News and Events, Health and Wellness
What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines
- March 31, 2021
- By Staff Writer
M Health Fairview is currently providing COVID-19 vaccines to the following groups:
- Paid and unpaid healthcare workers who are unable to work remotely
- All people age 50 and older
- People age 16 to 49 with certain high-risk health conditions or disabilities .
- People age 16 or older who are members of specific racial or ethnic groups that have experienced disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 infection during the pandemic, including:
- American Indian/Alaskan Native
- Southeast Asian
- Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian
COVID-19 vaccine distribution is led by the State of Minnesota. M Health Fairview and other health systems across Minnesota continue to receive a limited supply of the vaccines. As supplies increase, we plan to make vaccines available to more people statewide. .
We understand that you may have questions about these new vaccines. To help, we have assembled a list of frequently asked topics.
If I am eligible, how can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccine appointments are only available at select M Health Fairview locations statewide, and you may need to travel to a different clinic than you typically visit for your other primary care appointments and health needs. You will be able to select the location that is most convenient for you when you book an appointment. .
Our weekly appointment availability depends on the number of vaccines we receive from the Minnesota Department of Health. We release new appointment times on a rolling basis throughout the week. Additional times may open daily as previously made appointments are rescheduled or canceled.
Do I need an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, we require an appointment in order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please do not come to a M Health Fairview clinic for the COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment. To find out if you meet the criteria to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, please visit our .
Is there a standby list, wait list, or another way to obtain a last-minute appointment?
What should I expect at my COVID-19 vaccine appointment?
- Wear a short-sleeved shirt for ease of receiving the vaccine.
- Wear a mask and maintain a social distance of six feet from others when possible at your appointment. Only those getting a vaccine should come to the appointment.
- After receiving the vaccination, you will be asked to wait nearby for a 15-minute observation period to monitor you for immediate adverse reactions. If you have a history of allergic reactions to a vaccine, you will be asked to wait nearby for a 30-minute observation period. Our vaccinators are prepared to respond to adverse reactions during the observation time. They will have access to EpiPens and guidance on how to care for individuals experiencing reactions.
- If you are pregnant, lactating (nursing) or have a weak immune system, review special details about the vaccine on the .
If you have questions, be sure to ask your regular care team before you arrive.
Please also review the Moderna Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization, or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) Emergency Use Authorization for more details about the vaccines.
Will insurance cover the COVID-19 vaccine?
Can I bring a friend or family member to my appointment if they meet the vaccine criteria?
Why is it difficult to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment?Due to the high demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, our appointments fill quickly. Health systems across the state and nation are also affected by limited vaccine supplies. Updated information about our COVID-19 vaccine appointment availability will always be posted on our COVID-19 Resource Hub. It can also be found by accessing the scheduling function through your MyChart account.
Why is M Health Fairview prioritizing vaccinations for older individuals and those with certain medical conditions?Simply put, age and the presence of other pre-existing medical conditions are the best indicators of whether someone may suffer from severe COVID symptoms leading to hospitalization and death. For instance, individuals 75 years of age are eight times likelier to be hospitalized and 220 times likelier to die from COVID than individuals aged 18-29.
Why is M Health Fairview prioritizing vaccinations for communities of color?
Hundreds of years of systemic and individual racism has led to significant health inequities for communities of color and Indigenous groups. The COVID-19 pandemic has made those already existing racial disparities even worse.
Communities of color and indigenous groups have experienced disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 infection and death during the pandemic. A range of factors – including barriers to healthcare, economic instability, and a higher rate of chronic health conditions have made these communities more susceptible to the pandemic. To relieve this burden and better protect the people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, we are prioritizing vaccinations for people who identify as one or more of the following groups: Black/African, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, and Latinx/Hispanic.
Is it safe to receive a COVID-19 vaccine? How effective are they?
The COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech,Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) are safe and highly effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19, hospitalization, and death due to the disease, according to results from three large clinical trials that together involved more than 100,000 people.
On Dec. 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an (EUA) allowing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be given to people in the United States. One week later, the FDA issued for the Moderna vaccine. A third vaccine produced by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) received FDA authorization on Feb. 27.
Before approval, clinical trial results for all three vaccines were reviewed by FDA experts, an independent panel convened by the FDA, and a group of independent experts retained by the companies involved.
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were both found to be more than 94 percent effective after two doses. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine was shown to be 66 percent effective in preventing mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 at least 28 days after vaccination. More importantly, researchers found that the vaccine was 85 percent effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19 and was 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and deaths.
The FDA did not find any specific safety concerns that would prevent the release of the three vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA will continue to monitor people who have received the vaccines to ensure there’s no evidence of even rare safety issues.
