The Vermont Dept. of Health and health officials across the globe urge all adults ages 16-plus to get vaccinated for Covid-19 as soon as they’re eligible to help stop the spread of the disease and its variants — we all must do our part and get vaccinated so that we can once again return to normal life safely. In order to aid understanding and overcome any lingering hesitency, the Vermont Dept. of Health has published answers to frequently ask questions (FAQs), some of which appear below.
Above all, Vermont health officials want the public to know:
- Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
- Side effects after vaccination are usually mild and are normal.
- It typically takes two weeks after you are fully vaccinated for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes Covid-19.
- People who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
Can I still infect someone with the Covid-19 virus after I’ve been fully vaccinated?
You may not be protected from Covid-19 until you are fully vaccinated, which is 14 days after your final shot. While the vaccine protects you from serious illness, health experts don’t know yet if you can give the virus to someone else, how long the protection lasts, or how well the vaccines protect against the newer variants.
However, some recent studies suggest that a person who is vaccinated is less likely to infect other people with the Covid-19 virus. Until more research is done, it is important that you continue to follow the prevention steps, like wearing a mask, keeping 6 feet apart, and washing your hands, and to follow the social gathering guidelines, even after you’ve been vaccinated.
Can I take medicines before or after my vaccine?
If you regularly take pain relievers like aspirin, acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) or ibuprofen (for example, Motrin, Advil), allergy or other medications for medical conditions, continue to do so as directed by your health care provider or as needed.
Before your vaccination, do not take pain relievers or allergy medication to avoid side effects or allergic reactions caused by the injection. Allergy medications do not prevent a serious allergic reaction. They may hide symptoms that would tell a health care provider to treat an allergic reaction. Pain relievers may also limit the vaccine from making a strong immune response.
After your vaccine, you can take pain relievers for any side effects you may have from the vaccine to help you feel better.
Do I have a choice of which vaccine I get? Which vaccine should I get?
If you are making an appointment through the Health Department system, you will see the name of the vaccine listed after the “event” description. However, there is no way to search for an appointment based on which vaccine is available. Currently, most clinics are offering the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines (two-dose), and some are offering the Johnson & Johnson (single dose) vaccine. Note: that when you are scheduling an appointment for people age 16 and 17, only sites with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will show up since that is the only vaccine that has been authorized for people age 16 and 17. You may need to look at other sites if nothing comes up in your county.
For the two-dose vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna), you should get the same vaccine for both your first and second dose. You will also be given a card with the name of the vaccine you received when you get your first shot. If you have a smartphone, you may want to take a picture of the card in case you misplace it.
All three vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) are considered safe and similarly effective at preventing severe illness and death. This standard is what is most commonly used to assess other vaccines like the flu shot. Health experts cannot directly compare the effectiveness of the three vaccines because they were not studied against each other at the same time. Each clinical trial had different study protocols, timing and location. For example, variants weren’t widely circulating when the earlier vaccines were being tested.
The vaccines available have similar side effects. Side effects are a normal way that your body builds immunity to Covid-19.
Do I need to wait to get my vaccination if I am under quarantine or isolation?
If you are under quarantine, you can leave quarantine to get your first or second dose of the vaccine. However, if you have symptoms of Covid-19, contact your health care provider. You will need to stay home and reschedule your appointment.
If you tested positive for Covid-19 and are still in your isolation period, you will need to wait to get your first or second dose until you are able to end your isolation.
There are enough appointment slots available for everyone who is eligible. You will be able to easily get another appointment.
How do I know if my symptoms are from the vaccine or sickness from Covid-19?
It takes time for the vaccine to train your body to fight Covid-19. You may not be protected from Covid-19 until you are fully vaccinated, which is 14 days after your final shot. This is why it is so important to continue following the prevention steps, like wearing a mask, keeping 6 feet apart, and washing your hands, and to follow the social gathering guidelines, even after you’ve been vaccinated.
It may be hard to tell the difference between side effects from the vaccine and symptoms from sickness if you get infected with Covid-19 between vaccine doses. While everyone’s reaction may be different, vaccine side effects usually start within 12 to 24 hours after your vaccination. They should go away within a few days.
