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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

This page answers some frequently asked questions about the vaccines.

The Tennessee Department of Health is acting upon recent guidance from the FDA and the CDC to pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. While reports of serious adverse events after the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are rare, TDH is taking necessary precautions. For more information, view our press release.

Vaccine Distribution

Vaccines are available in all 95 counties and will be administered based upon individual risk. Find additional information here.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe? 

Yes! These vaccines have already been given to tens of thousands of volunteers and have been shown to be safe and very good at preventing them from getting sick with COVID-19. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority. The vaccine will continue to be monitored to make sure any rare problems are found as soon as possible and studied to see if they were caused by the vaccine.

How do the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines work? 

These vaccines work by giving your body the recipe to make the protein that is on the outside of the coronavirus. When your body sees that protein, it will make protective antibodies to it. Later, if the body sees the real virus, it will remember seeing that protein and destroy the virus before it has a chance to make you sick. 

After receiving the vaccine, when will I be immune from COVID-19?

We have learned from clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people who took the vaccine:

  • That theThe Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective at preventing illness from COVID-19 after 14 days from the second dose of the vaccine. You must get both doses to have the best protection against the virus.
  • The Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective at preventing illness from COVID-19 after 14 days from the second dose of vaccine. You must get both doses to have the best protection against the virus.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 85% effective in preventing severe disease and demonstrated complete protection against COVID-19 related hospitalization and death after 28 days from receiving the vaccine. This is a single dose vaccine.
Vaccine doses

Who decides the Phases and how the vaccine is distributed?

The TN Department of Health, in partnership with the State Government and the TN COVID-19 Pandemic Vaccine Stakeholder Group, has developed a vaccination plan based upon the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine and the CDC’s Playbook for Jurisdictions. You can read Tennessee’s Vaccination Plan and find more information about COVID-19 vaccines here.  

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How do I know when it’s my turn to receive the vaccine, and how do I register? 

Tennesseans can follow a simple, three-step process to learn when they’re eligible for vaccination and register for a vaccination appointment:

  1. Find Your County: To learn what phase your county is vaccinating, visit this page.
  2. Register for a Vaccination Appointment: Click your county on the map and then click “Make an Appointment” to register. Those who register will be asked to enter their name and contact information to be notified of their appointment date, time, and location as soon as vaccine becomes available.
  3. To locate a vaccinating facility and register: COVID-19 Vaccines are limited, and most locations require appointments for vaccination. Visit to locate a facility vaccinating in your county. All vaccinating facilities are vaccinating according to TDH’s vaccination plan.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions

Practice social distancing, wear a mask when around others, wash your hands, avoid being around others who are sick, avoid crowds, and avoid poorly ventilated spaces.. For more information about protecting yourself visit the CDC website. 

Tennessee seniors who need transportation assistance to receive COVID-19 vaccination may
learn about services offered by the Tennessee Association of Human Resource Agencies at

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best and safest way to become immune to COVID-19. Getting the vaccine will help your immune system build protection against the virus in case you are exposed in the future. Even though catching the virus may be another way to build protection, this is dangerous because you could get very sick or even die. You can also spread the virus to others when you are sick. The COVID-19 vaccines cannot give you COVID-19 and are a safe way to become protected from the virus.

Tennesseans will receive the vaccine at no cost. However, your vaccination provider may submit charges to your insurance provider for administration fees. If you do not have insurance, there are other options for your vaccination provider to recover the administration fees from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

Yes, you should be vaccinated. Data from clinical trials indicate that COVID-19 vaccines are safe in persons recovered from COVID-19.

When you receive the vaccine, you will receive a card with the date of your first dose, the name/manufacturer of the vaccine received and the date on which you should receive your second dose. Your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine must be from the same product name/manufacturer as the first dose. We recommend when you receive your card, take a picture as a back-up, add the date to your calendar, and download the V-safe app. The V-safe app can remind you when it’s time to receive your second dose.

The second dose should occur as close as possible to 21 days for Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna, but could be administered up to 6 weeks from the first dose.

In making its decision to authorize the one-dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the FDA evaluated scientific evidence indicating the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 93 percent effective in preventing severe COVID-19, and protected individuals against hospitalization and death 28 days after they received the vaccine. See the FDA’s Frequently Asked Questions and Letter of Emergency Use Authorization on the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 vaccine should be given alone with a minimum time of 14 days before or after any other vaccines. If the COVID- 19 vaccine is given within 14 days of another vaccine, it does not need to be repeated for either vaccine.

To protect those who may be at high risk of developing complications if infected with COVID-19, you should continue to wear a face mask and follow social distancing guidelines while in a public setting, Gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one other household, or when visiting with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID- 19 or who lives with a person at increased risk. Regardless of your vaccination status, you will still need to follow the health and safety guidance at your workplace.

Guidance on mask-wearing and social distancing is evolving as scientists learn more about how the COVID-19 vaccine builds immunity. If you are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine),

  • you can visit other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or social distancing.
  • you can visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing

Another benefit of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is that you are no longer subject toquarantine or testing following a known exposure as long as you are symptom-free.

Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be tested following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, as their risk of infection is low.

Fully vaccinated people who do not quarantine should still monitor for symptoms of COVID- 19 for 14 days following an exposure. If they experience symptoms, they should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, including SARS-CoV-2 testing, if indicated, and inform their health care provider of their vaccination status at the time of presentation to care. guidance.html#anchor_1615143411738

  • Tested antibody positive within 3 months before or immediately following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

Note: all social gatherings, schooling, and most out-of-home vocational activities are deemed greater than low risk due to the potential for contact with persons with high-risk medical conditions. To be socially responsible, double-check with the people in your presence to make sure they are not high risk.

*Low risk situations include settings where contact with persons at high risk of COVID-19 severe illness, including older adults and persons with certain medical conditions, is not anticipated for at least 10 days following exposure. Contacts to COVID-19 should still monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 during the 14 days after exposure and if symptoms of COVID-19, develop they should isolate and seek testing.

If you have symptoms shortly after receiving the vaccine, these symptoms do not mean you have developed COVID-19 from the vaccine. You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may feel like flu and may even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. For more information about symptoms after receiving the vaccine download the CDC’s What to Expect after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine fact sheet.

A clear timeframe is not known at this time for when children will be recommended to get the vaccine. Pfizer added children under the age of 16 to their clinical trials in November, so we hope to learn more about this sometime next year as clinical trials progress. At this time, children 16+ can receive the Pfizer vaccine, and individuals 18+ can receive the Moderna or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Individuals aged 16 and 17 can receive the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna and J&J vaccines are not approved for anyone under the age of 18. The Pfizer vaccine is a two-dose vaccine, and it’s important to receive the second dose for maximum protection against the COVID-19 virus. For a list of locations vaccinating with the Pfizer vaccine, visit the webpage. Under ‘VACCINES’ click the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID Vaccine, add your zip code and click search.

Yes, you will need to make an appointment for your second dose through your local health department or It is also important that the second dose is the same type/manufacturer as you received the first time. Bring your vaccination card with you to your appointment for the 2nd dose.

You will be vaccinated based on the date you remember getting your first dose. It is also very important that you remember what type/manufacturer of vaccine you received the first time as you need to get the same type for your second shot.

To request a copy of your COVID-19 Immunization email [email protected]. In the email, please include your full name, Date of Birth, and state that you are requesting a record of your COVID-19 Immunization. Note that replacement vaccine cards are not issued by this office. The record we provide is a complete list of all vaccinations reported to TennIIS for you. Any vaccinations that have not been reported to TennIIS will not be listed on the record.

Tissues are groups of organized cells. Tissues are not used to make vaccines. Fetal tissue was not used to make Janssen/Johnson & Johnson Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, nor any other, COVID-19 vaccine. In developing its vaccine, used a fetal cell line, which no longer contains the original donor cells, to grow a harmless virus, which causes some of the body’s cells to make a protein that causes the immune response.

COVID-19 vaccine. Do not administer the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine to individuals with a known history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or any component of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. As a change from previous versions of the guidance, known polysorbate allergy is no longer a contraindication to mRNA vaccination; however, known polysorbate allergy is a contraindication to Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and thus, a precaution to mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. While these reactions are being studied, it is advised that people with a history of severe allergic reactions to injected or infused medications be observed for a minimum of 30 minutes after receiving the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. People with allergies to food, animals,venom, environmental dusts or pollens, polyethylene glycol (PEG), polysorbate or oral medications have not been shown to have an increased risk of reaction to the COVID-19 vaccines.

No. None of the vaccines currently being developed in the United States contain the virus, so there is no possibility of the vaccine infecting someone with the COVID-19. Some people who receive the vaccine will develop arm soreness or redness, fever, headache, chills, and fatigue as their immune system responds. These symptoms typically go away after a day or two.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses an established approach of employing a harmless cold virus to deliver a gene that carries the blueprint for the protein found on the surface of the coronavirus.

You should still plan to receive the second dose after you recover from your COVID-19 illness and after you finish your isolation period for COVID-19 infection (for most people, this will be 10 days after symptoms started or positive COVID-19 test, and no fever for 24 hours). Note that the second dose of vaccine should still be no sooner than the recommended waiting period for the second dose (21 days for the Pfizer vaccine, 28 days for the Moderna vaccine).

If you have received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma for COVID, you do not need to restart the vaccine series. Wait 90 days from the date of the infusion before receiving the second dose.

None of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the US can cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. Additionally, the first dose of vaccine only gives a partial amount of protection, so if you test positive by PCR after receiving the vaccine, it is likely a true positive. You should isolate for 10 days, inform your close contacts to quarantine, and seek medical care as needed.

The CDC has very helpful information on the vaccines available here.

Metropolitan counties are independent from the state plan, and these counties may have different instructions, so residents in these areas should check with local authorities about their plans. These counties include Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, and Sullivan.

