FAQs

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

If you have lost your vaccination card and want to request your vaccination records, please complete our online form at https://redcap.link/izrequestform. For other vaccine-related questions, please email covid19vaccine@cityofchicago.org.

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.

No. The COVID-19 vaccine is free to everyone, regardless of insurance or immigration status. When you go to get your vaccine, you might be asked for your insurance card or your Medicaid or Medicare information. Why? The place where you are getting the vaccine might charge a small fee to your insurance company or the government. This charge cannot be passed on to you. You cannot be denied a vaccine if you do not have insurance. If you don’t have insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, just say so. You still get the vaccine for free. For some vaccine events, you might be asked to bring proof of residency, but government-issued ID is not required.

The initial series for Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax COVID-19 vaccines require two shots. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine requires one shot. However, an individual is up-to-date when they have received all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, including an updated vaccine/bivalent booster for individuals age 12 and up, or a booster dose for children age 5-11. For most people over the age of 5, that includes at least one booster dose. Click here to learn more.

In June 2022, the FDA and CDC have approved Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine as another primary series option for adults ages 18 years and older.

Novavax is a protein subunit vaccine. These vaccines package harmless proteins of the COVID-19 virus alongside another ingredient called an adjuvant that helps develop the immune system respond to the virus.

Vaccines using protein subunits have been used for more than 30 years in the United States, beginning with the first licensed hepatitis B vaccine. Other protein subunit vaccines used in the United States today include those to protect against influenza and whooping cough. Learn more here.

We recommend following guidance from public health officials related to masking, depending on area's risk for COVID-19.  

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. ​No vaccine is 100% protective, and they are less effective at preventing infection with newer variants. However, vaccines continue to be highly protective against severe outcomes related to COVID-19, including hospitalization and death.

Persons should not be scheduled to receive the second dose earlier than recommended (i.e., 3 weeks [Pfizer-BioNTech and Novavax] or 1 month [Moderna]). Second doses could be administered as soon as a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended interval if needed to avoid vaccination delays. 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. The recommendation is to avoid delays extending over 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. Currently, there is limited data on the 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.

No, “fully vaccinated” means getting the 2 doses of a primary series with Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax or a single dose of J&J. This definition changes for the moderately to severely immunocompromised. “Up-to-date” means getting all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses including any booster dose(s), when eligible.

No one actively fighting off COVID-19 or any acute disease should get boosted or vaccinated for any condition while in recovery. Immunization requires much of an individual's reserves, and even asymptomatic individuals could quickly become symptomatic.

The best time to get boosted is after 10 days without disease, or if asymptomatic, or after COVID symptoms are resolved (usually 10-14 days from the onset of symptoms).

The creation, purchase, or sale of vaccine cards by individuals is illegal and endangers public safety. Anyone with information regarding fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards can file a report by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to tips.fbi.gov. Additional details are available at the FBI website. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the COVID-19 vaccination for people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. CDC strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the COVID-19 vaccination for who are breastfeeding. COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone, including the mother or the baby, and the vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 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.

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. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect your children and those around them from COVID-19.

Yes. All approved COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens are effective at preventing severe outcomes related to COVID-19.

Clinical trials, with thousands of volunteers, showed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be safe and effective for children age 5 and up. As with all COVID-19 vaccines, every study, every phase, and every trial to determine the vaccine is safe for children was reviewed by the FDA and a vaccine safety group. The CDC continues to monitor the vaccine for safety. They have identified no concerns about long term impacts. There is no evidence that the vaccine impacts puberty or reproductive development in any way.

No. The COVID-19 vaccines were created quickly, but scientists have been working on this technology (mRNA) for 10+ years. Scientists all over the world worked together and shared information – in a way that has never been seen before – to address the COVID-19 crisis and create these vaccines.

The vaccine studies, including those for youth, had thousands of volunteers and showed that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are safe. More than 5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Chicago safely and the CDC continues to monitor the vaccine for safety.

Since April 2021, there have been less than one thousand confirmed reports of cases of inflammation of the heart – called myocarditis and pericarditis – happening after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination for people under 30. These reports are rare given the hundreds of millions of vaccine doses administered.

CDC and its partners are actively monitoring these reports, by reviewing data and medical records, to learn more about what happened and to see if there is any relationship to COVID-19 vaccination. Most patients who received care responded well to treatment and rest with a quick recovery. Cases of myocarditis or pericarditis have been predominantly in males age 12-29 years. Symptoms (including chest pain, pressure, heart palpitations, and difficulty breathing after exercise or when lying down) typically develop within a few days after receipt of the second dose of vaccine.

CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older, given the greater risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe complications. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about myocarditis.

The CDC continues to monitor the COVID-19 vaccine for safety. They have identified no concerns about long term impacts. There is no evidence that the vaccine impacts puberty or reproductive development in any way.

Vaccines prevent disease by helping your body form a “memory” of it, so if you were ever exposed to the virus, your body would know how to fight it.

Things to know about the Pfizer mRNA vaccine:

  • mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. They CANNOT give someone COVID-19.
  • mRNA vaccines DO NOT affect or interact with our DNA in any way.

We get it. Getting a shot is no fun. However, the protecting your child and the people around them from COVID-19 is worth it.

There may be some temporary side effects, like soreness at the injection site, feeling tired, or having a headache. All are signs that the body is building protection for COVID-19.

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.

Yes. More than 260 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. You cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine. You may have some side effects after COVID-19 vaccination, but they should go away in a few days. No long-term side effects have been detected. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines impact puberty or reproductive development in any way.

The CDC has updated its recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, with a preference for people to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna). The CDC’s statement is available here. According to the CDC and the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices), due to both higher vaccine effectiveness of mRNA vaccines and some rare adverse events associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the risk/benefit analysis makes the mRNA vaccines a better choice than the J&J vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still available for those who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine, and adverse side effects are rare.

All COVID-19 vaccines have completed multiple stages of clinical trials and were given emergency use authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved for those 6 months and older, and J&J vaccines for those 18 and older. In July 2022, the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine was granted EUA for 18 and older. The CDC, along with the 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. 

Public health officials will continue to monitor the safety and side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, and will take appropriate actions to determine if recommendations for vaccine use should change thereafter.

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than 3 weeks ago, you should have no concern about side effects. You should, however, look to get an mRNA vaccine booster 2 months after your J&J vaccine.

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last 3 weeks, however, and you experience symptoms such as severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or weakness, or shortness of breath, you should contact your health provider right away. Risks for severe outcomes are higher in women from 30-49 years old, but additional data collected over the past 6 months has revealed that the risk was higher than initially thought for men and women in all age groups.

You can find the ingredient lists of all vaccines on their websites. None of the vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. Instead, these vaccines contain “instructions” from the virus so that your body can learn how to create the proteins needed to fight it. 

Having some side effects isn't necessarily 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.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, has recently been associated with some rare adverse effects; if you have received the J&J vaccine within the past 3 weeks and experience symptoms such as severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or weakness, or shortness of breath, you should contact your healthcare provider right away. Risks for severe outcomes are higher in women 30-49, but are present for both men and women in all age groups as well.

Current COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be effective at preventing severe outcomes – such as hospitalization or death – from the virus and its variants.

Yes. The complete series for the Pfizer COVID-19 for kids under 5 includes three doses. Remember, each of these are just one-tenth of an adult dose. You need all three doses for full protection from COVID-19. Three weeks between the first two doses, then the third dose comes at least 2 months after the second shot.

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.

 

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends urgent action to increase Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination among people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. CDC strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks. 


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