COVID-19 Vaccine General Information

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine require two doses. Ohioans who receive a dose of a particular vaccine must receive a second dose of the same vaccine as they are not interchangeable. For example, if you receive a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, your second dose must be the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine administered 21 days after the first dose. If you receive a first dose of the Moderna vaccine, your second dose must be the Moderna vaccine, administered 28 days after the first dose.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine includes two shots, 21 days apart while the Moderna vaccine includes two shots, 28 days apart.

If you received your first COVID-19 vaccine through Franklin County Public Health, you will be contacted to set up your second dose. You do not need to call and schedule it. Depending on how you registered for the first dose, you will be contacted in one of the following ways for your second dose:

  1. 1. If you scheduled online with FCPH, we will contact you through the email account you used to register for your first dose.
  2. 2. If you called to schedule your appointment with FCPH and did not provide an email, a staff member will call you directly to assist you with that appointment.
  3. 3. If your vaccine was scheduled through an organization (e.g., healthcare professionals), the scheduling link will be sent to the organization point of contact whom we worked with to send the scheduling link for the first dose.

Note: the second dose may not always be given out exactly on the 21/28 day mark but clinics will be scheduled within the week they are due. Please remember to bring the vaccination card that you received during your appointment.

The above information applies only to those who received their first dose vaccine through Franklin County Public Health. If you received your first dose through Columbus Public Health or a different medical provider, contact them directly for more information.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine includes two shots, 21 days apart while the Moderna vaccine includes two shots, 28 days apart.

These recommended timeframes should be followed as closely as possible to receive full protection. If you cannot make that timeframe, you should get the second dose as soon as possible thereafter.

A second dose administered within a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended date are still considered valid. Additionally, a second dose may be administered up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. Doses would not need to be repeated due to a longer interval, meaning you do not have to start over, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

Your vaccine provider may give you a vaccine record card when you receive the first dose of vaccine. This will specify the type of vaccine that you received. Do not throw away your record card. If you do not receive a record card, please ask your vaccine provider.

No, not yet. While the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is authorized for children aged 16 and older, additional studies need to be completed before COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for younger children. The Moderna vaccine is authorized for people 18 years of age and older. 

As we wait for this additional clinical trial data, children, like adults, should wear a mask, watch their distance, wash their hands and avoid congregating in groups in order to protect themselves against infection. 

Source: CDC

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether or not you already had COVID-19. However, anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html.

An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) authorizes the use of an unapproved medical product, or unapproved use of an approved medical product, for use during a public health emergency if the benefits of its use outweigh any known or potential risks. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines have been granted EUA following rigorous review. In the past, EUAs have been issued for products, devices, and drugs related to Ebola, H1N1, Zika, and others. The EUAs are valid until the pandemic is over, the FDA revokes the EUAs, or the products are approved for traditional licensure by the FDA. The FDA closely monitors each vaccine for safety after the EUA is issued. Drug manufacturers are encouraged to obtain traditional FDA licensed vaccine approval as soon as possible.

Source: CDC Understanding mRNA COVID-19 vaccines

No. Fetal cells were not used in the design, development, or production of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Mild side effects such as redness or soreness at the injection site are common. Signs of serious allergic reaction can include breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness. If they do occur, it is usually within a few minutes to a few hours. If your symptoms are severe, call 911. Call the provider that gave you the COVID-19 injection if you are experiencing any symptoms not listed in the table below. Let them know your symptoms.

COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects Chart

As of January 11, 2021, there have been 21 cases of anaphylaxis, among the first 1.9 million doses of COVID vaccine administered. 17 had a documented history of allergies or allergic reactions, which included allergies to drugs, insect stings, foods, medical products.

Anaphylaxis is considered a rare side effect.

COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Common side effects are pain and swelling on the arm where you received the shot, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. For tips on what to expect after getting a COVID-19, visit www.cdc.gov/vsafe.

Source: CDC

CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible side effects (called adverse events) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This national system collects these data to look for adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns of occurrence.

