Vaccine FAQs

We're here to help you make an informed decision about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

The State of Connecticut determines who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Their decisions are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). //See Current Eligibility Guidelines

How do the COVID-19 vaccines work? Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are mRNA vaccines.

This type of vaccine does not contain any actual virus, which means you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

Instead, the vaccine uses mRNA, or messenger RNA, to give your body instructions for making a small, harmless piece of protein that looks similar to part of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This teaches the immune system how to protect your body against COVID-19.

After your cells have used these "instructions," your body breaks down and eliminates the mRNA. The mRNA does not interact with, or affect, your DNA.

Note: Fetal cell cultures are not used in the production of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

How are the COVID-19 vaccines given?

The COVID-19 vaccines are given as an injection (shot). Both vaccines require two doses, which are given several weeks apart. You will need to get both doses to get the full protection of the vaccine.

  • Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Schedule
    The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is given in two doses 21 days apart.
  • Moderna Vaccine Schedule
    The Moderna vaccine is given in two doses 28 days apart.

How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines? How do we know?

  • The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been shown to be 95% effective in protecting against COVID-19 in people age 16 and older.
  • The Moderna vaccine has been shown to be 94.5% effective in protecting against COVID-19 in people age 18 and older.

How do we know if a vaccine is effective?
Large clinical trials, or studies, are used to determine whether or not a vaccine is effective and safe. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna each recruited more than 30,000 volunteers to participate in the studies of their COVID-19 vaccines. About half of the participants in each study received the real vaccine, and the other half received a placebo (pretend/inactive vaccine). Researchers then observed how many people in each group got COVID-19 to determine if the vaccines protected against the illness. Both companies will continue to closely monitor volunteers to see how long the vaccine stays effective.

Are the vaccines safe? How do we know?

To date, evidence from clinical trials shows that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are safe and well-tolerated. The majority of side effects were mild or moderate and went away in one to two days.

Is there anyone who should not get the vaccine?
When you are deciding whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, consider talking to your primary care physician or other provider if you have a history of severe allergic reactions to any substance, if you have a condition that compromises your immune system, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you have a bleeding disorder, or if you have other specific questions.

How do we know if a vaccine is safe, and how do scientists put together a list of side effects?
The same clinical trials, or studies, that determine effectiveness of vaccines are used to determine if the vaccine is safe for use. Volunteers in the vaccine studies are watched closely for side effects, which are also called adverse events. Researchers track all side effects, from mild to more serious, and report their findings.

How were the vaccines developed so quickly?
These vaccines were able to be created in a short period of time because of upfront financing, regulatory support and existing technology.

What are the most common side effects?

Some participants in the COVID-19 vaccine studies have experienced mild or moderate side effects. The most common side effects are:

  • Pain at the injection site (arm muscle where shot is given)
  • Redness and swelling at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Fever

Why do side effects occur?
Side effects are typically a sign that a vaccine is working!

How? The immune system is designed to protect the body from pathogens, or germs, like viruses. When you feel sick, you are actually feeling the effects of your body's immune response to an "invader."

Vaccines "teach" the immune system how to fight off these invaders. When your body is learning how to protect you, you may feel symptoms similar to the symptoms of the illness—although they are typically much milder. This means that if you are exposed to an actual pathogen, like the coronavirus, your body will know what to do to keep you from getting sick.

How long will my vaccine protect against COVID-19?

At this time, we do not have enough data to know exactly how long the vaccine will keep you safe from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials are ongoing and will continue for approximately two years. As more data is gathered, we will begin to have more information about how long protection lasts.

It is also unknown how long people are immune to COVID-19 after they recover from having COVID-19.

Should people who have had COVID-19 get the vaccine?

At this time, the CDC is not making recommendations about whether or not people who have had COVID-19 should get the vaccine. This is because we do not know how long someone is protected by the "natural immunity" developed after a COVID-19 infection.

However, current research shows that immunity after a COVID-19 infection lasts at least 90 days, so those who have had COVID-19 may want to consider getting a vaccine if they are more than three months out from their illness.

Over time and through scientific studies, we will learn more about immunity to COVID-19 and recommendations may change.

Can people who get the vaccine stop wearing masks, social distancing and taking other precautions?

No! It is very important that people who get a vaccine continue to wear face masks, social distance, practice hand hygiene and take other preventive measures.

The vaccines are highly effective. However, it is still possible to get COVID-19 after being vaccinated. Additionally, even though the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it has not been shown to prevent you from spreading any virus particles in your nose to other people. Therefore, until a larger percentage of the population receives the vaccine, COVID-19 can still spread. The measures listed above will help keep you, your loved ones and health care personnel safe.

At Middlesex Health, we continue to require all of our employees to take every possible step to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if they have received a vaccine.

Will I have to pay to get the vaccine?

There is no cost for the vaccine itself. However, you will see a claim on your insurance for a vaccine administration fee. Most insurance companies, including Medicare, will cover this fee at no out-of-pocket cost to you.

Please contact your insurance company directly for information about their specific policies around the COVID-19 vaccine.

Please bring your insurance card to your vaccine appointment for our records.


COVID-19 Vaccine Town Halls

A Virtual Community Town Hall
A Virtual Town Hall for the LGBTQ+ Community


All COVID-19 Information from Middlesex Health

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