COVID-19 Vaccine
Frequently Asked Questions 


Get answers to your questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccination is an essential tool to help stop the pandemic

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available. The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others provides the best protection from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccination benefits outweigh any known risks against vaccination

The benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines greatly outweigh the potential mild side effects. The possibility of severe complications for anyone who gets the virus - along with the public health consequences of the pandemic's continuing its course - are strong reasons in favor of getting vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccination is a safer way to help build protection

COVID-19 can cause serious, life-threatening complications. Even though COVID-19 affects certain groups less seriously than others based on age, health, and other factors, it is still not possible to predict how COVID-19 will affect any individual. Getting vaccinated creates an antibody response, so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

Frequently asked questions

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a crucial decision. We want you to be informed of the latest facts about the vaccine so you can make a choice that is right for you and your loved ones. The following FAQs should answer many of your questions, but if you still have unanswered questions, reach out to your primary care provider.

Vaccine Overview

Vaccines currently prevent millions of deaths from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles and influenza every year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body's natural defenses - the immune system - to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness. Vaccines are also critical to the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks.

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but all of them use the virus (or parts or material from it) to provoke an immune response. Once the body’s immune system has “previewed” the virus from the vaccine, it is able to recognize and respond if it encounters the virus again.

Herd immunity means that enough people in a community are immune to a disease that the disease cannot spread easily among them. One of the aims in achieving herd immunity is to keep vulnerable groups who cannot get vaccinated (due to specific health conditions, etc.) safe and protected from the disease. To safely achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, a substantial fraction of the population would need to be vaccinated.

If you are medically able, getting one of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S. is the safest, most effective way to protect yourself from the virus's worst effects and reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to others. It's part of PeaceHealth's Mission to promote personal and community health and provide safe care for every patient. For more on vaccine approval, please see the FAQ below: “Why has the FDA only approved the vaccines for emergency use?”

We strongly encourage vaccination for any patient or visitor for whom it is medically advisable. Vaccines are the best way to protect oneself and others in the community. Patients cannot be required to be vaccinated. As public health circumstances warrant, requirements for visitors — for example, masking, vaccination, or eliminating visitation entirely — are or may be necessary

If you lost your card, you have several options for replacing it. If you received your vaccination at a PeaceHealth facility, you can find your vaccination record in your My PeaceHealth account. If you received it from another organization, contact them and ask for a new one.

You can also contact your state health department's immunization information system (IIS). Vaccine providers are required to report COVID-19 vaccination to their state's IIS.

Once you have your vaccine record, you may want to consider other ways to protect and carry it.

Vaccine Availability

The Pfizer vaccine received full authorization for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people 16 years old and older on August 23, 2021. It is available under emergency use authorization for people ages 5-15. The vaccine uses the same mRNA approach as the Moderna vaccine. When first administered, it requires two doses. Additional doses may be required for severely immunocompromised individuals.

The Moderna vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people 18 years old and older. The vaccine uses the same mRNA approach as the Pfizer vaccine. When first administered, it requires two doses. Additional doses may be required for severely immunocompromised individuals.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on February 27, 2021, for people 18 years old and older. The vaccine is a viral vector vaccine requiring only one shot.

  Pfizer Moderna Johnson & Johnson
Type mRNA mRNA Vector
Who can get this vaccine? Fully authorized for people 16 years old and older.
Authorized for emergency use in people 5-15 years old.
Authorized for emergency use in people 18 years and older. Authorized for emergency use in people 18 years and older.
Number of shots 2 shots
Given 3 weeks (21 days) apart
2 shots
Given 4 weeks (28 days) apart
1 shot
When is the vaccine fully effective? 2 weeks after your second shot 2 weeks after your second shot 2 weeks after your shot
Additional Dose(s) People aged 5+ who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should get an additional primary shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Can be administered as early as 4 weeks after second shot.
People aged 18+ who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should get an additional primary shot of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Can be administered as early as 4 weeks after second shot.
Additional doses have not been recommended for moderately to severely immunocompromised people but booster shots can be administered 2 months following the initial shot.
Booster Recommended for people 12+ who received their second dose 5 or more months ago. For 18+, the booster shot can be any of the available vaccines. For 12-17-year-olds, the booster must be Pfizer. Recommended for people 18+ who got their second shot 6 or more months ago. The booster shot can be any of the available vaccines. Recommended for people who are 18+ who got their shot 2 or more months ago. The booster shot can be any of the available vaccines.
According to the CDC, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose.

