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Frequently Asked Questions

Updated January 7, 2022

Vaccine

Q: When and where can I be vaccinated?
Q: Who should be vaccinated?

Everyone should consider being vaccinated to prevent COVID infection. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized to use for anyone 5 years or older; the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine vaccines are authorized to use for anyone 18 years or older.

Q: Can I get the vaccine if I'm pregnant or have a chronic disease like diabetes, asthma, kidney problems?

If you are pregnant, you can receive the vaccine. Getting the vaccine during pregnancy can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19. The vaccine has been found to be safe and effective in people with various conditions that are associated with increased risk of severe disease.

Q: I’ve already had COVID; can I be vaccinated?

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 because:

  • Research has not yet shown how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again after you recover from COVID-19.
  • Vaccination helps protect you even if you’ve already had COVID-19.

Evidence is emerging that people get better protection by being fully vaccinated compared with having had COVID-19. One study showed that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than 2 times as likely than fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19 again.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: How much does the vaccine cost?

There is no cost to you to be vaccinated. If you have health insurance, vaccine providers (including Salt Lake County Health Department) may bill your insurance a vaccine administration fee. If you do not have insurance, you will not be charged.

Q: Is the vaccine safe?

In the United States, there are many steps in place to make sure vaccines are safe and effective. These steps include clinical trials and reviews by many independent scientists, medical professionals, and public health experts. The COVID vaccine has undergone these rigorous steps, just like all vaccines; no steps were skipped or rushed. Learn more at ThisIsOurShot.com.

Q: Is the vaccine safe for people from multicultural communities?

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for all races and ethnic backgrounds. Scientists have tested the vaccine using best practices across all racial/ethnic demographics to ensure it will have the most productive result for all communities. We recognize there can be a lack of trust in vaccinations—both historically and now, particularly among people of color—but as COVID-19 continues to impact diverse and multicultural communities at disproportionate rates, protecting our communities of color is essential, and the most effective protection available is to be vaccinated.

Q: Does Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine contain fetal cells?

No.

While fetal cell lines were used in the development and testing process, the vaccines themselves DO NOT contain any fetal cells.

Q: Is it against religious beliefs to get vaccinated?

No major religion has explicit, doctrinal objections to vaccinations. Only two religious groups―Christian Scientists and the Dutch Reformed Church―have demonstrated a precedent of widely rejecting vaccinations, but even these are not explicitly laid out in their doctrine.

Q: Can I choose which brand of vaccine I get?

You will receive the brand available at the location you visit, and which brand is available at each location can change regularly so you cannot expect a specific brand at a particular location (unless you are between the ages of 5-17, in which case, you will receive Pfizer).

Q: How did they come up with the vaccine so fast?

Lessons learned from previous vaccines that were meant to treat similar diseases caused by coronaviruses (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)) helped expedite the vaccine for COVID. For example, research on a coronavirus vaccine for SARS began in 2004!

Q: Will the vaccine hurt? What are the side effects?

The vaccine is delivered as an injection in the arm, like other typical vaccines. On the arm where you got the injection you may experience some pain and swelling. Some people may experience a mild fever and fatigue, aches, chills, or headache for a day or two. These side effects are more common after the second dose and in younger people. These reactions are a sign that your immune system is revving up and doing what it’s supposed to do. In most cases, mild discomfort from fever or pain is normal. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider:

  • If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours
  • If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
Q: Can the vaccine give me COVID?

No.

The vaccine does not contain any live virus and cannot give you COVID.

Q: How does the vaccine work? Will it affect my DNA or genes?

No.

The vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna use a technique known as mRNA, or messenger RNA. Think of this technique as the vaccine giving the cells in your body a message with detailed instructions for how to create antibodies against COVID — in this way, the body learns how to protect itself if or when the real virus shows up. The mRNA vaccines don't use the live virus that causes COVID, nor does the mRNA get into the cell's nucleus, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is stored. In short, these vaccines protect you from COVID and they do not alter or affect your genes in any way.

The Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine, which uses double-stranded DNA to create an immune response in the body. Instead of using mRNA technology within the vaccine, the vaccine itself helps the body to produce its own mRNA to tell your cells to create harmless spike proteins. This triggers your immune system to produce antibodies that are now prepared to fight the harmful COVID-19 spike proteins if you come in contact with them. This type of vaccine has been around for years, most famously used to fight Ebola.

Q: If I have allergies, should I be concerned?

People with severe allergies who have experienced anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic response that often involves swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure and in severe cases, shock) in the past, should talk to their doctor or vaccine provider about how to safely get the vaccine and what precautions to take.

Q: Can I get the vaccine if I'm undocumented?

Yes.

We will not ask about legal status for any reason. Additionally, any information shared with public health is private and protected information and will NOT be shared with anyone, including other agencies of any kind.

