Vaccination Guide

News 3 is taking action to answer frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. All information below is coming from the Virginia Department of Health.

What are the current COVID-19 vaccine side effects? What should I do if I get these side effects?

Because COVID-19 vaccines are so new, information on long term side-effects is still being collected and studied.

However, while we do not yet know all of the side effects of COVID19 vaccination, some people in the trials have had arm pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache or other body aches and some had a fever for a few days. These expected side effects are more common in younger people than older people and more common after the 2nd vaccine dose than after the first dose.

These short term discomforts are the effects of your body developing immunity, and are normal. These discomforts do not mean that the vaccine has given you COVID-19.

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

How does vaccine pre-registration prioritization work? Who is at the top of the list and how frequently is it updated?

You will be asked simple questions at pre-registration, such as date of birth, occupation, and high-risk medical conditions to determine eligibility. All personal information collected during pre-registration will only be used to determine vaccination eligibility, prioritization, and to follow-up with residents and workers when it’s their turn to schedule vaccination. VDH is working to ensure vaccine distribution is equitable and in alignment with CDC prioritization guidelines.

How does the Virginia COVID center Information Center determine eligibility for vaccinations?

Residents and workers will be asked vaccination pre-registration questions, such as date of birth, occupation, and high-risk medical conditions to determine eligibility. Eligibility and prioritization for vaccination scheduling will continue to be based on CDC guidance and vaccine availability.​

Will you be able to choose which COVID-19 vaccine you get?

No. While there is currently more than one vaccine brand available to Americans, local health departments, healthcare providers, pharmacies, and clinics will likely have only one brand. Vaccine supplies are limited, and you should take whichever COVID-19 vaccine is available to you. In general, side effects and effectiveness for the currently available vaccines are very similar.

Will I need more than one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine? When should I get the second dose?

Yes. The current COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna both require two doses. When you get your first dose, your vaccine provider will let you know about the second dose and will help provide a way to remind you when it’s time to return for that second dose.

The two doses of Pfizer-BioNTac vaccine are recommended to be given three weeks (21 days) apart and the two doses of Moderna vaccine four weeks (28 days) apart. However, if that kind of appointment scheduling is not possible, the second dose for each vaccine may be scheduled up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine keep me from infecting others?

We’re still not sure. Although available information suggests that current COVID-19 vaccines are very likely to keep you, the vaccinated person, from getting sick from COVID-19, the studies have not yet measured whether the vaccine can prevent a vaccinated person from spreading COVID-19 disease to others. That question is still being studied. That uncertainty is one reason why it is important to keep following the basic prevention measures to protect yourself and others such as wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing your hands often.

What do doctors and public health experts hope that a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to do?

Goal #1: The most important goal of a COVID-19 vaccine is to safely protect the vaccine recipients over a long period. It should either protect them completely, keeping them from getting infected at all or make sure that if they are vaccinated but still get infected, their COVID-19 infection is less severe than it would have been if they had not been vaccinated.

Goal #2: A second goal for a COVID-19 vaccine is to be sure that the people who get vaccinated can’t pass a COVID-19 infection on to other people even if they are not having any symptoms themselves. For example, many people who get COVID-19 infections have no symptoms at all, but they can still transmit and spread COVID-19 to people that they come in contact with.

Goal #3: A third goal for a COVID-19 vaccine is to provide an opportunity for an entire population to develop long-lasting “herd immunity, in which many people are protected against COVID-19, either because they have been vaccinated or, for some, because they had COVID-19 disease and then recovered. If the number of people in a population with those kinds of immunity and protection becomes high enough, there won’t be enough unprotected people left who can still get infected with COVID-19 to allow that disease to keep spreading.

Can I get the vaccine from a locality different from the one I live in?

here is no policy that you may only receive a vaccine in your locality of residence. However, vaccines are allocated by population in the locality, so it is best to work with your local health department in the locality where you live. Click here for the VDH health department locator.

Is it safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are pregnant or breast feeding?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommend that COVID-19 vaccines should NOT be withheld from pregnant or breast-feeding women or from other women who intend to get pregnant and who otherwise are in any of the priority categories for COVID-19 vaccination based on the CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations

While safety data on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy are not yet available (and are now being collected), there are also no data suggesting that these COVID-19 vaccines should be withheld from people in these groups.

In fact, available data suggest that some pregnant women who get infected with COVID-19 are at greater risk of having a severe form of COVID-19 than non-pregnant women. Pregnant women with some underlying conditions, such as diabetes or obesity, are at even greater risk, as is true in the non-pregnant population.

Pregnant or breast-feeding women who are considering a COVID-19 vaccination should discuss the potential risk and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines with their doctor or nurse-midwife.