You can contact the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 1-800-822-7967 or file a report online at https://vaers.hhs.gov/uploadFile/index.jsp

The CDC also offers a smartphone-based tool called v-safe to check-in on people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine. When you receive your vaccine, you should also receive a v-safe information sheet telling you how to enroll in v-safe. If you choose to enroll, you will receive regular text messages directing you to surveys where you can report any problems or adverse reactions you have after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Reference:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/vsafe.html

How to Get the Vaccine

Initially, there will be a limited number of vaccines available. Ohio is committed to making vaccines widely available, for all Ohioans who choose to receive it, as quickly as possible, as shipments of the COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Ohio.

Until then, in conjunction with the recommendations of medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), Ohio has identified who will be among the first to receive those very early shipments.

Currently, phase 1A and phase 1B are eligible to receive the vaccine.

Phase 1A:

–   Healthcare workers and personnel who are routinely involved in the care of COVID-19 patients.
–   Residents and staff at nursing homes.
–   Residents and staff at assisted living facilities.
–   Patients and staff at state psychiatric hospitals.
–   People with intellectual disabilities or mental illness, including substance abuse, who live in group homes or centers, as well as the staff at those facilities.
–   Residents and staff at Ohio veterans homes.
–   EMS responders.

Phase 1B:

–   Week of January 18 – 80 years of age and older
–   Week of January 25 – 75+ and those with congenital and early onset health conditions who are 75 years of age and older
–   Week of Feb 1 – 70+ and K-12 School Personnel
–   Week of Feb 18 – 65 years and older

During the week of February 1st, we will begin to vaccinate our school personnel. This week we are sending forms to be signed by superintendents – we are asking them to agree to go back to full in-person or hybrid learning by March 1st.

As more information becomes available about who can receive the vaccine, and when they can receive it we will communicate this information publicly through the news media and will share information at coronavirus.ohio.gov/vaccine.

Limited amounts of vaccine doses are available. As they become available, Ohioans can receive vaccines from physicians, local health departments, hospitals, federally-qualified health centers, in-home health service providers, as well as some retail pharmacies.

Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health encourage eligible residents to check and see if their primary care provider, hospital system, or pharmacy have the vaccine and sign up that way if it is a more convenient option.

An online tool is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov to show where individuals will be able to see who is distributing vaccinations in their counties to what eligible group. As more vaccinations are available, more providers will be added.

Eligible people can schedule appointments through our website. We will NOT accept walk-ins at our COVID-19 vaccination clinic. The schedule an appointment button will be removed once appointments are filled.

  • •  Website: covid-19.myfcph.org/vaccine/
  • •  Appointment Hotline: 614-525-5225 (see website for hours)
  • •  For other COVID-19 questions, our information line: 614-525-3097

Please note that the schedule button is only available during posted times (see vaccine website for updates). This will turn off once appointments are filled. The scheduling system will ask you to register. Once you do, you will receive a one time password (OTP) via email to schedule. Please check your SPAM and junk folders if you do not see the email.

Vaccine manufacturers are working hard to manufacture and distribute vaccines safely, quickly, and effectively. Each state will be informed, on a weekly basis, of how many vaccine doses they will receive that week.

Initially, there will be a limited number of vaccines available, so vaccination is approached in phases, with those who have the highest risk for exposure getting the vaccine first.

Ohio continues to make plans for a way to distribute vaccines in a way that is fair, ethical, and transparent, in conjunction with the recommendations of medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). As more information becomes available on who can receive the vaccine when, we will communicate this information publicly including through the news media and share information at coronavirus.ohio.gov/vaccine.

Vaccine Safety

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has stated that people who are pregnant may choose to be vaccinated. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) Immunization, Infectious Disease, and Public Health Preparedness Expert Work Group prepared a thorough outline related to COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant and breastfeeding women. ACOG recommends that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP priority groups. The two vaccines currently available have not been tested in pregnant women. Therefore, there is no safety data specific to use in pregnancy. There is also no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or on the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion. The mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. The CDC states that people who are breastfeeding and are part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, such as healthcare personnel, may choose to be vaccinated. Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should check with their doctors about any concerns.

