Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Vaccine Allocation and Distribution

UPDATED APRIL 18, 2022: What are the latest vaccination numbers for the County?

The Arizona Department of Health Services updates its statewide COVID-19 vaccine administration data dashboard every Wednesday. Select Pima County on the map to view the latest vaccination information. 

UPDATED MAY 23, 2022: What is the guidance for first and second COVID-19 boosters?

First COVID-19 boosters are recommended for everyone 5 and older five months after finishing their primary vaccination series. (Only Pfizer is available for those ages 5-17.) On May 19, 2022, the CDC updated the booster guidelines to allow boosters for ages 5-11.
 
People 12 and older and immunocompromised should get a first booster three months after finishing the primary series. People who received Johnson & Johnson should get a Pfizer or Moderna booster two months after their primary vaccine. Johnson & Johnson recipients who are immunocompromised should get their booster two months following their additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
 
Second boosters are recommended four months after the first booster for the following groups:

  • Adults 50 and older.
  • People age 12 and older who are immunocompromised.
  • Anyone who got a Johnson and Johnson vaccine for both their primary and booster.
You may opt to consider waiting to get a second booster, especially if you have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months or if getting a booster now might make you less likely to get one in the future when boosters may become even more critical. Your healthcare provider can help review your personal and household risks to help you decide the best option for your situation.

Find out more from the CDC about COVID-19 boosters, or find a vaccine location in Pima County.

UPDATED FEB 25: Can veterans sign up via Southern Arizona VA Health Care?

Yes. The Southern Arizona VA Health Care System (SAVAHCS) started vaccinating Veterans 85 and older on Jan. 11. They are currently distributing COVID-19 vaccines to Veterans 65 and older.

Veterans, who are eligible based upon Centers for Disease Control (CDC) risk criteria, are being contacted directly by VA staff to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. They are also using an automated text and telephone program that connects Veterans to SAVAHCS staff to schedule an appointment.

If a Veteran expresses interest in receiving a COVID 19 vaccine, they can register at the following web link: https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/

UPDATED MAY 23, 2022: Can children get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Yes they can. The CDC recommends that everyone 5 years and older get vaccinated and boosted to help prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine is available for children and teens age 5-17 years, with a pediatric dose for 5-11 year olds.

On May 19, 2022, the CDC expanded booster eligibility to include 5-11 year olds, and recommends they receive a booster five months after completing their primary vaccine series. Read more about the CDC’s vaccine recommendations for children and teens, get more information from the Pima County Health Department for ages 5-11, or find a list of COVID-19 vaccine locations.

Vaccine Safety

UPDATED DEC. 1: What do we know about myocarditis and vaccines?

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is an inflammation of the outer heart lining. There have been rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis reported after vaccination with the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines. These have occurred:
  • Primarily in adolescents and young adult males within a few days following vaccination.
  • Usually within a week of vaccination.
  • More commonly after the second dose.
Most patients who got medical care for myocarditis and pericarditis felt better quickly after rest and medicine, and most people are able to return to normal activities once symptoms improve.
 
Myocarditis and pericarditis can cause:
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of having a fluttering, pounding, or fast-beating heart
If you or your child have any of these symptoms within a week after a COVID-19 vaccine, contact your primary care provider.

You can report all post-vaccination cases of myocarditis or pericarditis, or any health problems after vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Healthcare providers can find additional information and clinical considerations on myocarditis following vaccination. The CDC and health officials continually monitor reports and will continue to share information as it becomes available.
 
The known risks of COVID-19 illness and its related, possibly severe complications including long-term health problems, hospitalization or death far outweigh any potential risk of a rare adverse reaction to the vaccine, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. Therefore, the CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everybody 5 years and older.

UPDATED JAN. 28, 2022: What should I expect after getting the vaccine -- are there side effects?

Vaccination will help protect you from getting the virus, and if you do get sick, it helps prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Possible side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines may include pain, redness and swelling on the arm where you got the shot. You may also get a fever, chills, tiredness, muscle pain, nausea, or a headache. Side effects after the second shot may be more intense than those after the first, and reactions to a booster are similar. These may affect your ability to do daily activities, but should go away in a few days. All are normal signs that your body is building protective antibodies against the virus. Some people do not feel any side effects.

