. The vaccination strengthens your defences and helps your body fight the virus. The vaccination significantly reduces the risk of Covid-19. However, there is no complete protection. Some people can get Covid-19 despite the vaccination. With the vaccination, however, there is a higher chance that they will not get seriously ill.

How long will it take to be protected after vaccination?

Protection begins about two weeks after the first dose and is complete one week after the second dose – or 14 days after the first vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as this is administered in a single dose.

How long does the vaccination last?

Current data show that protection from getting the disease lasts for at least 12 months. It may be that after a certain period of time another vaccination has to be given.

What side effects can the Covid vaccination cause?

A distinction must be made here between harmless, temporary vaccination reactions and real serious side effects. Vaccine reactions are common and go away within a few days. Possible vaccine reactions are pain at the area of injection, tiredness, headache or body aches or high temperature. They show that the body is building up the vaccine protection and are therefore a good sign in mild form. Very rarely are there serious side effects such as a severe allergic reaction right after vaccination. An allergic reaction may cause swelling, redness, itching, or difficulty breathing. If you experience such symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

How long can side effects last?

The side effects usually go away after a few days. If after a week you still have any side effects or they get worse, speak with your doctor.

Could serious side effects still occur years later?

Experience with numerous vaccines over the years has shown that most side effects occur shortly after the vaccination. As of the end of August 2021, over 4.7 million people in Switzerland have been vaccinated. The percentage of them with suspected serious adverse effects reported to Swissmedic is only 0.038 per cent. A serious autoimmunological reaction to a real infection or to a vaccination never occurs years after the fact, but if it does occur, then it will be in the first one to max. three months after the immunological “boost”.

Vaccination and Covid-19

Can I get Covid-19 from the vaccination?

No. You will not get Covid-19 as a result of the vaccination. There are no corona viruses in the vaccine.

Can I get vaccinated if I already have Covid-19?

If you have already contracted the new coronavirus, vaccination is recommended by six months after the infection. From 4 weeks after a confirmed coronavirus infection, one dose of vaccine is sufficient. With the vaccination you receive optimum protection and the immune defence is additionally strengthened. If the infection has gone unnoticed, a vaccination is not harmful. 

Can I infect other people with Covid-19 even if I have been vaccinated?

The vaccination protects you from the consequences of a serious COVID-19 disease. Current data shows that the risk of transmitting coronavirus to other people is low after full vaccination. However, the vaccine does not provide 100% protection against infection.

I recently had another vaccination or another vaccination is due (e.g. against influenza). Is that a problem with the Covid vaccination?

There is no reason to believe that there could be an interaction between the Covid vaccine and other vaccines. Vaccinations protect you from infections that can also endanger or harm you during the pandemic. However, there should be a minimum of 14 days between vaccinations. This does not apply to emergency vaccinations.

Vaccines

What types of vaccines are available?

So far, the federal government has signed contracts with the vaccine manufacturers Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax and Curevac. The Comirnaty® vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech received approval from Swissmedic on 19 December 2020. Moderna's vaccine (COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Moderna) was approved by Swissmedic on 12 January 2021. The Covid-19 vaccine “COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen” from Johnson & Johnson was approved on 22 March 2021.

How do Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines work?

Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna's mRNA vaccine contains genetic information of the novel coronavirus. From this tiny piece of blueprint, the body creates a small part of the virus - the so-called spike protein. The immune system recognises this as foreign and forms antibodies against it. The immune response has started. Both the mRNA blueprint and the spikes are broken down within days. This active immunisation prevents the SARS-CoV-2 viruses from penetrating human cells and multiplying.

This video from Swissmedic explains how the mRNA vaccine works.

How does the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson work?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is based on an adenovirus (harmless human cold virus), which contains the blueprint for the spike proteins of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and introduces it into the body. This blueprint enables the body’s own cells to produce the protein that is unique to the COVID-19 virus. The human immune system recognises that this protein is foreign and reacts by establishing natural defences against a COVID-19 infection. The adenovirus in the vaccine cannot multiply and does not cause illness.

The video from Swissmedic explains how the viral vector vaccine works.

What are the differences between the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna?

Both preparations are highly effective. The vaccine developed by Pfizer / BioNTech offers around 95 percent protection against Covid-19. At Moderna, an overall effectiveness of 94.1 percent is stated.

While Comirnaty® gives 30 micrograms of vaccine per injection, Moderna's mRNA-1273 has 100 micrograms. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for anyone aged 12 and over. The Moderna vaccine differs from this with its suitability for all people aged 18 and over. The two vaccines contain different additives.

Otherwise, the two vaccines are similar. Both vaccines are mRNA vaccines and are well tolerated. Both Pfizer / BioNtech's Comirnaty® and the Moderna preparation require two doses for the vaccine to develop its full effect. These should be administered about four weeks apart. The second vaccination must be given with the same vaccine as the first.

What is new about the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson?

The “COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen” from Johnson & Johnson is a viral vector vaccine and is administered just once (single dose). The data shows an efficacy of between 64.2% (age group 18 to 64) and 82.4% (aged 65 and over) in all investigated age groups 14 days after the vaccine. The vaccine can be stored frozen at -25°C to -15°C and transported chilled or thawed at 2°C to 8°C. Once removed from the freezer, the unopened vaccine can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Can the new mRNA vaccine change my genetic material (DNA / genes)?

The mRNA vaccine is not transported into the cell nucleus and cannot affect the human genome. The vaccine contains mRNA, which codes for the formation of a specific protein that forms the spike-like projections (spikes) on the SARS-CoV-2 virus wall. This protein serves as an antigen, is recognised by the body as foreign and thus stimulates the body's own immune system to react against the spikes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Antibodies are formed which are responsible for protecting against the virus.

Will the vaccine be injected into my body at -75 ° C?

No. The Comirnaty® vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech is stored at -75°C– that from Moderna at -20°C and that from Johnson & Johnson at -25°C to -15°C – but shortly before vaccination it is thawed and absorbed in saline, which is stored at normal refrigerator or room temperature.

All interim results on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines can be found on the Infovac website.