If symptoms get worse or last longer than a few days, contact your health care provider. They should be able to suggest next steps and maybe a Covid-19 test. Getting the vaccine will not affect your Covid-19 test results.
How long does it take for the vaccine to protect me from getting Covid-19?
You may not be protected from Covid-19 until you are fully vaccinated, which is 14 days after your final shot. It takes time for the vaccine to train your body to fight Covid-19.
The vaccine protects you from serious illness, but health experts don’t know for sure if you can give the virus to someone else. Some recent studies suggest that a person who is vaccinated is less likely to infect other people with the Covid-19 virus. Until enough people are vaccinated and health experts know more, it is important to continue following the prevention steps, like wearing a mask, keeping 6 feet apart, and washing your hands, and to follow the social gathering guidelines, even after you’ve been vaccinated.
How long does protection from the vaccine last?
According to the CDC, health experts don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. What health experts do know is that Covid-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get Covid-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a
Covid-19 vaccination is a safer choice.
Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and immunity from being vaccinated. The CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
How much does the Covid-19 vaccination cost?
Covid-19 vaccinations are free, even if you don’t have health insurance.
The provider that gives you your vaccination may charge an administrative fee to your insurance. If you don’t have insurance, there is a federal grant that will pay for any administrative fees.
When you make an appointment to be vaccinated, you may be asked to provide your health insurance information. Insurance is not required, and someone who doesn’t have insurance will still be able to get a vaccination. But being able to bill someone’s primary insurance does help offset some of the costs.
I lost my vaccination card. How do I get a new one?
Once you get your proof of vaccination card, put it in a safe place so you don’t lose it. You can keep it in your wallet or store it with other important documents. You can also take a picture of it with your smartphone, if you have one. You may need to show your card when you travel, so be sure to carry it with you and be prepared to show it when asked.
If your vaccine requires a second dose, you should have been scheduled for your second dose at the clinic where you received your first dose. Health experts recommend bringing your proof of vaccination card to your second dose appointment, but it is not required.
If you misplace the card, the Vermont Immunization Registry has your vaccination record. You can request a record of your vaccine from the Immunization Registry directly or through your health care provider. To request it directly through the Immunization Registry, email email@example.com or call 888-688-4667 and select option 3. You can get a copy of your record as an encrypted email or through the mail. On weekdays, you can expect an email within an hour or two. Mail will take about one week.
I’m afraid of or triggered by needles. How can I get the vaccine?
Many people are afraid of getting vaccinations because they are often given with a needle. Although the prick may be painless, the physical reaction inside you is very real.
There are ways to overcome these fears through conditioning and practice. This can help you get the Covid-19 vaccine and other lifesaving vaccines or medical treatments you may need during your life.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Talk to your provider about what you can expect. Knowing what is coming can help.
- Remember to breathe. This helps calm your body and mind.
- Distract yourself from the procedure. Fix your focus on something else like a magazine or bring a support person to help.
- Look away from the needle.
- Think positive thoughts. Tell yourself that you are getting a shot for protection. Tell yourself you can do it. Then the more you do it, the easier it should be next time.
Should I be vaccinated if I have or had Covid-19?
If you had Covid-19 and are recovered, you may be vaccinated or choose to wait for up to three months. It is uncommon to get infected with Covid-19 again within the first three months of your initial infection.
If you currently have Covid-19, please wait until you have recovered before being vaccinated. If you had monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of Covid-19 treatment, wait for at least 90 days before getting your vaccination to avoid interfering with your treatment.
Should I/can I get a Covid-19 vaccine with other vaccines?
The Covid-19 vaccine should be given alone. Wait at least 14 days between the Covid-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including the shingles vaccine.
Should I get the vaccine if I have a medical condition?
In clinical studies, Covid-19 vaccines were just as effective for people with and without medical conditions. In fact, people with some conditions are more likely to get very sick if they get Covid-19, so getting vaccinated could be even more important.