If other vaccines are also authorized/approved and released later, PeaceHealth may receive them as well. Learn more about the vaccines in Phase 3 clinical trials here.

PeaceHealth is currently offering vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, depending on clinic location.

Vaccine Distribution

PeaceHealth is following prioritization guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state departments of health to ensure a fair and equitable vaccine distribution process across all our communities.In addition, PeaceHealth is working closely with local health partners to ensure our communities are vaccinated. Schedule your PeaceHealth vaccine here.

PeaceHealth is committed to working with all our community partners, including public health agencies, to ensure the successful and equitable distribution of a safe and effective vaccine that will end this pandemic.

PeaceHealth is currently offering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at select locations. You can make an appointment in one of the following ways:

  • Visit the PeaceHealth patient portal, My PeaceHealth, and send a message to your primary care provider.
  • Call your primary care provider.
  • Visit our state vaccine pages for phone numbers by location.

Find other locations based on your zip code and vaccine type/manufacturer preference at vaccines.gov.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is widely available at drug stores, pharmacies, and non-PeaceHealth clinics. Visit vaccines.gov. to find a location near you by zip code. Alternatively, you can call 1-800-232-0233.

Adult Vaccination Details

Patients should not have any out-of-pocket expenses for the COVID-19 vaccine. The federal government pays for the cost of the vaccine itself regardless of immigration and insurance status. If you have public or private insurance, PeaceHealth will bill them for the cost of administering the vaccine. If you do not have insurance, the federal government offers healthcare providers a program covering vaccine administration costs.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require two shots. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine only requires one shot.

The Pfizer vaccine received full authorization for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people 16 years old and older on August 23, 2021. The vaccine is available under emergency use authorization for people ages 5-15. The Moderna vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA for people 18 years old and older. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the FDA on February 27, 2021, for people 18 years old and older.

Company Eligibility
Pfizer People aged 5 years and older
Moderna People aged 18 years and older
Johnson & Johnson People aged 18 years and older

PeaceHealth clinics are offering either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, depending on the location and availability. If you have a preference for one, please schedule an appointment at a clinic offering your preferred manufacturer. You will need to return to the same location to get your second dose. Mixing and matching of manufacturers is approved for booster shots only.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines both require two shots to be effective. The Pfizer shots must be administered no sooner than 17 days apart and if after 21 days, the closest day possible. The Moderna shots must be administered no sooner than 24 days apart and, after 28 days, the soonest day possible.

You may have some side effects from the vaccine. Side effects indicate that your body is building protection against the virus. Most people either have no side effects or common side effects such as:

  • swelling or redness at the injection site.
  • headache.
  • muscle pain.
  • tiredness.

It is extremely rare for anyone to have a severe allergic reaction. You will be asked to remain at the vaccination location for 15-30 minutes after your vaccine to be monitored for severe side effects. Side effects may be more intense after your second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, but should go away within a few days.

If you think you're having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, call 911.

If you have concerns about possible side effects you may be experiencing, reach out to your provider. PeaceHealth is safe, open and ready to care for you.

Learn more about side effects and when to call your doctor.

According to CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including hospitals and clinics, local business and workplace guidance.

The vaccine is considered fully effective 14 days after your second dose (14 days after Johnson & Johnson's single dose). For those who are not vaccinated or fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends they continue protecting themselves and others by wearing a mask and taking other safety precautions.

If you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may need additional doses to achieve enough antibodies for protection, and even then, you may NOT be fully protected. Talk to your healthcare provider. Even after vaccination, you may need to continue taking all precautions.

We don't know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. We know that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines work well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating delta variant. Experts are working on learning more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity.

Booster shots are recommended for people who received the Pfizer vaccine at least five months prior or Moderna vaccine at least six months prior. For people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, boosters are recommended beginning two months after their initial shot.

Yes. Both Pfizer doses are required for immunity, must be from Pfizer, and must be administered no sooner than 17 days apart. If after 21 days, the closest day possible. According to the CDC, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. Mixing and matching manufacturers is approved for booster shots only.

Yes. Both Moderna doses are required for immunity, must be from Moderna, and must be administered no sooner than 24 days apart. If after 28 days, the closest day possible. According to the CDC, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. Mixing and matching manufacturers is approved for booster shots only.

No. Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.

If your body develops an immune response — the goal of vaccination — there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus.

