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Vaccine Availability

Q. When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

A. The Edgar County Public Health Dept is now vaccinating any Edgar County resident, aged 18 and above. We have completed all prior vaccine phases.

Q. Where can I get the vaccine?

A. If you are an Edgar County resident, aged 18 and above, you can sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine on our webpage. Click the red tab that states “COVID-19 Information” then click the red tab that says “Vaccine Sign-up.” When a vaccine clinic is scheduled and has openings, it will be posted there.

Q. Will the state (or federal government) establish mass immunization programs, like they did in the 1960’s?

A. Illinois is working with local health departments and providers across the state to provide COVID-19 vaccinations that resemble larger versions of yearly flu clinics, rather than the mass vaccination activities of the past.

Q. Will undocumented people be able to get the vaccine?

A. All populations in Illinois, including individuals who are undocumented, can receive the vaccine. No one will be turned away when it is their time to be vaccinated.

Q. Will distribution of vaccine be divided per capita?

A. Vaccine will be distributed according to the population of each county, adjusted to ensure health equity using the COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI).

Q. What about one municipality that has very high numbers of COVID-19 cases within a county that otherwise had less cases? (in reference to prioritizing vaccine distribution)

A. Distribution within counties will be overseen by local health departments (LHD). IDPH will work with LHDs to ensure providers have adequate amounts of vaccine to support the municipalities/communities they serve.

Q. I understand some vaccines require two shots. Why, and what if I am unable (or do not want) to get a second shot?

A. The currently available COVID-19 vaccines (manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer) require two shots to provide maximum protection. This helps make sure that enough antibodies are being produced to provide effective and long-lasting protection. If you choose not to get a second dose, you reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. The first dose of the vaccine will provide some protection – 52.4% effective after the first shot of Pfizer vaccine and 80.2% effective after the first shot of Moderna vaccine, according to documents the companies submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Johnson and Johnson Janssen vaccine only requires one shot and is 66.9% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 infection occurring at least 14 days after vaccination and 85.4% effective at preventing severe/critical COVID-19 infection occurring at least 28 days after vaccination.

Q. Different COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be available. Which vaccine should I take?

A. Any COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to be effective. Data available at this point would suggest that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines and very similar in their abilities to produce immunity to the virus. The Johnson and Johnson Jannsen vaccine is a viral vector vaccine and works differently than the mRNA vaccines on the immune system. The recommendation would be to take whatever vaccine is made available to you and be sure to receive the booster shot of that same vaccine at the appropriate time. If you choose not to get a second dose, you may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. For a comparative list of the vaccines available in our community, please visit the Vaccine Info tab.

Q. What happens if they run out of the vaccine before I get my second shot?

A. CDC is structuring shipments in such a way that 21 or 28 days after the first shipment, the same number of doses will be shipped, so providers will have enough vaccine for a second dose. The 21- or 28-day requirement between doses is a minimum requirement, not a maximum. If, for some reason, you are unable to receive the second dose at the recommended interval, you can receive the second dose at a later date.

Q. Besides health care workers, who will be able to administer the vaccine?

A. Dentists, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians have had their scope of practice extended by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to allow them to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. IDPH has authorized Emergency Medical Technicians – Intermediate (EMT-I) and Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians to administer the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines after successful completion of an IDPH approved vaccine training program.

Vaccine Requirements/Mandates

Q. Do I have to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

A. There is no federal or state mandate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC recommends the vaccine to all Americans 16 and over.

Q. Can my employer require that I receive a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to work?

A. Decisions regarding immunization at private workplaces are up to the employer.

Q. Are schools requiring students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, similar to mumps and measles? Will restrictions be placed on my child if we refuse to vaccinate?

A. There is no requirement for students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time. Currently, a pediatric vaccine is not available, and it may be some time before one is approved and becomes available.

Q. What happens if I refuse to get vaccinated?

A. There are no legal repercussions (such as fines, sanctions or punishments) for refusing the vaccine. If you do not get vaccinated, you will not be protected against the virus that causes COVID-19 and will be more likely to be infected with the virus. Additionally, you will be at risk of transmitting this deadly virus to loved ones and other community members.

Q. Do I need a vaccine if I have already had COVID-19?

A. Yes, people who have already had COVID-19 should plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine, because the science is currently inconclusive as to whether you will be naturally protected from a second COVID-19 infection in the future. The CDC currently suggests that if you were infected with COVID-19 during the previous 90 days, it is likely that you still have immune protection and that you will be asked to wait to receive your vaccine to allow others to be vaccinated first.

