COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

This page provides answers to your most-asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. This page includes some frequently asked questions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For more vaccine FAQ, visit Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination. For frequently asked questions and to check your symptoms, visit Alabama.gov COVID-19 Information Hub at covid19.alabama.gov.

For data on vaccination allocation and administration in Alabama, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Dashboard.

Use a desktop computer to search for a specific question. Using Windows, hold down "CTRL" and press the "F" key. On a Mac, hold down "Command" and press "F." A search bar will appear.

If you have further questions once you have reviewed the questions and answers on this page, please call 1-800-270-7268 or email covid19info@adph.state.al.us. Telephone calls are answered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Interpreters are available.

Table of Contents

Planning for a Vaccine

Q: When will the vaccine be rolled out?

A: The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has started administering the COVID-19 vaccine in our state. We understand everyone is anxious and has questions about the speed of getting the new COVID-19 vaccines administered. There are several factors that determine how fast we are able to get the vaccine in arms. ADPH has been working to pre-position COVID-19 vaccine in several locations statewide to ensure equitable and timely distribution to federally designated critical populations. Updates on vaccine administration and availability can be found on our Vaccine page.

Q: Who will be entitled to it (priority process)?

A: View the Alabama COVID‐19 Vaccination Allocation Plan which defines populations and the order in which they will receive vaccine in four phases. Updates on vaccine administration and availability can be found on our Vaccine page.

Q: Can someone volunteer to assist with the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Yes. Thank you for wanting to help with the state's vaccine rollout efforts. ADPH is actively recruiting and welcoming volunteers to assist with COVID-19 vaccination clinics throughout the state. Persons who wish to volunteer are asked to email their contact information to thresa.dix@adph.state.al.us.

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Vaccine Development

Q: How many COVID-19 vaccines are in development?

A: Currently, two vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:

Multiple COVID-19 vaccines are also still under development. Large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials are in progress or being planned for two additional COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

Q: Did people of all backgrounds participate in the clinical trials? Were the vaccines effective for people of all races and ethnicities?

A: In the Moderna vaccine trial, 20% of participants identified as Latino, 10% identified as Black and 4% Asian. In the Pfizer trial, 13% of participants identified as Latino, 10% identified as Black and 5.5% Asian. Final trial results from both Moderna and Pfizer revealed that their COVID-19 vaccines are equally effective at preventing COVID-19 infection across all racial and ethnic groups. Also see:

Q: Why were the vaccines developed so fast? I’m concerned that these vaccines did not undergo enough testing as other vaccines.

A: The speed of Covid-19 vaccine development is not a result of compromised safety or quality. The vaccine process is happening faster because research and development, clinical trials, manufacturing, and plans for distribution are occurring at the same time, with unprecedented levels of government spending. Also, the COVID-19 vaccine technology (mRNA) had been in development for over a decade and when the pandemic hit, scientists were able to build on this research to develop the vaccine.

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Safety

Q: Is it safe?

A: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully reviews all safety data from clinical trials and authorizes emergency vaccine use only when the expected benefits outweigh potential risks. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews all safety data before recommending any COVID-19 vaccine for use. The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, to make sure even very rare side effects are identified.

Q: What are the side effects?

A: Most people do not have serious problems after being vaccinated. Side effects may feel like flu and even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Often times, people will have symptoms like mild fever, tiredness, and body aches after getting a vaccine. These symptoms are normal and signal your body’s immune response to the vaccine to help you prevent future infections. Learn about common side effects and get helpful tips on how to reduce your pain and discomfort from the CDC.

Q: How do I report if I have a problem or bad reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccination?

A: CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible side effects (called adverse events) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This national system collects these data to look for adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns of occurrence. Learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event. Reports to VAERS help CDC monitor the safety of vaccines. Safety is a top priority.

Q: Should someone who lives with an autoimmune disorder or has previously had Guillain-Barre syndrome or Bell’s palsy get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Making sure COVID-19 vaccines protect people with certain underlying medical conditions is important. Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to people with underlying medical conditions provided they have not had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. The CDC offers more information for persons with underlying medical conditions to help make an informed decision about receiving the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: I have allergies and have had a reaction to other vaccines. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for me?

