Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Vaccine Allocation and Distribution

UPDATED JULY 25, 2022: How is Novavax different from the other COVID-19 vaccines?

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine was granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA on July 13, 2022, and recommended for use by the CDC on July 19, 2022. This makes it the fourth COVID-19 vaccine available in the U.S. It is given as two doses, three weeks apart, and will be available for adults 18 and older. It is used as a primary series and not as a booster dose.

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

In studies, Novavax was reported to be 90% effective against symptomatic infection and 100% effective against moderate and severe disease. The most commonly reported side effects were injection-site tenderness and pain, headache, muscle and joint aches, nausea/vomiting, fever, and fatigue. There were rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis reported in the clinical trial. It is not yet known how well it protects against omicron and its subvariants, since studies were done before these variants had appeared.

For more information, Yale Medicine posts a regularly-updated comparison of the COVID-19 vaccines. Johns Hopkins vaccine expert Dr. William Moss discussed its potential strengths and weaknesses in a recent interview. The CDC also has more about the COVID-19 vaccines.

UPDATED SEPTEMBER 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 SEPTEMBER 2, 2022: 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. 

On August 31, 2022, the FDA authorized new bivalent Pfizer and Moderna booster vaccines that target the original virus strain plus the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. On September 1, 2022, the CDC approved the new Pfizer booster for everyone 12 and older, and the new Moderna booster for everyone 18 and older. You can receive the new bivalent booster if it has been at least two months since you completed your primary series or received a previous booster. The original booster dose used for those 12 and older will be discontinued. Johns Hopkins has more about bivalent COVID-19 boosters, with answers to many common questions.

The FDA offers the latest information on the vaccines, and the CDC provides recommendations, information on boosters and age eligibility. 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 SEPT. 27, 2022: 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. Infection during your pregnancy can also cause complications such as having a premature or stillborn baby. Vaccination is safe and effective, and helps keep you as healthy as possible during your pregnancy, which benefits both you and your baby.
 
The CDC has more about COVID-19 vaccines for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and you can also see the most current recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you would like to speak with someone, 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 offer 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 SEPTEMBER 2, 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. The CDC’s COVID-19 Booster Tool can help determine when to get boosters to stay up to date with vaccination. 

At the end of August, 2022, the FDA authorized new bivalent Pfizer and Moderna booster vaccines that target the original virus strain plus the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. On September 1, 2022, the CDC approved this new Pfizer booster for everyone 12 and older, and this new Moderna booster for everyone 18 and older. People can receive the new bivalent booster if it has been at least two months since completion of the primary vaccine series or receipt of a previous booster. The original booster dose used for those 12 and older will be discontinued.  

Some people may be eligible for Evusheld, a medication given to help prevent those who are immunocompromised from getting COVID-19. Yale Medicine offers a comparison of the vaccines, including specific information for immunocompromised people. 

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 SEPT. 30, 2022: Is it possible to get COVID-19 even if I'm up to date on my vaccines?

While you can still get COVID-19 even if you’re up to date with your vaccines and boosters, the vaccines remain effective at keeping you from becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized, or dying from the virus. You can still spread COVID-19 to others even if you have no symptoms yourself, so it’s important to know what to do if you test positive or do develop symptoms.
 
Those who are older, immunocompromised, or have certain medical conditions may have a greater chance of getting infected despite being up to date with vaccines and boosters. Talk to your healthcare provider about additional protective steps you might need to take if you are in one of these groups.

General Questions

UPDATED SEPT. 30, 2022: Do I still need a vaccine or booster if I’ve already had COVID-19 or currently have it?

Even if you or your child already had COVID-19, the CDC recommends that once you’ve recovered, you still get vaccinated and boosted to give your immune system the added protection. This can help you to avoid being hospitalized from a new infection, especially as new variants continue to appear. Find out more about getting vaccinated after having had COVID-19, and the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
 
If you’re currently sick with COVID-19, you should wait to get your vaccine or booster until after you have finished your isolation period. People with symptoms will end isolation at a different time than people with no symptoms, and the online tool in the link can help you calculate the end date. The CDC notes that if you’ve recently had COVID-19, that you may consider delaying your next vaccine dose or booster, by three months from when your symptoms began, or when you first tested positive (if you had no symptoms). However, this could be risky, depending upon factors such as community transmission levels, emerging variants, and your own health conditions, so you may wish to get the vaccine or booster sooner rather than later.

UPDATED SEPT. 27, 2022: Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine/booster with other vaccines?

Yes, you can get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster with your other routine vaccines, such as your flu shot. You don’t need to space them out or wait a certain amount of time between receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and another shot.

The exception is for the monkeypox vaccine. People (especially adolescents and young males) who received a monkeypox (orthopox) vaccine may wish to wait four weeks before getting a Moderna, Novavax, or Pfizer vaccine, because the myocarditis and pericarditis incidence after JYNNEOS vaccination is unknown. However, if you’ve already received a COVID-19 vaccine and are now at risk of monkeypox due to an exposure, you shouldn’t wait to get the monkeypox vaccine.

UPDATED SEPT. 30, 2022: Can I get vaccinated/boosted after getting monoclonal antibodies?

If you were given monoclonal antibody products to treat or prevent COVID-19, you don’t have to delay getting your COVID-19 vaccine or booster afterwards.
 
Immunocompromised people who already received a COVID-19 vaccine and need the pre-exposure prophylaxis monoclonal product Evusheld, are advised to wait at least two weeks before receiving it. See more information at the Pima County Health Department’s COVID-19 treatment page.

UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2, 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 only after 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’s vaccine gained full approval for ages 12 and older on July 8, 2022. It has Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for ages 6 months to 11 years. Moderna’s vaccine gained full FDA approval for ages 18 and older in January, 2022. The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine was granted EUA for adults 18 and older by the FDA on July 13, 2022, and later approved and recommended for use by the FDA and CDC for adolescents aged 12 - 17 on August 22, 2022. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains under EUA for those 18 and older.
 
On August 31, 2022, the FDA authorized new bivalent Pfizer and Moderna booster vaccines that target the original virus strain plus the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. On September 1, 2022, the CDC approved the new Pfizer booster for everyone 12 and older, and the new Moderna booster for everyone 18 and older. You can receive the new bivalent booster if it has been at least two months since you completed your primary series or received a previous booster. The original booster dose used for those 12 and older will be discontinued. Johns Hopkins has more about bivalent COVID-19 boosters, with answers to many common questions.

The FDA offers the latest information on the vaccines, and the CDC provides recommendations, information on boosters and age eligibility. Yale Medicine keeps a regularly-updated comparison of the COVID-19 vaccines. Find a list of places to get a 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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