If you are unsure if you should get the vaccine, talk to your health care provider about any conditions you have. If you do not have a health care provider, call 2-1-1 to be connected to care, or contact the nearest federally qualified health center or one of Vermont’s free and referral clinics.
What can I do after I get a shot?
Remember, you are not fully vaccinated until 14 days after your final shot. Until you are fully vaccinated, you should follow the same guidance as unvaccinated people.
Continue taking steps to prevent Covid-19, except as described below. You should still watch out for symptoms of Covid-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of Covid-19, you should call your health care provider to get tested and stay home and away from others.
The vaccine protects you from illness, but health experts don’t know for sure if you can give the virus to someone else.
What can I do after I am fully vaccinated?
You may gather with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart.
You may also gather with unvaccinated people from one household without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart, as long as everyone in that household is at low risk.
You may travel to or return to Vermont without getting tested.
If you are a close contact of someone with Covid-19, as long as you do not have symptoms and are not in a health care setting, you do not need to seek testing or quarantine.
What should I know about the vaccine’s side effects?
Side effects from the vaccine are normal signs that your body is building protection against Covid-19. They might even affect your daily activities but should go away in a few days. Common side effects are: pain, swelling or redness on the arm where you got the shot, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle or joint pain, fever, nausea or vomiting.
When do I need to get my second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine?
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccinations are two shots, given 21 or 28 days apart respectively. Both of them are over 94% effective with two doses.
For the vaccine to be the most effective and help prevent you from getting Covid-19, it’s best to get your second shot as close to the recommended schedule as possible. It is okay to get your shot four days before the recommended schedule. But if you miss your second dose, get it as soon as you can. However, if you are not able to get it close to the recommended schedule, it is okay to get it up to 42 days after your first dose. There is limited data on how effective the vaccine is, if the second dose is given after 42 days.
Health experts recommend bringing your vaccine card to your second appointment, but it is not required. Health experts also recommend getting your second dose at the same place you got your first dose to be sure that you get the same vaccine.
Why can’t children and adolescents get the Covid-19 vaccine?
Children’s immune systems are different at different ages. They are also different from adults’. This means that the vaccine studies need to be repeated with children. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have started vaccine trials with children as young as age 12. Johnson & Johnson plans to have clinical trials with children starting soon as well.
If the trials are successful, there will be the usual review processes before the vaccines can be approved for emergency use and then produced for distribution. This process can take a while, especially for very young ages, which are usually tested last. Currently only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for people 16 years and 17 years old. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines are authorized for people 18 years and older. Because children cannot get vaccinated at this time, they will need to get tested when they travel and are not considered part of a fully vaccinated household. Learn more about traveling out of state and gathering restrictions.
Why do I need two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine?
Two doses of these vaccines are scientifically proven to be highly effective in preventing Covid-19. Since the beginning, Vermont health officials have followed the science. Participants in the clinical trials who did not receive both doses were not followed for a long period of time, so health experts do not know for sure how well or how long one dose will protect you.
A two-dose vaccine is not new. For some vaccines, like hepatitis B, shingles and HPV, two doses produce longer-lasting protection. While the first dose gets your immune system ready and offers some protection, the second dose boosts that protection by using your body’s new immune cells it created after the first dose. This “booster” increases the strength of your new antibody protection and makes it last longer.
Am I protected against variants?
Taking the full course of vaccine offers better protection against variants of the virus than a single dose. In fact, being only partially vaccinated, for example getting only one dose of a two-dose vaccine, could increase the risk of vaccine-resistant variants of the virus that causes Covid-19. This is because the virus could be weakened with some antibody protection, but not stopped completely, creating the potential for the virus to mutate.
Some people experience stronger side effects after the second shot. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have equal doses in their first and second shots, but for some, stronger side effects are part of their body’s normal immune reaction to that “boost” in protection. Common side effects reported were pain at the injection site, fever, chills, tiredness and headache. These side effects typically go away within a few days.
Whether you experience side effects or not, rest assured the vaccine is working to protect you, your family and your community.
For more information visit: HealthVermont.gov/Covid