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.

Until the population is broadly vaccinated, and the outbreak is under control, which will take many months, everyone needs to continue to wear masks and practice distancing to protect themselves and others.

Viruses frequently change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—have been documented in the United States during this pandemic. This includes the variants first detected in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Brazil. It also includes the variants that scientists from The Ohio State University recently discovered.

To date, there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death. However, preliminary data suggest these variants spread more easily and quickly than other variants. As a result, it is very important for everyone to continue to wear masks, stay at least 6 feet apart from others, avoid crowds, ventilate indoor spaces and wash their hands often, even after receiving a vaccine. These actions will help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 and its new variants. 

Scientists are working to better understand how easily the variants might be transmitted and the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against them. For additional information, please visit: New Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19|CDC and What We Know About New COVID-19 Variants|OSU

No. The mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines can most easily be described as a set of instructions for your body on how to make a harmless piece of “spike protein” to allow our immune systems to recognize that this protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies. Essentially, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to the virus, giving your cells a blueprint of how to make antibodies. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html.

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, vaccines. The goal for COVID-19 vaccines is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19.

Sometimes this process can cause side effects, such as fatigue, headache, soreness or redness at the injection site, and muscle or joint pain. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination, and vaccines require two doses. That means it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before, or just after, getting the vaccination and become sick, since it takes the vaccine time to provide protection.

No vaccine injections or nasal sprays – including the shots for COVID-19 – contain microchips, nanochips, RFID trackers, or devices that would track or control your body in any way. Much like the way any shipment or delivery is tracked, shipments of vaccine doses will be monitored as they are shipped and administered across the country. However, the notion that these shots will contain tracking devices implanted into Ohioans is false.

No. Time after time, studies conducted across the globe continue to show that there is no connection between autism and vaccines.

Source: CDC: Autism and Vaccines

Safety is a top priority of the U.S. vaccine safety development and approval process. The development process for COVID-19 vaccines involved several steps comparable with those used to develop other vaccines such as the flu or measles vaccine, which have successfully protected millions of Ohioans for decades.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as independent medical experts, have ensured that every detail of COVID-19 vaccines is thoroughly and rigorously evaluated. Evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work to prevent COVID-19.

Of the first two vaccines to apply to the FDA for emergency use authorization, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective, and the Moderna vaccine was 94% effective in phase 3 clinical trials with more than 70,000 participants between the two studies. Although the COVID-19 vaccines themselves have been developed recently, the technology used in mRNA vaccines, like those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, has been studied for decades.

There have been no shortcuts in the vaccine development process. The process has been quicker as a result of strategic efforts to run concurrent trial phases, as well as a commitment to help condense timelines and reduce or eliminate months-long waiting periods during which documents would be prepared or be waiting for review.

Although the COVID-19 vaccines themselves have been developed recently, the technology used in mRNA vaccines, like those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, has been studied for decades, and early-stage clinical trials using mRNA vaccines have been carried out for influenza, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Recent technological advancements in RNA biology and chemistry, as well as delivery systems, have allowed these COVID-19 vaccines using mRNA to be developed as safe and effective vaccines.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is globally respected for its scientific standards of vaccine safety, efficacy and quality. In an emergency, like a pandemic, the FDA can make a judgement that it is worth releasing a vaccine, drug, device and/or test for use even without all the evidence that would go into the normal approval process. That judgement, in this case that the known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine, is called an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Under both EUA and normal approval, the FDA provides scientific and regulatory requirements to vaccine developers and undertakes a rigorous evaluation of the scientific information through all phases of clinical trials, which continues after authorization or approval. Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines must first show they are safe and effective before any vaccine can be issued an EUA. Watch a video on what an EUA is here.

