FAQs: COVID-19 Vaccine
From information on scheduling your COVID-19 vaccine to details about safety and effectiveness, you can get answers to all your COVID-19 vaccine questions right here.
Not only is it normal to have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s beneficial. You deserve to know about the safety and the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines and how you can schedule an appointment or where you can walk in for a COVID-19 vaccination. We’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions to provide answers. Para español, haz clic aquí.
This page was last updated on 10/15/2021 at 10:43 AM.
Questions about scheduling and availability at LVHN
Questions about considerations before receiving a vaccine
Questions about safety and effectiveness for children and adults
Questions about how the vaccine works
Questions about how the vaccine will impact the pandemic
Questions about clinical trials
Questions about the delta variant
Questions about third COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised people
A: Anyone age 12 or older can receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to get vaccinated. There are some reasons to carefully plan when you have your COVID-19 vaccine. Read more
A: You now have more options than ever to get your vaccine
Schedule right on this website
Schedule on MyLVHN, our patient portal.
The FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine is provided at all LVHN vaccine clinics.
A: Walk-ins are accepted at the following LVHN COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics:
The FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine is provided at all LVHN vaccine clinics.
LVHN began the COVID-19 mobile vaccination unit in January as a way to reach large concentrations of people eligible for the vaccine, but unable to get to hospitals or drive-through clinics.
In March, Bennett Toyota donated three new vehicles to LVHN, which are used as part of LVHN’s COVID-19 mobile vaccination unit.
The vehicles are used to transport vaccines, IT infrastructure such as computers and the medical team. The COVID-19 mobile vaccination unit serves all areas of our region and visits senior high-rises, community centers and other facilities to reach community members with limited transportation and other access barriers.
Currently, the mobile units are focused on community-based large-scale vaccine clinics and are not being used for the “house call” model of vaccination.
You can cancel your appointment through MyLVHN or by calling the LVHN COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline 833-584-6283 (833-LVHN-CVD). COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline hours of operation are Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
If you receive an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna) which requires two doses, the CDC recommends that you receive the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine within 42 days after the first dose. If that is not possible, the CDC says people should receive the second dose as close as possible to the 42-day mark. There is no data to suggest that a second dose provided after 42 days is not effective.
A: No, you are not able to transfer appointments to others.
A: LVHN is not providing second doses for people who received their first dose elsewhere. The State of Pennsylvania records the location of your first dose and will send the second dose to the same location.
A: You don’t have to schedule an appointment to receive a vaccine. You can walk into several of our locations. They are:
The FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine is provided at all LVHN vaccine clinics.
You can also schedule an appointment by calling 833-584-6283 (833-LVHN-CVD). The COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline hours of operation are Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
A: The FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine, as well as the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which have received emergency use authorization from the FDA, are available at all LVHN vaccine clinic locations. You can request which vaccine you wish to receive. However, availability is based on vaccine supply.
A: There are no preexisting conditions that are contraindications for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Contraindication: A symptom or condition that makes use of a drug, like the vaccine, risky). If you have questions about a medical condition or allergy, speak with your primary care provider.
There are some reasons to carefully plan when you have your COVID-19 vaccine:
A. If you recently received a vaccine, there is no reason to delay your COVID-19 vaccination. Likewise, there is no reason to wait to get another vaccination after your COVID-19 vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines can be administered without regard to timing. At this time, LVHN is administering the vaccine to people age 12 and older.
A: Yes. While people who have tested positive for COVID-19 do produce antibodies, the antibody levels and how long they last are not known. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19, and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, you are advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you have been sick with COVID-19 previously. 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, and the evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long in some people.
A: Both Pfizer/BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines are mRNA vaccines. This means they are made from genetic material that provides your body with the code it needs to create spike proteins (not the virus) and build immunity. AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s are non-replicating virus-vectored vaccines. None of these vaccines are live vaccines.
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), all recommend that pregnant or breastfeeding patients be offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC and these medical societies also recommend the vaccine be offered to patients undergoing fertility treatment based on Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) eligibility criteria. Since the vaccine is not a live virus, there is no reason to delay pregnancy attempts because of vaccination or to defer treatment until the second dose has been administered.