Q. Do I have to get both the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine?

A. A seasonal flu vaccine will not protect you from COVID-19. Being infected with both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time could lead to a more severe illness, which is why it is more important now than ever to get the flu vaccine.

Vaccine Safety

Q. Is a COVID-19 vaccine safe?

A. The U.S. vaccine safety system is a deliberate and multi-phase process to ensure all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority. Vaccine candidates conduct clinical trials with many thousands of study participants to generate scientific data and other information for the FDA to determine their safety and effectiveness.

If the FDA determines a vaccine meets its safety and effectiveness standards, it can make these vaccines available for use in the U.S. by approval or Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). After the FDA makes its determination, ACIP will review the available data in order to make vaccine recommendations to the CDC. ACIP will then recommend vaccine use. After a vaccine is authorized or approved for use, vaccine safety monitoring systems will watch for adverse events (possible side effects). CDC is working to expand safety surveillance through new systems and additional information sources, as well as enhancing existing safety monitoring systems.

Q: How was the COVID-19 vaccine studied?

A: Each authorized COVID-19 vaccine has been studied in large trials of over 30,000 volunteers and shown to be highly effective in preventing COVID-19 disease. The trials involved people of different ages, sex, race/ethnicity, weight, and medical conditions.

Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems were excluded from the COVID-19 vaccine trials, and so the currently available studies do not provide direct information about vaccine safety and effectiveness in these groups of people. The CDC recommends that those who are pregnant consult with their doctor before taking the vaccine.

Q. Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause me to become infected or infect others?

A. No, you cannot become infected or infect others from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, because the vaccine contains no live virus. Instead, the vaccine directs your body to produce a protein that teaches your body how to fight off the virus.

Q. How long will it take for COVID-19 vaccines to take effect?

A. The COVID-19 vaccine is expected to provide some protection a couple of weeks after your first shot and reaches its greatest effectiveness after your second shot. It is very important to take the second shot within the recommended time period for maximum vaccine effectiveness.

Q. What have the trials revealed?

A. Through their respective clinical trials, Pfizer and Moderna have indicated their vaccines are approximately 95% effective. The Johnson and Johnson Janssen vaccine is 85.4% effective at preventing severe/critical COVID-19 infection occurring at least 28 days after vaccination. For more information regarding the efficacy of vaccines available in our county, please visit the “VACCINE INFO” tab.

Information gathered through clinical trials becomes public in the course of the EUA submission. Once the EUA is submitted, these documents become accessible by the public through the FDA.

Q. Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant?

A. Pregnant/lactating people should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their provider. The ECPHD requests that these individuals bring a note from their OB physician, stating it is ok to receive the vaccine.

Q. Can children get a COVID-19 vaccine?

A. Currently, a pediatric vaccine is not available, and it may be some time before one is approved and becomes available. Clinical trials need to be conducted with children before determining if the existing COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for them.

Q. Will youth with high risk conditions be included in any of the phases?

A. The availability of a vaccine for youth, under the age of 16 years, will depend on the availability of a pediatric vaccine. Clinical trials need to be conducted with children before determining if the existing COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for them.

Q. Can the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

A. No. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick. The vaccine teaches our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Q. After getting a flu shot, I always get the flu. Will this cause me to get COVID-19?

A. No, you cannot become infected, or infect others, from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, because the vaccine contains no live virus. Instead, the vaccine directs your body to produce a protein that teaches your body how to fight off the virus. Some people develop flu-like symptoms, such as mild fever and muscle aches, after getting a flu vaccination. These symptoms are not the same as having influenza.

Q. I have allergies. Is this vaccine safe for me?

A. While serious allergic reactions were not seen in vaccine clinical trials of thousands of patients, rare allergic reactions to vaccines are possible. If you have a history of serious allergic reactions, you should discuss your situation with your healthcare provider. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any animal products such as eggs.

Q. I have other health problems, such as epilepsy, should I receive the vaccine?

A. If you have concerns about whether you should receive the vaccine due to your health history, the ECPHD highly recommends you speak with your physician regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination prior to making an appointment.

