COVID-19 Vaccine: FAQs and Appointments

COVID Vaccine Appointments

Our COVID vaccine clinic is at our 374 Grand Avenue location in New Haven.

Walk-up vaccinations are available Monday – Friday, 9am – 3:30pm.
Extended hours until 6:30pm are available on Tuesday and Thursday.
No appointments are needed.

FHCHC is currently administering Pfizer and Moderna 2 Dose vaccines and the Johnson & Johnson 1 Dose vaccine. Please note, while all three vaccines are usually offered, fluctuations in inventory may change short-term availability for those receiving first shots.

Open to Connecticut residents who are 12 years of age or older. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult to their vaccination.

Vaccines are offered at no cost to you. Please provide insurance information, as applicable.

COVID-19 Vaccine- What You Need to Know

Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. We understand that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated now that COVID-19 vaccines are available in the U.S. In an effort to help address your questions and concerns, we have put together a list of FAQs to help better inform you about the vaccine. We will be updating this page as more information becomes available.

 

COVID Booster Shots
If you have questions about COVID booster shots and if you qualify, read on.

Effective immediately, the CDC has made new recommendations for moderately to severely immunocompromised people to receive a third dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Who is eligible?  Individuals who:

  • Are actively being treated for cancer
  • Have received a solid organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Have received CAR-T cell therapy
  • Have received a stem cell transplant within in the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system after a stem cell transplant
  • Have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Have advanced or untreated HIV infection (i.e., a CD4 count of less than 200)
  • Are taking high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., the equivalent of 20 or more milligrams of Prednisone a day)
  • Are getting other drugs that may suppress the immune response (i.e., tumor-necrosis blockers or other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory)

Why did the CDC make this recommendation?
People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are more likely to get very sick if they get COVID-19. They may also have a longer illness. They may not get the same protection from two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as other people do. The available data suggests that they may get more protection from a third dose of vaccine.

If I am immunocompromised:

  • Do I need a note from my doctor?  Recipients will attest to being immunocompromised but do not need a doctor’s note to get another dose.
  • Do I have to get the same vaccine I got for the first two doses?  Individuals should get the same vaccine for your third dose as you have for the first two.  But if it is not available, they get the other vaccine. This means that if they got Pfizer for your first two doses, and it is not available, they can get Moderna for the third dose.  However, whether they got Pfizer or Moderna, they should not get Johnson & Johnson as a third dose.  Also, you should not get more than three doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
  • When should I get a third dose of vaccine?  The CDC recommends that you get the third dose at least 28 days after your second dose of vaccine. (Healthy individuals should wait at least 8 months past their 2nd dose.)
  • Is a third dose safe?  While there is not yet a lot of data on reactions to third doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, so far, reactions to third doses seem to be similar to the first two doses of vaccine.  Fatigue and pain at the site of the injection are the most common side effects.
  • Can I stop wearing masks and social distancing if I get third dose?  While a third dose of vaccine may increase the protection you have, you should still continue to follow current prevention measures. This includes wearing a mask, physically distancing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
  • What if I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?  It is not yet known if anyone needs another dose after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  Updates will be provided as new data becomes available.  As a reminder, the J&J vaccine received emergency use authorization at the end of February which was several months after Pfizer and Moderna received theirs.

Do I need a booster shot if I am not immunocompromised?
The CDC does not recommend additional doses/booster shots for any other population at this time.  The CDC and FDA are currently developing recommendations on third shots or booster doses for other populations, to be administered at the earliest 8 months after receiving your 2nd dose. Once final recommendations are shared, FHCHC will provide updates here.

 

COVID Vaccine Basics
You can check questions are answered below these two videos. The videos are a great place to start if you want an overview of how the COVID vaccine works and why getting it is so important.

You can check out a video of our Vice President of Clinical Affairs, Dr. Everett Lamm, answering questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Watch it here.

Or, take a watch of this very informative film about the COVID vaccine that covers everything from its fast development to how it works. Watch it here.

What is in the COVID vaccine and how does it work?
Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. There are currently three vaccines that are available in the U.S.: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Both Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines. mRNA vaccines provide instructions to make a protein that the body recognizes as COVID-19 without actually introducing COVID-19 into the body. The body then produces antibodies to that specific protein.

Johnson & Johnson is a vector vaccine. It uses a harmless adenovirus to deliver a gene that carries the blueprint for the spiky protein found on the surface of the coronavirus. The virus enters cells, which then follow the genetic instructions to construct a replica of the coronavirus spike. Your immune system will use these replicas to recognize and respond to the actual coronavirus.

You cannot get COVID-19 from the any of these vaccines. The Moderna vaccine requires 2 doses given 4 weeks apart; the Pfizer vaccine requires 2 doses given 3 weeks apart. Johnson & Johnson is a single dose vaccine.

