Frequently Asked COVID-19 Vaccine Questions
Quarantine & Isolation After Vaccination
I’ve had my first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, but now I’m a close contact, do I still need to quarantine?
If I’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do I still need to quarantine?
No, so long as they meet the following critieria:
Note – MCCHD is requiring emailed documentation of the completed vaccine series, once documentation is received and confirmed by our team, individuals will be formerly released from quarantine and offered a release from quarantine letter.
If I’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and test positive do I need to isolate?
Yes, the CDC does not yet know if those who are fully vaccinated can still transmit the virus to others and they recommend that those who are fully vaccinated isolate if they contract COVID-19.
If I’ve received one COVID-19 vaccine dose and test positive do I need to isolate?
Yes, one dose does not provide full protection against COVID-19, so if you contract COVID-19 after getting one dose you will need to isolate to ensure you don’t pass on the virus to others. Those isolating for COVID-19 should not break isolation to get their second dose. Please let the provider you scheduled your second dose with know that you cannot make your second dose appointment due to isolation, and figure out an alternative date with your provider for your second dose. <gdiv></gdiv>
What is v-safe?
V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And v-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one. <gdiv></gdiv>
I do not have a smart phone, how can I enroll in v-safe?
You will need a smartphone with a modern browser and access to the internet to participate.
Is v-safe free?
How do I stop participating in v-safe?
Participation is voluntary and you can opt out at any time. To opt out, simply text “STOP” when v-safe sends you a text message. You can also start v-safe again by texting “START.”
Is there a time limit to sign up for v-safe?
If you would like to participate in v-safe, you must sign up within 42 days of getting your first COVID-19 vaccine dose.
How long do v-safe check-ins last?
Is my health information safe on v-safe?
Yes. Your personal information in v-safe is protected so that it stays confidential and private. To the extent v–safe uses existing information systems managed by CDC, FDA, and other federal agencies, the systems employ strict security measures appropriate for the data’s level of sensitivity.
How does my participation in v-safe make a difference?
By participating in v-safe, you can tell CDC if you have any side effects after a COVID-19 vaccine. This information helps CDC monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in near real time. If any serious health problems are reported, they can be quickly investigated by CDC’s medical experts and scientists. In addition, traditional vaccine safety systems, such as Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), will also be used to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. These systems are part of the nation’s comprehensive approach to vaccine safety.
What if I have a health problem I think is related to my COVID-19 vaccination between v-safe check-ins or after I’ve finished v-safe?
If at any time you have symptoms or health problems following COVID-19 vaccination that concern you, please contact your healthcare provider. In addition to your participation in v-safe, you can also report your experience to VAERS.
How do I report a bad reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine?
How do I know if I am at risk for anaphylaxis shock from the COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC recommends that residents who have allergies that are unrelated to vaccines or injectable therapies get vaccinated. If you have ever had an immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Residents with allergies unrelated to vaccines and injectable therapies should still get vaccinated. People who are allergic to PEG or polysorbate should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. If you have additional concerns about allergens of your reaction to vaccines, your doctor is your best resource to advise if you should get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Safety Before, During and After Vaccination
Do I still need to wear a mask and social distance once I get both vaccine doses?
Yes. The CDC recommends people continue to wear masks and social distance around unvaccinated individuals. Fully vaccinated individuals can interact normally, without masks or distancing, as they would have before the pandemic. However, fully vaccinated individuals are still required to follow COVID-19 mitigation rules, such as the mask mandate, while they are out in public. <gdiv></gdiv>
Do I still need to wear a mask while getting the vaccine?
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.
I just recently got another vaccine, is it okay for me to still get a COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC recommends individuals do not get any other vaccine two weeks before or two weeks following their COVID-19 vaccination. This applies to the first dose and the booster dose.
Is it safe for me to get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying health condition?
Residents with underlying health conditions can receive the COVID-19 vaccine provided they have not had an immediate allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies. Vaccination is an important consideration for those with underlying conditions due to their increased risk of complications due to COVID-19. You can learn more about vaccination considerations for persons with underlying medical conditions.
Are existing vaccines effective against the new strains of COVID-19?
In an alert sent to all health care providers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration noted data suggests current COVID-19 vaccines are still effective against the latest reported variations of the virus. The available vaccines offer such a high immune response that some decrease in efficacy is acceptable and will still offer protection.
If I receieve the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, Is my second dose guaranteed?
DPHHS plans for second doses when they administer first doses to a vaccine distributors. They have a system in place to make sure there will be a second dose for you. Most vaccine distributors in the county will schedule your second dose during your appointment for your first dose. If your provider hasn't mentioned a process for your second dose appointment, before or during your first dose appointment, you should reach out to them and get clarification on their process for booking second dose appointments.
