COVID-19 Vaccination Information
COVID-19 Vaccine Information
The decision to be vaccinated is personal, and we want you to have all the information you need to make it, from trusted, verifiable sources such as the CDC and FDA.
It is important to know there are proven medical benefits to vaccination. According to a study published by the CDC in September 2021 (source), between June-August 2021, unvaccinated patients were 10x more likely to require hospitalization and 11x more likely to succumb to their illness than those who were vaccinated.
Where to get Vaccinated
Reid Health offers several locations where you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone 6 months and older is eligible to be vaccinated. A parent or legal guardian must be present and a signature is required to vaccinate a minor.
To register for your vaccination:
- Reid Health patients should call their primary care provider.
- Other vaccination locations can be found at vaccines.gov.
Which COVID-19 Vaccine is Right for You?
Here's a breakdown of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, including information about who's eligible to get each one, how many doses you'll need, how each works, and more.
- Who can get it? Anyone 6 months and older
- How many shots are in the primary series? It depends on the person's age. For those 6 months to 4 years old, there are 3 doses with 3-8 weeks between the first and second shots and at least 8 weeks before the third. For everyone 5 years and older, there are 2, given 21 days apart for most people. Those ages 5 years and up who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should get a third shot at least 28 days after their second.
- When are you considered fully vaccinated? Two weeks after the final dose of your primary series
- How does it work? The vaccine uses mRNA to give instructions to your cells about how to make a harmless spike protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. The spike protein triggers your body's immune response, allowing it to build immunity against the virus. Once the instructions are passed on, your cells get rid of the mRNA. It never enters the nucleus of the cells where the DNA resides.
- Has it been fully approved by the FDA? The FDA has given the Pfizer vaccine full approval for those 18 and older. It remains available under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for those ages 6 months-17 years.
- Who can get it? Anyone 6 months and older
- How many shots are in the primary series? It depends on the person's age. For those 6 months to 5 years old, there are 2 doses with 4-8 weeks between the first and second shots. For everyone 6 years and older, there are 2, given 28 days apart for most people. Those ages 6 years and up who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should get a third shot at least 28 days after their second.
- When are you considered fully vaccinated? Two weeks after your second dose
- How does it work? The Moderna vaccine uses the same mRNA technology as Pfizer's.
- Has it been fully approved by the FDA? Moderna has full approval for use in those 18 and older. It is available under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for those ages 6 months-17 years.
Make sure you're up to date on your vaccinations
The CDC recommends everyone who received the original Pfizer or Moderna vaccines get a dose of the updated version of that vaccine. The updated vaccines protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variants known as BA.4 and BA.5.
When did updated vaccines become available?
- Sept. 2, 2022, for those 12 years and older
- Oct. 12, 2022, for those 5-11 years old
- Dec. 9, 2022, for children 6 months-5 years old who had Moderna for their primary series and for children 6 months-4 years old who received 2 doses of Pfizer
- March 17, 2023, for children 6 months-4 years old who completed their 3-dose primary series of Pfizer
Since April 18, 2023, only the updated Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been used for all age groups.
If you have additional questions about COVID-19 vaccinations, call your primary care provider.
I've had COVID-19. When can I get vaccinated?
- The waiting period is simply once you have gotten through the acute period of the illness, which means once you’re out of isolation, you’re OK to receive the vaccine.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Side effects such as headaches, fever, and muscle pains have been reported. These are normal signs that your body is reacting as it should and building protection. Some people experience no side effects at all, but for those who do, the effects usually go away within a few days. Serious side effects that could cause long-term health problems are extremely unlikely, but we know some who become ill with COVID-19 continue to feel its effects long after they’ve “recovered.” Even if you were to experience side effects from vaccination that are less than mild, that risk outweighs the possibility for severe complications, hospital, or death the comes from contracting COVID-19.
People are still testing positive for COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine. Does it work?
- The COVID-19 vaccine greatly reduce your risks of infection, hospitalization, and death. Although it's effective at preventing most infections, the vaccine -- like most other vaccines -- is not foolproof. Where the vaccines have been most impressive is in their ability to lessen the severity of symptoms for those who become infected even after being fully vaccinated.
Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?
- The COVID-19 vaccine will not affect fertility or menstrual cycles. The vaccine encourages the body to fight a spike protein specific to the virus. False posts on social media claimed getting the COVID-19 vaccine would cause a woman's body to fight a different spike protein (syncitin-1) and impact her fertility. The two spike proteins are completely distinct, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect the fertility of women who are seeking to become pregnant, including through in vitro fertilization methods. The vaccine also won’t affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, but infections -- such as becoming ill from COVID-19 -- can.
Was the vaccine rushed through the approval process?
- The vaccines were tested in large clinical trials for which tens of thousands of people of different ages, races, and ethnicities with different medical conditions were recruited to participate. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviews all safety data from trials and only issues an Emergency Use Authorization when the expected benefits outweigh the potential risks. The CDC has an independent group of experts who review all the safety data that comes in as vaccinations are administered. If a problem is found, immediate action is taken to determine if the issue is related to the vaccine and to decide the best course of action. Side effects that could cause long-term health problems are extremely unlikely following any vaccination, including for COVID-19. Throughout the history of vaccines, side effects generally have happened within six weeks of receiving a dose. For that reason, the FDA required the COVID-19 vaccine to be studied for at least two months (eight weeks) after the final dose. Millions of people have received the vaccine, and no long-term side effects have been detected.
Am I immune if I've already had COVID-19?
- Although your body will develop immunity to COVID-19 after you become infected, how long that immunity lasts remains unclear. There’s evidence that better protection comes from being fully vaccinated. One study showed unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than two times as likely than fully vaccinated people to get it again.
Do mRNA COVID vaccines change your DNA?
- The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the first to use messenger RNA (mRNA), but researchers have been studying the technology for decades, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Previous work has been done on potential mRNA vaccines for flu, Zika, rabies, and more. mRNA also has been used to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells. Traditional vaccines put a weakened or inactive virus in the body, but mRNA vaccines teach cells how to make a harmless protein unique to the virus that triggers the immune system. That response then produces antibodies and provides protection from getting infected by exposure to the real virus. In other words, the vaccine makes the body falsely believe it has been exposed to COVID-19 to trigger cells to react and produce the crucial antibodies that will protect against an actual virus infection. The process takes a few weeks to accumulate enough antibodies to help protect a person from getting the disease. Soon after the harmless protein is made, the cells break down the mRNA instructions and get rid of them. The mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cells where the DNA is kept nor interacts with the DNA in any way.
Is it safe to take the vaccine if I have an underlying medical condition, or I am pregnant?
- A number of underlying medical conditions -- including those such as cancer; heart, kidney, liver, or lung disease; diabetes; pregnancy; obesity; and more -- can increase the likelihood that you could get seriously ill from COVID-19. For that reason, vaccinations are encouraged for most people with underlying conditions. Talk with your primary care provider about your particular situation to make sure vaccination is right for you.