Frequently asked questions
How do the vaccines work?
The Pfizer and Moderna two-shot vaccines use
messenger RNA technology to instruct your cells to create an immune response against the spike protein of the coronavirus.
The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a harmless cold virus to deliver the genetic blueprint of the coronavirus spike protein, teaching your immune system how to block the virus.
For a more in-depth explanation of all three coronavirus vaccines, read
Should I be concerned?
If you have concerns or questions about whether you should get a vaccine based on allergies, underlying medical conditions or other health concerns, talk to our providers first.
We are more than happy to answer any questions.
What should I bring to my appointment?
Print out or save a confirmation of your appointment. You should also bring a form of valid ID or documentation that confirms who you are, where you live and where you work if your job is the reason you’re eligible.
If you have health insurance, bring proof of your insurance as well. You won’t be charged for the vaccination but the clinic or pharmacy will charge your insurance an administrative fee.
Can I choose which vaccine I get?
At the moment, public health experts say the best vaccine is the one you can get.
The goal is to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible. The more people vaccinated, the sooner life can return to some sense of normalcy.
That said, we are asking people if they have a preference among one of the three FDA-authorized vaccines. Right now, there’s a limited supply, and people want to get the shot they can.
What can I expect during my vaccine appointment?
Prepare for an appointment to take 30-45 minutes. Try to show up on time, rather than a few minutes early, to limit the number of people gathered in the waiting room.
If you’re getting the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, plan to schedule an appointment for the second dose while you’re at the clinic. The timing will vary — the second Pfizer shot should be three weeks after the first. The second Moderna shot should be a month after the first.
After you get your shot, the staff at the clinic may ask you to stay for 15 to 30 minutes so they can monitor for any reaction to the shot. The CDC recommends people with a history of allergic reactions to vaccines wait for 30 minutes
Can I get more than one vaccine?
The short answer is no.
current CDC guidance states: The authorized vaccines are not interchangeable. You shouldn’t take the first dose of Pfizer and then a dose of the Moderna vaccine. We don’t know whether mixing any of the vaccines (including Johnson & Johnson) is safe or effective.
As for whether or when we’ll need another shot to protect against the coronavirus in the future: The CDC has not determined whether people will need booster shots after a certain period of time.
What are the vaccine side effects?
Side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working and your immune system is kicking into gear. That said, some people have no side effects after getting vaccinated — and that’s perfectly normal, too.
Common side effects include pain, redness and swelling on the arm where you got the shot. You may also develop fatigue, headache, muscle pain, fever, chills, nausea or exhaustion.
According to the CDC, you should get the second shot of a vaccine even if you had side effects after the first — unless your doctor or a provider tells you otherwise.
Side effects after the second Pfizer or Moderna shot may be more intense than the first. But any side effects from a vaccine should go away in a few days.
The CDC has a few tips for mitigating any side effects after getting vaccinated and, once you’ve gotten the shot, the agency says it’s okay to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to mitigate any soreness.
What do I do with this card they gave me?
At your appointment, you’ll receive a paper vaccination scheduling card. SAVE THIS! The CDC designed the cards to help you track which shot you received and when. For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require two doses, the cards also serve as reminders for your second appointments.
The cards are not intended to be “entry tickets” into businesses or shared spaces. The paper cards are not vaccine passports, which would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus as businesses try to reopen.
When will I be protected by the vaccine? And for how long?
It takes time for the vaccines to build up antibodies in your system. You’re not fully protected until two weeks after your final Pfizer or Moderna shot and two weeks after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Scientists don’t yet know how long the protection from the vaccines lasts. And they don’t know whether the shots prevent people from becoming infected without knowing it, inadvertently spreading the virus, although there is preliminary evidence from the Johnson & Johnson trial that the vaccine protects against asymptomatic infections.
Should I get a covid antibody test after my vaccination?
No, health experts say antibody tests — the tests designed to detect proteins created by the immune system that protect against the virus — are not necessary and can be unreliable after you’ve been vaccinated.
What can I do now that I’m fully vaccinated?
We’re still learning whether the vaccines prevent people from spreading the disease. You still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing while in public, even if you’ve been vaccinated. And you should continue to avoid any larger group gatherings.
But there are plenty of things to look forward to in your post-vaccination life.
People who are fully vaccinated — meaning two weeks after their final shot — may visit others who are also fully vaccinated indoors, without wearing masks or physically distancing. Just like old times.