Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine

Getting vaccinated

How much does the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

The COVID-19 vaccine is free.

Which vaccine should I get?

All of the vaccines that have been authorized or approved for use in the United States have been proven to be safe and effective. The Pfizer vaccine is available to people ages 5 and over.  The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available to people ages 18 and over.

See graphic comparing the three vaccines.

Do I need to bring identification?

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

Is the vaccine safe if I have a chronic disease?

Yes, the vaccine is safe for people with chronic diseases.

How long after having COVID-19 should I get the vaccine?

See health information to consider before getting the vaccine.

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:

Should I get another dose?

Find out more about third doses and booster shots.

When I get a booster shot, should I get the same type of vaccine that I got for my first dose?

You may choose which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster shot. Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

What should I do with the immunization card I received? 

Please bring your immunization card or a photo of it to your second dose and additional dose (third dose or booster) appointments.

Everyone who receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine gets 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 dose(s) 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.

See how to get a copy of your vaccination record.

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.

What is a COVID-19 breakthrough case?

Post-vaccine infections (also known as breakthrough cases) are defined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as ones that happen at least two weeks after being fully vaccinated (either receiving a one-dose vaccine or the second dose of a two-shot vaccine). This is to be expected. While COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at delivering immunity, no vaccine is 100% effective. An important goal of vaccination is preventing serious illness. All authorized COVID-19 vaccines are very successful (≥89%) at preventing COVID-19 symptoms bad enough to require hospitalization.

What we know about breakthrough cases is that most of the cases in vaccinated people are mild. Many people don’t have any symptoms.

How many breakthrough cases are there?

While it’s still possible for those who are fully vaccinated to be infected with COVD-19, it important to remember that those numbers are low.

More importantly, the number of breakthrough cases that results in serious illness, hospitalizations or death are extremely low. Out of 150 million Americans who were fully vaccinated by mid-July, there have been less than 6,000 cases needing hospital care. To put that in perspective, that is only 0.0037% of vaccinated Americans.

Most breakthrough cases (74%) have been identified in patients 65 years of age and older. However, breakthrough cases can occur in people of any age.

What is causing breakthrough cases?

While most current breakthrough cases are from the Delta variant, breakthrough cases can come from any COVID-19 variants.

The Delta variant makes up most breakthrough cases in the U.S. right now because it’s the dominant strain circulating. According to the CDC, the Delta variant made up only 10% of U.S. cases at the beginning of June 2021. However, by mid-July, just six weeks later, the Delta variant accounted for 83% of U.S. cases.

This is because the Delta variant is far more transmissible than previous variants of the COVID-19 variant, according to preliminary studies.

About the COVID-19 Vaccine

How does the vaccine work?

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines 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.

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. It will also help protect people around you who may be more vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19.

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. 

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines cannot infect you with COVID-19 disease. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a disabled virus.

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

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.