Questions and Answers
Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the vaccine and its distribution. Check back regularly for updates, and please reach out to your health care provider with any questions or concerns.
The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for most people age 16 or older.
Does it work?
The Emergency Use Authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine is based upon large clinical trials in which persons who received vaccine were much less likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19. The vaccine performance exceeded expectations and protects against COVID-19 illness 95% of the time.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes! Most of the reaction to the vaccine is mild — like some soreness where the vaccine was injected, a low-grade fever or achiness. This really means your body is doing what it should as a result of the vaccine. Individuals who have had previous severe reactions (anaphylaxis) and pregnant women should discuss their specific situation with their doctor prior to receiving the vaccine.
When a vaccine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, regulators and drug companies continue to monitor its safety and effectiveness as more people take it.
The COVID-19 vaccine met high safety standards. During the trials, serious adverse events were very infrequent and were the same for those who received placebo or the vaccine.
When can I get vaccinated?
It depends on several factors, including your age, medical condition and job. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December recommended vaccinations be prioritized in four phases. They are:
- Phase 1a: health care professionals and people living in long-term care facilities (already underway)
- Phase 1b: people 75 years or older, front-line, essential workers such as emergency responders, teachers and grocery store employees (expected to begin in mid-January)
- Phase 1c: people 65 years or older, those with high-risk medical conditions, other essential workers (expected to begin in early spring)
- Phase 2: all other people (expected to begin in mid-to-late spring)
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine? What is in the vaccine product?
No. It is NOT biologically possible. The vaccine isn’t living virus, dead virus or chopped-up virus. It is merely a very small piece of biologically inactive genetic material and is not contagious. The vaccine formulation does not include preservatives, thimerosal or mercury. It is cell-free.
What side effects can I expect?
Pain at the site of injection is common. Typically, this is mild. No severe reactions at the site of injection were detected in clinical trial. Fatigue, headache and fever occur less commonly. These are signs that your immune system is doing what it should in reaction to the vaccine.
I understand two doses are needed. Is one dose OK?
Two doses are needed to complete the series. If you receive the first dose, you must receive the second dose, unless you are medically exempted due to a reaction. The second dose will be offered a few weeks after the first.
If I receive the vaccine, will I still need to wear a mask?
Yes. The vaccine is approved based upon prevention of COVID-19 disease. We don’t know if the vaccine protects you from transmitting the virus. Until we know for sure, you should continue to wear your mask and distance from others.
I already had COVID-19. Do I need the COVID-19 vaccine?
As in all cases, this is a personal choice. The length of immunity following infection is not fully understood and antibody levels appear to drop over time. Therefore, vaccination is recommended even if you’ve had COVID-19.
I think I may have already had COVID-19. Should I be tested prior to receiving the vaccine?
No testing for prior infection is necessary. The vaccine is offered regardless of history of COVID-19 disease, either suspected or confirmed.
I have just been diagnosed with COVID-19 or in the middle of my illness. Should I receive the vaccine?
No. Vaccination should be deferred until you have recovered and have completed isolation.
I am pregnant. Should I be vaccinated?
You should discuss this with your doctor. There are no data on safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women. However, pregnant women have an increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection and the infection poses risks to their pregnancy. We will make the vaccine available to you, should you choose to receive it.
I am breastfeeding. Should I receive the vaccine?
You should discuss this with your doctor. There are no safety data on COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women. COVID-19 vaccines are not live-virus vaccines and are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. You may choose to be vaccinated.
I had pain and low-grade fever after the first dose. Should I take Tylenol prior to my next dose?
No, routine premedication is not recommended due to lack of information on the impact on the individual’s immune response to the vaccine.
Who should not receive COVID-19 vaccine?
A history of severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis to any component or previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is a valid reason to avoid vaccination. Due to reports of severe allergic reactions which occurred outside of the clinical trial, persons who have had a severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or injectable therapy should not receive the vaccine at this time.
I am immunocompromised due to cancer, chemotherapy, HIV infection or other condition. Should I receive the vaccine?
You should discuss this with your doctor. There are no data on safety of COVID-19 vaccines in immunocompromised individuals. However, immunocompromised patients might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19. We will make the vaccine available to you, should you choose to receive it.
As part of routine wellness, I just received other vaccine(s). Should I wait prior to accepting COVID-19 vaccine?
To be safe, we are recommending that you receive COVID-19 vaccine 14 days before or after other vaccines.