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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

This page answers some frequently asked questions about the vaccines.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe? 

Yes! These vaccines have already been given to millions of people 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. For more information, please see Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC

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. For more information, please see Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC

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 14 days from receiving the vaccine. This is a single dose vaccine.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions

All adults ages 18 years and older who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after they complete the initial series. For individuals who are 18 years and older and received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a booster dose is recommended at two or more months after the initial vaccine.

A primary series is when you complete the second dose in a 2-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & JohnsonJ/Janssen vaccine. Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the primary series.

The COVID-19 booster vaccine is only approved for all adults ages 18 years and older. A third dose option is available to individuals originally vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine who meet a different set of criteria:

  • Moderately and severely immunocompromised. Some examples of that include:
    • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
    • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
    • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
    • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
    • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
    • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune system

If you meet the above criteria, you may get the additional dose option 28 days after you have received your second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Yes. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine reached full authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 2021. The full authorization was given to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals age 16 and up.

The Pfizer vaccine remains under emergency use authorization (EUA) for those age 5-17 years and for the administration of the additional dose option for individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. The Moderna and Janssen/Johnson&Johnson vaccine also remain under EUA.

COVID-19 Vaccines are now widely available to all Tennesseans 5+ in all 95 counties across our state. Check COVID-19 vaccine appointment availability at any of the state health departments on the map below, or browse all vaccine providers and find a location close to you at Vaccines.gov.

For more in formation on How Covid-19 vaccines work, please see COVID-19 Vaccines Work | CDC

All Tennesseans age 5 and over are eligible for vaccination. Those who are 5 to 17 must receive the Pfizer vaccine, so check Vaccines.Gov for vaccinating facilities providing the Pfizer vaccine. To find a vaccinating facility, which vaccine they provide, hours of operation, and register for an appointment, follow one of these links.

  1. Register for a Vaccination Appointment at your local county health department: All Tennesseans can register online at https://vaccinate.tn.gov/ for an appointment.
  2. To locate all vaccinating facilities and register for an appointment: Visit https://www.vaccines.gov/ to locate a facility vaccinating.

Some locations are offering walk-in vaccination, please check with your preferred provider to determine if this is the case.

 

Individuals who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

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. 

CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people:

  • Wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
    • Fully vaccinated people might choose to mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in their household is unvaccinated. People who are at increased risk for severe disease include older adults and those who have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, overweight or obesity, and heart conditions.
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Get tested 5-7 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until a negative test result.
  • Isolate if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

For more information on this FAQ, please see Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People | CDC

Yes. Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Like adults, children may have some side effects after COVID-19 vaccination. These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Children 5 years and older are now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, including studies in children 5 years and older. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information on this FAQ, please see COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens | CDC
Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC

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 https://tnhra.org/services/transportation/.

Since there is no way to know for certain how COVID-19 will affect you—

  • you might have a mild case or you could have serious, life-threatening complications.
  • you could also risk giving COVID-19 virus to your family who could get very sick or even die from the COVID-19 infection.

After receiving the vaccine, you may be uncomfortable for a few days, but this is the best and safest way to build immunity to COVID-19. In the United States, over 600,000 people have died due to COVID-19 and we are still experiencing deaths due to COVID-19.

Once you are fully vaccinated ≥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 resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.
  • To reduce the risk of being infected with the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
  • You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 5-7 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive.

For more information on this FAQ, please see Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine | CDC,
CDC COVID Data Tracker
and When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated | CDC

According to the CDC, current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. should work against these COVID virus variants. But more studies are being done to confirm how well each vaccine works against each virus variant. For more information on this FAQ, please see What You Need to Know about Variants | CDC

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. For more information on this FAQ, please see COVID-19 Vaccines That Require 2 Shots | CDC

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. For more information on this FAQ, please see COVID-19 vaccine administration | CDC

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.

COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may now be administered without regard to timing so COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines may be given at the same visit. You no longer need to wait 14 days between vaccinations. For more information on this FAQ, please see Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine | CDC

To reduce their risk of becoming infected with the Delta variant and potentially spreading it to others, CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people:

  • Wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
  • Fully vaccinated people might choose to mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in their household is unvaccinated.

Regardless of your vaccination status, you will still need to follow the health and safety guidance at your workplace.

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),

  • Participate in many of the activities that they did before the pandemic; for some of these activities, they may choose to wear a mask.
  • Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel and from self-quarantine after travel.
  • Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
  • Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible.

For more information on this FAQ, please see When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated | CDC

If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 5-7 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. It is recommended that you isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive. For more information on this FAQ, please see Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People | CDC

  • 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.

Individuals aged 5 to age 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 Vaccines.Gov 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 VaccineFinder.org. 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.

COVID-19 vaccine providers that are approved by the Tennessee Department of Health are required to report administered doses into Tennessee’s Immunization Registry, TennIIS. Vaccine administrators can check TennIIS for the date and manufacturer of the vaccine received for the first dose.

Tennessee is able to send a record of an individual’s entire vaccination history but is not able to send replacement cards. To request a copy of your COVID-19 Immunization history fill out this form https://redcap.link/recordrequest. 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. For more information on this FAQ, please see What to Do If You Have an Allergic Reaction after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine | CDC

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 Janssen/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. For more information on this FAQ, please see Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety |CDC

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 it is likely a true positive if you test positive by PCR after receiving the vaccine. Therefore, you are strongly encouraged to isolate for 10 days, inform your close contacts to quarantine, and seek medical care as needed.

Yes, Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability) is working with home health agencies to reach these groups. For more information in this FAQ, please see Vaccinating Homebound Persons With COVID-19 Vaccine | CDC

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 (covid19.tn.gov) 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].

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 VaccineFinder.org to find out which vaccine is available at providers in your area.

Appointments are required at most locations, so before showing up at a facility visit https://www.vaccines.gov/, search by zip code, and click a location with vaccine “In stock” to view the next steps and hours of operation. Some locations are offering walk-in vaccination, please check with your preferred provider to determine if this is the case.

Appointments are required at most locations, visit https://www.vaccines.gov/ to locate a pharmacy in your community search by zip code, and click a location with vaccine “In stock” to view the next steps. Some locations are offering walk-in vaccination, please check with your preferred provider to determine if this is the case.

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 https://vaccinate.tn.gov/ at the bottom of the page, click on “Proceed to COVID-19 questionnaire” to register for an appointment.

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. For more information on this FAQ, please see Considerations involving pregnancy, lactation, and fertility | CDC

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. 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. Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, although limited, has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. A conversation between you and your health care provider may help with the decision about taking the vaccine. For more information on this FAQ, please see Considerations involving pregnancy, lactation, and fertility | CDC

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone 5 years of age and older, including people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future. Currently no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men. For more information, please see

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html

There are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in breastfeeding people. COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone, including the mother or the baby, and the vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies. A conversation between you and your health care provider may help with the decision about taking the vaccine. For more information on this please see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html.

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. For more information on this FAQ, please see Register for V-Safe | CDC

Guidance from the CDC for K-12 schools, including masking in classrooms and on transport, can be found at Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools | CDC

For more information on community transmission, please see COVID-19 Integrated County View | CDC

For more information on national back-to-school guidance, please see Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools | CDC

For more information, please see CARES Act Provider Relief Fund | HHS

For more information on vaccine coverage rates, please see COVID-19 Integrated County View | CDC

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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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