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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine FAQs




Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


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The federal government has said any coronavirus vaccine will be provided to the American public for free. While the vaccine itself will be provided at no charge, facilities may charge administrative costs associated with providing the vaccine.

There may be a limited supply at first. This would mean that not everyone will be able to be vaccinated right away. It is understandable how concerning this would be for people, especially for those who are at increased risk for serious illness from this virus and for their loved ones.

That is why, early in the response, the federal government began investing in select vaccine manufacturers to help them increase their ability to quickly make and distribute a large amount of COVID-19 vaccine. This will allow the United States to start with as much vaccine as possible and continually increase the supply in the weeks and months to follow. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. Several vaccination providers will be available, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be phased out in several allocations through the next couple months. The first allocation, Phase 1a will be available for healthcare workers most at risk of exposure to COVID-19 and residents of Skilled Nursing Facilities and Long-Term Care Facilities. As the vaccine becomes more available, the individuals who qualify to receive it will be expanded. At this time, a definitive timeline is not available.

Initial doses of the vaccine will only be available for individuals age 16 years and older. When more data is available for children younger than age 16, we expect the vaccine to be approved for them in the next several months. The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have recommended that pregnant and lactating women are offered the COVID-19 vaccine.

In clinical trials, both vaccines have shown high effectiveness in preventing people from getting sick with Covid-19. However the data hasn’t shown whether the vaccines can prevent people from carrying the virus and infecting others. This is the reason that after getting the COVID-19 vaccine (even after the second dose), you should continue to wear a mask, socially distance, and stay home when ill.

COVID-19 vaccines were tested in large clinical trials to make sure they meet safety standards. Many people were recruited to participate in these trials to see how the vaccines offers protection to people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions.

Both this disease and the vaccine are new. We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.

The most common adverse effects reported so far have been short term (2-3 days) of fatigue, headache, chills, myalgia (muscle pain) or pain at the injection site. Low-grade fever can also occur but more common after the second dose.

Any adverse events should immediately be reported to your primary care provider or the clinic where you received the vaccine.

CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible side effects (called adverse events) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Healthcare providers will be required to report certain adverse events following vaccination to VAERS. This national system collects these data to look for adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns of occurrence. Reports to VAERS help CDC monitor the safety of vaccines. Safety is a top priority.

CDC is also implementing a new smartphone-based tool called v-safe to check-in on people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine. When you receive your vaccine, you should also receive a v-safe information sheet telling you how to enroll in v-safe. If you enroll, you will receive regular text messages directing you to surveys where you can report any problems or adverse reactions you have after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

No, none of the currently available vaccines will give you a coronavirus infection.

The current vaccines available contain a small piece of viral RNA which means the vaccine does not contain live virus, and cannot alter your DNA.

For those who have been infected with COVID-19 within the last 90 days, it is recommended that you hold off from receiving the vaccine and receive it after the 90 days have elapsed because the vaccine is still limited in supply and we want to be able to offer it to others who do not have temporary immunity.

Previous SARS-coV-2 Infection (COVID-19), whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, is not considered a contraindication to vaccination. You also do not need to get a COVID-19 test (whether it is the rapid test, the PCR test or the antibody test) before you get the vaccine.

Initially, there might not be a much of a choice as vaccine availability and allocation is limited. As the months go by and other vaccine manufacturers receive authorization to distribute the vaccine, our community might have more choice in what vaccine they get.

At this time, there is no Federal or State mandate requiring individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccines. You should reach out to your employer or Human Resources Department to understand their stance on the vaccine in the workplace.

Every dose of the vaccine that is distributed will come with a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. This card will provide proof of your initial dose of the vaccine and stand as a reminder to receive your second dose.

Staying home when you do not feel well is always the best practice to limit the spread of possible infectious diseases. While you will not get COVID-19 from the vaccine, it is a good idea to stay home until you feel better and any adverse reactions have subsided.

No, you must get both vaccine doses from same manufacturer to get full protection from the vaccines. Providers are required to report vaccine administration with 24 hours to the immunization registry (CAIR) which will help prevent this from occurring

The COVID-19 vaccine is a two-dose series. You will need to receive both vaccines in order to be most protected from the virus.

The two currently approved vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, have their doses spaced 3 weeks and 4 weeks apart, respectively. That mean that your body may not have the most protection from the vaccine until a week or so following your second dose.

All facilities providing COVID-19 vaccines must follow strict privacy policies called HIPAA. Your personal information will be protected. Medical providers are required to report every vaccine administered within 24 hours to the California Immunization Registry (CAIR). This site provides de-personalized, demographic information to the California Department of Public Health for data analysis purposes.

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic. These tools include: covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.

Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. We will eventually get to a point where these precautions will no longer be recommended, but we need to ensure we have all the information available about the impact the vaccine has on the spread of the virus.

Both vaccines use messenger RNA technology, meaning they are made up of similar RNA that then gets made into “spiked proteins” that tells the body the specific antibodies to make to “fight” against the virus. Both vaccines have high levels of efficacy meaning they are highly effective vaccines (when both doses are received) in preventing COVID-19 illness. Some differences in the vaccine include the way it is stored and the length of time between dose 1 and dose 2.