Frequently asked questions

You have questions. We have answers. It's important to understand the facts behind the vaccine and its distribution. This COVID-19 FAQ provides the latest information and will be updated as information becomes available.


Eligibility and Scheduling

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Ohioans who are ages 5 and up are now able to receive their vaccine. The order in which individuals are able to receive the vaccine is guided by federal and state government guidelines.

How can I schedule an appointment for vaccination?

Once eligible, log in to your MyChart account to schedule your vaccination at Ohio State. View our step-by-step guide on scheduling your vaccination through MyChart. If you don't have a MyChart account, sign up now. Vaccines are administered at several Ohio State outpatient care locations (must schedule an appointment in advance).

To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine outside of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, visit to find a vaccination site near you.

Who determined the criteria for vaccination prioritization?

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices develops the national recommendations on the use of vaccines. As this is a new vaccine and production will need to ramp up to meet demand, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Committee on Equitable Allocation of Vaccine created the suggested framework for distribution. This work was sponsored (funded) by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I already had COVID-19. Should I get the vaccine? Should I wait?

It’s still recommended that you get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve previously been infected with COVID-19.

If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, your isolation period/quarantine must end before you receive your vaccine.

If you had COVID-19 in the past and received the monoclonal antibody treatment, you need to wait at least 90 days from the last treatment date and be symptom-free before receiving the vaccine.

If I'm breastfeeding or pregnant, can I still get the vaccine?

The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to become pregnant or might become pregnant in the future.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also recommends getting the vaccine while pregnant, because pregnant women have a much higher risk of more severe illness from COVID-19 than nonpregnant women. Vaccination could also help protect the fetus.

Pregnant women who become sick from COVID-19 are more likely than nonpregnant women to need care in an intensive care unit in the hospital, need a ventilator for breathing assistance, and die from COVID-19.

After vaccination, antibodies created by your body can be passed through breastmilk to your baby and may help protect your baby from COVID-19. The CDC and ACOG both recommend that breastfeeding women be vaccinated against COVID-19.

There’s no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility.

A conversation with your health care provider based on your personal situation and COVID-19 risk factors may assist with decisions, but is not required.

Should children get the vaccine?

The FDA's approval specifies that the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for ages 12 and older. Under the FDA's emergency use authorization (EUA), the Moderna vaccine and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are both authorized for ages 18 and older.   

Can I get the vaccine if I’m not feeling well?

If you’re not feeling well, it’s recommended that you wait until you’re feeling better to get the vaccine.

Can I choose the manufacturer of the vaccine I get?

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has now received full FDA approval and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA. This means that the FDA recommends all three as safe and effective at protecting from severe illness due to COVID-19. Since all are ongoing shipments and we're actively opening appointments without holding any vaccine back, we haven't differentiated the appointment types. The vaccine used at your appointment is based on availability on the day you're receiving it. 

Would there be any problems if I were to get the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at the same time or in close proximity to one another?

Data now shows you can safely receive both vaccines at the same time or scheduled closely together.

What if I don't have my own transportation to get the vaccine location?

If you don't have access to a car, we can help you locate free transportation to your Ohio State vaccination site. Ask your scheduler when you call 614-688-8299 (VAXX) to schedule your vaccination appointment. Learn more about free transportation resources.

What if I'm not a patient of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?

Anyone who meets the current State of Ohio age eligibility criteria can be vaccinated at our sites. Call 614-688-8299 (VAXX) to schedule your vaccination appointment or sign up online to be notified when appointments are available.

Should cancer patients get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Read our blog about what cancer patients need to know about the vaccine. Cancer patients who have had a diagnosis or active treatment within the last five years also are eligible for a third dose 28 days or more after their second vaccine dose. Third doses for eligible immunocompromised individuals are now available at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

Cancer patients can opt to participate in a research study at Ohio State looking at the impact of the COVID-19 vaccine on cancer patients.

Should I get a third dose or 'booster' vaccine shot?

The FDA now recommends a third vaccine dose for immunocompromised patients. View our third dose vaccine page for more information on eligibility.