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and hundreds of millions of people have received them. Serious side effects after vaccination have been reported, but they remain rare. The COVID-19 vaccines have been the most intensely studied vaccines in history, and the CDC and FDA continue to monitor their safety.

UPDATED JAN. 10, 2022: How do I report an adverse reaction to the vaccine?

If you are a patient, please let your health care provider know about your symptoms. Both health care providers and patients are strongly encouraged to report any adverse reactions via the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
 
After vaccination, you may also enroll in v-safe, a voluntary, smartphone-based tool. Through text messaging and web surveys, you can report any vaccine-related side effects directly to the CDC. The tool also offers reminders when you may be due for any additional vaccine doses. If you choose to enroll in v-safe and report that you were pregnant when you were vaccinated, or after you were vaccinated, you may also participate in the COVID-19 Pregnancy Registry. If you choose to enroll in the registry, you will be contacted several times throughout your pregnancy for additional health check-ins.

UPDATED JAN. 10, 2022: Can the COVID vaccines give me COVID-19 or make me test positive on a viral test?

None of the vaccines used in the U.S. contain the live virus which causes COVID-19, so they cannot give you the illness. Symptoms that may occur after vaccination, such as a fever, are signs that your body is building antibody protection against the virus to help prevent you from becoming severely ill if you are exposed.
 
The vaccines will not make you test positive on the viral tests that take samples from your nose or mouth (the PCR or antigen tests), because these tests look for current infection. People who have had COVID-19 in the past, and those who develop an immune response to vaccination may test positive on an antibody test, because these tests look for some level of antibody protection against the virus.

UPDATED FEB. 9, 2022: If you've recovered from COVID-19, are vaccinations or boosters still recommended?

The safest and most reliable way to build added protection is through vaccination and boosting for all eligible individuals, including those who have had COVID-19.
 
COVID-19 immunity is quite complicated, and health experts are working to understand how natural immunity (from recent infection) and vaccine-induced immunity might work together, and how strong it is and for how long the protection offered by each might persist.
 
Natural immunity from surviving a COVID-19 infection has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of reinfection and hospitalization, especially right after someone recovers. In January 2022, the CDC reported that during the delta surge, persons who survived a previous infection had lower COVID-19 case rates than persons who were vaccinated alone. However, immunity from infection alone is not always reliable; up to 36% of people who recover from COVID-19 may fail to develop protective antibodies. Age and medical conditions can influence how much protection a person might develop.
 
Some data suggest the combination of natural immunity plus vaccine immunity may lead to very robust protective responses, even against variants. The CDC reported that people who had both a prior infection and were vaccinated had the highest protection. Other studies found that people who had both COVID-19 infection and were vaccinated were half as likely to report getting debilitating long-COVID, compared to people who were unvaccinated when they got infected. Johns Hopkins researchers found that people who got vaccinated after infection had antibodies that remained higher and lasted longer than in those who had the vaccine alone. 
 
Read more from the CDC about the benefits of vaccination, or find a vaccine, or explore infection-induced and vaccine-induced immunity in more depth.

UPDATED APRIL, 18 2022: If I'm vaccinated, should I quarantine or test after close contact with someone infected with COVID-19?

Quarantine keeps people who had close contact with someone with COVID-19 apart from others to help prevent spread of the virus. You do not need to quarantine after close contact with someone who has COVID-19 if your COVID-19 vaccines are up-to-date, or if you tested positive for the virus within the last 90 days.
 
Anybody who develops COVID-19 symptoms (regardless of vaccination or prior infection status) should get tested immediately and isolate from others.
 
If your vaccines are up-to-date, you should get tested at least 5 days after your last close contact, and wear a mask around others for 10 days. If you test positive or have symptoms, you should isolate from other people. If you had a positive viral test for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, recovered and are symptom-free, you do not need to get tested, but should still wear a mask around others for 10 days after your last close contact.
 
Anyone who is unvaccinated or not up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines should quarantine following close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
 
The CDC has more information about quarantine and isolation, plus an online tool to help you figure out how long you need to quarantine, isolate, or take additional steps to prevent spreading COVID-19.

