Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Covid Frequently Asked Questions

Page Last Updated July 18, 2022

As of today, three vaccines for COVID-19 have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pfizer and Moderna have received full FDA approval for administration to certain age groups. Johnson & Johnson vaccine (Janssen) has been granted Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA, but is limited to those who are 18 years or older and for whom other authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines are not accessible or clinically appropriate or for those who choose to receive it because they would otherwise not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Yes, there are some medical considerations to keep in mind when scheduling your appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have any questions about whether or not you should receive the COVID-19 vaccine, please discuss them with a healthcare provider before scheduling an appointment. You should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine if you are allergic to any of the components of the vaccine. Vaccination will not be administered if either of the following are true, and scheduling your appointment at a later date is recommended:
  • ● You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 10 days.
  • ● You have received an infusion of COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 in the past 90 days.

Each vaccine uses a slightly different approach with the same goal: to generate an immune response in the body against SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines. The Janssen vaccine (from Johnson & Johnson) is a viral vector vaccine.

The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines contain a message from the COVID-19 virus that gives our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus.

After our cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine. The genetic material from the vaccine does not affect our DNA. Our bodies also recognize that the protein should not be there and build immune cells that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are exposed in the future. Both vaccines require two shots, with the second shot received 21 to 28 days after the first, depending on the vaccine.

The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine creates a similar immune system response but uses an inactivated harmless cold virus (adenovirus 26) to deliver instructions to your immune system for fighting the virus that causes COVID-19. It requires only one shot.

A team of experts from the FDA and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices reviewed all available data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines before recommending them for use. And, the FDA and CDC are continuing to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines as more and more people become vaccinated.

No, getting the vaccine cannot give you the virus. Because getting the vaccine cannot give you the virus, you also can’t give others the virus just from getting vaccinated.

The COVID-19 vaccines remain very effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. The protection the vaccines provide against COVID-19 infection has been shown to decrease over time. It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) to receive a booster shot after completing your primary vaccination series for COVID-19 to decrease the risk of severe illness if you are infected. The timing of your booster depends on which vaccine you received for your primary series. You should get your booster if:
  • ● It has been at least 5 months since your second Pfizer or Moderna shot or
  • ● It has been at least 2 months since your Johnson & Johnson shot.
You may be eligible for an additional booster if you:
  • ● Are immunocompromised,
  • ● Are over the age of 50 and it has been at least 4 months since your first booster or
  • ● Received Johnson & Johnson vaccine for both your initial vaccine and first booster.

Common short-term side effects that have been reported with available COVID-19 vaccines include the following. Each person’s body will respond differently to getting the vaccine. Not everyone will experience side effects. When they do happen, they are the result of the work the body is doing to create the antibodies needed to protect you, and generally last a day to a few days.
  • ●injection site pain
  • ●tiredness
  • ●headache
  • ●muscle pain
  • ●chills
  • ●joint pain
  • ●fever
  • ●injection site swelling
  • ●injection site redness
  • ●nausea
  • ●feeling unwell
  • ●swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)
There have been very few reports of a rare condition causing blood clots associated with receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia). There have also been rare cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. After comparing the safety and effectiveness data on all three vaccines, the CDC has designated Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as preferred vaccines. Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available in special circumstances.
Yes. Little is known about whether and for how long people have immunity after being infected with COVID-19. And, because there are different variants of the virus, prior infection by one variant may not give good protection against infection by another variant. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from serious illness, hospitalization or death.

Yes. Little is known about what having antibodies to COVID-19 means in terms of having immunity. Getting vaccinated is the best way to decrease your risk of getting COVID-19 in the future
No. This idea likely came from a misunderstanding about the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which use mRNA (messenger RNA) to tell our cells to make a protein unique to the SARS-CoV2 virus, which then triggers our immune system to produce antibodies. The mRNA in the vaccine does not enter the nucleus of our cells and therefore cannot alter our DNA.