Is the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center providing third dose/booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine?

We are currently providing third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for individuals who are significantly immunocompromised and are eligible for a third dose according to CDC and FDA recommendations. Learn more about who is eligible, how to schedule a third dose and answers to other questions about COVID-19 boosters.

How well does the vaccine protect against the delta variant?

The available COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness from the delta variant of COVID-19, which is much more transmissible than the previous dominant strain. While no vaccine is 100% effective and there can be breakthrough cases in those who are fully vaccinated, people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 are showing to be significantly less likely to experience severe symptoms that would require hospitalization.

Learn the best ways to protect against the delta variant.


What is the cost of the vaccine?

The government is providing the vaccine free of charge, and health plans are required to cover the cost of administration. Patients who receive a vaccination will not be asked to pay anything out of pocket.

After Vaccination

How can I access my COVID-19 vaccination record?

If you were vaccinated at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, you can view your vaccination record in your MyChart account. If you don't have a MyChart account, sign up now

  • Log in to MyChart
  • Select "Menu" from the home screen
  • Scroll down to the "My Record" section and select "COVID-19"
  • The COVID-19 activity in MyChart will display your vaccination information, your COVID-19 test results and other helpful resources. You can download your vaccination record using the 'Download/Export' button
  • Contact your provider if your COVID-19 vaccination record is not correct

Why do I need to make sure my vaccination information is up to date in my electronic medical record (MyChart)?

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is asking all patients to bring their vaccine card to their next appointment. While it's not required for care, it's helpful to make sure the information we have is accurate and up to date so we can best serve you. To view your current vaccination record or update it if information is missing or incorrect, follow these instructions.

How many shots will I need to get?

For Pfizer and Moderna, two doses of COVID-19 vaccine are required, separated by 21 or 28 days are required (as specified by the manufacturer).

The COVID-19 vaccines aren’t interchangeable; recipients must receive the vaccine made by the same manufacturer for each dose.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose. 

Third doses are now recommended for certain immunocompromised individuals who first received doses of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. 

How long will protection last following vaccination?

We're still learning about the duration of protection, and it is too early to tell how long protection will last. Researchers will continue to follow the participants in the phase 3 clinical trials to determine the length of protection.

Will I need to get this vaccine every year? 

The world is still learning how long immunity to the coronavirus lasts after a vaccination. Intensive monitoring and evaluation will continue after the vaccines are in use to determine if repeat immunizations will be needed.

Can someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No, it is not possible to get COVID-19 from vaccines. The vaccines use only parts of the virus, the spike protein, which cannot cause COVID-19. Learn more from our experts about how these vaccines work in the body.

Should I worry about shedding the virus to others in my household after I am vaccinated?

Because the COVID-19 vaccines do not give recipients the actual COVID-19 virus, it does not cause recipients to shed or spread the virus. However, if you have been vaccinated, you may still be able to be a carrier of COVID-19 if you pick it up later. This is why we recommend you still follow guidelines for social distancing and mask-wearing even after you’ve been vaccinated — vaccination should give your body the antibodies to fight off the virus, but you could potentially spread it to others if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Is it safe to drive myself home after I'm vaccinated?

Yes, as long as you don't feel worse than when you arrived, it is safe to drive home. If you're feeling unwell, be sure to check with an on-site clinician.

Can you still get COVID-19 if you’re vaccinated?

The currently available COVID-19 vaccines have shown that they are very effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19 that lead to hospitalization and death. 

All along, it’s been possible that someone could still contract a symptomatic case of COVID-19 despite being vaccinated — but they would be less likely to require hospitalization, and they’d be less likely to die of the disease. Data shows that this is still overwhelmingly the case, as nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the United States are among unvaccinated people.

Now that the vaccines are 
beginning to receive full FDA approval, we can be even better assured of vaccine safety, through rigorously reviewed data collected on tens of millions of vaccinated people.

Does vaccination lower the risk of “long COVID”?