If I am a minor, can I come to my vaccine appointment unattended?
No. If you are a minor who is elgible for the COVID-19 vaccine (16+), you must be accompanied by a legal guardian.
Child, Pregnant, Breastfeeding Vaccination Questions
Will a COVID-19 vaccine be available to children?
The FDA has not approved the use of COVID-19 vaccines in children yet. Both Moderna and Pfizer recently started vaccine trials in children, but it is unknown when children will be cleared to get vaccinated. <gdiv></gdiv>
I am pregnant, is it okay for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
I am breastfeeding, is it okay for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
There is no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or on the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion. mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. People who are breastfeeding and are part of an eligible phase to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, may choose to be vaccinated.
I am a minor, can I go to my COVID-19 vaccine appointment alone?
No. Minors who are eligible to be vaccinated (16+), must be accompanied by a legal guardian.
When will there be enough vaccines for everyone?
On March 28th, Missoula County opened up vaccine appointment eligibility to all county residents ages 16 and older. <gdiv></gdiv>
What are mRNA vaccines?
How was the vaccine development timeline accelerated while ensuring safety?
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How long will my COVID-19 vaccine be effective for?
The CDC is still working to figure out how long both COVID-19 vaccines will be effective for. At this point, it is unclear if people will need to get a COVID-19 vaccine yearly.
What is the Missoula County COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Team’s role in vaccine distribution?
The Missoula County COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Team is not receiving its own allocations of vaccine. The team is composed of Office of Emergency Management Employees, who often work on natural disasters. This team is acting as a coordinating partner for vaccine distributors to help them set up mass clinics and plans to help connect eligible people with vaccine providers.
Is there a difference between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are RNA-based vaccines that will require two doses. The Pfizer vaccine doses must be taken 3 weeks apart; the Moderna doses, four weeks apart. These second doses will not be interchangeable. For example, if someone gets a Pfizer vaccine first they will need Pfizer for their second dose. Studies show the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are 94% to 95% effective once both doses have been administered and had time to take effect in the body.
How long will the vaccine take to kick in?
The CDC says vaccines take a few weeks to “kick in”. In those weeks, your body is building an immune response against the virus. While a single dose of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine will provide a small amount of immunity, the second booster dose is critical for a person to get their maximum protection against COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine offers protection from a one-dose regiment, but this vaccine still takes a few weeks to develop its full immune response.
If I have had COVID-19, do I still need to get the vaccine?
According to the CDC, “Due to the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long. We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.”
Will a COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID-19?
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19, so they cannot give people COVID-19. However, the goal for each vaccine is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.
Will a COVID-19 vaccine cause me to test positive on a COVID-19 test?
What is the purpose of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
According to the CDC, “While many people with 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 while you are sick. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.”
Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?
According to the CDC, “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 a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.”
Will the vaccine be free?
You won't have to pay for the vaccine itself. The CDC confirms vaccine doses purchased with U.S. Taxpayer dollars will be free to the public. However, you may be asked to pay for costs, mostly staff, that are needed to administer the vaccine. If you have insurance, a claim can be filed by your provider to recoup a small fee from your insurance provider for costs associated with administering the vaccine. This fee will not be passed on to you. Whether you have insurance or not, you will not need to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine.
If masks and social distancing work, why do I need the vaccine?
The CDC says stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. 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 CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
What percentage of the population needs to get vaccinated for herd immunity?
Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. 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. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people don’t have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.
If your doctor is in Missoula and you live in a different county, can you get immunized in Missoula County?
If your doctor is in Missoula and has chosen to give COVID-19 vaccines, you may be able to get vaccinated by your doctor even if you live out of county.
You will NOT be eligible, however, for vaccines administered by the Missoula City-County Health Department and the mass vaccine clinics it may offer.
I am an American Indian, where should I get vaccinated?
While American Indians are eligible for clinics ran by Indian Health Services, that is not their only option. American Indians are also welcome to get vaccinated at all public clinics in Missoula County. Your private health care provider may also be registered to give COVID-19 vaccine. <gdiv></gdiv>
I lost my COVID-19 vaccine card, how can I replace it or prove I have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine?
You should contact the provider who administered your first dose. You will need/want to replace the card which includes the date(s) of your doses and the type of vaccine you received.
I missed my appointment for my booster shot, how do I schedule another one ASAP?
Contact the provider who administered your first shot and schedule your 2nd dose.
I missed my appointment for my booster shot, how soon do I need to get another shot so that it still takes full effect?
For Moderna – the Emergency Use Authorization provides information for efficacy when 2nd dose received at 28 days after the first dose. It can be administered up to 4 days earlier without any change in efficacy. There is no data on the efficacy if the second dose is administered after the 28 days.
