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Frequently Asked Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Updated 4/13/21

Availability

Q. Where is the most up-to-date info on vaccine availability at St. Luke’s?
A. St. Luke’s is sharing the most current information with regular updates online and via a recorded information line:

Q. Where is St. Luke's COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic?

A. St. Luke’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic located at the corner of 9th Avenue E. and E. 1st Street on St. Luke's main campus in downtown Duluth.

Q. Who is eligible to get the vaccine?
A. Vaccine eligibility is directed by federal and state authorities. People 16 years of age and over are eligible in Minnesota. Learn more here: https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/whos-getting-vaccinated/vaccinated.jsp.

Q. Can I sign up online to be notified of vaccine eligibility and availability?
A. Yes. Visit VaccineConnector.mn.gov to fill out a form to stay updated on your eligibility for the
COVID-19 vaccine and connect to vaccine opportunities in your area when they become available.

Q. What should I do if I don’t have internet access or need help figuring out where and when I can get the vaccine?
A. The state of Minnesota has created the Vaccine Connector hotline, 1.833.431.2053. You can call for information on your eligibility and availability of the vaccine.


Vaccine Specifics

Q. Which vaccine is St. Luke’s Hospital using?
A. St. Luke’s is primarily administering the Pfizer BioNtech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, which are currently approved for use under Emergency Use Authorization. These vaccines are safe and effective and have undergone rigorous testing from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure safety and efficacy. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are each a 2-dose regimen, with the second dose given 21 days after the first for Pfizer, and 28 days after the first for Moderna. Second doses are scheduled when you come in for your first dose. The Janssen/J&J COVID-19 vaccine is a single-dose. These vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19 illness and hospitalizations.

More detailed information from the CDC can be found here.

Q. Where can I find the Emergency Use Authorizations for the COVID-19 vaccines?
A: Visit slhduluth.com/COVIDVaccineEUA.

Q. Are there any reasons I should wait to have the vaccine?
A. There are a few reasons why you may need to wait to receive a vaccine:

  • If you currently have COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms
  • If you are quarantined because of an exposure to COVID-19
  • If you have received a live virus vaccine in the past 2 weeks (i.e. MMR, varicella)
  • If you have received Monoclonal Antibody Therapy or Convalescent Plasma in the past 90 days

Q: Can COVID-19 vaccine be given to pregnant or breastfeeding women?
A. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consult your doctor. The Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recommends that those who are prioritized for vaccination be offered the current mRNA vaccine if pregnant. Additionally, the Academy for Immunization Practices (ACIP) stated that those who are recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and are pregnant or breastfeeding may choose to be vaccinated.

While there are no data yet on the safety of mRNA vaccines on pregnant or breastfeeding women and infants, mRNA vaccines are not considered live virus vaccines and are not thought to be a risk to pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Q. Will it cost anything to receive the vaccine?
A. No. There are no out-of-pocket costs for people who receive the vaccine. Private insurance companies and government insurance programs like Medicare will fully cover the cost of the vaccine. For those who are uninsured, the cost will be fully covered.


Vaccine Effectiveness

Q. When will I have protection from COVID-19 after the vaccines?
A. A. It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines that require 2 shots may not protect you until 1-2 weeks after the second shot.

Q. Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me a COVID-19 infection?
A. No, none of the vaccines that St. Luke’s is using contain a live COVID-19 virus.

Q. What are the risks of not getting vaccinated?
A. While many people who get COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness or they may even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. If you get sick, you also may spread the disease to friends, family and others around you.

Q. How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19 before I can receive the vaccine?
A. You should continue to follow CDC and department of health recommendations to decrease your risk of acquiring COVID-19 through methods like covering your nose and mouth with a mask when around others outside of your household, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds and washing your hands frequently.


Vaccine Side Effects

Q. What are the common responses to the COVID-19 vaccine?
A. You may have some minor side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. The common responses to these vaccines are: pain or swelling in the arm where you got your shot, fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and joint aches. These are typically mild to moderate and generally resolve within 1-2 days. Responses for 2-dose vaccines are more common after the 2nd dose, and are more frequent and severe in 18-55 year olds than those greater than 55 years.

Cough, shortness of breath, a runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste or smell are NOT consistent with post-vaccination symptoms.

Q. Is it safe to get the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna if I had a reaction to the first dose?
A. Yes, you should get the second dose even if you had side effects from the first dose, unless a vaccine provider or your doctor tells you not to get a second shot. When you go in for your second dose, be sure to let the vaccinator know what side affects you had.

Q. Will the vaccine cause sterility or infertility?
A. Social media articles have circulated regarding the vaccine’s potential impact on infertility. However, the claims are not based on any reliable scientific evidence. There is no scientific evidence from the current studies that the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine causes infertility in men or women.


Vaccine for those who had COVID-19 or are feeling ill

Q. If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
A. Yes. There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again (called natural immunity). Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. Since natural immunity is known to be good for at least 3 months after contracting COVID-19, those who were previously infected with COVID-19 can elect to delay their vaccine up to 90 days from their positive test if they so choose.

You should be well, fever-free and not in an isolation or quarantine period when you get your COVID-19 vaccine. Those who received Monoclonal Antibody Therapy or Convalescent Plasma treatment must wait 90 days to receive the vaccine.

Q. Do I have to be symptom-free to get the vaccine?
A. Like any other vaccine, you don’t want to have a fever or obvious illness because your immune system is already working to fight something off. In addition, you won’t know what side effects you’re having from the vaccine. You should defer your date until you’re feeling better.

Q. If I get the COVID-19 vaccine and take a COVID-19 test, will it come back positive?
A. No, the vaccine will not cause you to test positive on a COVID-19 test. If/when your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on an antibody blood test.


Reasons to get the vaccine

Q. Why is a vaccine needed if we can do other things, like social distancing and wearing masks, to prevent the virus from spreading?
A. Stopping a pandemic requires using all available tools. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following the CDC’s recommendations on how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

Q. Should I continue to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have received 2 doses of the vaccine?
A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published interim public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people. Learn more.

Q. What percentage of the population needs to get vaccinated to have herd immunity
to COVID-19?

A. Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. Herd immunity is generally thought to be achieved when 60-70% of a population is immune. However, the percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19.

Q. Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than protection from the COVID-19 vaccine?
A. The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus hasn’t been around long, we don’t know how well natural immunity might last.

Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have more data on how well it works under real-life conditions in a broader population over time.

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about.