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?
The order in which individuals are able to receive the vaccine is guided by federal and state government guidelines. Ohioans who are ages 16 and up are now able to schedule appointments to receive their vaccine. The speed at which Ohioans receive the vaccine is dependent upon the number of vaccine doses available.
How can I schedule an appointment for vaccination?
Once eligible, log in to your MyChart account to schedule your vaccination. View our step-by-step guide on scheduling your vaccination through MyChart. If you don't have a MyChart account, sign up now.
How can I stay updated on vaccine availability?
This FAQ page is updated frequently as more information is released. You can also visit our COVID-19 vaccine page for videos, fact sheets and vaccine eligibility information and testimonies from our experts.
- Join our waitlists by signing up online or calling 614-688-8299 (VAXX) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You will be notified when an appointment becomes available.
- Check the Ohio Department of Health website to see if other health care providers or retail clinics have vaccine availability.
- Subscribe to our emails, where we will provide updates directly to your inbox. (scroll to bottom of page to sign up)
- Sign up for an Ohio State MyChart account, our free, secure online health portal, to receive notifications and to schedule your vaccination when you become eligible.
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. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center suggests waiting 30 days after the positive test and ensuring you’re symptom-free before receiving the vaccine. You still have some natural defenses after COVID-19 infection, so you may have more side effects (such as aches, fever, chills) to the vaccine if taken very close to your infection.
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 manufacturers that are testing the vaccines in clinical trials have so far not included pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding, so there are currently no data available to inform vaccine-associated risks in pregnancy, on the breastfed infant or milk production/excretion. However...
- There is nothing to indicate that the vaccine is unsafe for pregnant people at this time.
- Developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) studies are ongoing, and vaccine studies in pregnant individuals are planned.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant and lactating individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP-recommended priority groups, such as health care personnel.
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.
Pregnancy testing is available free of charge for people who are considering the vaccine and are capable of becoming pregnant.
Should children get the vaccine?
The major vaccine clinical trials focused on adults first, and we don't yet have enough data to determine the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines for children. The FDA's emergency use authorization (EUA) specified that the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for ages 16 and older, Moderna vaccine is authorized for ages 18 and older and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for ages 18 and older. Those under 18 who are interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine should speak with their primary care provider about how and when it can be administered to them.
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 EUAs for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are very similar. Since both 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. Read what our experts say about which vaccine is 'best.'
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?
If you have received another vaccine (flu, tetanus, HPV, etc.), you need to wait at least 14 days between shots.
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.
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.
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 only requires one dose.
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.
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 approved emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer-BioNTEch, Moderna COVID-19 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: https://youtu.be/iGkwaESsGBQ
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.
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 (https://youtu.be/Z06JQhyZLUI) and the illustration below further explain these points.
How many people received the vaccine during the trials?
The Pfizer vaccine study enrolled 43,538 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 43,538 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 being considered for emergency use?
Pfizer vaccine effectiveness analysis has demonstrated that vaccine (BNT162b2) to be 95% effective against COVID-19, beginning 28 days after the first dose.
- 170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were evaluated, with 162 observed in the placebo group versus 8 in the vaccine group
- 10 severe cases of COVID-19 were observed in the trial, nine of which were in the placebo group and one in the vaccine group
- Effectiveness was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics; observed effectiveness in adults over age 65 was over 94%
Moderna vaccine effectiveness analysis has demonstrated that vaccine (mRNA-1273) to be 94.5% effective against COVID-19.
- 95 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been evaluated, with 90 observed in the placebo group versus 5 in the vaccine group
- 11 severe cases of COVID-19 were observed in the trial, all of which were in the placebo group
Johnson & Johnson vaccine effectiveness analysis has demonstrated the vaccine to be 66% effective against COVID-19, beginning 28 days after vaccination.
Has the vaccine been FDA approved?
The Moderna, Pfizer 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.
If the COVID-19 vaccine works, why do we need to continue masking and social distancing?
Until most of the population has received the vaccine, many in our community remain susceptible to severe infection. Until enough of our population is vaccinated to reach herd immunity, we need to continue wearing face masks, social distancing and washing hands often when we're around others who might not be vaccinated.
Together, vaccination and following CDC recommendations will help stop the pandemic.