Yes. The Vatican has found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines morally acceptable. Additionally, the Catholic Health Association and their ethicists, in collaboration with other Catholic bioethicists, encourages Catholic health organizations to distribute the vaccines and has found nothing morally prohibitive with their development and use.

  • You may not choose which vaccine you receive at PeaceHealth. Due to daily supply planning and logistics, PeaceHealth cannot guarantee which vaccine will be available to you. However, if you receive either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines which require two shots, you will receive the same vaccine for both doses
  • To start protection against COVID-19, you should be vaccinated as soon as possible. This means getting the vaccine that is available to you. Any COVID-19 vaccine must be found to offer good protection against COVID-19 to receive FDA authorization. The FDA also continues monitoring vaccines to see how they perform.

According to the CDC, you do not have to restart the vaccine series if you receive your second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine later than advised. It is recommended that you get your second shot as close to the three-week or four-week interval as possible. With limited exceptions, COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable. You should try to get your second dose of the same vaccine type/manufacturer from the original provider of your first dose. Remember to bring your vaccination card with you when you go in for your second dose.

Child Vaccine Details

Getting a COVID-19 vaccination can help protect your child from getting COVID-19. Early information shows that the vaccines may also help keep your child from spreading COVID-19 to others who are not eligible or able to get vaccinated at this time. Vaccines can also help keep your child from getting seriously sick, even if they do get COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also allow your child to start doing things that they might not have been able to do because of the pandemic.

The FDA recently issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 5-11. In May 2021, the FDA issued Pfizer an EUA for the vaccine in children aged 12-15. The FDA has fully authorized the Pfizer vaccine for use in people aged 16 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently approved only for adults aged 18 years and older.

Currently, booster shots are approved for 12-17-year-olds who received the Pfizer vaccine. A recommendation for boosters in children 11 and under has not been made yet.

Medical experts believe the benefits of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children outweigh any known risks. The vaccine was authorized after rigorous safety testing in thousands of participants found the Pfizer vaccine produced minimal side effects. After the second dose, children developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is administered at 10mg, or 1/3 of the adult dose, for children 5-11. Children 12+ receive the same dose as adults.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine requires two shots to be effective.

The Pfizer shots must be administered no sooner than 17 days apart, and if after 21 days, the closest day possible.

Like adults, children will be fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot.

Your child may have some side effects from the vaccine, which is a normal sign that their body is building protection against the virus. The side effects for children ages 5-11 are similar to the side effects adults and older children experience. Side effects occur more frequently after the second dose.

The most common side effects are:

  • swelling or redness at the injection site
  • headache.
  • muscle pain.
  • tiredness.

It is extremely rare for anyone to have a severe allergic reaction. Your child will be asked to remain at the vaccination location for 15-30 minutes after vaccination to be monitored for severe side effects. Side effects may be more intense after the second shot but should go away within a few days. If you think your child is having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, call 911.

If you have concerns about possible side effects your child may be experiencing, reach out to your child’s pediatrician. Learn more about side effects and when to call your doctor.

We don't know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. We know that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines work well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. However, we have recently seen that immunity may wane over time. A booster shot may be recommended for some people depending on their individual circumstances. Booster shots for children are not currently recommended. Experts are working on learning more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity.

Patients should not have any out-of-pocket expenses for the COVID-19 vaccine. The federal government pays for the cost of the vaccine itself regardless of immigration and insurance status. If you have public or private insurance, PeaceHealth will bill them for the cost of administering the vaccine. If you do not have insurance, the federal government offers healthcare providers a program covering vaccine administration costs.

Yes. In Oregon, children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian when getting their vaccine. Under Oregon law, those who are at least 15 do not need a parent/guardian to allow medical care and may come to the appointment alone. In Washington, those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when getting the vaccine. In Alaska, those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian when getting their vaccine.

The CDC says you can receive other vaccines and a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. If you have concerns about your child getting multiple vaccines simultaneously, talk with your healthcare provider.

Despite being vaccinated, your child should continue following safety recommendations where required by local ordinances:

  • Wear a mask in public.
  • Stay 6 feet away from people you don't live with.
  • Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated spaces.

As long as the virus continues to spread, mutations are expected, and COVID-19 vaccines may also need to be revised to allow for growing diversity in the virus. The currently available COVID-19 vaccines protect against multiple strains of the virus, including the delta variant. Scientists believe that the vaccine provides some measure of protection against the omicron variant, however, the variant is still too new to know for how long or how much the protection lasts.

Tens of millions of the larger doses have been given safely to Americans 12 and older. One very rare serious side effect has come to light: heart inflammation. Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported following vaccination with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. These rare reactions have occurred mostly in young men or teens boys, usually after the second dose, and they tend to recover quickly. To put the risk in context, doctors say COVID-19 infection can cause more serious heart inflammation. One theory is that testosterone and puberty play a role, which is partly why experts expect any risk to younger kids would be even lower. No cases were reported during the clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5-11. Experts believe the protection offered to children between the ages of 5 and 11 by the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine "clearly outweigh" the risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the COVID-19 vaccine will not cause infertility or disturb puberty. There is no evidence among clinical trial participants or the millions who have received the vaccines since authorization that the vaccine can lead to loss of fertility or affect puberty.

The Pfizer vaccine contains a tiny piece of genetic material (mRNA) encased in salt, sugar and fats. None of these vaccines contain a nano- or microchip or any other sort of tracking device. You can find the list of ingredients on the FDA fact sheet for the Pfizer vaccine.

The vaccine should not be given to a child with a history of severe allergic reaction to any of its components. If this is the case, your child might be able to get another COVID-19 vaccine in the future. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your child's primary care provider to make an informed decision that’s right for you and your family.

No. The COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in the U.S. don't use the live virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more here.

No. Your child will not test positive for COVID-19 after receiving a vaccine. If their body develops an immune response - the goal of vaccination - there is a possibility that your child may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus.

No. The dosage amount is not based on a child’s size alone. Scientists considered the typical age-related weights, how the medicine distributes through the body, and how children’s immune systems differ from adults when determining the dosage for 5 to 11-year-olds. Medical experts suggest waiting until the child turns of age to receive the appropriate dosage for that age range. While you may have an adult-size 10-year-old, that doesn’t necessarily mean the immune system is adult-size.

The CDC says children should get the dose that is right for their age on the day of vaccination. So, if a child gets the 10-microgram dose for the first shot and then turns 12, the second shot should be the 30-microgram dose.

Pediatricians say not to postpone vaccination because the kid-size dose is still effective.

They still should be vaccinated once they’ve recovered, according to the CDC. It’s clear that prior infection does provide some protection against another bout, but that immunity can vary depending on how seriously ill someone was, and how long ago. Studies of adults have found that vaccination after infection can dramatically boost protection.

Due to the public health emergency, the FDA has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 5-11 (an EUA for children 12-15 was granted in May 2021) while the manufacturer completes testing. The CDC stated that the vaccine's known and potential benefits outweigh their known and potential risks. Full FDA approval is expected at a later date. Meanwhile, the FDA requires manufacturers to continue monitoring for safety and report any new issues.

Vaccines are authorized for emergency use by the FDA following a thorough review of testing conducted by manufacturers. At this point, no manufacturers have applied for authorization for emergency use for children under 5 years of age. However, manufacturers are testing the vaccines in children as young as 6 months. Approval for younger children may come in early 2022.

Vaccine Safety and Efficacy

Vaccines must complete three phases of clinical trials. During these trials, the vaccines are tested on thousands of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. Results of the trials are then submitted to the FDA for review. The FDA found that the vaccines' known and potential benefits outweigh their known and potential risks in an initial review. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the FDA authorized three vaccines for Emergency use while completing their final review. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviewed the FDA's initial conclusion and authorized distribution of the vaccines.

In addition, a five-state task force (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Colorado) reviewed each vaccine's safety and efficacy data and independently agreed with the FDA's authorization. Finally, PeaceHealth's COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force included a wide range of clinicians and specialists who reviewed the safety and efficacy of the vaccines approved for use and also concluded they were safe to use.

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe. The vaccine testing timelines have not been rushed. Instead, the production and shipping timelines were condensed, and vaccine manufacturing occurred in parallel with clinical trials.

mRNA vaccines have been used safely and effectively in clinical trials since 2013. Viral vector vaccines have been safely used since the 1970s, including in recent Ebola outbreaks.

Learn more about how the vaccines were developed and work.

  • The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, where the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both use mRNA technology. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a modified version of a different, harmless virus—a common cold virus called adenovirus 26—that won’t make you sick but will stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies that will protect you from getting sick with COVID-19 in the future.

