Frequently Asked Questions

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How do you wear a mask so you get the best protection?

How is the Regular Flu Different from COVID-19?

*William J. Bommer, MD, FACP, FACC,
YourVaccinationGuide.org Chief Medical Advisor

Can I Still Get Vaccinated?

Yes, in the United States, vaccination is available to everyone 6 months and older. Check with your doctor, your health plan, or use Vaccines.gov to find out where you can be vaccinated now.

Where Do You Get the Vaccine?

The CDC refers people to the Vaccine Finder. All locations may not be listed. Be sure to ask your health plan or provider what might be closest. Pharmacies near you may also have vaccinations available (CDC). You can use this link to look up your local health office for more information. Most vaccination sites require you to make an appointment.

Should You Get a Booster Shot?

If you got the two-shot series of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least five (5) months ago, you can get a booster shot if you are 18 years old or older (CDC). You can get any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States as a booster (CDC).

If you got the Johnson & Johnson single shot COVID-19 vaccine at least two (2) months ago, you can get a booster shot if you are 18 years or older. The CDC is recommending that your booster be Moderna or Pfizer (CDC).

If you are 5-17 years old you are authorized for a booster of the Pfizer vaccine (CDC).

If you are 50 or older, you are authorized to take a second booster. The second booster must be an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (CDC).

Immunocompromised: Those who are immunocompromised should get a 3rd dose at least 28 days after the 2nd dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and at least one booster. Visit the CDC and discuss the boosters with your doctor.

If You are Immunocompromised, Should You Get a 3rd Shot?

Those who are immunocompromised should get 3rd dose at least 28 days after the 2nd dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. You should also receive your first booster at least 3 months after 3rd dose. An mRNA vaccine booster is preferred for people ages 18 years and older, but you may consider J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in some situations. If you are 18 years or older and moderately or severely immunocompromised, you can choose to receive a 2nd booster (5th dose) of an mRNA vaccine at least 4 months after your first booster (CDC).

Will the Vaccines Protect You from the New Strains of COVID-19?

The vaccines will protect from a range of variants, including the Omicron variants. The FDA and CDC are recommending booster shots for those 5 years old and above and vaccination for those 6 months and older (CDC). See the FAQs above for more details.

What Should I Know About the Omicron Variant?

The Omicron variants seem to spread more easily than the original COVID-19. The Omicron BA 5 is the variant currently spreading. The CDC expects that anyone with an Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms. Overall, the symptoms vaccinated people have reported are milder than previous variants. Available vaccines should protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variants. However, experts are saying they don’t yet know how severe the effects of the variant may be, particularly as it effects the unvaccinated (CDC).

The CDC recommends that everyone who can get vaccinated, wear masks when indoors in public in areas where the COVID-19 Community Level is high, regardless of vaccination status, be alert for cold and flu symptoms, and test as needed to protect others and yourselves (CDC). Get your vaccination and booster if you qualify (CDC).

How Many COVID-19 Mutations (Variants) are There?

This is an issue that will change over time. According to the CDC, there are a number of variants currently in the United States.

  • B.1.1.7: First identified in the U.S. in December 2020. Initially detected in the UK in December 2020.
  • B.1.351: First identified in the U.S. at the end of January 2021. Initially detected in South Africa in December 2020.
  • P.1: First detected in the U.S. in January 2021. Initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January 2021.
  • B.1.427 and B.1.429: First identified in California in February 2021 and were classified as variants of COVID-19 in March 2021.
  • B.1.617.2 (Delta Variant): First detected in India in February 2021 but has since surfaced in more than 70 countries, including the United States (Healthline).
  • Omicron (B.1.1.529, BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2, BA.3, BA.4 and BA.5 lineages).

You can visit the CDC Variant Tracker to learn more about the variants in the United States.

These variants are being monitored by the CDC. To date, the vaccines continue to be effective against them.

What Happens When You Get Vaccinated?

The vaccination is a simple shot in the arm. Reactions are rare, but you could feel an ache where you received the shot or light flu symptoms. You can visit the CDC for more information about possible side effects. For more about the COVID-19 vaccines click here.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots for those 16 and older. Vaccines for younger children may have a different number of shots. Please be sure you know how many your child should receive. You will receive a vaccination card that tells you when you are due for your second shot. Be sure to make your appointment.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one dose.

Continue to wear a face mask, socially distance, and follow all safety protocols as your state and the CDC instruct (CDC).

Immunocompromised need an additional shot and everyone 12 and over is recommended to get at least one booster shot (CDC).

Is There a Treatment for COVID-19?

In December 2021, the FDA gave Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Pfizer for Paxlovid. It is a pill taken orally. Paxlovid is the first treatment for COVID-19 to receive any type of authorization in the U.S. It is authorized to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older weighing about 88 pounds) who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death. Paxlovid is available by prescription only and should be used as soon as possible after diagnosis and within five days of symptom onset. Paxlovid is NOT a substitute for vaccination (FDA). The CDC recommends everyone be vaccinated fully.