A: The CDC provides recommendations for people who have had allergic reactions to other vaccines and for those with other types of allergies. Visit COVID-19 Vaccines and Allergic Reactions for more information.

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General

Q: Where can I get it?

A: ADPH has no specific timetable on when members of the general public who are not included in earlier phases can be vaccinated. As the supply of vaccine remains limited, ADPH continues to urge the public to practice the measures needed to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Once the vaccine becomes readily available, the public may visit vaccinefinder.org to locate a COVID-19 vaccine provider.

View the Alabama COVID‐19 Vaccination Allocation Plan which defines populations and the order in which they will receive vaccine in four phases. Updates on vaccine administration and availability can be found on our Vaccine page.

Q: What will it cost? Will my insurance cover it?

A: The COVID-19 vaccine will be free to all Americans. However, recipients of COVID-19 vaccine may be subject to an administration fee charge. Please contact your healthcare provider or health insurance plan for the exact administration fee. If you're unable to pay the COVID-19 administration fee, you will still be eligible to receive the vaccine at no charge according to federal guidelines.

Q: Is a COVID-19 vaccine necessary?

A: COVID-19 can be a minor illness in some people, but it may lead to severe disease or even death in previously healthy people. Many treatments and medications are being studied, but there is not currently any cure. Prevention is key. Vaccination is an important step in helping to prevent this illness and its potentially devastating consequences.

Q: Is taking the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory?

A: The vaccine is not mandatory; however, it can help prevent disease and reduce disease severity, especially anyone who is in a higher risk group, or who lives, works, or socializes with anyone who is at higher risk. Getting vaccinated will improve the health and well-being of our communities and get the economy moving again.

Q: How effective are the vaccines? Will they really reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and complications?

A: In Phase 3 trials, the Pfizer vaccine showed a 95% efficacy rate 7 days after the second dose. The Moderna vaccine showed a 94% efficacy rate 14 days after the second dose. The results in both studies were consistent across gender, age, race and ethnicity.

Q: Can children have the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: A COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for young children until more studies are completed.

Q: Will getting the flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?

A: No. Influenza viruses and coronaviruses are different and the COVID-19 vaccine does not take the place of the pneumonia vaccine or the flu vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19; however, influenza vaccine can reduce flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and can help to conserve potentially scarce healthcare resources during the pandemic.

Q: Where can I find data on how many doses have been allocated, delivered and administered in Alabama?

A: Alabama's COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Dashboard (shortened link: arcg.is/OrCey) details the number of vaccines allocated and delivered to Alabama and dispensed.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Dashboard can also be accessed on the newly created COVID-19 Dashboard Hub (shortened link: arcg.is/0brSGj). This provides easy access to the Vaccine Distribution, Data and Surveillance, School and Risk Indicator Dashboards through tabs at the top.

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Getting Vaccinated

Q: How many shots of COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?

A: The two authorized and recommended vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States both need two shots to be effective. There is one COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States that uses one shot.

Q: Can I “mix” doses of two kinds of COVID-19 vaccines?

A: The COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable. If two doses of different mRNA COVID-19 vaccine products are inadvertently administered, no additional doses of either product are recommended at this time. Recommendations may be updated as further information becomes available or other vaccine types (e.g., viral vector, protein subunit vaccines) are authorized.

Q: How effective is the vaccine after just one dose?

A: The Pfizer vaccine includes two shots, 21 days apart while the Moderna vaccine includes two shots, 28 days apart. Pfizer’s vaccine efficacy after a single dose was 52.4% in trials; Moderna’s was 80.2%. However, both doses are currently recommended to get the maximum protection, since there have been no clinical trials assessing these mRNA vaccines as single dose regimes.

Q: Do I still need to wear a mask when I am vaccinated and respect social distance?

A: 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. Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove a mask without assistance should not wear a mask. For more information, visit considerations for wearing masks.

Q: How long will my immunity last?

A: COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. Both natural immunity and immunity produced by a vaccine are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

Q: I already had COVID-19 and recovered. Do I still need to get a vaccine?

A: COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. You should not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated. However, 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. Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired.

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Page last updated: January 20, 2021