A: According to the CDC, possible side effects include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, as well as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. These mild side effects are more common after the second dose. Read how LVHN front-line colleagues felt after their first dose and after their second dose of vaccine.
A: The Pfizer vaccine has emergency use authorization (EUA) for ages 12 and older and has been proven safe and effective. The clinical trial data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration demonstrated 100 percent effectiveness at preventing disease in this age group. That is why pediatric specialists at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital are encouraging parents to get their child vaccinated for their safety, as well as the safety of their family. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to get vaccinated.
A: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday, Aug. 23, gave full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for those 16 and older, elevating it from emergency use authorization (EUA). It remains under EUA for those 12-15.
A: Common side effects of the vaccine in adults and children are pain, redness and swelling in the arm where you received the shot, as well as fatigue, tiredness, mild headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. These side effects can affect one’s ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. In children and adolescents, these side effects may be more common with the first dose than typically seen in adults.
A: You may want to give your child acetaminophen four times a day for the first one to two days at the appropriate dosing after receiving the vaccine. Please don’t give your child ibuprofen or acetaminophen before receiving the vaccine. To reduce pain and discomfort where your child got the shot, apply a cool, wet cloth to the spot on the arm where the shot was given. Drinking lots of fluids and wearing light clothing can help when there is fever.
A: Any vaccine that has received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been proven effective and safe. This includes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
A: Pfizer/BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines use novel messenger-RNA, or mRNA, technology, which uses modified genetic material to cause the body to create a protein from the virus. The immune system then recognizes the protein as foreign and initiates an immune response.
For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, researchers took DNA from the coronavirus and put it in a shell called an adenovirus. The adenovirus cannot replicate in your system or make you sick. It acts as a Trojan horse by entering your system like a virus would and then prompting your body to create antibodies.
A: There are a few things that make the Johnson & Johnson vaccine different than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Researchers took DNA from the coronavirus and put it in a shell called an adenovirus. The adenovirus cannot replicate in your system or make you sick. It acts as a Trojan horse by entering your system like a virus would and then prompting your body to create antibodies. Johnson & Johnson has decades of research on adenovirus vaccines. Other vaccines available that use this technology include the Ebola vaccine (also made by Johnson & Johnson), the HPV vaccine, the hepatitis B vaccine and an influenza vaccine.
Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, only one dose is required for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must be stored in freezers, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be kept in a refrigerator for at least three months.
A: Current data shows that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing severe disease. During the clinical trials, scientists compared how many people in the vaccinated group and the placebo group went on to develop the disease.
The companies will continue to test people in the studies for antibodies to the COVID-19 virus, which would include people who did not show any symptoms of infection. This allows researchers to get a better sense of whether the vaccines protect against not only getting sick (experiencing symptoms), but also against infection (becoming infected without experiencing symptoms).
A: No. These vaccines will not cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, you should test positive on antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection or vaccination and that you may have some level of protection against the virus.
A: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies and cellular immunity to combat a specific disease, like it would if you were actually exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease without having to get the disease first. This is why vaccines are necessary — they prevent disease by letting you develop immunity in a safe and controlled way.
A: Both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines require two doses.
The CDC recommends that people receive the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine within 42 days after the first dose. If that is not possible, the CDC says people should receive the second dose as close as possible to the 42-day mark. There is no data to suggest that a second dose provided after 42 days is not effective. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one dose.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends third shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for immunocompromised patients, those with weakened immune systems. LVHN encourages patients to get the same vaccine brand for their third dose as they did for their first two shots. If not feasible, though, the FDA has authorized a patient to receive the other approved two-shot vaccine for their third dose.
A: These two COVID-19 vaccines are not completely effective unless you receive the second dose.
A: When you receive a COVID-19 vaccine, your immune system goes to work creating antibodies to protect itself from the coronavirus. The vaccine CANNOT cause a COVID-19 infection but can cause side effects, including pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. Pfizer has reported that some Phase III clinical trial participants experienced mild to moderate flu-like side effects, including sore arm, muscle aches and fever.