Q. What are the side effects of this vaccine?

A. Some people may experience side effects, which are a part of the normal immune response to a vaccine. The majority of the side effects, while not seen in every individual, are signs that your body is recognizing the vaccine and mounting an immune response. Based on prior studies, side effects may include pain, redness and swelling at the site of the injection, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, nausea, malaise, and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms may occur within 2 days after the shot and last 1 to 2 days. Side effects may be more frequent after the 2nd shot (booster) and less frequent among older adults

Long-term side effects are unknown, although most vaccines do not have long-term side effects. Vaccine studies are ongoing and will continue to monitor and watch for adverse events.

Q. It took four years to develop the mumps vaccine, how can the COVID-19 vaccine be safe and thoroughly tested so quickly?

A. Many things helped this vaccine get developed so rapidly. Significant resources were invested to fund the basic research and clinical trials, accelerating timelines greatly. Joining existing trial sites instead of developing new sites was a time saver. The virus has a good vaccination target and relatively low mutation rate. Additionally, the amount of infection in the communities allowed scientists to quickly compare vaccinated to unvaccinated populations and conclusively shows the vaccine worked. Last, but not least, are the huge number of brave volunteers willing to try the “novel” vaccines during the clinical trials.

Q. How long will the vaccine protect me from COVID-19? Will this be an annual vaccination, like the flu?

A. We are still learning about length of immunity. To determine how long protection lasts, follow-up studies are required to detect levels of both types of immune responses – antibody and T cell – as well as any repeated exposure risks. As more information becomes available, more information will be shared on the length of immunity.

Q. Can I get COVID-19 after the first dose of the vaccine?

A. Although the first dose of vaccine offers some immunity, you will still be considered susceptible to COVID-19. The first dose of the vaccine will provide some protection, but the recommendation is to receive two doses to be protected as intended. Pfizer and Moderna have indicated that after the two doses their vaccines are approximately 95% effective.

Q. Is this vaccine preservative free?

A. Yes. The vaccines currently offered are preservative free.

Other Questions

Q. How does the vaccine cause my body to be protected?

A. Your immune system makes antibodies to fight infections. The COVID-19 vaccine causes your body to make antibodies that target the COVID-19 virus. In the event that your body is exposed to the actual COVID-19 virus, the new antibodies prevent infection.

Q. I would like to know how we plan to roll out an educational campaign for vaccine.

A. Along with educational and communications campaigns from the federal government, the state will use multiple traditional, social, and community media platforms to communicate across Illinois. Providers, statewide, will be educated in the particular vaccine products after EUA approval, but before administering vaccine.

Q. Is a COVID-19 vaccine a guarantee that I will not get the virus?

A. Like any vaccine, there is no guarantee that you won’t get the virus, but early indications are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 95% effective in protecting against COVID-19.

Q. How many people need to get vaccinated to have herd immunity to COVID-19?

A. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. Scientists estimate that to control COVID-19 and reach herd immunity, about 7 or 8 of every 10 people (75%-80%) will need to be immune.

Q. What are the vaccine recommendations for children under age 16?

A. Until more studies are completed, a vaccine for children under 16 is not expected to be available in the immediate future.

Q. The vaccine is now available, when will we move to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan? If not now, what is required to get to Phase 5?

A. At this time, we are not able to immediately move to Phase 5. The vaccine and/or a highly effective treatment needs to be widely available, and new cases need to be eliminated for a sustained period of time, before we can move to Phase 5 or we risk the possibility of increased cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Q. If I get the vaccine, can I quit wearing a mask?

A. No. While the COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, it is not 100% effective. Until the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled, people who receive the vaccine need to continue following Illinois Department of Public Health guidance, such as the use of face masks, social distancing, regular hand washing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Even after vaccination you can be an asymptomatic carrier of the COVID-19 virus and possibly infect others.

Q: When will masking and social distancing be able to end, allowing us to get back to normal life?

A: Given the time it takes to get large quantities of the vaccine produced and distributed, we will need to continue our current mitigation practices for some time. It will remain important that vaccinated people continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and good hand hygiene to help prevent spread. Community infection rates will be continuously monitored and will be used to guide the decision process.

Q. Who is paying for the COVID-19 vaccines?

A. The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States.

Q. Can the State purchase more vaccine?

A. No. The federal government oversees the allocation of vaccine to states.

Q. How much will this vaccine cost me? Is it covered by my insurance?

A. There is no cost for the vaccine. However, vaccination providers can charge an administration fee for giving the shot that is reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay a vaccine administration fee.

Q. Will the administrative fees be passed on to the patient in the form of a co-pay or deductible?

A. No.