COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Vaccine Information

There are a lot of questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in our community, 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, the vaccination plan in New Hanover County, and more based on information from NHC Public Health, North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

We will continue to update this information as more details become available and as we progress through the vaccination rollout, so please check back regularly to stay informed of the latest news and resources.

How and when you receive the vaccine will depend on which vaccination group of the rollout applies to you. You can find which group you fit into at FindMyGroup.nc.gov

View the current vaccination group in New Hanover County here, and an outline of the state’s current group outline here and below:

Group 1: Health care workers fighting COVID-19 & Long-Term Care staff and residents

  • Health care workers with in-person patient contact
  • Long-term care staff and residents—people in skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes and continuing care retirement communities (note: this also includes people receiving long-term home care for more than 30 days including Home and Community-Based Services for persons with intellectual and developmental disability, private duty nursing, personal care services, and home health and hospice).

Group 2: Older adults

  • Anyone 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation

Group 3: Frontline essential workers

  • The CDC defines frontline essential workers as workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and who are at substantially higher risk for exposure to COVID-19. These workers must also be in person or in the field in their jobs.

Group 4: Adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness

  • Anyone 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID-19 such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, among others, regardless of living situation. This includes people with higher-risk medical conditions, including intellectual and developmental disabilities including Down syndrome, and neurologic conditions, such as dementia.
  • Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function
  • Essential workers not yet vaccinated. The CDC defines these as workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety (e.g., engineers) and public health workers

Group 5: Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination

We expect this vaccination event to take several months, so it is important to be patient and to continue the protective measures already in place throughout this process, regardless of vaccination status.


More Information:

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.


More Information:

New Hanover County Public Health is equipped and able to store and administer all three vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorization (information about each is linked below). Public Health does not provide a “vaccine-shopping option” for residents because we utilize any and all vaccine that is supplied to us from the state. When someone comes to a vaccine site for an appointment, they are informed about the vaccine they will receive at that time. But the county does not routinely announce in advance which brand we are administering on a given day or at a given location, because all three vaccines are very effective.

 


More Information about the approved vaccines:

Yes. All three vaccines currently approved are tested, safe and effective vaccines that will help build our community’s immunity to the virus and decrease severe disease and hospitalizations and help our community move past this pandemic.

The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine is approved for individuals 18 years of age and older and is easier to administer since it is a one-shot vaccine. Like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it will help prevent COVID-19 and is extremely effective in preventing hospitalization and death with no serious safety concerns. In clinical trials, the Janssen vaccine was 72% effective in preventing moderate to severe illness (after 28 days) and 86% at preventing severe to critical illness (after 28 days). For perspective, this is higher than a typical flu vaccine’s efficacy rate.

Like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, scientists built on decades of previous work on similar vaccines to create the Janssen one-shot vaccine. There are possible temporary reactions like a sore arm, fever, headache or feeling tired and achy for a day or two.

Vaccines are being given by Public Health, hospitals, health care providers, clinics, and pharmacies in the community, but how you will receive the vaccine will depend on which group of the rollout applies to you. You can find which group you fit into at FindMyGroup.nc.gov.

Below are the several entities currently offering appointments for the vaccine to those in the community who are eligible under the state’s vaccination plan. Appointments are opened when each entity has vaccine supply on hand:

  • NHC Public Health: Vaccinations can be scheduled through an online scheduling system and by calling 910-798-6800 when appointments are available.
  • NHRMC: Vaccinations can be scheduled at nhrmc.org/coronavirus or by calling (910) 662-2020 when appointments are available.
  • Wilmington Health: Vaccinations can be scheduled at WilmingtonHealth.com/COVIDvaccine or by calling (910) 407-5115 when appointments are available.
  • Walgreens: Vaccinations can be scheduled online here for participating local Walgreen locations when appointments are available.

 


More Information:

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.

Eventually, yes, and it will be free for everyone. Vaccine supplies have been limited, but with a third safe and vaccine now approved and manufacturers continuing to increase supply of the vaccine, the vaccine supply should continue to increase and be more readily available in the coming weeks and months.

The vaccine rollout is expected to take several months – well into the summer, so it is important to be patient and to continue the protective measures already in place throughout this process, regardless of vaccination status.

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).


More Information:

In the early stages of the vaccine distribution, it may not be recommended for children until further results can be obtained. This does not mean is it not safe, it just means that there is not yet enough data to make the call in either scenario.

In current planning, school-aged children are a part of Group 5 in the vaccine rollout, at which time more will be known.

 

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is your choice and will be available in the appropriate phase 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.


More Information:

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.


More Information:

Not quite. Like any vaccine, it takes time for your body to build immunity, and that time varies from person to person. You are still susceptible to infection for the window of time after your vaccination, which is why it’s important to continue the protective measures and the 3 Ws consistently in the months following to prevent severe illness.


More Information:

 

Yes. Vaccines are one way to prevent serious illness from spreading, but it’s important to remember that it is not a cure or the end of COVID-19.

To keep everyone safe, we must use every tool in our toolkit – continuing to wear a mask, practice social distancing, washing our hands, staying home if sick, and other daily protective measures.


More Information:

The COVID-19 vaccine will be free and accessible to everyone. Health insurance will not be required to receive the vaccine.

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 to protect themselves from severe illness.


More Information:

The COVID-19 vaccine is not recommended for anyone who has had another vaccine within the previous 14 days. In addition, individuals who have an active COVID-19 infection (and are still under isolation) or recent exposure to an individual with COVID-19 should defer receiving the vaccination until recovered or removed from quarantine.

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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