(NEXSTAR/KNWA/KFTA) — “This pandemic is not under control.”

That’s according to Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. José Romero, who did not mince words at a COVID-19 briefing this week.

Even with a vaccine in place, it is important for people to continue to follow health recommendations, including wearing a mask, handwashing and social distancing.

The first U.S. doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which is for those 16 years and older, were administered Monday, allowing hundreds of thousands of people, mostly health care workers, to be vaccinated already this week. Assuming Moderna gets federal authorization for its vaccine, which is for ages 18 years and older, the pace is expected to increase next week.

Romero said those who get vaccinated can expect fever, swelling of the arm and soreness. Here are some other vaccination facts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests.
  • People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated.
  • Getting vaccinated can help prevent getting sick with COVID-19.
  • Receiving an mRNA vaccine will not alter your DNA.

The limited doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are going to the most vulnerable first — health care workers and nursing home residents. Some top U.S. government officials will also be vaccinated in the first wave, according to the National Security Council.

Health officials are still working out who will get vaccinated next, but it could include people 65 and older, teachers, police and workers in other essential fields and those with health conditions that make them more susceptible to complications.

Romero said when it comes to vaccinations, safety has never been compromised.

“Development and safety have been paramount [by the] pharmaceutical companies, Food and Drug Administration and CDC,” he said.

Romero also recommended that people reassess holiday plans this year and follow the CDC recommendation of “no non-essential travel even within the state.”

He also advised that people limit the individuals with whom they congregate, including family members. And for all indoor activities, he said, people should wear a mask even if they know the individual’s home they’re visiting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.