  • Viral vector vaccines cannot cause infection with COVID-19 or with the virus used as the vaccine vector. Viral vector vaccines do not affect or interact with a person’s DNA in any way. Scientists began creating viral vectors in the 1970s. Besides being used in vaccines, viral vectors have also been studied for gene therapy, to treat cancer, and for molecular biology research. Some vaccines recently used for Ebola outbreaks have used viral vector technology, and a number of studies have focused on viral vector vaccines against other infectious diseases such as Zika, flu, and HIV. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and the different types of vaccines here.

Messenger RNA vaccines—also called mRNA vaccines—are some of the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States including both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain a tiny piece of genetic material (mRNA) encased in salt, sugar and fats. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which store the instructions in single-stranded RNA, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses double-stranded DNA. None of these vaccines contain a nano- or microchip or any other sort of tracking device. You can find the list of ingredients on the FDA fact sheets for the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine

No. None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. Learn more here.

Changes in viruses (called variants) are normal and expected. Experts believe COVID-19 vaccines provide some level of protection against multiple strains of the virus, including these variants. When a new variant emerges, scientists need to perform laboratory and real-world tests to determine the full effectiveness of the vaccines against the new strain—only then can they provide clear guidance on the vaccines’ effectiveness.

Early data show that two mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses and a booster offer the best protection against the omicron variant. In addition, studies have shown that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines do protect against the delta variant.

Just as flu viruses change often and doctors recommend that you get a flu shot each year, long-term, COVID-19 vaccines may also need to be revised to allow for growing diversity in the virus.

Any new vaccine must be found to offer good protection against COVID-19 to receive FDA authorization, which the Johnson & Johnson vaccine received on Feb. 27, 2021. In Phase 3 clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was shown to be 72% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 in the U.S., 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa, 28 days after vaccination. The vaccine was also shown to be 85% effective in preventing severe illness and related hospitalization and death 28 days after vaccination. Data also shows that the vaccine’s protection increased over time with no severe illness after 49 days. By comparison, the annual flu vaccine is between 40-60% effective at reducing the risk of flu illness. However, reports of adverse events following the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine suggest an increased risk of a rare adverse event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Based on available data, the CDC has stated that this vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks. However, women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the rare but increased risk of this adverse event and that there are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen.

There have been a small number of severe allergic reactions in early Pfizer vaccinations in the U.K and the U.S. These cases are being reviewed. If you have a history of allergies that are severe enough to require you to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen), you may wish to talk to your primary care provider before taking the vaccine.

The FDA recommends that you should not get the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines if you either had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of one of these vaccines or had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in one of these vaccines. You can find the list of ingredients on the FDA fact sheets for the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine.

Reports of adverse events following the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine suggest an increased risk of a rare adverse event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Based on available data, the CDC has stated that this vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks. However, women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the rare but increased risk of this adverse event and that there are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen. If you are in this category, you may wish to talk to your primary care provider before taking the vaccine. You can find the list of ingredients on the FDA fact sheets for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine here.

As a safety precaution, all PeaceHealth vaccine recipients are observed for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine, and for 30 minutes if they have a history of anaphylactic reaction to vaccines. In the event of an adverse reaction, during all vaccine clinics a medical personnel is on-hand who can administer the EpiPen, if needed. Rapid response is also immediately available in case of emergency.

The CDC strongly recommends pregnant people, recently pregnant people (including those who are lactating), people who are trying to become pregnant now, or people who might become pregnant in the future get vaccinated against COVID-19. Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. The data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy for both pregnant persons and their fetus/infant.

Although the overall risk of severe illness is low, pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared with non-pregnant people. Severe illness includes conditions that require hospitalization, intensive care, need for a ventilator or special equipment to breathe, or illness that results in death. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of pre-term birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes compared with pregnant women without COVID-19. The best way to protect against COVID-19 is vaccination.

CDC recommendations align with the recommendations from professional medical organizations serving pregnant people, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

For more information, visit the CDC’s vaccine pregnancy site.

Based on how these vaccines work in the body, COVID-19 vaccines are thought not to be a risk to lactating people or their breastfeeding babies. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies. More data are needed to determine what protection these antibodies may provide to the baby.

It is recommended that you speak with your primary care and/or OB/GYN provider, but consultation is not required for vaccination.