Does it matter if my booster is a different brand than my first shot?
Vaccine Scheduling & Logistics
How will I be notified when it is my turn to get the vaccine?
As of March 28, all county residents ages 16 and older are eligible to book vaccine appointments at www.covid19.missoula.co. Most primary care providers who have access to the COVID-19 vaccine are reaching out to their existing patient base to inform them of their eligibility to get vaccinated and schedule an appointment. Not all primary care providers in Missoula County will be able to give out the vaccine. Those folks will likely need to get vaccinated at public clinics hosted by the University of Montana and/or the Missoula City-County Health Department. To see which primary care providers are reaching out to patients to schedule appointements visit covid19.missoula.co. <gdiv></gdiv>
How do I schedule a vaccine?
Do I have to get my first shot and booster at the same place?
How is prioritization decided while the vaccine is limited?
What if I forget which brand of vaccine I got for my first shot?
Am I required to wait 15 minutes after receiving vaccine to be monitored for adverse reactions?
What do I need to bring when I am scheduled for the vaccine?
Where are all the places I can go to receive the vaccine in Missoula County?
Can I travel out of the County to get the vaccine?
Do I have to be a university student or employee to receive my vaccine at the Adam’s Center mass vaccination clinic?
What’s the time between the first and second shot for the vaccine?
I have health insurance, do I bring my card with me to get the vaccine? Is there a copay?
I’m uninsured—is there an out-of-pocket expense?
Is one vaccine better than the other approved vaccine(s)?
What is the difference between a mRNA vaccine and a Ad26 vaccine?
Will the different vaccines be distributed to certain clinics or demographics?
The vaccines are functionally similar in efficacy and safety. The Pfizer vaccine is the most logistically challenging due to the advanced freezer it requires. The Moderna vaccine requires a freezer available in most healthcare facilities. Thus, the Moderna vaccine is often sent to rural areas without major hospitals, smaller clinics, etc. The Pfizer vaccine is often sent to major universities and hospitals with advanced freezing capabilities. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine also pose the additional logistical challenge of being a two-dose vaccine. Patients who come for one shot must come back either 3 weeks or 1 month—depending on which vaccine they received—after their first dose for a second shot.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine functions slightly differently than mRNA-based vaccines. Vaccines that use DNA are hardier than mRNA vaccines and merely require refrigeration. Additionally, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a one shot dose, which is logistically easier for scheduling.
These logisitcal differences between the vaccines may cause clinics that serve different geographies or demographics to be allocated one vaccine over another. All vaccines are safe, effective, and key to our return to normal.
Which vaccine is most effective against the variants?
All of the approved vaccines are satisfactorily effective against the major variants. Initial studies suggest the Pfizer vaccine is slightly more effective against certain variants, such as the South Africa variant. However, all vaccines produce such powerful levels of immune protection that they can withstand some drop in potency and still guard people from getting sick. Additionally, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only vaccine tested globally and proven to be effective on a global scale. Variants are a rapidly developing situation and it is useful to have a diversity of vaccines. Thus, it is difficult to compare clinical studies in the context of variants.
Will the approved vaccines be effective against variants?
Variants are a rapidly developing situation. While the vaccines may be slightly less effective against some variants, vaccines still offer promising protection from variants. Importantly, vaccines also protect recipients from severe illness and death in the event that they do get sick.
Johnson & Johnson
Why is Johnson & Johnson distribution paused?
The FDA & CDC and Missoula County paused the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccines out of an abundance of caution on April 13, 2021 after 6 women developed blood clots 6 to 13 days after getting the vaccine.
While only 6 people out of 6.8 million (less than 1 in a million) developed blood clots, the type of blood clot developed (cerebral venous thrombosis) requires special treatment. The CDC and FDA are working to provide health care providers with proper guidance to treat patients who develop this special blood clot, as the normal treatment for it may not work well with a patient who was recently vaccinated.
Once the CDC and FDA determine proper recognition and management of this adverse reaction they will likely allow the J&J vaccine to be used again.
I got a J&J vaccine, what should I look out for?
The CDC says those who have received the J&J vaccine who develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after their vaccination should contact their health care provider.
Those who do not have a health care provider, but have these symptoms, should still seek treatment. Urgent care or the emergency room are good options for patients with no health care providers.
Will the J&J pause impact vaccine availability?
This will not impact the supply of COVID-19 vaccine in Missoula County, as we have thousands of Pfizer and Moderna doses available.
Does the J&J pause prove COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous?
The benefits that these highly effective COVID-19 vaccines provide far outweigh the risks of the COVID-19 virus itself. The vaccines are the key to ending this pandemic, which has taken the lives of more than 560,000 Americans and sickened many more with long-lasting effects.