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 COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 11, 2020 and the Moderna vaccine was approved for emergency use on Dec. 18, 2020. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the FDA on Feb. 27, 2021. The development and distribution of additional safe and effective vaccines is also underway.

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.

Vaccine availability

  • Currently, there are three approved COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States. The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people 12 years old and older.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, both Pfizer and Moderna announced that their vaccines were more than 90% effective in Phase 3 clinical trials. Both vaccines use the same mRNA approach and require two doses.
  • The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Feb. 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 to be approved for distribution and is a viral vector vaccine requiring only one shot.
  • 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.

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 Authorized for emergency use
(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.
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.
*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.

Vaccination details

No, the vaccine will be free of charge. There may be an administration fee for vaccine administration, which will be billed to the patient's insurance.

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

The FDA has given emergency-use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 years old and over. Clinical trials have shown that the vaccine is safe and effective for those ages 12 to 15. The Moderna vaccine is available for those 18 years old and over.

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

The Pfizer vaccine is approved for ages 12 years and older. The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency-use authorization after clinical trials showed the vaccine is safe and highly effective for ages 12–15. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently approved for people aged 18 years and older.

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.

Side effects that have been reported with the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines include:

  • Injection site reactions: pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, swelling and redness
  • General side effects: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea and vomiting, and fever

There have been a small number of severe allergic reactions in early Pfizer vaccinations in the U.K and the U.S. As a safety precaution, all caregivers are observed for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine, and for 30 minutes if they have a history of anaphylactic reaction to vaccines.

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.

These may not be all the possible side effects. We will continue to update you as the FDA and these companies release more information about safety, efficacy and side effects.

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.

While the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates, including the authorized for emergency use Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, have proven protective against the virus, there’s no data that shows how long that protection can last. We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts or the frequency of vaccination required until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.

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.

Vaccine safety and efficacy

Any vaccine must have completed three phases of clinical trials before final information about the trials can be submitted to the FDA for review. Based on this review, if the FDA deems a vaccine to be safe and effective it may be approved for distribution. If a COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) it can then move forward with distribution. Also, a five-state task force (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado) has appointed a joint review committee that will offer an independent opinion about each COVID-19 vaccine’s safety and efficacy. Finally, PeaceHealth’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force includes a wide range of clinicians and specialists and will also review the safety and efficacy of any vaccine approved for use.

The COVID-19 vaccine testing timeline was not 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.

  • 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 vaccin, 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 and are considering receiving the vaccine, it is recommended that you speak with your primary care and/or OB/GYN provider. Currently, PeaceHealth is offering the vaccine along with additional COVID-19 information for pregnant or breastfeeding/lactating healthcare workers to consider; individuals who choose to receive the vaccine also need to complete an attestation acknowledging they understand the risks, benefits and alternatives of taking the vaccine.

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.

If you are immunocompromised or have an autoimmune disease and are considering receiving the vaccine, talk to your primary care provider first. No current Phase 3 clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine has enrolled immunocompromised patients or those with autoimmune diseases. That means the efficacy and safety of a vaccine has not been established in these patient populations.

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.

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