FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes. You should get the vaccine even if you have already had COVID-19. Some people have gotten COVID-19 more than once. The vaccine also offers more protection against reinfection than your body could develop on its own from already having COVID-19. You can get vaccinated as soon as you are out of your isolation period and are feeling better.
Information collected when you get the vaccine follows all HIPPA privacy requirements. The health department or medical provider will retain some information for dose tracking purposes. No information is shared with non-public health agencies.
The vaccine distributed at CDPH vaccination sites will be at no cost to the individual, regardless of whether they are uninsured or undocumented.
The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at an ultra-cold temperature and the Moderna vaccine needs to be stored at frozen temperature unless it will be used soon. Both will be defrosted before administering the shot. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is stored at 36°F to 46°F (refrigerator temperatures).
The Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine just requires one shot.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require two shots. For those vaccines, it is important to get both shots to gain the most protection. Before you leave the vaccination site, make an appointment to get the second shot 3-4 weeks after the first shot, depending on the vaccine. This is the best time to get your second shot if you can. The 2nd dose is just as effective if you get it up to 6 weeks after your first dose. Even after the 6 weeks, you can still complete your 2nd dose safely – scientists just aren’t sure if it is as effective as getting it within the 6 week time period.
Even after someone has been vaccinated the individual should continue to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. While we know the vaccines protect the individual from contracting COVID, but we do not know if it prevents spreading COVID. As more people receive the vaccine, we may be able to dial back these measures.
Similar to the flu vaccine, it will take a few weeks after completing the COVID-19 vaccine before your body builds up the immune response to protect against COVID-19. If you receive a 2-dose vaccine, the full immune response is not completed until a few weeks after the 2nd dose. Even with the high efficacy of the vaccines, no vaccine is 100% protective. CDPH still recommends mask wearing, social distancing and washing your hands frequently, even if you have received the vaccine.
Receiving the vaccine does not increase your chances of spreading COVID-19. Getting the vaccine drastically decreases your risk of getting COVID-19, but it does not eliminate the risk. Therefore, you may still spread COVID-19 if you contract the virus after vaccination.
Persons should not be scheduled to receive the second dose earlier than recommended (i.e., 3 weeks [Pfizer-BioNTech] or 1 month [Moderna]).
However, second doses administered within a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended date for the second dose are still considered valid. Doses inadvertently administered earlier than the grace period should not be repeated.
The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible.
However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval and a delay in vaccination is unavoidable, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be administered up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series.
Before getting FDA authorization, clinical trials showed COVID-19 vaccines to be safe and effective for children age 12 and up. Trials for each of the vaccines involved thousands of volunteers.
The vaccines continue to be monitored very closely. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that COVID-19 vaccines will have “the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history."
While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Children, like adults, who have COVID-19 but have no symptoms can still spread the virus to others. Vaccines are very effective at preventing COVID-19.
All City-operated vaccination sites offering Pfizer vaccine will be open to youth age 12 to 15 effective Thursday May 13th. Appointments can be booked through the City’s call center at 312.746.4835 or through www.zocdoc.com/vaccine. All vaccine sites will accept walk-ins for 12 to 15 year olds effective Thursday.
Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for youth under age 18.
Dr. Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, answers a frequently asked COVID question of the day.
There is no possibility that you can get COVID-19 from any of the COVID-19 vaccines.
ThePfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA to train the body to respond to the COVID virus without using any live virus. The mRNA used in these vaccines is code for a protein that is specific to the COVID-19 virus but does not cause any harm to you. Watch this Behind the Science video for more information.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses an inactive, non-replicating vector virus that teaches your body how to fight off COVID-19. Watch this Behind the Science video for more information.
All vaccines in Chicago will only be distributed when they are deemed safe. Both the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna have completed multiple stages of clinical trials.
The CDC, along with FDA and other federal partners, will use established safety systems to conduct heightened safety monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines. Additional safety measures include active surveillance using text messaging and web surveys from CDC, and enhanced passive surveillance through other data sources from healthcare facilities.
