COVID-19 Vaccine
Frequently Asked Questions 


Get answers to your questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

Learn the latest information about COVID-19 Vaccines

Currently, there are three approved COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States. 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 still available under emergency use authorization for people ages 12-15. The Moderna vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people 18 years old and older. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 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.

PeaceHealth is currently providing the approved Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as supplies allow to eligible individuals in our communities in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be kept at simple refrigerator temperatures for up to three months. This makes it easier to store and ship. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require ultra-cold storage, which PeaceHealth is able to accommodate. As such, PeaceHealth is prioritizing its requests around the vaccines for which it is uniquely suited and is not expecting to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, we are preparing operationally to do so if needed in the future.

As this work continues, PeaceHealth will keep this page updated with the most current information on the availability, effectiveness, timing and use of these vaccines.

Frequently asked questions

Vaccines currently prevent millions of deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles and influenza. 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.

Vaccine overview

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. While we don’t yet know what percentage of the population will need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, estimates from medical experts suggest that it may take at least 70% immunity to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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. The vaccine is still available under emergency use authorization for people ages 12-15. In November 2020, Pfizer announced that the vaccine was more than 90% effective in Phase 3 clinical trials. The vaccine uses the same mRNA approach as the Moderna vaccine. When first administered, it requires two doses. A third dose 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. In November 2020, Pfizer Moderna announced that their vaccine was more than 90% effective in Phase 3 clinical trials. The vaccine uses the same mRNA approach as the Pfizer vaccine. When first administered, it requires two doses. A third dose may be required for severely immunocompromised individuals.
  • The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 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. In February, Johnson & Johnson announced that its vaccine was shown to be 72% effective in the U.S. and 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 in a global Phase 3 clinical trial. The vaccine was also shown to be 85% effective in preventing severe illness and related hospitalization and death 28 days after vaccination. It is the third COVID-19 vaccine approved for distribution and is a viral vector vaccine requiring only one shot.

PeaceHealth received the Pfizer vaccine first. Shortly after, we also received Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and began distribution of both in December 2020. Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be kept at simple refrigerator temperatures for up to three months. This makes it easier to store and ship. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require ultra-cold storage, which PeaceHealth is able to accommodate. As such, PeaceHealth is prioritizing its requests around the vaccines for which it is uniquely suited and is not expecting to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, we are preparing operationally to do so if needed in the future.

Company Type Phase Dosage*
Pfizer mRNA Full authorization for people 16 years old and older. Authorized for emergency use for people ages 12-15.
(phase 3 clinic trials included 43,000 subject)
2 Doses,
No sooner than 17 days apart; up to 21 days apart; and if after 21 days, the closest day possible.
For moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals, a third dose is recommended 28 days after the second dose.
Moderna mRNA Authorized for emergency use,
(phase 3 clinic trials included 30,000 subjects)
2 Doses,
No sooner than 24 days apart; up to 28 days apart; and if after 28 days, the closest day possible.
For moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals, a third dose is recommended 28 days after the second dose.
*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. The second dose timeline may be adjusted should the FDA update their guidelines.

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.

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.

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 peacehealth.org/vaccine for phone numbers by location.
  • Find other locations based on your zip code and vaccine type/manufacturer preference at vaccines.gov.

Vaccination details

There is no out-of-pocket expense for COVID-19 vaccine doses.

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 still available under emergency use authorization for people ages 12-15. The Moderna vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people 18 years old and older. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 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.

Company Eligibility
Pfizer People aged 12 years and older
Moderna People aged 18 and older
Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) People aged 18 and older

Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine has an emergency use authorization for adolescents 12-15 years old after clinical trials showed the vaccine is safe and highly effective for ages 12-15. On August 23, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older. Pfizer’s application for full approval for ages 12-15 was submitted after the adult application and is still being reviewed by the FDA. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently approved for people aged 18 years and older. Pfizer and Moderna are currently studying the vaccines in younger children and expect to seek emergency use authorization for children as young as 5 in the fall.

Yes. In Oregon, those ages 12 to 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 the age of 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when getting the vaccine. In Alaska, those under 17 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian when getting their vaccine. At this time, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for ages 12–17, so make sure that is the vaccine you are signed up for.

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 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. The second dose timeline may be adjusted should the FDA update their guidelines.

It is possible you may have some side effects from the vaccine, which is a normal sign 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. For those that received the vaccine, you can resume activities without wearing a mask 14 days after your second dose. For those that are not vaccinated or fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends continuing to protect yourself 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 NOT be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated. 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.

Recently, with the spread of the Delta variant, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. For that reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning for a booster shot so vaccinated people maintain protection over the coming months. More information on the booster shot will be announced as the plan is developed and rolled out.

Yes. Both Pfizer doses are required for immunity, must be from Pfizer, and must be administered no sooner than 17 days apart; and 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. 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. The second dose timeline may be adjusted should the FDA update their guidelines.

Yes. Both Moderna doses are required for immunity, must be from Moderna, and must be administered no sooner than 24 days apart; and 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.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. The second dose timeline may be adjusted should the FDA update their guidelines.

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.

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.

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 are normal and expected. Recent data show that Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines may be slightly less effective against the coronavirus variants that have appeared in other countries, including the U.K., Brazil, India and South Africa. However, experts believe COVID-19 vaccines should still protect against multiple strains of the virus, including these new variants. 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.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you from severe illness, which is more likely among pregnant and recently pregnant people than non-pregnant people. On August 11, 2021, the CDC updated its guidance for pregnant women by stating that evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, although limited, 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. On Aug. 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the U.S. Additionally, 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 Delta variant as well. Early evidence indicated that the vaccines were also effective at reducing viral transmission from vaccinated persons, largely because they were so effective at preventing illness. No vaccine is 100% effective, however, and a vaccine that is 90% effective will still result in 10% of people becoming ill. Although the available vaccines all appear to be effective against the Delta variant, preliminary evidence suggests that the small percentage of vaccinated people who do become ill with the Delta variant can still spread it to others.

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

A booster shot is recommended for individuals who completed the two-dose Pfizer regimen at least six months ago and who meet one or more of the guidelines below:

Please speak with your primary care physician if you have questions about the Pfizer booster or are unsure if you meet the booster criteria. The FDA has not approved a booster shot for Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

PeaceHealth is offering the Pfizer booster shot to those who are eligible and completed the Pfizer regimen at one of our locations. Details on how to schedule an appointment for the Pfizer booster 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

Please speak with your primary care physician if you have questions about the Pfizer booster or are unsure if you meet the booster criteria. More information about Moderna or Johnson & Johnson booster shots will be available if they’re approved and after guidance from the CDC and Western States Pact is received.

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 FDA has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for some people with weakened immune systems. The CDC recommends that moderately to severely immunocompromised people who initially received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines 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.

Because of a lack of data, the FDA has not approved a second dose of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and have a weakened immune system, talk with your doctor about your options.

No. For most people, the vaccines are doing what they were designed to do: keeping people from getting severely sick or dying. As the delta variant surges across the U.S., those falling seriously ill are overwhelmingly unvaccinated.

Yes. Experts recommend that you get a dose of the same vaccine you had before. This is why the FDA and CDC have only recommended a booster shot for people who have received a Pfizer shot. The agencies have not yet ruled on a booster shot of the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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.

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.

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