Source: FDA

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

Source: CDC

Clinical trials are studies to assess the safety and efficacy of vaccines. They are typically conducted in three phases, each with increasingly larger numbers of volunteers.

  • Phase 1 clinical trials assess the safety and dosage of a vaccine in a small number of people, typically a dozen to several dozen healthy volunteers.
  • Vaccine safety is also assessed in Phase 2 studies, in which adverse events not detected in phase 1 trials may be identified because a larger and more diverse group of people receive the vaccine.
  • Only in much larger Phase 3 clinical trials can it be demonstrated whether a vaccine is actually protective against disease. Safety is also more fully assessed. Phase 3 clinical trials often include thousands of volunteers, and for Covid-19 vaccines will involve tens of thousands (30,000 to 45,000 people in some of the ongoing phase 3 trials).

Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

Efficacy

Generally, it can take a few weeks for a vaccine to provide you with immunity once you receive it. Both doses are needed to get the maximum protection. You should take the same precautions you did before vaccination including wearing masks and practicing distancing to protect themselves and others.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine includes two shots, 21 days apart while the Moderna vaccine includes two shots, 28 days apart. Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine efficacy after a single dose was 52.4% in trials; Moderna’s was 80.2%.

However, both doses are currently recommended to get the maximum protection, since there have been no clinical trials assessing these mRNA vaccines as single dose regimes. Until more is learned about the duration and kind of protection you get from the vaccine, you should take the same precautions you did before vaccination. Moreover, until the population is broadly vaccinated and the outbreak is under control, which will take many months, everyone — vaccinated or not— needs to continue to wear masks and practice distancing to protect themselves and others.

Source: Science News and National Public Radio (NPR)

Equitable allocation and distribution

At first, there will be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine, with a phased approach to offering the vaccines. However, it is important that the initial vaccines are given to people in a fair, ethical, and transparent way. Those who are at highest risk of contracting and transmitting the virus will be among the first to be able to access vaccination.

The next broad category of people eligible to be vaccinated will be Ohioans age 65+. We will also begin offering vaccines to younger people with severe inherited or developmental disorders that make them particularly vulnerable – such as cerebral palsy; spina bifida; congenital heart disease; type 1 diabetes; inherited metabolic disorders; severe neurologic disorders including epilepsy; severe genetic disorders including Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Prader Willi Syndrome, Turner Syndrome; severe lung disease including cystic fibrosis and severe asthma; sickle cell anemia, alpha and beta thalassemia. During the week of February 1st, we will begin to vaccinate our school personnel. This week we are sending forms to be signed by superintendents – we are asking them to agree to go back to full in-person or hybrid learning by March 1st.

Per the guidelines identified by Governor DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health, FCPH will begin work through phase 1B following this schedule:

  • Week of January 18 – 80 years of age and older
  • Week of January 25 – 75+ and those with congenital and early onset health conditions
  • Week of Feb 1 – 70+ and K-12 School Personnel
  • Week of Feb 18 – 65 years and older

When a new age range opens, that doesn’t mean that vaccinations should be complete for the previous age range. It will take a number of weeks to distribute all of the vaccine given the limited doses available.

The federal government is committed to providing free or low-cost COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine doses purchased with taxpayer dollars will be given to Ohioans who choose to receive them at no cost.

During the early phases of administration of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, supply will be limited. This means that not everyone will be able to be vaccinated right away but, in time, as vaccination production ramps up, every Ohioan who chooses may receive a vaccine when large quantities are available.

Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health encourage eligible residents to check and see if their primary care provider, hospital system, or pharmacy have the vaccine and sign up that way if it is a more convenient option.

The CDC has Spanish language myth-busting resources on COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. COVIDguia.org has updated COVID-19 information in Spanish, compiled by the American Public Health Association and the COVID-19 Latinx Task Force. PAHO has communications materials in Spanish and Portuguese for its Latin American audience.

We have set a purposeful agenda to infuse equity in all COVID-19 planning, operations and outreach. You can read more about our strategy here.