FAQs

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Individuals can request a copy of their vaccination records from the provider who vaccinated them. Individuals can also request a copy of their vaccination records from CDPH by emailing covid19vaccine@cityofchicago.org.

Yes, people who have had COVID-19 in the past will still need to get the vaccine. Though past infection is thought to provide some immunity, we do not know how much protection is provided or how long this protection may last. It is recommended that people who have had COVID-19 in the past still get the vaccine.

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 ​both require two shots. For those vaccines, it is important to get both shots to gain the most protection. The second dose of Pfizer should be 21 days after the first shot and the second dose of Moderna should be given 28 days after the first shot. For both Pfizer and Moderna, you can get the second dose up to 6 weeks after the first dose. Most sites will let you make an appointment for your second dose when you receive your first dose.

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.

If you are not a Chicago resident but received your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Chicago, you can receive your 2nd dose at the same site in the city. Proof of address is required for 1st dose appointments only. The best practice is to receive your 2nd dose at the same location as your 1st.

As the vaccine supplies increases, COVID-19 vaccine will be available through additional vaccination providers, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.

The majority of Chicago residents will get vaccinated through their own medical providers or through a vaccinating partner in their neighborhood. CDPH recommends that individuals reach out to their healthcare providers to learn more about their plans for patient vaccination. Additional registration information can be found here. People who are interested in getting updates on vaccine rollout or about when it may be their turn to get vaccinated should sign up for CHI COVID Coach at chi.gov/covidcoach. Residents can also stay informed on Chicago's vaccination progress and announcements by signing up for the COVID-19 newsletter or following us on social media. Chicago.gov/COVIDvax is updated each day with the most up-to-date information.

All vaccines ​in Chicago are currently via appointment ​only. Make an appointment, either through your own health care provider/system, through a pharmacy, through a dedicated vaccination site, when vaccine is available.

A detailed list of frontline essential workers (in phase 1b) and essential workers (in phase 1c) can be found on here.

Widespread vaccination will ​allow the City ​to dial back restrictions set in place to slow the spread of COVID​, but this process will happen over many months. As more ​Chicagoans get vaccinated, there will be more opportunity to ​safely move back to normal lives. In the meantime, CDPH still recommends mask wearing, social distancing and washing your hands frequently, even if you have received the vaccine.

With timing highly dependent on vaccine availability, right now we predict that Chicago will tentatively begin Vaccination Phase 2 on May 1. Phase 2 includes all Chicagoans age 16 and over. Children will be added ​for vaccine eligibility as trials are completed and vaccine is authorized for use in individuals under age 16. 

CDPH will follow federal and state guidelines for distributing the vaccine. Distribution prioritization is based on risk, not geographic location. However, all hospitals across the city will receive doses of the vaccine based on their healthcare workforce and patient populations. Similar to the City’s approach to testing, access to the vaccine will always be looked at through an equity lens.

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.

The Johnson & Johnson's overall efficacy against moderate to severe illness due to COVID-19 is greater than 70% in the United States, beginning 28 days after vaccination. ​This vaccine was also 100% effective at preventing hospitalization from COVID-19 infection and death from COVID-19 in the trials.

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.

  1. Serious or Life-Threatening Disease or Condition
  2. Evidence of Effectiveness
  3. Risk-Benefit Analysis
  4. 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.

 

 

Dr. Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, answers a frequently asked COVID question of the day.

Federal agencies are investigating very rare reports of a severe type of blood clot with low platelets that occurred in 6 individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine, among nearly 7 million people who have received J&J across the U.S. We are not aware of any local cases.

We understand that this news may cause concern. Millions of people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with no serious side effects. Serious reactions are extremely rare.

  • For people who got the vaccine more than a month ago, the risk is very low at this time.
  • For people who recently got the vaccine—within the last few weeks—they should be aware of any symptoms.
    • If you have received the vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath, contact your healthcare provider and seek medical treatment.

The adverse incidents being investigated do not affect Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in any way. More than 180 million doses have been administered and we are not seeing these events with the other two vaccines.

People who have vaccine appointments with the other two vaccines should continue with their appointment. Vaccination remains critical to protect Chicagoans from COVID-19.

The Chicago State University mass vaccination site will switch to Pfizer vaccine for all appointments starting April 14.

Events scheduled with Walgreens as part of the Faith Month initiative will use the Pfizer vaccine this weekend.

The following programs using J&J vaccine are paused for now:

  • Protect Chicago Homebound program
  • O’Hare Airport POD
  • Chicago Federation of Labor vaccination site
  • CDPH/CTA vaccination bus
  • Illinois Restaurant Association special event
  • Midway Airport special event

Individuals with appointments at the above sites and events have received notification about rescheduling their appointments.

All other vaccination sites in Chicago that use Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will operate as normal.

For now, no new appointments will be booked at the United Center walk-up which was scheduled to switch to J&J vaccine next week.

In total, CDPH was scheduled to distribute approximately 13,000 doses of J&J vaccine this week.

The CDC and FDA held a public briefing at 10 am CT on April 13. You can watch it here.

Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health discussed J & J on her weekly Facebook Live and at a press conference on April 13.

CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on April 14 to further review these cases and their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, they recommend a pause in the use of J&J vaccine out of an abundance of caution.

Approximately 42,500 doses have been administered in the city of Chicago (including to residents and nonresidents).

Approximately 47,700 Chicagoans have received a J&J vaccine (included doses administered both in and outside the city limits).

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine have been administered in the U.S.


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