Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine

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How can I keep updated on everything happening with vaccinations?

Sign up for email/text updates. We use these updates, as well as our website, local media outlets, and other communication channels to provide the latest information and answer questions related to COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Appointments

How do I find out what Phase group I am in?

Everyone age 12 and older who lives or works in Montgomery County can now make an appointment.

What do I do if I do not have access to a computer?

If you want to preregister and do not have computer access, ask a family member or friend to help you complete the online form. You can also call the COVID-19 Call Center for assistance at 240-777-2982. The Call Center is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

If you do not have an email address or a phone that can receive text messages, we will call you when it is your turn to make an appointment.

How do I find a COVID-19 vaccination site?

Check our vaccine home page for links to make an appointment at County-run clinics.

If you preregistered for an appointment: when we contact you for your appointment, we will tell you the locations we have available for those days.

In addition to the clinics operated by DHHS, hospitals, community partners, and State mass vaccination clinics have COVID-19 vaccines available to the public. Find locations near you and make appointments.

How do I suggest a vaccination site for Montgomery County?

Governor Larry Hogan charged the County to break down barriers to expand access and save lives in underserved, vulnerable, and hard-to-reach areas. The County is partnering with a wide range of public and private partners who share our goal of halting the spread of COVID-19 throughout the State.

If you have a facility that would serve as an effective vaccination site, please complete this form.

Completing this form will not guarantee your site will be used as a vaccination distribution site. Decisions consider multiple factors, including site location, size and number of vaccines the County has received.

Are there vaccine appointments available specifically for Veterans?

Yes, VA medical centers are vaccinating Veterans enrolled in VA Healthcare.

Should I take whatever vaccine is offered to me?

All of the vaccines that have been approved for use in the United States have been proven to be safe and effective. The only vaccine authorized for use in residents 12 to 18 years old is the Pfizer vaccine.  For the Moderna and J&J vaccine, one must be 18 years old.  

Getting vaccinated with any of the available vaccines will greatly reduce your risk of serious illness due to the virus.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue to investigate possible links between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and rare episodes of blood clots in six women recipient, County officials will continue to pause the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  In clinical trials, the J&J vaccine was shown to be 85% effective in preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. Furthermore, in clinical trials in the U.S., it was shown to be 72% protective against moderate COVID-19 disease, an infection that isn’t serious enough to put you in the hospital, but could make you feel lousy for weeks.

Most vaccination sites will be using only one vaccine type, so you will not get to select which vaccine you are given. Whichever vaccine you receive will greatly reduce your health risk.

See graphic comparing the three vaccines.

Do I need to bring identification?

Yes, see what identification to bring to your vaccine appointment.

What about second doses?

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require a second dose. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one dose.

If you received your first dose from a Montgomery County-run clinic:
About four to seven days before your second dose is due, we will contact you with an invitation to make an appointment. Learn more about the second dose emails we'll send you. You may also get reminders from the PrepMod system. If you have not received an email three days before your second dose due date, please email c19vaccination@montgomerycountymd.gov or call the COVID-19 Call Center at 240-777-2982 for help with scheduling a second dose appointment.  We always maintain a supply of second dose vaccine for residents who received their first dose from the County.

What should I do with the immunization card I received with my first dose?

Everyone who receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine received a vaccination record card. The cards are issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and serve as a personal immunization record.  The card lists the date when you received your first dose and what vaccine you received.  If you received a two-shot vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna, the date of your first vaccination will give you a general idea of when your second dose is due (three weeks later if you received Pfizer and four weeks later if you received Moderna).

It is recommended that you either scan or take a photograph of the card.  Keep the original stored in a safe place where you can easily access it. Be careful about posting photos of the card to social media, however, as it contains personally identifiable information. If you do decide to post, consider obscuring the information. 

For an online record of your COVID-19 vaccination, view your account in Maryland MyIR.  MyIR is Maryland's online immunization record system.  You can print a copy of your immunization record.

About the COVID-19 Vaccine

How does the vaccine work?

The COVID-19 vaccines we will receive are mRNA vaccines. Unlike many vaccines that put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies to trigger an immune response, mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein or a piece of a protein that triggers an immune response. When the vaccine triggers that immune response, our bodies produce antibodies which then protect us from getting infected if we are exposed to the real virus.

For most COVID-19 vaccines, two doses of the vaccine will be required. An online service called PrepMod will be used to schedule appointments and send reminders to people when their second vaccination doses are due.

Additional resources

Should everyone get a COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes. COVID-19 varies widely in how it affects those infected, from mild headaches to severe disease and even death. Getting vaccinated will protect you, and will also help protect people around you who may be more vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19. Although getting COVID-19 may offer some natural immunity, we don’t yet know how long that protection will last.

The County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is prepared to respond to anaphylaxis/severe allergic reactions after the COVID-19 vaccination and is pre-screening individuals to determine if there are any contraindications or precautions.

What if I have already had COVID-19?  Do I still need to get vaccinated?

The CDC recommends people who have already had COVID-19 still get vaccinated. The vaccine could create a bigger immune response, which better prepares the body to fight off the coronavirus in the future. Plus, experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. If you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus again. 

When will children get the vaccine?

No currently-available vaccines are approved for persons under age 12. Clinical trials are in progress for this age group.

How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

There will be no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine at County-sponsored clinics. Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance will cover the cost of the vaccine. Montgomery County will cover the cost for anyone who is uninsured.

More information on vaccination options provided through the County and other partners will be shared broadly when we enter the next phases of distribution.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines cannot infect you with COVID-19 disease. The vaccines that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use are mRNA vaccines, which do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what would happen in a natural infection against COVID-19.

How do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

The COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines in the United States. Because of the pandemic, testing and production of the vaccine have happened simultaneously, but none of the safety steps were skipped.

Vaccines are only approved if they pass the rigorous testing and efficacy standards set by the FDA. The only COVID-19 vaccines the FDA will make available for use in the United States (by approval or emergency use authorization) are those that meet these standards.

Additional resources

Will the vaccine end the pandemic?

News about the development of a vaccine that is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 is a major breakthrough in battling the pandemic. However, the vaccine alone won’t end the pandemic immediately.

Because production and distribution of the vaccine will take time, we will continue living with COVID-19 well into 2021.

Reasonable safety precautions like wearing a mask, physical distancing, vigilant hand washing, and minimizing large gatherings will still be essential as we wait for widespread vaccination to become available.

Where can I learn more about Maryland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan?

For detailed answers to questions about Maryland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, see the COVIDLink website’s Frequently Asked Questions.

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