Yes, Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability) is working with home health agencies to reach these groups.

The Tennessee Department of Health is partnering with faith-based and community organizations,
academic institutions, and federally-qualified health centers and other hospital systems to provide vaccinations to minority populations and underserved communities across the state. Through these partnerships, we have combined our efforts to develop lists of individuals within the current phase and schedule appointments for them to receive the vaccination in their respective county. We are working to eliminate transportation barriers for those without transportation. In addition, we have been facilitating virtual sessions to work individuals through tools available on the COVID-19 microsite ( including vaccine eligibility, online appointments and registering for the vaccine waitlist. If you know of a church that is interested in partnering with us to provide the vaccine to minority populations, please contact us at [email protected].

All Tennesseans age 16 and over are eligible for vaccination. Those who are 16 and 17 must receive the Pfizer vaccine, so check VaccineFinder for vaccinating facilities providing the Pfizer vaccine. To find a vaccinating facility, which vaccine they provide, and register for an appointment, follow one of these links.

  1. Register for aVaccination Appointment: All Tennesseans can register online at for an appointment time to receive a vaccination through your local county health department.
  2. To locate a vaccinating facility and register: COVID-19 Vaccines are limited, and most locations require appointments for vaccination. Visit to locate a facility vaccinating in your county.

The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine is recommended for people aged 18 years and older. All Tennesseans have a choice in what vaccine they receive. Visit to find out which vaccine is available at providers in your area.

No, please do not show up at hospitals, pharmacies, or health departments without an appointment. Some hospitals, health departments, and pharmacies keep a signup sheet or email list for those interested in being contacted if there are unused doses at the end of the day.

Pharmacies are vaccinating by appointment only and are required to stay in the current phase for that county. For a list of Pharmacies, visit

When you receive the vaccine, you will receive a card with the date of your first dose, the name/manufacturer of the vaccine received and the date you should receive your second dose. People who receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a county health department will be instructed by the health department as to how to schedule a second dose of vaccine. The health department will send out communication stating you are due for your second dose and when that location will be open / available for second doses.

Many of the health departments have moved to online registration and there will be the ability to register specifically for a second dose. You should plan to return to the same location where your first vaccine was given to ensure you receive the same manufacturer of vaccine for the second dose. Not all sites have both manufacturers of vaccine.

Each county is operating differently, but when you schedule your second appointment, they will give you a location for the POD in your county.

Yes, as soon as your county receives more vaccines to dispense, they will contact you to schedule an appointment, or you can visit the at the bottom of the page, click on “Proceed to COVID-19 questionnaire” to register for an appointment.

This depends on the supply and uptake of the vaccine; counties can be in different phases. Check our website to see what population your county is vaccinating. All Tennesseans age 16 and over are eligible for vaccination. Those who are 16 and 17 must receive the Pfizer vaccine, so check on to locate a facility vaccinating with the Pfizer vaccine.

Patients are responsible for reporting to their primary care provider that they have received the vaccine. Vaccines are reported in TennIIS, and anyone who has access to TennIIS can check.

A conversation between you and your healthcare provider may help with the decision about taking the vaccine. Pregnant? Here’s What You Should Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine is another resource that can help you make an informed decision.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people based on what we know now. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 might be at increased risk for other adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth. There is currently no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problem with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. However, data are limited about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people who are pregnant. At this time, ACIP recommends that certain groups (e.g., healthcare personnel, followed by other frontline essential workers) are offered vaccination with people who are pregnant and part of a group can choose to be vaccinated. Currently there are no studies on safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women to inform vaccine recommendations. ACIP has stated that pregnant and lactating women may receive the COVID-19 vaccine. A conversation between you and your healthcare provider may help with the decision about taking the vaccine.

There is no recommendation for pregnancy testing before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after a COVID-19 vaccination.

There are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in breastfeeding people or the effects of COVID-19 vaccines on breastfed infants. COVID-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. A lactating person who is part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., healthcare personnel) may choose to be vaccinated. A conversation between you and your healthcare provider may help with the decision about taking the vaccine.

It’s called V-SAFE, and it’s a smart-phone based monitoring program. It uses text messaging and web surveys to check-in with vaccine recipients after vaccination. Participants would report side effects and health impact events after the COVID-19 vaccination. Depending on your answer, someone from CDC may call to check on you and gather more information. V-safe will also remind you when it’s time to receive your second dose if one is needed. Before receiving the vaccine, you will receive an information sheet from your healthcare provider with v-safe information and a link to register.

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County Vaccine Information & Appointments

Stay up to date with the latest information on your county’s vaccine phase and request an appointment.

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Vaccination Communication Toolkit

This toolkit from the Tennessee Department of Health provides information, graphics and other vital resources to help community leaders communicate important information related to COVID-19 vaccines.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Phases

While the vaccine supply is limited, it is necessary to prioritize who gets the vaccine, with people who are at highest risk of getting the virus or becoming seriously ill receiving the vaccine first.

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Read the draft of Tennessee’s Vaccine Plan

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