If You Have Already Had COVID-19 and Recovered, Do You Still Need to Get Vaccinated?

“Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19” (CDC).

Do You Get One Shot or Two?

For everyone 5 and older who qualify for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, there are two doses (two shots) of the vaccine approximately 21-28 days apart. For children 6 months to 4 years old, there are three doses of Pfizer and two doses of Moderna (CDC).

When you get the first vaccination, make a date to come back for the next shot. If you’re 18 or over and get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there is only one shot.

After getting the first set of shots, a third shot is recommended for those adults who are immunocompromised and a booster is suggested for everyone who qualifies (CDC).

Will You Be Immune After Being Vaccinated?

You will not immediately be immune after being vaccinated. It takes at least two weeks after the second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before you receive the full protection of those doses. You could still get COVID-19 because the vaccines are not 100% effective. In addition, the CDC also recommends one booster shot for those 5 and older and two booster shots for those 50 plus.

Immunocompromised: Those who are immunocompromised should get a 3rd dose at least 28 days after the 2nd dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and at least one booster. Visit the CDC and discuss the boosters with your doctor.

To learn more about the vaccines available, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine page on this website or visit the CDC.

Is there a New Vaccine Called Comirnaty?

No, there is not a new vaccine. Comirnaty is the name given to the Pfizer/BioNtech Vaccine. This is the same Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine first given Emergency Use Authorization, and now fully authorized by the FDA.

Do You Need to Wear a Mask and Social Distance After Getting Vaccinated?

The CDC has made recommendations that allow people to relax mask restrictions while adjusting for the level of personal risk and community infection. Visit the CDC for those recommendations and check the local government and health department who may have other recommendations for your area. Also, please follow mask guidelines requested by local businesses.

 

How Do You Talk to Loved Ones Who Are Vaccination Hesitant?
  1. Listen, be respectful, and ask polite questions to help you understand their concerns.
  2. Do not tell them they are wrong, suggest there may be new or additional information to consider.
  3. There are many credible healthcare sources available through the CDC, YourVaccinationGuide.org, or your local healthcare professional. It’s best to find the one that they trust the most.
  4. Share other upsides that may be important to them such as continuing to be able to hug a grandchild, being able to hold a celebration, the ability to return to work and school, etc.
  5. Emphasize that:
      • The vaccines are safe and free.
      • Their chance of dying from or being hospitalized with COVID-19 drops significantly with the vaccine.
      • They are protecting themselves and the people around them. Is someone they love over 65, under 6 months or in poor health? These groups are at risk.
      • As more people are vaccinated, schools and businesses can continue to safely stay opened.
Why Were the Vaccines Available So Quickly?

The government identified the most promising potential vaccines and provided support to lessen the time required to receive FDA approval and prepare for production and delivery of the vaccine. While the COVID-19 vaccine trial process was thorough, it was faster than normal largely because the three trial phases and manufacturing and delivery preparation happened in an overlapping sequence. Also, mRNA vaccines — the first two vaccines created and submitted to the FDA by Pfizer and Moderna — are generally faster to create, test, and market. All the vaccines approved by EUA continue to be monitored and research is ongoing. Both the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are fully approved by the FDA.

Can People with Chronic Health Conditions Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Yes, people with chronic conditions can get the vaccine (CDC). It is important, however, to talk to your doctor to find out if you should get the vaccine particularly if you have a compromised immune system or had an earlier reaction to a vaccine. Check with your doctor regarding the specific vaccine you are scheduled to receive. Visit the California Chronic Care Coalition for more information related to chronic disease or My Patient Rights if you have trouble accessing care.

Were the COVID-19 Vaccines Tested on People with Chronic Conditions?

In the Moderna vaccine trial, 22.3 percent of participants had at least one high-risk condition, which included lung disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, or HIV infection. Four percent (4%) of participants had two or more high-risk conditions (CDC). The Pfizer vaccine trial included people with obesity (35.1%), diabetes (8.4%), and pulmonary disease (7.8%). “The J&J vaccine was also tested in more people who were 60 years or older and in those who had [chronic] conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes” (Duke Health).

Can Children Get Vaccinated for COVID-19?

Yes, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are approved to use for those 6 months to 18 years though they may have different dosages (CDC). The other available vaccines are for those 18 and over. Watch for updates in available vaccines for children.

What is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)?

CDC is investigating multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare but serious complication associated with COVID-19 (CDC).

Should You Be Concerned About Side Effects of the mRNA Vaccine Causing Heart Issues (Myocarditis) in Your Children?

In rare instances, cases of inflammation of the heart—called myocarditis and pericarditis–have been reported after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, appearing primarily in adolescents and young adults. The CDC is still investigating these reports.

Most cases have been reported:

  • in male adolescents and young adults age 16 years or older
  • after getting the second dose of one of the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines
  • within several days after COVID-19 vaccination, typically

Symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart.

