COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Vaccine Information

There are a lot of questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, and we know how important it is to have accurate COVID-19 vaccine information from trusted sources. See below for frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine based on information from Public Health, North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Please check back regularly to stay informed of the latest news and resources.

COVID-19 vaccines are now available to anyone 5 & older that wants a vaccine. Vaccines are being given by Public Health, hospitals, health care providers, clinics, and pharmacies in the community. You can find more local vaccine providers and COVID-19 vaccine appointment information at TakeMyShot.NC.gov

 


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Children Ages 5-11: The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, as a smaller dose, is now available for children ages 5-11, and clinical trials with more than 3,000 children found the vaccines work and are safe. The side effects are similar to adults: a sore arm, headache, and being tired or achy for a day or two. Parents can learn more at NCDHHS.gov.

Youth Ages 12-18: The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved for anyone ages 12 and up, and has shown very high levels of effectiveness. You can read more about Pfizer’s recent FDA approval here.

Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine currently approved for children and youth.

Additional clinical trials are underway to ensure vaccines are safe and work to prevent COVID-19 illness in young children. Updates on each of those clinical trials are below:

  • Moderna, whose vaccine is currently only approved for people 18 and older, started conducting clinical trials in adolescents ages 12-17 in December 2020. On March 17th, 2021 they began clinical trials in children from 6 months to 11 years old.
  • Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccine is also only approved for people 18 and older, is currently conducting a clinical trial in adolescents ages 12-17.

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The vaccine will protect you from getting COVID-19, help prevent severe illness and the spread of the virus in our community, and save lives.

There is no way to know how your body will fight COVID-19 or the impact the illness could have if spread to members of your family, to friends, or other close contacts. The vaccine will help your body build protection from COVID-19, without having to experience the virus itself or risk spreading the illness to others.

We know that protective measures alone have not stopped the spread of COVID-19. When layered with these practiced protective measures, the vaccine will bolster effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 infections community-wide.


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While side effects can occur after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, just like with any other vaccine you receive, they are typically minor and short-lived. Adverse events from the vaccine are extremely rare, and some people experience no side effects at all.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists nine common side effects of the vaccine, including pain, redness and swelling at the injection site along with tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea.

After the second vaccine dose, side effects can sometimes be more intense than with the first, according to the CDC, but they are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus and should go away within a few days. While COVID-19 vaccines may cause side effects, they cannot and do not give you COVID-19.

The CDC encourages people to contact their doctor if side effects do not go away after a few days.

New Hanover County Public Health is offering free COVID-19 vaccines to the community, providing:

  • Pfizer (two-dose vaccine, approved for anyone 5 & older; note: kids age 5-11 receive a smaller dose than the adult vaccine)
    • Parental consent is required for children ages 5-12 years old prior to receiving the vaccine
    • You may also see the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine now called Comirnaty
  • Moderna (two-dose vaccine, approved for anyone 18 & older)
  • Johnson & Johnson (one-dose vaccine, approved for anyone 18 & older)

More Information about the approved vaccines:

Yes. Our partners at Wave Transit are providing free next-day transportation to designated vaccination locations for community members with appointments.

Individuals with vaccine appointments can call Wave Transit at 910-202-2053 or email ptschedule@WaveTransit.com during the following times:

  • For next-day transportation requests, contact Wave Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • If requesting transportation for a Monday, contact Wave on Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Residents with Medicaid can also call New Hanover County Health and Human Services Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 910-798-3500 (option 7) to speak with a Medicaid Transportation Coordinator. A three-day notice is required to schedule in-county trips through Medicaid Transportation.

Every vaccine goes through extensive clinical trials and monitoring to identify effectiveness, potential side effects, or safety concerns before it is approved for public use, and the COVID-19 vaccine is no different.

The COVID-19 vaccine is designed like many other vaccines to teach your body to fight infection. Sometimes, this can cause a spike in fever or other symptoms that signal your body is building immunity. Some recipients have reported effects of the immune response the vaccine triggers, like soreness at the injection site or fatigue.

Any potential side effects are required by law to be reported by the drug manufacturer. So far, none of the approved vaccines have reported any significant safety concerns in their trials.

The CDC also has an app called “V-Safe” that allows users to report any side effects experienced after receiving the vaccine.