If a link is found between a side effect and a COVID-19 vaccine, public health officials will take appropriate action by weighing the benefits of the vaccine against its risks to determine if recommendations for using the vaccine should change and continuously monitor and evaluate safety thereafter.
Data suggest current vaccines will be effective and safe in providing protection against COVID-19 variants.
Having side effects isn't a bad thing. Vaccinations may cause mild COVID-19-like symptoms but this is a sign your immune system is responding to the vaccine. The vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give you COVID-19. The most common side effects are fever, chills, tiredness, or headache. At the injection site, you may experience pain, redness or swelling. Although these side effects may be unpleasant for 1-3 days, they are not dangerous. People with history of significant allergic reactions to vaccines, food, or medicine should consult with their doctor before receiving the vaccine.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are about 95% effective at preventing illness from COVID-19.
In an emergency, like a pandemic, it may not be possible to have all the evidence that the FDA would usually have before approving a drug, device, or a test. When there is a declared emergency, the FDA can allow the use of a product, like a vaccine, before full approval by issuing an Emergency Use Authorization or EUA.
After the requisite determination and declaration have been issued, and after feasible and appropriate consultations, FDA may issue an EUA only if FDA concludes that the following four statutory criteria for issuance have been met.
- Serious or Life-Threatening Disease or Condition
- Evidence of Effectiveness
- Risk-Benefit Analysis
- No Alternatives
More information on EUA is available on the FDA website.
The COVID-19 vaccine was developed through the Health and Human Services’ Operation Warp Speed. No safety measures were cut in its design, testing or manufacturing. A focus was placed on early manufacturing and the use of new technologies so as soon as the vaccine was deemed safe by the appropriate agencies, distribution could begin. More information about Operation Warp Speed is on the HHS' website.
Pfizer’s clinical trial enrolled 43,000+ participants with 42% globally having racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Moderna’s 30,000 trial included participants from minority communities, including 6,000 Hispanic and 3,000 Black participants. AstraZeneca’s initial trial data included participants from Brazil and the United Kingdom while the company continues to conduct trials in South Africa, Kenya, Latin America, Japan, Russia and the United States.
The Johnson & Johonson vaccine trial enrolled over 40,000 clinical participants; 17% identified as Black and 45% identified as Hispanic or Latino.
You can tell the CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine through their website v-safe. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And, v-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one. Your participation in CDC’s v–safe makes a difference — it helps keep COVID-19 vaccines safe.
CDC has recommended that women who are pregnant can get vaccinated for COVID-19. Though there are not completed studies on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy, there are no known risks from the vaccines to pregnant people. Pregnant people who get infected with COVID-19 are at risk for more severe illness, such as ICU admission, being on life support, or death. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 21 reviewed data on the safety of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines administered during pregnancy and did not identify any safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated of for their babies. Additional studies will continue.
Vaccine safety is always our top priority. The FDA has found the J&J vaccine to be safe and effective after rigorous trials and evaluation – it was the third COVID-19 vaccine to be granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on February 27, 2021. On April 13, 2021, a pause was put on the J&J vaccine out of an abundance of caution due to six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals who received this vaccine in the United States. The CDC and FDA reviewed all of the data and found 15 total cases of the severe blood clot syndrome out of almost 8 million cases. On April 23, 2021, CDC and FDA reaffirmed that they are confident this vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.
Like the other vaccines, J&J is extremely effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. That's the most urgent, important goal. The J&J vaccine is effective against COVID-19 variants.
The J&J vaccine is taken in one dose, compared to two doses for the other vaccines. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving your shot.
The J&J vaccine is a “vector vaccine” which means it uses a weakened virus to carry the instructions for making a coronavirus protein into our cells. When our cells make the protein, it causes an immune response inside our bodies. Our immune system remembers this protein so it can respond later on if we are exposed to COVID-19.
Be prepared for some side effects from any COVID-19 vaccine, including J&J, like feeling tired, having a headache, or getting a fever. These side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection, and you should start to feel better after 1-3 days.
While incredibly rare, anyone who has received the J&J vaccine who develops severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after their vaccination should contact their health provider.