Seek medical care if you or your child are experiencing any of these symptoms. Symptoms may appear within a week after having the COVID-19 vaccination (CDC). Patients can usually return to their normal daily activities after their symptoms improve. They should speak with their doctor about returning to exercise or sports. The CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 5 years of age and older, given the risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe, complications (CDC).

Is there Any Truth to the Rumor that there are Trackers in the Vaccinations (Shots)?

This is false. There is no truth to the rumor. We believe the rumor developed because of a misheard or misunderstood explanation of how the boxes holding the vaccines are tracked. There are no trackers in the actual vaccine or in you.

Are the Vaccines Made from Chicken Eggs?

The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain material from chicken eggs. For 70 years, growing viruses in chicken eggs was the way many vaccines were created. Several flu vaccine makers still use this process. In 2019, all the flu vaccines approved in the U.S. were cell-based, not egg-based, but we recommend that you continue to ask every time you get a vaccine if you are concerned or have been told not to take egg-based vaccines (CDC).

How Do You Know if You Have Antibodies and What Does it Mean?

Antibodies are proteins your body makes to fight illness. If you have antibodies for COVID-19 you have been exposed to the virus.

A serology (antibody) test determines if you have those antibodies. The CDC is not currently recommending these tests (CDC).

Can You Get COVID-19 More than Once?

This is still being studied. The CDC says that based on their experience with other viruses some reinfection could be expected (CDC).

What Does the Term "Long Haulers" Mean?

“Approximately 80% of those with COVID-19 end up having a mild reaction and most of those cases resolve in about two weeks. For people who have a severe response to the virus, it can take between three and six weeks to recover”(Cleveland Clinic). Long Haulers (or long COVID) have symptoms or related effects months later. Anyone can end up a Long Hauler.

How Accurate is the Testing for COVID-19?

There are two types of tests related to COVID-19 — a diagnostic test and an antibody test.

Diagnostic tests can show if you have an infection now. There are two types of diagnostic tests: a molecular test, which detects the virus’s genetic material, and an antigen test, which detects specific proteins from the virus.

There is only one type of antibody test, which looks for antibodies made by your body’s immune system in response to a specific virus. Antibodies can help fight infections. They can take several days or weeks to develop after you have an infection and may stay in your blood for several weeks or more after recovery. Antibody tests don’t tell if you have COVID-19 now, unlike a diagnostic test would, just if you had it at one time. The CDC is not currently recommending antibody tests (CDC).

More information can be found on the FDA website.

 

Can You Get One Pfizer and One Moderna Vaccine?

No. Although they are both mRNA vaccines, they are different from each other. Your first and second doses must be the same type. However, the first booster shot maybe be of any EUA or authorized vaccine, but the mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccines are recommended by the CDC (CDC).

What is Herd Immunity?

“Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune.

What percentage of a community needs to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity? It varies from disease to disease. The more contagious a disease is, the greater the proportion of the population that needs to be immune to the disease to stop its spread. For example, the measles is a highly contagious illness. It’s estimated that 94% of the population must be immune to interrupt the chain of transmission” (Mayo Clinic).

If You Have Allergies, Should You Get the Vaccine?

Generally, seasonal allergies do not prevent you from getting a COVID-19 vaccine and in no way suggest that the vaccine would lead to an adverse reaction. However, if you have had a severe allergic reaction or an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—to any ingredient in a vaccine you should not get the COVID-19 vaccine without a discussion with your doctor.

If you aren’t able to get one type of COVID-19 vaccine because you are allergic to an ingredient in that vaccine, ask your doctor if you should get a different type of COVID-19 vaccine. Learn about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for people with allergies.

Can the Vaccine Cause People to Develop COVID-19?

No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not use the live virus and cannot give you the virus. It is possible that those vaccinated could still get COVID-19 because the vaccines are not 100% effective, but the vaccine will not give it to you.

What if You Think it is Unsafe to Return to Work, but Your Employer is Calling You In?

First, be reassured that most employers are taking safety very seriously and are adhering to pandemic safety guidelines in the office. If you believe there is an unsafe work environment that your employer refuses to address you can contact Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to report it.

If you have a reason to be concerned about returning to work such as you or your family member have health issues that put you at higher risk to COVID-19, talk to your employer. You can review the Family First Coronavirus Response Act to see if its provisions will help you. You can also seek out the advice of an employment law attorney.

If you are on unemployment and you refuse to work, your employer is required to report your refusal (U.S. Department of Labor).

Will Employers be Able to Force Employees to Take Vaccines or Come to the Office to Work?

Employers may be able to insist you get the vaccine if it is available to you, with exceptions for health and other reasons (CDC). Visit the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission for more specific information about what employers can require, but generally based on information from their website, employers may ask to take your temperature, insist on masks and other CDC or local health official direction or recommendation on the pandemic including taking a screening test under specific circumstances. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) continues to oversee workplace safety and provide worker rights in relation to reporting safety issues. Visit their site for more information: www.osha.gov/coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Labor oversees OSHA and may have more information for employers and employees.