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Updated May 3, 2021

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COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Mercer Medicine is now distributing COVID-19 vaccinations on Mercer University campuses in Macon and Atlanta. Schedule your appointment here.

Macon COVID-19 vaccination clinics are held at Penfield Hall on Mercer’s campus.

Atlanta COVID-19 vaccination clinics are at the Student Health Center at Sheffield Suite 206.

Vaccinations are essential to fighting infectious diseases in our community. Vaccinations are considered by some experts to be the greatest achievement of modern medicine. A growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to be infected without showing symptoms (called an asymptomatic infection) and potentially less likely to spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others.

Below, our infectious disease specialists address some common myths about the COVID-19 vaccinations currently available so you can make an informed decision about getting the vaccine.


It was made too quickly to be safe.


The mRNA technology used in these vaccines has been the subject of extensive research for many years. A combination of urgency, widespread support, and high infection rate have made the relatively fast development of a COVID-19 vaccine possible.

Dr. Jeffrey Stephens says: “The technology has been around for a long time, but this is the first time it has actually come to fruition for a vaccine.”

Dr. Harold Katner says: “Ninety-four percent, ninety-five percent response to a vaccine is really, really high. And the people who got the infection that did get the vaccine, they weren’t that sick. So based on what we now know I think it’s going to be a safe vaccine.”


I don’t need to get vaccinated because I am not high-risk.


Vaccines work best when more than 40% of the population have received them. Even if you are not high-risk, you could continue to spread COVID-19 throughout your community.

Dr. Stephens says: “It would be nice to be able to look forward to a return to some normalcy at some point in the latter half of 2021. For that to happen, people will have to get vaccinated even if they themselves are at low risk.”


I could get sick with COVID-19 from the vaccine.


You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. There is no live virus in the COVID-19 vaccines currently available. Side effects can include fever and muscle pain but are mild, temporary, and a sign that the vaccine is working to help prepare your body to fight off infection.

Dr. Jennifer Hoffman says: “All that [a fever] really means is that your body is doing a fabulous job of mounting an immune response to the vaccine. That’s kind of what we want. Not [that] anyone enjoys having a fever, but having a fever for a day or two is better than getting COVID and ending up in the hospital for possibly weeks.”


I’ve already had COVID-19 so I don’t need or even shouldn’t get the vaccine.


While contracting COVID-19 can help protect you from reinfection, we still don’t know exactly how long this immunity lasts. The CDC recommends vaccination even for people who have already had COVID-19, as long as you have recovered from your symptoms.

Dr. Hoffman says: “My advice is yes, I would still get vaccinated. Natural infection, we believe most people are protected from getting re-infected for at least three months, and maybe longer in many people.”

Dr. Stephens says:  “If you have COVID, you should wait 30 days before getting your vaccine, but you should still get it if youré a healthcare worker and eventually everyone else.”


The COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA.


COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA at all. These vaccines teach your cells to create a protein which then tells your body to protect against disease by creating antibodies.

Dr. Katner says: “Once a patient is injected with the vaccine, human cells are ‘instructed’ to make a piece of the coronavirus called the spike proteins. Spike proteins are found on the surface of the virus. Once cells make the spike proteins, our bodies break down the proteins and begin to form an immunity to the virus.”


It’s better to wait and see if there are long term side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.


Side effects from vaccinations are typically reported within a month or two of vaccination. Participants in the clinical trials of the currently available COVID-19 vaccinations have been monitored closely for more than six months.

Dr. Hoffman says: “We’re in the middle of a pandemic. You really have to weigh the risk of getting COVID-19 and potentially getting very seriously ill or even dying versus a potential small risk of some unusual long-term side effect from the vaccine.”

Learn More About Our Infectious Disease Specialists: