How do I get the vaccine?
Initially, vaccines will be available in a phased approach beginning with those at highest risk of exposure. As vaccines become more readily available, additional groups will become eligible. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available by appointment only. Currently, the supply of vaccines is very limited so access to appointments may not be immediately available.
As distribution varies from state-to-state, please visit our state specific page for more detailed information about vaccine distribution in your area, to see if you are eligible and for registration information.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
The vaccine development has followed a thorough review process. Although the development timeline for COVID-19 vaccines has been considerably shortened compared to other vaccine development timelines, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has emphasized that the same strict quality, safety and efficacy guidelines are being met.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA confirm that the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risk of COVID-19.
Did the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines undergo testing in clinical trials?
Yes, at this point, more than 70,000 patients have participated in clinical trials of the two authorized vaccines. Clinical trials are the primary way researchers determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. The FDA utilized data from the clinical trials and determined two vaccines were ready to be authorized for emergency use authorization (EUA).
The clinical trials for these two vaccines are ongoing and continue to enroll more participants from previously unstudied populations such as children under the age of 16.
How was this vaccine developed so fast when others take years to develop?
Although the development timeline has been faster than vaccines in the past, this does not mean safety measures were skipped. There are many reasons why the COVID-19 vaccines were developed more quickly including:
- Researchers were able to leverage previous coronavirus and vaccine research.
- Scientists were able to use advanced technology, including the type of vaccine (mRNA) developed for COVID-19 by both Pfizer and Moderna, to more quickly develop vaccines. While a new technology, mRNA vaccines have been studied for more than a decade.
- The vaccine development received record financial support which provided vaccine developers with extensive resources.
- Scientists from around the world were all focused on the development of a vaccine to combat COVID-19 which provided many potential vaccine candidates.
Did the clinical trials include participants from different races and ethnicities?
More than 70,000 patients enrolled in clinical trials, and 37% of the clinical trial volunteers were from racial and ethnic minority populations. Recognizing the disproportionate impact of the epidemic on underrepresented racial and ethnic communities, investigators worked with community engagement partners to enroll a diverse of pool of participants.
What is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)?
The FDA can issue an EUA during a public health emergency for vaccines that have been proven safe and effective in large (phase III) clinical trials and when certain criteria has been met.
How well does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
The vaccines are more than 94% effective according to Pfizer and Moderna. These vaccines are given in two shots, one at a time and spaced apart. If you are told you need two shots, make sure you get them both.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine necessary?
COVID-19 vaccination will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic. Prevention measures such as wearing masks, washing your hands, avoiding crowds and physical distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Public health officials and medical experts believe vaccination is an important step in helping to prevent or lessen the effects of this illness.
Is one of the COVID-19 vaccines better than the others?
The FDA will evaluate all vaccines using the same thorough review process regardless of manufacturer. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to be at least 94% effective.
Will the vaccine give me COVID-19?
The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain SARS-CoV-2 and will not give you COVID-19. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. You may have symptoms like a fever after you get any vaccine. This is normal and a sign that your immune system is learning how to recognize and fight the virus.
Have recipients experienced adverse events or side effects from the vaccine?
Most people experience few, or only mild, side effects. Side effects have been similar to the flu vaccine. There is a remote chance that the vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose of the vaccine. You will be asked to stay for 15 minutes following your vaccination appointment to ensure you have no reaction. These may not be all of the possible side effects of the vaccine as it is still being studied in clinical trials.
Are side effects of the vaccine worse than COVID-19?
Most people experience few, or only mild, side effects. Side effects have been similar to the flu vaccine, such as soreness around the injection site or a fever. This is normal and a sign that your immune system is learning how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19 and any symptoms that you experience should be short-lived.
How many shots of the COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?
Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine require two consecutive injections, 21 or 28 days apart depending on which vaccine you receive, to be effective. When you schedule your initial vaccine, you will also be scheduled for your second dose. These appointments will be scheduled at the same location. Please be sure that you are available for your second appointment prior to receiving your first.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?
The FDA has authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 16 years of age and older. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is only authorized for individuals 18 years of age and older.
Clinical trials continue to expand those recruited to participate. The groups recommended to receive the vaccines could change in the future.
If I have allergies, can I receive the vaccine?
Those with allergies should not assume they can’t get the vaccine.
If you have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or medications (food, pet, venom, environmental or latex) the CDC is recommending that you receive the vaccine.
If you have a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions, the CDC is recommending that you still receive the vaccine.
If you have had an immediate allergic reaction – even if not severe – to vaccine or injectable therapy for another disease, talk to your doctor before considering the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, you should not get one of the available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
If I have an underlying medical condition, can I receive the vaccine?
Those with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to you provided you have not had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. If you have any concerns, you should connect with your provider before receiving the vaccine.
I have COVID-19 right now, should I get the vaccine?
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.
Can I stop wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others after I have been vaccinated?
Following established safety precautions that include masking, hand washing and physical distancing is a critical defense in preventing the spread of COVID-19. After receiving the vaccine, those safety measures should continue.
Does receiving the vaccine mean I could spread COVID-19 to others?
None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the virus that causes COVID-19, and therefore receiving the vaccine does not give you the ability to spread the virus.
Because it takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity to protect you against the virus that causes COVID-19, it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
We know not everyone will be able to get vaccinated right away, so even after you get the vaccine it will be important to continue to follow safety guidelines: wear a mask, wash your hands and remain at least six feet away from others.
How does our ministry feel about use of the new Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine and do we have any moral concerns about its use?
We stand with the Catholic Health Association and their recent statement about COVID-19 vaccines and the use of Janssen/J&J’s newly developed vaccine.
"The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) is encouraged that another COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson has met FDA requirements for emergency use authorization.
"Because COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, low-income communities, persons with pre-existing health conditions, and racial and ethnic minorities, CHA believes it is essential that any approved COVID-19 vaccine be distributed in a coordinated and equitable manner.
"Using the guidelines released by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life in 2005 and 2017 on the origin of vaccines, and the Vatican's December 21, 2020 Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, CHA ethicists, in collaboration with other Catholic bioethicists, find it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson, as well as Pfizer and Moderna. CHA encourages Catholic health organizations to distribute the vaccines developed by these companies.
"CHA applauds the work of the scientists who have developed these vaccines and will continue to work to support efforts to educate the public about the importance of getting vaccinated.”