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COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Vaccine Facts

We know you have a lot of questions about this vaccine and about your health, and we are committed to answering them as we learn more. 

Can I get the vaccine at UC Health?

We are following the phased distribution plan set by the State of Ohio. Right now, we are helping distribute vaccines as part of Phase 1a, which includes the following individuals:

  • Healthcare workers and personnel, who are routinely involved in the care of COVID-19 patients.

  • Residents and staff at nursing homes.

  • Residents and staff at assisted living facilities.

  • Patients and staff at state psychiatric hospitals.

  • People with intellectual disabilities and those with mental illness, who live in group homes or centers, and staff at those locations.

  • Residents and staff at our Ohio veterans homes.

  • EMS responders.

Due to a limited supply, we are only able to provide vaccinations for our healthcare workers and personnel at this time. Those who qualify in Phase 1a who are not UC Health employees will receive the vaccine from other providers.

If you are eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1a, you will be contacted.

We will release more information about receiving the vaccine in future phases as it becomes available.

Can the vaccine cause COVID-19?

No. The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine does not contain the coronavirus. Instead, it sends a message to the cells to create a protein that looks like a piece of the surface of coronavirus. The body recognizes the foreign protein, sometimes called an antigen, and creates antibodies that protect against COVID-19.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

The vaccine is designed to trigger an immune reaction in your body. These responses are the body’s way of defending itself, and they can cause you to feel uncomfortable and sick. Therefore, you may experience mild flu-like symptoms, most commonly fatigue, headache, fever and muscle aches. You may also experience some soreness at the site of the injection. Most side effects are minor and typically go away within a few days. Less than 10% of people in the COVID-19 vaccine studies needed to take any medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) to treat these symptoms. And when they did, it was typically for just a day or so.

How do we know the vaccine is safe if we don’t know the long-term effects?

The science suggests there are not likely to be longer-term side effects, but we need more time to completely confirm this. Sometimes an emergency, like the COVID-19 pandemic, demands that we take action even before we have all the safety information that we like to have before using a new vaccine.

How do we know the vaccine is safe if it was developed so quickly?

Scientists have been developing mRNA technology for decades in the hopes that it would be the future of medicine. When the pandemic began, all that was needed to create a COVID-19 vaccine was its genome — the genetic code – which scientists shared in January 2020. Researchers were also able to develop the COVID-19 vaccine more quickly because of the large amount of human and financial resources that were invested. It’s important to understand that this vaccine was developed and tested in the same way as other vaccines — with careful and thorough considerations for safety and effectiveness.

How does natural immunity compare to vaccine immunity?

COVID-19 is a serious disease with the potential for complications, lingering health impacts and sometimes death. A new vaccine approved through safe and strict monitoring is much safer than getting COVID-19, which we know can have grave consequences for many. Scientists are still studying how long a person is immune from COVID-19 after contracting the virus. Preliminary studies suggest natural immunity may not last very long, but more information is needed. The amounts of antibodies that neutralize or stop the virus generated by the vaccine are higher, on average, than after someone recovers from COVID-19. While scientists won’t know how long the COVID-19 vaccine lasts until more data is available, they do know the risks of COVID-19 far outweigh any immunity it may provide.

Do I need the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?

Scientists are still studying how long, if at all, a person is immune from COVID-19 after contracting the virus. Preliminary studies suggest natural immunity may not last very long, but more information is needed to understand this better. If you have a previous COVID-19 infection, we encourage you to still be vaccinated.

Can I stop wearing a mask after I receive the vaccine?

No, at this time you should still wear a mask. The vaccine has been proven to prevent COVID-19 disease, but more information is needed to determine if it will prevent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. Until we understand more, we must continue to use all the tools we have for preventing the spread at work and in our personal lives — vaccination, wearing masks, practicing social distancing and washing our hands.

When will the general public have access to the vaccine?

Vaccines will be distributed to the community in a phased approach. Experts are still finalizing distribution plans for the later phases. We will provide updates as we learn more.

When am I considered immune after receiving the vaccine?

You are immune seven days after the final dose.

Am I able to take other medications, such as prescriptions or over-the-counter medications, between the waiting period of the two vaccine doses?

Yes. However, please avoid taking other vaccines like the flu vaccine or shingles vaccine as this might affect how your body responds to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why do people need two doses? How effective is just the first dose?

You need two doses in order to ensure that your body has the right amount of antibodies to stop the virus. The vaccine leads to making what we call “neutralizing antibodies” or antibodies that stop the virus. We know from many years of vaccine research that having these levels above 50% is needed to stop viruses. Two vaccines ensure that most people have these higher levels of neutralizing antibodies.

Do the doses have to be exactly 21 days (for the Pfizer vaccine) or 28 days (for the Moderna vaccine) apart?

It is best that you follow the vaccine schedule proven to work. If for some reason you cannot make it back in at the right time, you should still get the second vaccine. If it is more than 30 days later, please talk to your doctor before getting the second vaccine.