Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This page was last updated on January 27, 2023. All items updated prior to that date have been reviewed and remain accurate.

Vaccine Allocation and Distribution

UPDATED JAN. 27, 2023: How is Novavax different from the other COVID-19 vaccines?

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine was granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA and recommended for use by the CDC in July of 2022, making it the fourth COVID-19 vaccine available in the U.S. The primary series is given as two doses, three weeks apart, and is available for those 12 and older.

It may also be given as a booster six months after a primary series to those 18 and older who have not previously received a COVID-19 booster — and if they are unable or unwilling to receive an updated bivalent Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 booster.

Novavax works differently from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. It is a protein subunit vaccine, which the CDC described as a combination of harmless proteins from the COVID-19 virus with another ingredient called an adjuvant that helps the immune system respond. Protein subunit vaccines have been used in the U.S. for over 30 years in vaccines for influenza, whooping cough, tetanus, and hepatitis B.

For more information, see Yale Medicine’s comparison of the COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC also has more about all of the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

UPDATED SEPT. 27, 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 JAN 31, 2023: Where can I find guidance for COVID-19 boosters?

The CDC recommends COVID-19 booster vaccines for everyone ages 5 years and older. The timing and number of boosters depends upon your age, the vaccine you received for your primary series, and whether or not you are immunocompromised. To help you make decisions for your personal situation, the CDC’s “Find Out When to Get a Booster” tool on its Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines page can help. 

The CDC recommends COVID-19 booster vaccines for everyone ages 5 years and older. The timing and number of boosters depends upon your age, the vaccine you received for your primary series, and whether or not you are immunocompromised. To help you make decisions for your personal situation, the CDC’s “Find Out When to Get a Booster” tool on its Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines page can help. 

The newer “bivalent” Pfizer and Moderna booster vaccines, which target the original virus strain plus the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, are available for everyone ages 6 months and older. To see when you or your child should get a booster, use the “Find Out When to Get a Booster” tool on the CDC’s Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines Including Boosters webpage.
 
The timing and number of boosters depends upon age, the vaccine received for the primary series, and whether or not someone is immunocompromised. Because adults 65 and older are very vulnerable to severe illness and death from COVID-19, the Arizona Department of Health Services recently created a COVID-19 Boosters for Seniors page with booster guidance. As always, ask your healthcare provider for questions related to your personal situation.
 
If you’re interested in additional user-friendly information, Yale Medicine also regularly-updates its comparison of the COVID-19 vaccines. If you’re looking for a vaccine, you can find one here.


The FDA offers the latest information on the vaccines, and Yale Medicine keeps a regularly-updated comparison of the COVID-19 vaccines. Find a list of places to get a vaccine.

The FDA offers the latest information on the vaccines, and Yale Medicine keeps a regularly-updated comparison of the COVID-19 vaccines. Find a list of places to get a vaccine.

Vaccine Safety

UPDATED SEPT. 27, 2022: What are the vaccine side effects, and how do I report an adverse reaction?

Side effects from vaccination can vary from person to person. Some people don’t have any, and others may experience symptoms including soreness where you received the shot, headache, fatigue, fever or chills, nausea, and muscle pain, which may affect their ability to do their normal daily activities. These are temporary, and usually go away in a few days. Side effects may be different across age groups, and those after a booster tend to be similar to those after the primary series. Even if you experience no side effects, your body is still building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine side effects, and how to relieve them. You can use the optional, smartphone-based tool V-safe to report to the CDC how you are feeling after vaccination. Pregnant individuals enrolled in v-safe may also enroll in the V-safe Pregnancy Registry. Learn what the CDC does to monitor and ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

Adverse events after vaccination, including severe allergic reactions can occur, but are rare. If you develop a severe allergic reaction after your vaccine, call 911 for immediate medical care. You or your healthcare provider can use the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to report a side effect or adverse event from the vaccine.

UPDATED SEPT. 30, 2022: If I was exposed to someone with COVID-19, should I isolate?

If you were exposed to COVID-19, there are steps you should begin taking, even if you’ve been vaccinated or had a previous infection. The CDC created an easy, online tool that helps you determine if you need to stay home and isolate, and if so, for how long. It shows you when you should test, and for how long to wear a mask around others. If you test positive or develop COVID-19 symptoms, you should isolate immediately and begin following isolation and precaution guidance for people with COVID-19. The Pima County Health Department has more on what to do if you’re sick or have been exposed.

UPDATED JAN. 27, 2023: Should I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters continue to be recommended for those who are currently pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or may become pregnant in the future, as well as for those who are breastfeeding. People who are pregnant or recently were, are at higher risk of having severe illness from COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 infection at any time during pregnancy boosts the mother’s risk of death and is associated with serious illness in both mothers and their newborns.
 
Evidence continues to build that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy is safe and effective for both mother and baby, and that vaccination remains the best method of protection from the virus. Read the most current recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or speak to someone at MotherToBaby, a free, confidential service offering experts who can answer questions in English or Spanish via telephone or chat. The CDC has more information on COVID-19 vaccines for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or see the Health Department’s COVID-19 and Pregnancy page for additional resources and news. Your healthcare provider can also offer additional guidance.