There is no evidence that authorized COVID-19 vaccines impact fertility. However, some research studies suggest that getting COVID-19 itself — the virus, not the vaccine — can affect sperm quality, which could potentially contribute to infertility concerns in certain people. Therefore, the virus itself may pose a greater risk to fertility than the vaccine. If you have concerns or questions about any side effects of the vaccine, consult with your primary care provider.

People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness. Individuals with moderately to severely compromised immune systems may not build the same level of immunity from a 2-dose vaccine series compared to those who are not immunocompromised. As a result, they may benefit from an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine to ensure enough protection against COVID-19. The additional dose is intended to improve immunocompromised people's response to their initial vaccine series. It is not the same as a booster dose, given to people when the immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have waned over time. The third dose of the Pfizer or Modera vaccine is administered at least 28 days after a second dose. If you are severely immunocompromised, you should talk with your doctor about next steps.

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19, people who previously had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine to help protect against getting COVID-19 again or passing it onto someone else. Check with your doctor about how long you should wait after recovery before getting a COVID-19 vaccination. The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last and more studies are needed.

The vaccines currently available in the U.S. are the best protection against COVID-19. Getting vaccinated significantly reduces the likelihood of severe illness, hospitalization or death. This appears to be true for the variants as well. The vaccine’s full effectiveness cannot be assessed until the medical community has had an opportunity to perform laboratory and real-world tests. Experts have not yet determined how effective the currently available COVID-19 vaccines are against the omicron variant. Studies have shown that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines do provide protection against the delta variant - currently the most prevalent variant in the United States.

According to the CDC, serious adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination are very rare but may occur. Reports of adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. That determination is made by vaccine experts upon reviewing reported events. CDC's summary of known adverse events from COVID-19 vaccines administered in the U.S. shows that serious adverse events are exceptionally rare and supports the statement that the vaccines are safe and effective.

Due to the public health emergency, the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines while the manufactures completed testing. The CDC stated that the vaccines' known and potential benefits outweigh their known and potential risks. Full FDA approval for all three vaccines is expected based on the overwhelming evidence of safety from the hundreds of millions of doses delivered so far in the U.S.

On August 23, 2021, the FDA announced that they granted Pfizer full authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine. Full authorization means that the FDA has reviewed all of the data submitted by the manufacturer following a Phase 3 clinical trial and concluded the vaccine is safe for use. The FDA requires manufacturers to continue monitoring for safety.

Moderna filed an application for full approval in early June and is still submitting the required data for approval. Johnson & Johnson has not yet filed but expects to do so before the end of the year.

Booster Shots and Additional doses

Individuals 12+ who received a Pfizer vaccine are eligible for a booster shot five months or more after completing their initial series. Individuals 18+ who received a Moderna vaccine are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after completing their initial series. For individuals 18+, the booster shot can be any of the available vaccines. For 12-17-year-olds, the booster must be Pfizer.

Individuals 18+ who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible for a booster dose at least two months after their initial shot. The booster shot can be any of the available vaccines.

Please speak with your primary care physician if you have questions about the booster or are unsure if you meet the booster criteria.

PeaceHealth clinics are offering the Pfizer or Moderna booster shots to those who are eligible, depending on the location and availability. Details on how to schedule an appointment can be found here:

Vaccines and boosters are also available at many pharmacies and drug stores. You can find locations by zip code at vaccines.gov

Boosters are critical because they restimulate the immune system and increase the number of antibodies. Boosters also develop antibodies against more parts of the virus than the primary COVID-19 vaccine series. The more antibodies we have, the more we are protected against omicron and other future variants of concern.

Getting boosted will reduce breakthrough cases. While breakthrough cases are possible and are happening, vaccinated and boosted patients are not presenting severe symptoms and generally do not require hospitalization.

Early data show that two mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses and a booster offer the best protection against the omicron variant. In addition, studies have shown that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines do protect against the delta variant.

No. Eligible individuals may receive a booster that is different from their original vaccination dose(s). PeaceHealth offers the Pfizer vaccine and booster primarily. Some locations carry the Moderna vaccine and booster. PeaceHealth does not receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or booster. Visit vaccines.gov to find a nearby location if you are interested in the J&J vaccine.

Talk with your primary care physician if you have questions about which booster to get.

The side effects after getting a booster shot are similar to side effects after the two-shot series. The most common side effects after a booster shot are fatigue and pain at the injection site. Like the two-shot primary series, serious side effects are rare but may occur.

