COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions:
As an organization committed to the good of the community, Augusta Health continues to keep the community informed about COVID-19. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority, and the U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Here is a list of some frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. This list will be updated as news and data regarding the COVID-19 vaccine develops.
When can I get the Vaccine?
Augusta Health is working in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health and the Central Shenandoah Health District (CSHD) .
Everyone age 16 and older, who lives, works, or goes to school in the Central Shenandoah Health District is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine through Augusta Health.
Pfizer is authorized for those 16 and over; Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are authorized for those 18 and over
How do I schedule my vaccine?
Community members can schedule their vaccinations by clicking Vaccine Appointments in the menu above.
Schedule an appointment by clicking on the link. IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW that if you do not meet the criteria connected to a specific clinic, your appointment will be canceled and you will be asked to return at a clinic that matches your eligibility. Even with a system-generated confirmation, the appointment will be canceled if you do not match the criteria at the time of appointment. Community members may check the website daily to see what clinics have been added.
Should I still pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine at vaccinate.virginia.gov?
Yes, the CSHD continues to offer clinics for eligible community members outside of Augusta Health. If the health district knows that you are interested in receiving your vaccination this will hopefully aid in quickly and effectively distributing the vaccine.
How will future clinics be determined?
As vaccine supply increases and more of the current priority group are vaccinated, the criteria for Vaccination Clinics will be expanded. Our goal, along with our partners, is to vaccinate everyone in the community who wants a vaccine as quickly as possible.
How much does the vaccine cost?
The vaccine is FREE —at no cost to you.
What vaccines are being offered? Is there a difference in the vaccines?
Currently, three different manufacturers are making COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Augusta Health is currently vaccinating using Pfizer and Moderna and has ceased use of Johnson & Johnson at this time. For more details on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, please click here. When signing up for an appointment, you will be aware of the vaccination that will be given at that particular clinic.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick?
The COVID-19 vaccination will not make you sick with COVID. You may experience side effects from the vaccine that mimic some of the symptoms such as muscle aches, low grade fever or mild malaise (you just don’t feel good). These are actually a sign that your immune system is working to produce an immune response.
It takes about two weeks for the body to build full immunity. So it is possible that while you are building immunity, if you are exposed to the COVID-19 virus, you could become infected with it.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me test positive for COVID?
Vaccination will not cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you are currently infected. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility that you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate that you have had a previous infection and that you have some level of protection against the virus.
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I currently have COVID-19?
No, even if asymptomatic for COVID-19, vaccination should be postponed. While mild illness is not a contraindication to vaccination, medical visits for those with COVID-19 should be postponed to avoid exposing others to the virus.
I have already had COVID-19. Do I still need to be vaccinated?
Due to severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, you are encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you have been sick with COVID-19 before. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person.
Will receiving an mRNA vaccine like the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines alter my DNA?
mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and can most easily be described as instructions for how to make a protein or even just a piece of protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA).
Are there any allergies that should keep a person from getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
Allergic reactions to the current COVID-19 vaccines are rare and the vast majority of people are tolerating these vaccines without any allergy symptoms. Persons with an allergy to polyethylene glycol, to polysorbate or to a first dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) should not receive one of the mRNA vaccines. Persons with an allergy to polysorbate should not receive a Johnson and Johnson vaccine. For all other allergies, we believe it is safe to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For instance, persons with allergies to antibiotics, bee stings, contrast dye, food allergies, or with other medicine allergies can safely receive these vaccines. We will answer questions about allergies when you come for your vaccine.
If I am immunocompromised, can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The current vaccines are not live attenuated vaccines, and appear safe to administer in immunocompromised populations. According to Anthony Fauci, MD, “Patients with compromised immune systems, whether due to chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant, should plan to be vaccinated against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) when they have the chance”
If I am pregnant or lactating, can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Pregnant and lactating women should consult with their OB/GYN before receiving the vaccine. Pregnant women were not included in clinical trials leading up to the vaccine’s authorization, but according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be withheld from pregnant women who are eligible for vaccination based on priority groups outlined by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. In addition, vaccination should be offered to lactating women based on their priority group.
Will I have to get this vaccine every year?
Currently, we do not know if this will become a seasonal vaccine. Much will depend on how many people are vaccinated and how quickly herd immunity can be achieved and how effective the current vaccines are against COVID-19 variants.
Will I still need to wear a mask and socially distance after being vaccinated?
Yes. While the vaccine protects you from getting sick, we do not know that it will completely prevent you from giving COVID-19 to an unvaccinated person. It’s important for everyone to continue using all tools available to stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often.
Is the COVID vaccine recommended for children under the age of 18?
Currently, Pfizer is the only vaccine recommended for children age 16+. Both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are recommended for those 18+. Minors must have a parent or guardian present for all vaccination appointments.