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Published on January 12, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine

What is the COVID vaccine and how does it work?

The COVID-19 vaccine was designed to help people develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. When the vaccine is injected, the body begins producing white blood cells called T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes. These lymphocytes work to fight the COVID-19 virus, should someone become exposed to it. It typically takes a few weeks to build immunity to the virus.

Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna have both developed vaccines that have received emergency use authorization from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots given three weeks apart, while the Moderna vaccine requires two shots given four weeks apart. Both doses are required for full protection, and you must get two doses of the same vaccine, not one of each.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that those who have had COVID-19 get the vaccine.

When will Palos get the vaccine?

Palos Health received limited supplies of both vaccines in late December 2020 and will get second doses of each in January 2021. Following guidelines from the FDA, CDC, and state agencies, we have administered the vaccine to our front line workers and also made it available to area Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).

Who will get the vaccine first?

Vaccine allocations are decided by federal and state agencies. As mentioned above, the limited supply means that the most at risk will be among the first to receive the vaccine, including patients in skilled nursing facilities or who have certain high-risk health conditions.

With COVID-19 vaccine production expected to increase in 2021, we are hopeful that adults will be able to eventually receive a vaccine from their doctor or pharmacy.

How effective is the vaccine?

Studies have shown that these vaccines appear to provide 95% protection against COVID-19. Data is currently being collected as to how long protection lasts after vaccination.

Are there any risks with the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is similar to other vaccines, in that there is a risk for certain side effects. The most common side effects reported were discomfort and soreness near the injection site. Fever, muscle pain, chills and headache have also been reported. Side effects should improve in a few days. A small percentage of people receiving the vaccine may have side effects that are significant enough to stop their daily activities.

Those with an underlying condition that may weaken their immune system should not avoid getting the vaccine, and in fact may be at increased risk for severe symptoms from COVID-19 if they do not receive the vaccine. We recommend discussing any concerns with your primary care provider.

You cannot develop COVID-19 from these vaccines.

Do people who receive the vaccine still have to take precautions?

It is important to continue to follow safety guidelines like wearing a mask, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing even after being vaccinated in order to stop the virus from spreading. It will take many months to reduce the number of cases in the population at large.

Should I get vaccinated if I already had COVID-19?

It’s recommended that people who have had COVID-19 get the vaccine. However, if you’ve had COVID-19 within the last 90 days, you can delay vaccination for at least 90 days after infection as current evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon during that time period.

How can I stay informed about the vaccine and its availability?

We’ll continue to share more information here as it becomes available. More about COVID-19 vaccines also can be found on the CDC’s website, www.cdc.gov.

We’re following recommendations from the federal and state governments, the CDC and our own medical ethics guidelines to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about the vaccine from resources provided by the CDC.

Is there a waitlist I can add my name to?

Palos Health maintains no sign-up lists or waitlists for patients at this time. Residents of Cook County are encouraged to visit the Cook County Department of Public Health site (https://cookcountypublichealth.org/) to be added to a list to receive updates on COVID-19 vaccine availability including timing and scheduling. We also recommend visiting the Illinois Department of Public Health site at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/.