Patients should not have any out-of-pocket expenses for the COVID-19 vaccine. The federal government pays for the cost of the vaccine itself regardless of immigration and insurance status. If you have public or private insurance, PeaceHealth will bill them for the cost of administering the vaccine. If you do not have insurance, the federal government offers healthcare providers a program covering vaccine administration costs.

Yes, the CDC says you can receive the flu vaccine and a COVID vaccine or booster at the same time. If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, talk with your healthcare provider.

Learn more about flu vaccinations.

No. For most people, the vaccines are doing what they were designed to do: keeping people from getting severely sick or dying. As with many vaccines, immunity wears off, and the booster helps your body develop more protective antibodies. The majority of those falling seriously ill from COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

Yes. You should continue following safety recommendations after a third or additional dose.

  • Wear a mask in public.
  • Stay 6 feet away from people you don't live with.
  • Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated spaces.

No. For most people being fully vaccinated means it has been at least two weeks since:

  • A second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
  • One dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • For some immunocompromised people, fully vaccinated means it has been at least two weeks since receiving a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

No. Since health experts do not yet know the level needed to prevent infection, we do not recommend antibody testing.

Additional dose: When someone with a weakened immune system gets an additional dose of vaccine, it is not a booster. It is part of the first series of shots needed for the person to be fully vaccinated. Many people with impaired immunity did not have a full response to their first doses.

Booster shot: A booster is when someone has a full response to vaccination, but effectiveness wanes over time. The booster re-energizes their immune response.

The CDC recommends a third (and in some cases fourth) dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for some people with weakened immune systems. Moderately to severely immunocompromised people who initially received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should receive a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose. If you are severely immunocompromised, talk with your doctor about next steps.

According to the CDC, immunocompromised people who got Johnson & Johnson vaccine should follow the same recommendation as everyone else who got Johnson & Johnson and choose a booster from any of the three vaccine-makers.

COVID-19 Treatments

Monoclonal antibodies are immune, lab-produced molecules designed to mimic the body's natural response to infection. With COVID-19, these antibodies are made to recognize and bind to a part of the SARS-Co-V2 virus — the so-called spike protein — thus blocking the virus from entering cells and spreading in your body. The therapy received Emergency Use Authorization from the Federal Drug Administration for specific groups of non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Studies have shown it:

  • Reduces the risk of severe illness and hospitalization after infection.
  • Reduces the risk of developing COVID and symptoms after exposure.

Patients receive the antibodies through a 20-minute intravenous infusion followed by an hour of observation. The therapy is more effective the sooner it's given.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is not a replacement for a COVID-19 vaccine.

No. Monoclonal antibody therapy is not a substitute for a COVID-19 vaccine, nor does it guarantee you won't become dangerously ill.

Monoclonal antibody therapy can be used only after infection or exposure. Vaccines help protect you from getting the virus in the first place. The therapy only offers protection against COVID-19 for a few weeks or months. Vaccines can last much longer. Finally, the treatment does not stop viruses from spreading and mutating into new variants. Only vaccines can end the pandemic.

PeaceHealth strongly encourages you to get a vaccine. It's the best thing you can do to protect yourself.

The FDA allows monoclonal antibody therapy for people who have tested positive if they:

  • Have mild to moderate symptoms that started less than 10 days before.
  • Are not in the hospital and don't need oxygen therapy for COVID.
  • Are 12 or older and weigh at least 88 pounds.
  • Are at high risk of severe disease because of:
    • Age (65 or older)
    • Weight (BMI over 25)
    • Pregnancy
    • Certain medical conditions, such as those listed by the CDC.

The FDA allows therapy to prevent COVID in those who have been exposed if they:

  • Are at high risk of severe disease.
  • Are 12 or older and weigh at least 88 pounds.
  • Are not fully vaccinated or are vaccinated but have impaired immunity.

PeaceHealth is offering the treatment at certain locations. Patients must meet the FDA qualifications and have a referral from their doctor. If you have recently tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19 and are interested in receiving the treatment, speak with your primary care provider about next steps.

PeaceHealth follows the most current guidance for treating patients with COVID-19, including reviewing available recommendations from the National Institutes of Health. PeaceHealth does not offer treatment options that are not supported by robust clinical evidence, including ivermectin.

Ivermectin is approved for use in people and some animals to treat some parasites. Humans should never take medications meant for animals. Taking ivermectin in any unapproved way could cause serious harm.

Learn more: Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19.

Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine at PeaceHealth

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