Q: Will receiving the vaccine count as "public charge?"

No, receiving vaccination will NOT count against you under the public charge rule.

Q: How long will it take to work?

For both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine, you will be considered fully protected 14 days after your second dose. For the Johnson & Johnson Janssen, you will be considered fully protected 28 days after your first and only dose. While COVID vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death—even against the Delta variant—public health experts are starting to see reduced protection after 6 months of vaccinations, making boosters necessary for optimal protection. See if you are eligible for a booster dose here.

Q: Do I need two doses?

Depends on the brand you receive. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to be fully effective.

For the Pfizer vaccine, you should get the second dose 21 days OR LATER after your first dose.

For the Moderna vaccine, you should get the second dose 28 days OR LATER after your first dose.

For the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine, you only need one dose.

Q: When should I get the second dose?

If you receive the Pfizer vaccine, you should receive the second dose 21 days or later after your first dose. If you receive the Moderna vaccine, the second dose is 28 days or later after the first dose.

You do not need to receive the second dose precisely on the 21st or 28th day, though it is recommended you receive as close to that time as possible.

Q: Are booster doses needed after the initial series is completed?

Yes, boosters are critical in order to be protected from serious illness. Boosters are available for all three vaccine brands. See if you are eligible for a booster dose here.

Q: How long will the vaccine last? Will I need another one next year?

We don't know yet. It’s possible that coronavirus vaccinations will become an annual event, just like the flu shot. Or it may be that the benefits of the vaccine last longer than a year. We have to wait to see how durable the protection from the vaccines is.

Q: What happens after I get vaccinated and boosted?

It is important to continue following COVID-19 precautions even after you've been vaccinated; it can take time after vaccination for the body to build its immune response. We will also need a large portion of our population vaccinated before we can begin phasing out face coverings, social distancing, and other infection prevention precautions.

Q: What if I lose my COVID-19 vaccination card?

To request your own immunization record, you must be 18 years or older. If you are requesting the record of a minor under 18, you must be the child's parent or legal guardian at the time of the request.

Immunization records are protected, confidential records so you must prove your identity with photo identification before you may receive the record.

You can request an immunization record via one of the four ways below. Note that options 2, 3, and 4 require your vaccine provider to participate in the Utah Statewide Immunization Information System (USIIS). If the provider of one or more of your vaccines does not participate in USIIS, the vaccine(s) from that provider may not be included in your record. In that case, only the provider of the vaccine(s) can give you an accurate immunization record. Providers are not required to participate in USIIS, and the public health system cannot provide immunization records that providers haven't input into USIIS.

  1. From your healthcare provider
    Most healthcare providers in Utah are connected to the Utah Statewide Immunization Information System (USIIS). Contact your provider and ask if they can give you an Official USIIS Personal Utah Immunization Record. If your provider does not participate in USIIS, they can print your immunization record from their own medical record system.

  2. Through the Docket mobile app
    (note that Docket is NOT developed or maintained by SLCoHD)
    • If your COVID vaccine is not displaying in Docket: call Docket at 385-286-0296 or 855-222-7531 (available Monday through Saturday from noon to 6pm) and provide valid documentation to have it added.
    • If your record in Docket does not show another vaccine you've received, contact the provider who gave you that vaccine and ensure they have submitted your receipt of the vaccine to USIIS
    • If you are having problems with the Docket app:
  3. From the Utah Department of Health's Utah Statewide Immunization Information System (USIIS)
    Submit a completed, notarized USIIS Immunization Record Request form to:
    USIIS
    PO Box 142012
    Salt Lake City, UT 84114-2012

    Email: usiistracking@utah.gov
    Phone: 801-538-9450
    Fax: 801-538-9440

  4. From the Salt Lake County Health Department
    Complete a medical record release form (formulario de solicitud médica), print the completed form, sign it, and bring it along with photo identification to one of our immunization clinic locations. Note that we CANNOT release immunization records over the phone or over email because we are required by law to verify your identity.
Q: Can employers require vaccination?

Employers have the right to compel their workers to be vaccinated. Many hospital systems, for example, require annual flu shots. But employees can seek exemptions based on medical reasons or religious beliefs. In such cases, employers are supposed to provide a “reasonable accommodation” — without a coronavirus vaccine, for example, a worker might be allowed to work if they wear a mask, or to work from home.

Q: Will I have to quarantine if I'm exposed at school/work if I'm vaccinated?

If you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should quarantine if you are in one of the following groups:

  • You are ages 18 or older and completed the primary series of recommended vaccine, but have not received a recommended booster shot when eligible.
  • You received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (completing the primary series) over 2 months ago and have not received a recommended booster shot.
  • You are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccine series.
Q: Can the vaccine cause fertility problems?

No, getting the vaccine will not affect fertility. Women actively trying to conceive may be vaccinated with the current COVID-19 vaccines.