UPDATED JAN. 10, 2022: Should I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

The CDC recommends getting a COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, were recently pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you are or recently were pregnant, you are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Severe illness can mean you may need hospitalization, intensive care or a ventilator, and that you could die. COVID-19 infection also increases your risk for preterm birth, stillbirth, and other pregnancy complications.
 
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective during pregnancy, and the protective benefits they offer both the mother and fetus/infant outweigh any known or potential risks. Getting vaccinated during your pregnancy builds antibodies that may protect your baby against COVID-19. Antibodies are passed to the fetus through umbilical cord blood, and through breast milk if you breastfeed. Find out more from the CDC about COVID-19 vaccines while pregnant or breastfeeding.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends vaccination for people who are pregnant. If you would like to talk to someone about COVID-19 vaccination during your pregnancy, MotherToBaby is a free, confidential service offering experts who can answer your questions in English or Spanish via telephone or chat. Your healthcare provider can also provide additional guidance.

UPDATED FEB. 17, 2022: Can people with a history of allergic reactions get a COVID-19 vaccine?

People with allergic reactions to things not related to vaccines or injectable medications (such as allergies to pets, latex, foods, venom, or things in the environment) are still able to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who have had allergic reactions to other vaccines, or to components in the COVID-19 vaccines should talk to their healthcare provider before being vaccinated. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for people with allergies.

UPDATED MAY 23, 2022: What is the vaccine and booster guidance for immunocompromised people?

Yes, they should. People with moderately to severely weakened immune systems (immunocompromised) may be more likely to get severely ill or to be sick for a longer time if they get COVID-19. Certain medicines, medical conditions, or treatments for medical conditions may cause someone to become immunocompromised. These may include cancer treatments, organ transplants, advanced or untreated HIV, primary immunodeficiency diseases, and immune-suppressing medicines.
 
Immunocompromised people may build a much smaller amount of protection from the vaccines than someone with a normal immune system would. To help get them closer to a normal level of protection, the CDC recommends that immunocompromised people 18 and older who got the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines get a third vaccine dose of Pfizer or Moderna at least 28 days after their second dose. They also have the option to receive a single booster dose with any of the available vaccines at least 6 months after completing their third dose. This means that some immunocompromised individuals receiving the mRNA vaccines may receive a total of four vaccine doses.
People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system) are at increased risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19. Different medical conditions or treatments may cause immunocompromise, including cancer treatment, organ transplants, advanced or untreated HIV, primary immunodeficiency diseases, and immune-suppressing medicines. People who are immunocompromised may not develop as strong a protection from vaccination, so the CDC recommends additional doses for these individuals. 
 
Children ages 5-11 years who are immunocompromised should receive a primary series of 3 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Children ages 5-11 should get a booster dose five months after completing their primary series, according to the CDC’s May 19, 2022 updated guidelines. The updated guidelines also recommend that immunocompromised people 12 and older get a second booster dose four months after the first.
 
Those 12 and older and immunocompromised should receive a primary series of 3 doses of Pfizer or Moderna, plus a booster. (Only the Pfizer vaccine is available for people under 18.) Updated CDC guidelines recommend a second booster four months after the first. 
 
Immunocompromised adults who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a second vaccine dose with either Pfizer or Moderna, plus a Pfizer or Moderna booster two months later. Updated CDC guidelines recommend a second booster four months after the first.
 
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for people who are immunocompromised, and COVID-19 vaccine boosters.

UPDATED FEB. 17, 2022: Do the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility?

There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause a loss of fertility in women or men. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners. Many people have successfully become pregnant after COVID-19 vaccination. The v-safe pregnancy registry reported almost 5,000 people had a positive pregnancy test after having received a first dose of vaccine.
 
The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be the most carefully and closely studied vaccines in history, with extensive, ongoing safety monitoring systems. Learn more about COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Would Like to Have a Baby.

After Vaccination

UPDATED DEC. 27: What do I do if I lost my vaccine card?

