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 (which are required at our COVID-19 vaccination clinic locations outside the Lehigh Valley). We’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions to provide answers. Para español, haz clic aquí.
This page was last updated on 5/20/2022 at 12:57 PM.
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 third COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised people
Questions about booster shots
A: Anyone age 5 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 for people 12 and older.
Schedule on MyLVHN, our patient portal, for people 5 and older.
The FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine is provided at all LVHN vaccine clinics.
A: To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine for your 5-11-year-old child, log in to your child’s MyLVHN account and schedule there, or call the LVHN COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 833-584-6283 (833-LVHN-CVD). The COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
A: Walk-ins are welcome at two LVHN COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics in in Lehigh and Northampton counties. However, LVHN COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics in Hazleton, Pottsville and East Stroudsburg do require you to make an appointment.
LVHN began the COVID-19 mobile vaccination unit in January 2021 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 2021, 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 3-8 weeks for Pfizer-BioNTech, and 4-8 weeks after the first dose of Moderna.
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: Please call the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 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 and Moderna vaccines, as well as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has 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.
While all vaccines are available through LVHN, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This is because they are more effective, and there have been rare (but severe) safety issues related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You should only receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if you cannot receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (due to allergy concerns or other medical reasons).
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 is one situation that requires you to carefully plan when you have your COVID-19 vaccine, booster or third shot:
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 5 years 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 5 to 15, and has been proven safe and effective. The clinical trial data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration demonstrated 90 to 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 children 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 children age 12-15 and 5-11.
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: 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.
The CDC is now recommending the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This is because they are more effective, and there have been rare (but severe) safety issues related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You should only receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if you cannot receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (due to allergy concerns or other medical reasons).
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 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. 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 have received FDA approval following EUA: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received FDA approval Aug. 23, 2021, and Moderna vaccine received FDA approval on Jan. 31, 2022. Johnson & Johnson vaccine has emergency use authorization.
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.
However, the CDC is now recommending the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This is because they are more effective, and there have been rare (but severe) safety issues related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You should only receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if you cannot receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (due to allergy concerns or other medical reasons).
A: Registration is required and can be done through MyLVHN or telephone:
A: According to the CDC, emerging data suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity after vaccination against COVID-19, compared to people who are not immunocompromised.
A: Individuals age 12-17 who are immunocompromised can receive a third primary shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 28 days after their second shot. That type is the only COVID-19 vaccine that has FDA Emergency Use Authorization for that age group.
A. Children age 5-11 who are immunocompromised can receive a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 28 days after their second shot. That type is the only COVID-19 vaccine that has FDA Emergency Use Authorization for that age group.
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: COVID-19 vaccinations (first dose, second dose third dose and booster shots) will be offered at all LVHN COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics. Learn more those locations at LVHN.org/vaccines.
A: The FDA recommends immunocompromised patients wait at least 28 days from the second shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before receiving a third dose of either vaccine. It is recommended the third dose be from the same manufacturer as the previous doses, when feasible.
A: Studies on a third COVID-19 shot show it is safe and that mild or moderate reaction symptoms were consistent with earlier doses. No patients developed critical side effects that required hospitalization.
A: The FDA did not provide guidance for those who are immunocompromised and received the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Currently there is not enough data to support additional vaccination. Those individuals should consult their physician.
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends booster shots for all adults 18 and older, and the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for children and teens 5-17. Timing for boosters is:
A: A second booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to those 50 and older at least four months after receiving a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Those 18 and older who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least four months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna).
A: COVID-19 booster shots became available as of Monday, Oct. 25. Booster shots are administered at LVHN vaccine clinics.
A: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends the mRNA vaccine boosters (Pfizer and Moderna) over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster, regardless of which vaccine series you received previously.
This is because the mRNA vaccines have been proven more effective, and there have been rare (but severe) safety issues related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
If you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine initially, it’s recommended that you get a booster dose from the same manufacturer as your original vaccine series. If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine initially, you should receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as your booster.
If you are unable to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (due to allergies or other medical concerns), the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still available and recommended over not getting a booster shot.
A: Scheduling is required and can be done through:
A: COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be offered at all LVHN COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics. Please note: Your first two shots may have occurred in an LVHN location that no longer offers COVID-19 vaccinations. Learn more about the locations that do offer COVID-19 vaccines.
Timing for boosters is:
If you have a moderately or severely compromised immune system, you can get a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 28 days after the completion of your initial two-shot series of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Children 5 and older can receive a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 28 days after completion of the two-shot series.
A: All individuals 5 years and older are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster.
A: Medical conditions include:
A: You may experience mild or moderate reaction symptoms very similar to the side effects experienced after your initial COVID-19 vaccination(s).
Side effects may include:
A: A COVID-19 vaccine booster shot is free.