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COVID-19: Vaccine FAQs

The COVID-19 vaccinations have begun and many are wondering when they’ll be able to get their shots.

The Alabama Department of Public Health recently released the following vaccine FAQs on its website.

Planning for a Vaccine

Q: When will the vaccine be rolled out?

A: The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has started administering the COVID-19 vaccine in our state. We understand everyone is anxious and has questions about the speed of getting the new COVID-19 vaccines administered. There are several factors that determine how fast we are able to get the vaccine in arms. ADPH is currently working to pre-position COVID-19 vaccine in several locations statewide to ensure equitable and timely distribution to federally designated critical populations.

Q: Who will be entitled to it (priority process)?

A: View the Alabama COVID‐19 Vaccination Allocation Plan which defines populations and the order in which they will receive vaccine in four phases. Weekly updates on vaccine administration and availability can be found on our Vaccine page under Prioritization and Availability.

Vaccine Development

Q: How many COVID-19 vaccines are in development?

A: Currently, two vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:

Multiple COVID-19 vaccines are also still under development. Large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials are in progress or being planned for two additional COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

Safety

Q: Is it safe?

A: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully reviews all safety data from clinical trials and authorizes emergency vaccine use only when the expected benefits outweigh potential risks. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews all safety data before recommending any COVID-19 vaccine for use. The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, to make sure even very rare side effects are identified.

Q: What are the side effects?

A: Most people do not have serious problems after being vaccinated. Side effects may feel like flu and even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Often times, people will have symptoms like mild fever, tiredness, and body aches after getting a vaccine. These symptoms are normal and signal your body’s immune response to the vaccine to help you prevent future infections.

Q: How do I report if I have a problem or bad reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccination?

A: CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible side effects (called adverse events) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This national system collects these data to look for adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns of occurrence. Learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event. Reports to VAERS help CDC monitor the safety of vaccines. Safety is a top priority.

Q: Should someone who lives with an autoimmune disorder or has previously had Guillain-Barre syndrome or Bell’s palsy get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Making sure COVID-19 vaccines protect people with certain underlying medical conditions is important. Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to people with underlying medical conditions provided they have not had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.

Getting Vaccinated

Q: Where can I get it?

A: ADPH has no specific timetable on when members of the general public who are not included in earlier phases can be vaccinated. As the supply of vaccine remains limited, ADPH continues to urge the public to practice the measures needed to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Once the vaccine becomes readily available, the public may visit vaccinefinder.org to locate a COVID-19 vaccine provider.

Q: What will it cost? Will my insurance cover it?

A: The COVID-19 vaccine will be free to all Americans. However, recipients of COVID-19 vaccine may be subject to an administration fee charge. Please contact your healthcare provider or health insurance plan for the exact administration fee. If you’re unable to pay the COVID-19 administration fee, you will still be eligible to receive the vaccine at no charge according to federal guidelines.

Q: How many shots of COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?

A: The two authorized and recommended vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States both need two shots to be effective. There is one COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States that uses one shot.

Q: Do I still need to wear a mask when I am vaccinated and respect social distance?

A: Yes. CDC recommends that during the pandemic people wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth when in contact with others outside your household, when in healthcare facilities, and when receiving any vaccine, including a COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove a mask without assistance should not wear a mask.

Q: Can children have it? What would be the side effects for them?

A: A COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for young children until more studies are completed.

Q: How long will my immunity last?

A: COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. Both natural immunity and immunity produced by a vaccine are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

Q: I already had COVID-19 and recovered. Do I still need to get a vaccine?

A: COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. You should not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated. However, anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation. Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired.