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COVID-19: Vaccine information and additional resources | Medicaid: The program is changing and you must take steps to keep your UNC Health providers

Frequently Asked Questions

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VACCINE BASICS

How are the vaccines given?

Similar to the flu vaccine, a COVID-19 vaccine is given as a shot into the muscle of the upper arm. Currently, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one dose, so you will not need to make a second appointment. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses 3 or 4 weeks apart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recommended that individuals with a weakened immune system who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines obtain a supplemental dose (commonly referred to as a ‘booster dose’), ideally of the same type already received.

Will I be able to choose which vaccine I receive?

Yes. You will be able to choose which vaccine you receive. However, the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine authorized for those under age 18. Studies have shown all three vaccines were 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations and death.

If I already had COVID-19, should I still get a vaccine?

Yes. You can get the virus more than once. We do not know how long protection from infection lasts for those who have had COVID-19. You can get the virus more than once. We know that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for many people. Getting a vaccine after having COVID-19 will provide an additional boost to your body’s immune system against the virus. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice to protect yourself, your loved ones and our community.

If you had COVID-19, you should NOT come to a medical facility until:

  • It has been 10 days since you first had signs of COVID-19 or a positive COVID-19 test AND
  • You have been fever-free for 24 hours without using any fever-reducing medications AND
  • Your other symptoms of COVID-19 are getting better.

If you received a monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19, you should wait at least 90 days before receiving a vaccine.

Is there a minimum age to receive the vaccine?

Yes. If you are receiving the Pfizer vaccine, the minimum age is 12. If you are receiving the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, right now the minimum age is 18. Scientists are still testing whether these vaccines will work for children age 6 months to 11 years.

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

If you are a UNC Health patient and need to get a COVID-19 test, here's how you can get tested:

  • Schedule your test using My UNC Chart and selecting “Schedule an Appointment” from the menu. 
  • Contact your UNC Health practice and ask to be scheduled for the test. 

If you are not a patient at UNC Health, here is how you can get tested:

VACCINE BOOSTERS

Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that individuals with a weakened immune system who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines obtain a supplemental dose (commonly referred to as a ‘booster dose’), ideally of the same type you have already received. Examples of those with weakened immune systems include, but are not limited to, those who have had a solid organ transplant such as a kidney or lung, have advanced or untreated HIV, or are undergoing chemotherapy or receiving other immune-suppressing treatment. 

If you have these or related conditions that compromised your immune system and are a UNC Health patient, you can schedule your appointment for a supplemental dose through My UNC Chart.

Supplemental doses are widely available at local pharmacies and through NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). If you are not a UNC Health patient, visit the NCDHHS website for a full listing of where vaccines are available in your community.

If you are unsure if you qualify, talk to your healthcare provider about your medical condition and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for you.

Who should get a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that individuals with a weakened immune system who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines obtain a supplemental dose (commonly referred to as a ‘booster dose’), ideally of the same type you have already received. 

Examples of those with weakened immune systems include, but are not limited to, those who have had a solid organ transplant such as a kidney or lung, have advanced or untreated HIV, or are undergoing chemotherapy or receiving other immune-suppressing treatment.

If I had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will I need a second dose?

At present, the CDC does not recommend people with weakened immune systems who initially received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine receive a booster vaccine dose. More data on booster vaccination for this group is expected soon, and this guidance is likely to change.

How soon after completing my original COVID-19 vaccination series should I receive the supplemental dose?

You can receive a booster vaccine 28 days or more after your second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

What if it is not time for me to receive an extra dose, what should I do?

By being fully vaccinated you have a much lower risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 than those who are not vaccinated. However, you should continue to follow all of the recommended COVID-19 precautions (remaining in your household bubble, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, practicing good hand hygiene and disinfecting potentially contaminated surfaces) to protect your loved ones, teammates and community.  

Do I need to receive the extra dose from the same manufacturer of my first COVID-19 vaccination series (if I had Pfizer, can I get Moderna instead?)

The COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable. At present it is recommended that you receive supplemental doses from the same vaccine manufacturer as your original vaccination.

Why are extra doses of the COVID-19 vaccines being recommended?

Your body’s immunity to many viruses, whether acquired naturally or through a vaccine, declines over time. A booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine that gives a “boost” to your immunity and provides better protection from disease. Many routine vaccines require more than one shot to maintain immunity. For example, adults should get a Tdap booster every 10 years; that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). With a booster, the immunity that has already been established by a vaccine is stimulated again. So, in a way, the booster serves as a reminder to the immune system’s memory, which can fade over time after vaccination.

Studies show that some people with weakened immune systems do not respond fully to COVID-19 vaccination and that a third dose of the vaccine can boost the levels of antibodies the body makes to fight COVID-19. In addition, as the more infectious delta variant is now the predominant virus circulating, higher levels of immunity, like those produced by a booster shot, may be needed to better protect against this variant, especially for those who are immunocompromised.

Will additional booster shots (beyond a third shot) be required in the future?

Future booster shots may be needed to keep immunity against COVID-19 high. Whether or not we will we face a future with annual COVID-19 boosters depends on many factors including the durability of the protection provided by the vaccines and how much COVID-19 is being spread.

YOUR VACCINE APPOINTMENT

Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

UNC Health offers vaccines at multiple locations throughout North Carolina. You can see all locations with open appointments when scheduling your appointment or by calling (984) 215-5485. We encourage minors to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Do I have to live in the county where I get the vaccine?

No. You can go to any location that is most convenient for you.

Where can I find my appointment details?

If you have a My UNC Chart account, you can find your appointment details there. If you do not have a My UNC Chart account, you should have received a confirmation email or text message with appointment details.

You can call (984) 215-5485 with any questions or concerns. The scheduling line is open 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

How can I change or cancel my vaccination appointment?

If you have a My UNC Chart account, you can reschedule or cancel your appointment there. If you do not have a My UNC Chart account, please call (984) 215-5485. The scheduling line is open 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

How long will I need to wait after receiving my shot before I can drive home?

Everyone is monitored for at least 15 minutes after getting the shot. Please plan to wait up to 30 minutes after you receive your vaccine before you can leave to drive home.

Is there a cost for UNC Health patients to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

There will be no charge to patients. If you have insurance, we will bill your insurance company. The patient will have no responsibility for any payment.

I received a phone call from UNC Health asking for my personal information including my social security number so I could get the COVID-19 vaccines. Why would they need this?

UNC Health will never ask patients for personal information such as social security numbers, bank accounts or other financial data. COVID-19 vaccines are not for sale, and no one representing themselves as having vaccines for sale is a legitimate representative of UNC Health or the UNC Health Alliance.

SAFETY

How can I be sure the vaccines are effective and safe?

UNC Health is confident in the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were each studied in large clinical trials that enrolled tens of thousands of people. These trials include both women and men from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. They found that the vaccines are well-tolerated with no unexpected unfavorable effects. The FDA continues to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. As of July 1, 2021, more than 157 million people in the U.S. have now received a vaccine. There are no current safety concerns for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. A small number of women out of over a million who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed a rare type of stroke.

Did those who made or approved the vaccines cut any corners to make it available faster?

The development of the COVID-19 vaccines – and the clinical trials testing their safety and effectiveness – were accomplished in record time. This was to respond to the emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists from across the world, including at UNC, worked hard to conduct large, rigorous studies to ensure the safety of the vaccines before they became available. These clinical trials did not cut any corners and also included a diverse group of participants. Also, two groups of non-government scientists – along with the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – independently reviewed the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine before they became available in the U.S.

Learn more here.

Can the vaccines cause COVID-19?

No. The vaccines do not contain the SARS-CoV02 virus, which causes COVID-19. All of the COVID-19 vaccines work by helping your body build up its defenses against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Are there any groups who should NOT get a vaccine?

At this time, children under the age of 12 cannot get a vaccine.  If you have a history of serious allergic reactions – especially to vaccines –talk to your healthcare provider before you schedule a vaccination appointment.  Please tell the person giving you the vaccine if you have a history of severe allergic reactions, especially to vaccines. If you have a known allergy to the components of the COVID-19 vaccines you should not receive them.

 If you have a history of fainting with needles or a fear of shots, CDC recommends doing the following:

  • Have a beverage or snack before getting your vaccine.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply before getting the vaccine and think of something relaxing.
  • Sit or lie down after you receive your vaccine.

 The CDC recommends that individuals with a weakened immune system who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines obtain a supplemental dose (commonly referred to as a ‘booster dose’), ideally of the same type you have already received. In addition, the CDC recommends that anyone who is immunocompromised continue to take COVID-19 safety precautions such as wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and using good hand hygiene even after vaccination.

If someone has allergies, including allergies to the flu vaccine, should they receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

At this time, only those with a known allergy to the components of the COVID-19 vaccines should not receive them. If you have a history of severe allergic reactions – especially to vaccines – you should discuss your situation with your primary care provider before scheduling your vaccination appointment. For all other types of allergies including to food, pollens, pets, insect stings, latex and oral medications, the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly recommended. Additionally, a history of allergic reactions to other vaccines may not indicate an allergy to this one.

Everyone is monitored for at least 15 minutes after getting the shot, and if you have a history of severe allergic reactions, you will be monitored for 30 minutes. It is important that you share any history of severe allergic reactions to those providing a COVID-19 vaccine, so you can be monitored appropriately.

Although the likelihood of a bad reaction is very small, our patients’ safety is our priority and our medical staff is fully prepared. The observation period is required, medication (epinephrine) is available, and everyone has the right training to make sure you are safe.

EFFECTIVENESS OF THE VACCINES

How long is the COVID-19 vaccine effective?

Studies are looking at how long the vaccines provide protection from getting infected with or sick with COVID-19. At present, the data suggest the vaccine remain effective for at least 6 months to a year.

Are the vaccines effective against the new types of COVID-19?

Vaccines aren’t meant to completely prevent infection or even mild cases. The goal of any vaccine is to keep you from getting very sick and needing to go to the hospital or dying if the virus enters your body. The data show us that vaccination continues to reduce the risk of getting infected, decreases the time you are infectious in the event you do get infected, and remains very effective at preventing serious COVID-19 and death.

Can I still get COVID-19 if I have been vaccinated?

Yes, but the vast majority of breakthrough cases are mild or even asymptomatic (no symptoms).Vaccines aren’t meant to completely prevent infection or even mild cases. The goal of any vaccine is to keep you from getting very sick and needing to go to the hospital or dying if the virus enters your body. That is what we are seeing now, with over 90 percent of those getting hospitalized with COVID-19 being those who are not vaccinated.

SIDE EFFECTS

Will I experience side effects right after I get the vaccine?

Your arm may be sore, red or warm to the touch after you receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Other possible side effects include a headache, fever, chills or muscle aches – especially after receiving the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. These symptoms usually go away on their own within 1-2 days. Side effects are normal and are a sign the vaccine is working. If you get a sore arm, it can help to move it often. For headaches and body aches, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is preferred, but you can take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) if needed. Rest if you can.

Are there long-term side effects to the vaccines?

In clinical trials, there have been no reports of long-term side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines. Since then, a small number of people were diagnosed with a rare type of stroke after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. All of the people diagnosed with this stroke have been adult women. Approximately 15 cases have been reported out of 1.4 million women who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, so this is a very rare event.

What should I do if I have any side effects or adverse reactions after my vaccine?

You should talk to your primary care doctor if you are concerned about your side effects. If you do not have a doctor, please call the place where you received your shot with any concerns.

VACCINES FOR CHILDREN

Can my child get a vaccine without parental consent?

Parents and guardians are encouraged to attend COVID-19 vaccine appointments with adolescent patients. If you cannot attend an appointment with your child, you can provide consent over the phone. However, North Carolina law permits minors to self-consent for medical health services for the prevention of COVID-19.

Is the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine effective for this age group?

In a clinical trial, involving 2,260 people ages 12 to 15, the Pfizer vaccine was found to be as – or more – effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 when compared to the studies with adults. None of the adolescents in the clinical trial who received the vaccine developed symptoms of a COVID-19 infection.

What side effects did this age group experience from the Pfizer vaccine?

Almost all of the side effects experienced by the adolescents who received the vaccine in the clinical trial were expected, including a sore arm, headache, feeling tired, muscle aches and chills. These side effects were very similar to what they have seen in studies of adults who get the Pfizer vaccine.

We suggest you avoid scheduling a vaccine appointment the day before a final exam, dance recital, camp, travel or an important sporting event – just in case.

Can my child get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine with other planned vaccines?

Like adults, adolescents will receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine about 21 days apart. They will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose. Although multiple vaccines can be provided at the same time or within a short period, we encourage that you talk to your healthcare provider about whether it would better to space them out.

My child is scared of needles. What should I do?

If your child has a fear of shots and/or needles, we suggest you do not tell them about the appointment too far in advance. It may be worse for them if they have too much time to think about it. Instead, wait for the day of the appointment to explain why they need the shot. You can tell them that it will keep them, their friends and loved ones safe, and help us return to a more normal life.

Make sure you tell the person who is administering your child’s shot if they have a history of fainting with needles. If your child has fainted while getting a shot before, the CDC recommends they do the following:

  • Have a beverage or snack before getting your vaccine.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply before getting the vaccine and think of something relaxing.
  • Sit or lie down after you receive your vaccine.

YOUR SECOND DOSE

How do I schedule my second dose of the vaccine?

If you receive a two-dose vaccine, you will make your appointment for your second dose of the vaccine at your first vaccine appointment. If you need to change your appointment for your second dose, you can do so in My UNC Chart.

If you do not have a UNC MyChart account, please call (984) 215-5485. The scheduling line is open 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

What if I test positive for COVID-19 after getting the first dose of a vaccine?

If you got a vaccine that requires two doses and you test positive for COVID-19 after your first dose, you should NOT come in for your second vaccine until:

  • It has been 10 days since you first had signs of COVID-19 or a positive COVID-19 test AND
  • You have been fever-free for 24 hours without using any fever-reducing medications AND
  • Your other symptoms of COVID-19 are getting better.

If you received monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19, please wait for at least 90 days before scheduling your second-dose appointment.

If you have a My UNC Chart account, you may cancel your appointment online by going to www.myuncchart.org. If you do not have a My UNC Chart account, please call the location where you received your first shot to cancel or reschedule your appointment or call (984)-215-5485.

BECOMING FULLY VACCINATED

How soon after I get a COVID-19 vaccine – either first or second dose – can I spend time with others? Do I still need to wear a mask?

It takes time for your body to build up protections against COVID-19 after your vaccine. If you get a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), you are considered to be fully protected from COVID two weeks after receiving your second dose. If you get a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson), you are considered fully protected two weeks after receiving your vaccine. Given the spread of the delta variant, even if you are fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends you still wear a mask.

Do I still need to quarantine if I have been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19 even if I am fully vaccinated?

The CDC recommends that people who have been fully vaccinated for two weeks or more do not need to quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19.

Get Your Vaccine Today

Schedule an appointment to receive your COVID-19 Vaccine at a UNC Health facility. We offer both two-dose (Pfizer and Moderna) and one-dose (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.

Schedule your Appointment

Booster Guidance

Read latest guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccines- who is eligible, which vaccine needs a booster, and more.

View Booster Guidance

UNC Health Immunization Records (including Covid-19 Vaccination)

Your UNC Health immunization record can be found in My UNC Chart.  If you have My UNC Chart, you can login to access these records. If you do not have My UNC Chart and would like to activate your account, you may activate online at https://myuncchart.org/MyChart/accesscheck.asp or by calling UNC HealthLink at;(888) 996-2767. You may also contact UNC Health Medical Records at 984-974-3226 for a copy of your Epic@UNC immunization record, but please note that they will not be distributing CDC Vaccination Cards.

NC DHHS Immunization Record

You may also contact NC DHHS on their Help Desk number at (877) 873-6247 to get your vaccination records printout.