Ultimately, symptoms such as sore arms, muscle aches, fever and headaches mean that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and producing antibodies that will protect against future infection with coronavirus. Read how some of LVHN front-line colleagues felt after their second vaccination.
If you experience cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, or loss of taste or smell, stay home. Those symptoms are not known to be side effects associated with the vaccine. It may be difficult to distinguish between some side effects of the vaccine and symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses. When in doubt, speak to a provider virtually. You can view virtual care options at LVHN.org/VirtualCare.
A: A flu vaccine will not protect you from getting COVID-19, but it can help to prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. This can help keep you from having a more severe illness. While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen this winter, CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread during that time. You should encourage all of your friends and family to get flu shots.
Depending on the circumstances and local ordinances, you may need to continue wearing a face mask even after you are vaccinated.
Some places you must wear a face mask include:
Schools, businesses, churches and other organizations are making decisions about the necessity for people to wear face masks based on what is known at that time about community spread of the coronavirus.
Even if you are vaccinated, practicing excellent hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing a face mask in a crowded area all can help reduce levels of spread..
Though the COVID-19 vaccines are very effective, some people have still become infected with COVID-19 and transmitted the virus.
A: In an emergency, like a pandemic, the FDA can make a judgment that it is worth releasing something for use even without following the typical timeline for a new vaccine or drug. The administrative portions of the trial have been sped up. The scientific analysis of clinical trial participants remains the same for these and all other vaccines. If there’s evidence that strongly suggests that patients have benefited from the vaccine in clinical trials and that it is safe, the agency can issue an EUA to make it available. The FDA has issued EUAs many times previously in other situations. The EUA process is well established and is not newly created to address COVID-19 vaccine development. Two COVID-19 vaccines currently have emergency use authorization – the Moderna vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval Aug. 23, 2021.
A: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not use mRNA. Researchers took DNA from the coronavirus and put it in a shell called an adenovirus. The adenovirus cannot replicate in your system or make you sick. It acts as a Trojan horse by entering your system like a virus would and then prompting your body to create antibodies. Johnson & Johnson has decades of research on adenovirus vaccines. Other vaccines available that use this technology include the Ebola vaccine (also made by Johnson & Johnson), the HPV vaccine, the hepatitis B vaccine and an influenza vaccine.
A: The delta variant as a mutation of COVID-19 that first surfaced in India. It is now the dominant strain in many parts of the world, including the United States. This variant is up to 50 percent more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19 and poses a significant risk for those who are unvaccinated.
A: The delta variant is now the predominant strain of COVID-19 and makes up over 80 percent of cases nationwide. Our area is no exception and we are seeing more cases of the delta variant in our region of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. (July/August 2021.)
A: Early numbers indicate that both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are holding up very well against the delta variant with efficacies in the high 80- or low 90-percentile range when it comes to preventing infection. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has efficacy levels dipping down into the 60-percentile range, but there is still protection. The biggest benefit of the vaccines is that they are still up to 95 percent effective in preventing severe complications or hospitalization if you do become infected.
A: If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised, you can schedule a third dose through MyLVHN, the patient portal, by calling the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 833-584-6283 (833-LVHN-CVD) or going to one of LVHN’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics. The third shot should be at least 28 days after the second dose shot. For additional information and more FAQs on this topic, visit LVHN.org/thirdshot.
A: The CDC recommends a third vaccine shot for those with a range of conditions, such as recipients of organ or stem cell transplants, people with advanced or untreated HIV infection, active recipients of treatment for cancer, people who are taking some medications that weaken the immune system, and others.
Individuals with any of the following conditions, or those directed to receive a third dose by their physician:
A: Registration is encouraged and can be done through:
A: COVID-19 vaccinations (first dose, second dose and third dose) will be offered at all LVHN hospital-based clinics and stand-alone locations like those in Whitehall and Palmer townships. Learn more those locations at LVHN.org/vaccines.
A: For members of the community who are not immunocompromised and have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, additional shots are not recommended at this time. Clinical trials are still underway to determine the need for an additional shot for the general public.
A: There is currently no evidence that a third booster shot is needed, however, that is something that researchers are looking into. Lehigh Valley Health Network is participating in a Pfizer/BioNTech study to see if a third booster shot would help prolong immunity.