Please remember that although the disease COVID-19 can be deadly, the vaccines, which contain no live viruses, are NOT. Vaccines are designed to protect us from life-threatening illness.

What should I expect after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
Please check out the CDC’s website here for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and what you should expect after receiving it.

Is the vaccine effective? How long will it protect those who get the vaccine?
In clinical trials involving 75,000+ people, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were nearly 95% effective in people who received two doses. This means the chances of contracting COVID-19 after receiving two doses of the vaccine is decreased by 95%.

Clinical trial data showed that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was found to be 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe disease; in the U.S. alone, it was found to be 72% effective. The vaccine also was 85% effective overall against severe disease, preventing deaths completely and hospitalizations after a period of at least 28 days.

For more facts about the vaccines that you can download and share with family and friends, click here. For a version in Spanish, click here.

Is the vaccine safe?
No severe effects have been reported in any individuals who received the vaccine.

What are possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
The most common side effects include pain and redness at the injection site, fatigue (tiredness), headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and low grade fever. These side effects are the same symptoms experienced by many after getting a flu or tetanus vaccine. Experiencing some minor symptoms after receiving a vaccine can be reassuring that your body is responding appropriately to it and preparing to protect you from the illness itself.

Can the vaccine give someone COVID-19?
No. The vaccine contains no live or weakened virus coronavirus, and therefore someone cannot contract COVID-19 from the vaccine.

If you have already had COVID-19, should you get the vaccine?
Yes. It is not yet known how effective natural immunity is from having COVID-19 disease, or how long immunity lasts. Receiving the vaccine cannot hurt. The vaccine can only help boost immunity against COVID-19.

If I am experiencing prolonged symptoms from COVID-19, should I get the vaccine?
Receiving the vaccine will likely not harm you and could potentially be helpful. However, depending on your health situation, you may need to more carefully weigh the risks of vaccine side effects. Please consult with your health care provider about your individual safety and health concerns.

Who can get the vaccine?
The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as quantities are available. You can check out Connecticut’s guidelines for who is eligible for the vaccine here.

Should women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant in the coming months, or breastfeeding receive the vaccine?
Pregnant and breastfeeding women were not specifically included in the clinical trials for the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may be at increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection, so your health care provider may recommend that you receive the vaccine.

Can people who are immunocompromised receive the vaccine?
While these vaccines have not been specifically studied in individuals who are immunocompromised/immunosuppressed and it is not known exactly how efficacious they will be (if immunocompromised individuals mount the same response as others receiving the vaccine), immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for complications from COVID19 illness. There are no recommendations that patients who are immunocompromised should not get vaccinated.

  • The clinical trials contained individuals with immunocompromising conditions.
  • The vaccine does not contain live or weakened virus, and therefore, it cannot cause a COVID19 infection in someone with a weakened immune system.
  • It is important that immunocompromised individuals practice other strategies to reduce transmission (hand washing, mask use, social distancing) even after vaccination.

Who should not get the vaccine?
Only individuals who have had an anaphylactic reaction after receiving the first dose of a COVID vaccine. Some individuals with anaphylaxis to certain injectable medications and ingredients like polyethylene glycol may want to consult their health care provider about where and when to receive their vaccination.

Can we stop wearing masks once we have been vaccinated?
No. Not everyone will be vaccinated and we must wear masks to protect vulnerable individuals at this time. While the vaccine is thought to protect individuals from getting COVID-19, we do not know if vaccine prevents disease transmission from person to person. While the person receiving the vaccine may be protected from getting COVID-19 after receiving two doses of the vaccine, we do not know if someone who received the vaccine can harbor (possess) the virus and still pass it along (infecting) to others. Mask wearing, hand-washing and physical spacing guidelines have not changed.

Can people with allergies get the vaccine?
Yes, the vaccine has been shown to be safe for people with environmental, food, insect and even latex allergies, as well as those allergic to any medications given by mouth. As an additional precaution everyone who receives the vaccine, regardless of allergy history, is monitored for symptoms for 15 minutes post-vaccination.

Special considerations are made for anyone with a history of vaccine allergy OR allergy to any medications that were injected into the body. Please consult your health care provider if you have any concerns.

What if I am sick with COVID-19 or another acute respiratory illness during the time period offered?
You should wait until you are completely better before receiving the vaccine.

How long after having COVID-19 illness should an individual wait before receiving the vaccine?
The CDC suggests that all symptoms should be resolved and the individual should be feeling their typical “well”; this is what FHCHC suggests. Others may be suggesting “at least 30 days,” which is not consistent with the Centers for Disease Control’s stated advice.

What if I am in quarantine when I am offered the vaccination?
To protect others, you must wait until after your quarantine period ends to get vaccinated.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the CDC’s website or review these COVID vaccine FAQs from FHCHC.