The Pima County Health Department does not make replacement COVID-19 vaccine cards. If you lost your vaccination card, the Pima County Health Department recommends the following:
  • First, contact your vaccination provider directly to access your vaccination records. If this is not possible, and you were vaccinated in Arizona, contact the state through its online Immunization Record Request Form and return the completed form via email, fax or mail (all listed at the link). For more information, email the Arizona Immunization Program Office at ASIISHelpDesk@azdhs.gov or call 602-364-3630. 
  • You can also create an online portal at https://myirmobile.com/, which partners with the Arizona Department of Health Services to allow you to review your immunization history, get reminders for future immunizations, and print your own official records.
  • If you were vaccinated in a state other than Arizona, contact that state’s immunization information system.
  • If you were vaccinated outside of the U.S. and do not have proof of COVID-19 vaccination, talk to your healthcare provider about your options and whether you need to be vaccinated again in the U.S. (The CDC offers additional guidance regarding vaccination/re-vaccination and boosters for those who received their vaccination outside of the U.S.).
Read more from the CDC on getting your COVID-19 vaccination record card. The National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants provides additional information for these populations needing resources on verifying vaccine status and vaccination cards.

UPDATED APRIL 18, 2022: Is it possible to get COVID-19 even if I'm up to date on my vaccines?

The goal of COVID-19 vaccination is to protect against serious illness, hospitalization and death from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the current vaccines are extremely effective at protecting against this. People who are vaccinated and boosted may still get COVID-19, but they usually experience milder symptoms. Some vaccinated people may not have any symptoms. You can still spread COVID-19 to others in these cases, so it’s important to know what to do if you get sick or test positive.
 
People who are older, or who are immunocompromised, or who have certain medical conditions may have a greater risk of getting infected despite being vaccinated. Talk to your healthcare provider about additional protective steps you might need to take if you are in one of these groups.
 
Learn more about staying up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccinations, and where to get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

General Questions

What does the vaccine cost?

The vaccine is free for everybody, regardless of insurance status. For those that have insurance, a small administration fee may be billed.

UPDATED APRIL 18, 2022: Is there a wait time for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine or a booster after having had COVID-19?

People who have had a COVID-19 infection should wait to be vaccinated with their primary series or boosters until they have recovered from the acute illness (if they had symptoms) and they have met the guidelines for ending isolation.

UPDATED FEB.17, 2022: If I just received another vaccine, do I have to wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

It is not necessary to wait. COVID-19 vaccines may be given in the same visit along with other needed vaccines, including the flu shot.

UPDATED APRIL 18, 2022: If I received monoclonal antibody products to treat or prevent COVID-19, may I get vaccinated?

If you have previously received monoclonal antibody (mAB) products to treat a COVID-19 infection, or to prevent it (post-exposure and pre-exposure prophylaxis), you may get vaccinated anytime afterwards.
 
People who were already vaccinated and who qualify to receive the mAB Evusheld, should wait to get this product for at least two weeks after vaccination. For more about mAB, visit the Pima County Health Department’s COVID-19 treatment page.

UPDATED DEC. 29: Can my employer require me to get vaccinated?

Yes. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws allow employers to require all employees physically entering the workplace to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, subject to the reasonable accommodation provisions of Title VII and the ADA and other EEO considerations. Learn more about this from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

UPDATED FEB. 17, 2022: How many vaccines have been approved?

Two of the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. have received full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Full approval is granted when, over time, the FDA has compiled and reviewed enough evidence to prove a vaccine is safe and effective, and that it can be manufactured reliably, safely, and with consistent quality.
 
Pfizer gained full approval for ages 16 and older in August, 2021. It has Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for ages 5-15. Moderna was granted full approval for ages 18 and older in January, 2022. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains under EUA for those 18 and older, and the CDC recommends use of Pfizer or Moderna over this vaccine.
 
Yale Medicine offers an updated comparison of the COVID-19 vaccines, their status and effectiveness, while the CDC and the FDA each have additional information and recommendations about the vaccines, boosters, and age eligibility for each. If you are looking for a COVID-19 vaccine, the Pima County Health Department has a list of locations.

UPDATED DEC. 29: Do I need to delay my mammogram after getting the vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines can sometimes cause a temporary swelling in the lymph nodes, often under the arm in which you received the shot. This is more common after additional doses or boosters. This is part of a normal immune response, and a sign your body is building protection, but it may cause a mammogram to look abnormal, or to indicate cancer when none exists. Some health experts recommend getting your mammogram before being vaccinated, or waiting four to six weeks after vaccination. Your healthcare provider can advise you best. Anyone with a suspicious lump should talk to their healthcare provider.


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