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.

How many doses do I need?

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines' primary series require two doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine primary series requires one dose.

Find out more about additional doses (third doses and booster shots).

If you received your first dose from a Montgomery County-run clinic:

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

Learn more about booster shot options.

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

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 each doseand 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).

Consider scanning or taking 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, as it contains personally identifiable information. If you do decide to post, consider hiding the information.

See how to get a copy of your vaccination record.

Can I get COVID-19 after being vaccinated?

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 at preventing COVID-19 symptoms bad enough to require hospitalization.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) defines vaccine breakthrough infections (also called post-vaccine infections) as ones that happen at least two weeks after being fully vaccinated . These infections are expected.

Most vaccinated people have mild COVID-19 cases. They often don’t have any symptoms.

Learn more about vaccine breakthrough infections on the CDC website.

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. We pre-screen 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.

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