Monitoring of potential side effects will be on-going as the vaccine is distributed, with mandatory reporting of any adverse effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD).


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Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is your choice and will be available if you want one.

Without the vaccine, you risk exposure and potential severe illness from COVID-19 or unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to others, so protective measures like wearing a mask and maintaining distance from others will have to be followed in the long-term, while the vaccine is administered broadly.

Choosing to not get the COVID-19 vaccine may not have an immediate consequence, just like choosing to not get the flu shot doesn’t immediately result in you getting the flu. What it does mean, is that the only way your body will build defenses and protections from COVID-19 is through the virus itself.

There is no way to know how your body will fight COVID-19 or the impact the illness could have if spread to members of your family, to friends, or other close contacts. The vaccine will help your body build protection from COVID-19, without having to experience the virus itself or risk spreading the illness to others.


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No. The COVID-19 vaccine is designed like many other vaccines to teach your body to fight infection. Sometimes, this can cause a spike in fever or other symptoms that signal your body is building immunity. Some recipients have reported effects of the immune response the vaccine triggers, like soreness at the injection site or fatigue. Any side effects from the vaccine will be reported, as required by law.

The vaccine will not give you COVID-19, but may take some time to build protection, so it’s important to keep up with the 3 Ws consistently. Wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands well & often, and keep up with cleaning and sanitation measures.


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Not quite.  Getting your vaccine will build your immunity, which can lower your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.  Your vaccine will also greatly reduce your risk of developing serious illness or death related to COVID-19.

Your greatest level of immunity will be once you are considered fully vaccinated, which is 14 days after receiving your second dose of either the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine, or 14 days after receiving the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

To keep your immunity level high, you are eligible for a booster shot 5 months after receiving your second Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine or two months after your dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.


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The COVID-19 vaccine and booster is free and accessible to everyone. Health insurance is not required.

Yes, and you should. Even if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, there is no current understanding of how long natural immunity, gained from exposure to the virus, will last from person to person. Re-infection is still possible, so everyone is encouraged to get the vaccine and booster to protect themselves from severe illness.


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Yes. The CDC has advised that you can receive your COVID-19 vaccine even if you have received another vaccine recently.  You can even receive other necessary vaccines on the same day you receive your COVID-19 vaccine, like for the flu or other diseases.

People who are actively sick with COVID-19 should wait until they have recovered and can no longer spread the virus before getting their vaccine. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 between their first and second dose of a two-dose vaccine. For two-dose vaccines, the second dose can be given up to 6 weeks after the first dose and still be very effective, so do not worry if you have to reschedule your appointment for a later date. Once you have recovered, it is safe to get vaccinated with any COVID-19 vaccine if you have been infected in the past.

If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have authorized and recommended booster vaccine shots to provide continued protection for those at high risk for serious illness or exposure and who have been fully vaccinated. Boosters strengthen and extend protections against COVID-19.

Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. See below for a COVID-19 booster eligibility guide.

You are eligible for a Pfizer booster if you are:

  • 12 years or older and fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna for at least five months, or with Johnson & Johnson for at least two months

You are eligible for a Moderna booster if you are:

  • 18 years or older and fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna for at least five months, or with Johnson & Johnson for at least two months

You are eligible for a Johnson & Johnson booster if you are:

  • 18 years or older and fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna for at least five months, or with Johnson & Johnson for at least two months

How to schedule:

Booster shots are currently being offered by appointment, which can be made at TakeMyShot.NC.gov (the website is available in English and Spanish).

Getting a vaccine is easy, free, and includes a 15-minute observation time after you receive your vaccine. No documentation or information is needed for those receiving their first dose of the vaccine.

Anyone who needs their second dose of the vaccine, and does not already have a scheduled appointment, can walk-up at one of these vaccine sites without an appointment. Please take note of the vaccine being offered at each site and select the one with the vaccine you need. Remember to bring your vaccination card to your second dose so it can be completed. If you received your first dose out of state, you will need to bring proof of your first dose to the walk-up site (i.e., your vaccination card or documentation from the state or entity where you received your first dose of the vaccine).

Health: 1650 Greenfield Street • Wilmington, NC 28401 • Phone 910-798-3500 • Fax 910-798-7834 • Human Services Fax 910-798-7824
Environmental Health: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-6667 • Fax 910-798-7815
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