So far, COVID-19 vaccination appears to lower the risk of long-term symptoms of COVID-19. COVID-19 causes inflammation and bodily responses that can cause symptoms like fatigue and brain fog long after the infection has ended. Because COVID-19 vaccines are effective at reducing the severity and duration of COVID-19 infection, they may be able to lower the risk of long-term symptoms because they may have limited damage to the body’s cells.

Side Effects

What are the side effects associated with getting the vaccine?

It’s natural, and expected, for the body to have an immune response to a vaccine. Some people in the clinical trial have experienced side effects, including injection site pain or redness, fatigue, muscle/joint pain and headache.

Side effects were more frequently reported after the second dose.

Just as you would with other vaccines, those who are immunized will be provided information about the vaccine’s risks and benefits, what to do in the case of an adverse reaction and where to find additional information.

A copy of the emergency use authorization will be provided at the appointment, as well as a vaccine information sheet (VIS).

If you experience common side effects from the vaccine, it’s still necessary to receive the second dose for the vaccine to be effective.

If you have severe allergies and/or have experienced an allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past, talk with your doctor about the ingredients of this vaccine and whether the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for you.

How do I report side effects?

At your vaccine appointment, you'll be provided information on what to do in case of an adverse reaction.

The CDC is expanding its safety surveillance through the launch of a smartphone-based tool called v-safe that regularly collects text and email feedback.

For those who don’t opt in to v-safe, adverse events can be reported in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is co-managed by the CDC and the FDA and serves as a national system for collecting and analyzing possible vaccine side effects.

If you have questions about symptoms, talk with your doctor or schedule a Telehealth Immediate Care appointment.

In the unlikely event of a serious or life-threatening concern, go to the Emergency Department or call 9-1-1.

Is there any concern with taking medications before or after receiving the vaccine?

Before vaccination: It is not recommended that you take fever-reducing or analgesic pain-relieving medications (ex: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen) right before receiving the vaccine for the purpose of preventing post-vaccination symptoms, because information on the effects of such use on antibody responses is not yet available. 

After vaccination: The CDC recommends those medications may be taken after vaccination to treat post-vaccination symptoms as needed.

There are no other limitations for specific medications at this time.

Research / Clinical Trials

How many different vaccines are available?

The FDA has fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and granted emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. There are additional vaccine candidates currently undergoing clinical trials.

What is an emergency use authorization (EUA)?

An EUA is a legal mechanism that allows the FDA to authorize the use of a medical product to address public health emergencies if certain statutory criteria and scientific evidence are met. This video provides a brief overview:

The FDA will make publicly available all of the data and information regarding emergency use authorization granted to COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.

How does the vaccine work to protect you against COVID-19?

The vaccine is not a cure; it's a preventive measure.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have manufactured a vaccine using messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). mRNA is naturally found in humans; its role is to deliver instructions from DNA to cells about which proteins the cells needs to create. Learn more about how it works.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine utilizes viral vector technology, which uses a modified, harmless version of a different virus as a carrier, or vector, to deliver immunity instructions to cells in the body. Learn more about how it works

The coronavirus contains spike proteins that penetrate and infect healthy cells in the body. The vaccines use mRNA that mirrors the genetic code of coronavirus spike proteins to convince the recipient’s immune system to develop antibodies to the coronavirus protein. Those antibodies are then able to recognize the coronavirus if the recipient comes into contact with the virus and can more effectively clear the virus from the body and prevent severe infection.

Did the vaccines go through a clinical trial?

Yes. Operation Warp Speed is an effort to develop vaccines and therapeutics quicker than would normally be possible by running the three phases of these clinical trials in an accelerated time frame. They also start manufacturing on a large scale before the studies are done, so that vaccines will be ready to be administered as soon as possible once they're approved, having been declared effective and safe. All of the vaccines go through the standard steps, but in a much faster process made possible, in part, by the large number of patients available to participate in each trial.

This six-minute video ( and the illustration below further explain these points.

How many people received the vaccine during the trials?

The Pfizer vaccine study enrolled 46,000 participants. The Moderna vaccine study enrolled 30,000 participants. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine study enrolled 43,783 participants.

Safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines were developed at record speed. Are they safe?

The vaccine is deemed to be safe based upon a rigorous evaluation of currently available scientific evidence. If the available scientific evidence changes or if new information becomes available, the authorization for its use can be adapted.

The Pfizer vaccine study enrolled 46,000 participants, with 42% having diverse ethnic backgrounds. No serious safety concerns were observed. The only Grade 3 (severe) adverse events greater than or equal to 2% in frequency were fatigue (3.8%) and headache (2%).

The Moderna vaccine study enrolled 30,000 participants, with 37% having diverse backgrounds. No serious safety concerns were observed. The majority of adverse events were mild or moderate in severity. Grade 3 (severe) events included injection site pain (2.7%), fatigue (9.7%), muscle pain or soreness (8.9%), joint pain (5.2%), headache (4.5%), pain (4.1%) and redness at the injection site (2%).

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine study enrolled 43,783 participants. About 9% of the participants reported symptoms of fever, and 0.2% reported a Grade 3 fever (between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit).

All vaccine trials have scheduled monitoring reviews, typically by an independent group known as a Data and Safety Monitoring Board, which routinely assesses safety or can be convened quickly to review any unanticipated adverse events.

What is the effectiveness of the vaccines?

Studies currently provide evidence that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) reduce the risk of COVID-19, including severe illness, by at least 90% among people who are fully vaccinated (having gotten both doses). Most effectiveness data available is for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines because they have been available for a longer period of time. However, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has also shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials.

People who are fully vaccinated can still be infected by COVID-19 and can still get sick with what are called “breakthrough” cases. However, data suggests that vaccination likely makes symptoms less severe in people who are vaccinated. As of September 2021, very few of those hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United States have been fully vaccinated — more than 90% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are in unvaccinated people.

Has the vaccine been FDA approved?

The FDA has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA. Under the EUA process, in emergency situations when there are no adequate, approved and available alternatives, the FDA has the authority to authorize medical products for use under specified conditions before all the evidence that would be needed for full FDA approval is available.

Why was there a temporary pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

On April 13, and out of an abundance of caution, the FDA and CDC paused the use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine to investigate the development of a rare blood clotting disorder along with low platelet counts in six (6) patients across the country who received the J&J vaccine. Those cases represented 6 patients out of over 6 million doses of the J&J vaccine that have been administered in the United States.

Following a thorough safety review, the CDC reaffirmed its recommendation to make the J&J vaccine available to all people 18 years of age and older in the U.S. According to the CDC, the risk of getting blood clots from the J&J vaccine is extremely low, while the benefits of receiving the vaccine far outweigh the risks. Read full statement from the FDA and CDC

Why would we need boosters to the COVID-19 vaccine? Does that mean the first doses aren’t working?

We do know that the COVID-19 vaccines currently available are working. They were designed to minimize severe disease, hospitalizations and death, and they are doing that for those who are vaccinated — by summer 2021, over 95% of the deaths from COVID-19 in the United States were among those who weren’t vaccinated. Data is showing us that, if they’ve been infected by the virus, people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are significantly less likely to experience severe symptoms than people who aren’t vaccinated.

What we are seeing is that the immunity provided by COVID-19 vaccines could lessen over time. Because of this, data is showing that, particularly in some populations that are immunocompromised, an additional dose could be beneficial. Those populations include people who are undergoing chemotherapy, who have had an organ transplant or are receiving immunosuppressing treatments for other health conditions.


Do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing after I'm fully vaccinated?

The CDC offers recommendations on what activities are safe for people to resume after they're fully vaccinated. Keep in mind that individual businesses and organizations may continue to require masking and social distancing. CDC still mandates that anyone in a hospital setting should still wear a mask, even if vaccinated.

Masks are required inside all Ohio State health care facilities. There are vulnerable patient populations visiting health care locations and are at greater risk of getting COVID-19. Read current CDC guidelines.

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Meet our experts who provided the answers


Robert J. Weber, PharmD, MS, BCPS

  • Administrator, Pharmacy Services Assistant Dean for Medical Center Affairs