UPDATED JAN. 27, 2023: Can people with a history of allergic reactions get a COVID-19 vaccine?

People with allergic reactions to things unrelated to vaccines or injectable medications (such as allergies to pets, latex, foods, venom, or things in the environment) should still get a COVID-19 vaccine. People with allergies related to vaccines or their components, or who have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous COVID-19 vaccine dose should talk to their healthcare provider before being vaccinated. Learn more from the CDC, and read answers to frequently asked questions from Penn Medicine experts about COVID-19 vaccination and allergies.

UPDATED DEC. 16, 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 greater risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19, and may not develop the level of protection needed from vaccination. The CDC recommends additional doses for these individuals.
 
On December 9, 2022, following FDA action, the CDC expanded the use of the bivalent Moderna and Pfizer boosters to enable children 6 months through 5 years to receive them. Children between 6 months and 5 years can now get a Moderna booster two months after finishing their primary Moderna series (usually three primary doses are given if there is immunocompromise). Children between 6 months and 4 years who haven’t yet started the Pfizer series, or are waiting to get their third dose, will now receive the new bivalent booster as their third dose. Children in this age group who already finished their three-dose Pfizer series should still have protection and will not yet need the booster.
 
Some people may be eligible for Evusheld, a medication given to help prevent COVID-19 in those who are immunocompromised or for whom the vaccine is not recommended.
 
The CDC’s "Find Out When to Get a Booster" tool and your healthcare provider can help you determine how best to stay up to date with vaccination, and the timing and number of vaccines or boosters you or your immunocompromised child may need.

UPDATED SEPT. 30, 2022: Do the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility?

There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility (trying to get pregnant) in women or men. In fact, COVID-19 vaccines and boosters continue to be recommended for those who are currently pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or may become pregnant in the future. Infection during your pregnancy can cause complications such as having a premature or stillborn baby. The CDC has more about COVID-19 vaccination for people who would like to have a baby.

After Vaccination

UPDATED SEPT. 30, 2022: What do I do if I lost my vaccine card?

If you need a replacement CDC vaccine card, first contact your vaccination provider directly to access your vaccination records. If this isn’t 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. 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 MyIR Mobile which partners with the Arizona Department of Health Services. It allows you to review your immunization history and print your records. If you were vaccinated in a state other than Arizona, contact that state’s immunization information system. The CDC has additional information on your COVID-19 vaccination card.

UPDATED JAN. 27, 2023: Is it possible to get COVID-19 even if I'm up to date on my vaccines?

It is possible to still get COVID-19 even if you’re up to date with your vaccines and boosters, although the vaccines help keep you from becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized, or dying. Adults who are older or with certain medical conditions or are immunocompromised, may have a greater chance of becoming infected despite being current on all vaccinations and boosters. Speak with your healthcare provider about additional steps you may need to take if you are in one of these groups.
 
It is important to know what to do if you become infected with COVID-19, because you can still spread the virus to others even if you have been vaccinated and may not have symptoms yourself.

General Questions

UPDATED JAN. 27, 2023: Do I still need a vaccine or booster if I’ve already had COVID-19 or currently have it?

Yes, you should still get vaccinated or boosted. If you already had COVID-19 but did not get vaccinated, you are more likely to get the virus again than someone who got vaccinated after recovering. “Hybrid immunity” (immunity gained from vaccination and infection) may give you better protection from severe disease and hospitalization, according to a recent study from the World Health Organization published in The Lancet.
 
If you currently have COVID-19, you should wait until you’ve recovered and finished your isolation period before getting vaccinated or boosted. The CDC states that if you’ve recently had COVID-19, that you can consider delaying your next vaccine dose by three months from when your symptoms began, or when you tested positive. Whether you decide to wait depends on your own personal health conditions and risk factors however, so you may wish to speak with your healthcare provider for guidance. Find out more from the CDC about getting a vaccine, including after having had COVID-19.

UPDATED JAN. 27, 2023: Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine/booster with other vaccines?

Yes, children, teens and adults can combine a COVID-19 vaccine or booster with other routine vaccines, such as a flu shot. See more about getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

The exception is for the mpox vaccine. According to the CDC, people (especially adolescents and young males) who received a mpox vaccine may consider waiting four weeks before getting a Moderna, Novavax, or Pfizer vaccine, due to unknown risks of myocarditis and pericarditis after receipt of the JYNNEOS and COVID-19 vaccines. However, if you’ve already received a COVID-19 vaccine and are now at risk of mpox due to an exposure, you should not wait to get an mpox vaccine.

UPDATED SEPT. 30, 2022: Do I need to delay my mammogram after getting the vaccine?

You do not need to delay your mammogram after receiving your COVID-19 vaccine or booster. The Society for Breast Imaging updated their guidelines to indicate that the four-to six-week waiting period originally recommended is no longer needed. Breast imaging radiologists at Duke and also Johns Hopkins offer more information on mammograms following COVID-19 vaccination.


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