Our team of experts at M Health Fairview have been following the science and data closely and we strongly encourage people to get the first vaccine offered to you, no matter which kind of vaccine it is. Getting the vaccine will protect you and your family while helping prevent the spread of this disease. COVID-19 can cause death or serious health problems, even in young, healthy people. The risk of getting the virus and suffering serious side effects is greater than the possible risks from receiving the vaccine.
How do the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines work and how many doses do I need?
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines douse live or weakened versions of the coronavirus causing COVID-19. Instead, these vaccines have genetic material called mRNA or “messenger RNA” that is taken from the virus. Once injected, this material tricks our bodies into producing a protein unique to the virus. When our immune systems detect this protein, they then create cells that recognize and destroy it. These immune system cells remain in our bodies for long periods, giving us protection against the virus.
Both vaccines come in two doses. People receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will need a second dose 21 days after the first, while those who get the Moderna vaccine will need a booster 28 days later. The second dose must be completed with the same vaccine brand as the first dose. Both doses are important to ensure full protection. Two weeks after the second doses, both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to be more than 94 percent effective.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be used by people ages 16 and older, while the Moderna vaccine is for people ages 18 and older.
How does the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine work?
The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine comes in a single dose – unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which both require two doses several weeks apart. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) shot uses a “vector vaccine” method. Vector vaccines use another weakened virus – in this case, it’s an adenovirus called Ad26 – to deliver genetic material that tricks your body into making a protein which stimulates your body’s immune response. It is not possible to get COVID-19 or a sickness caused by the adenovirus through this vaccine.
Is the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine as good as the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines?
All three authorized vaccines are very effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19, hospitalization, and death. If you qualify, you should get the first vaccine offered to you – no matter which vaccine it is – to better protect yourself and accelerate the end of the pandemic.
Comparing the single-dose Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine to the other vaccines is like comparing apples to oranges. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine was studied during and following the emergence of new COVID-19 variants – several of which spread more easily than previous forms of the disease. It’s the most-up-to-date vaccine, and the only one tested head to head with these variants. Because there are not any studies directly comparing one vaccine to one another, it is not accurate to assume that one version is better than another.
Once vaccinated, we must continue wearing masks, being socially distant, and taking other steps to reduce our risk.
Are you still giving out the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine? Is the vaccine safe?
On Tuesday, April 13, M Health Fairview paused distribution of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine at all of our sites based on recently issued recommendations from the CDC and the FDA regarding the risk of blood clotting in women following vaccination.
If you have scheduled a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at a site administering the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, we will call you to offer you a rescheduled appointment time for a vaccine from another manufacturer.
We have every indication that the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine is safe, and we consider the risk to patients to be extremely small. If you have experienced concerning symptoms after receiving the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, please go to an emergency department, call 911, or reach out to your primary care provider.
The CDC is meeting this week to review new evidence regarding the vaccine. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine can be stored without expiring, and we will hold the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine doses that we have as we wait for additional guidance from the FDA and the CDC.
What are the side effects?
You may have some side effects after getting vaccinated. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection. During the clinical trials, only mild to moderate flu-like side effects were reported with the vaccines, including a headache, fatigue, chills, fever, and muscle and joint soreness. For the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, side effects are more likely to occur after the second dose. Most of these symptoms ended three days after the vaccine, or earlier.
Cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell areside effects of the vaccine. If you experience these symptoms, monitor your symptoms to see if they become worse and seek the advice of your healthcare provider if they do. While it’s not possible to get COVID-19 from any of vaccines, you may have been exposed to the virus before receiving your vaccine.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines? Do any of them use a live virus?
It is not possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccines. The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use only genetic material from the coronavirus causing COVID-19 while the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine delivers that genetic material using a weakened adenovirus (Ad26).
What if I miss my second dose of the vaccine?
The Pfizer/BioNTECH and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are not fully effective unless you receive both doses. The first dose of the vaccine triggers your immune system response and the second dose completes the process so that you have the best-possible protection. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine only requires a single dose for full effectiveness.
Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines?
If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient that is in a COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you shouldget that vaccine. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injections, the CDC recommends checking with your doctor before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
What should I do if I have an adverse or allergic reaction to the vaccine?
You may have some side effects after getting vaccinated. The side effects may feel like the flu and may last for a few days. These side effects are normal and are signs that the body is building protection from the virus.
There is a very small chance that the vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction – often within a few minutes to one hour after getting the vaccine. Symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of your face and throat
- A fast heartbeat
- A bad rash all over your body
- Dizziness and weakness
If you think you’re having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the place where you received the vaccine, seek immediate medical care by calling 911. If redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours – or if your side effects are worrying you, or do not seem to be going away after a few days – call our Fairview Nurse Advisors line at 1-855-324-7843.
for more information about what to expect after getting your COVID-19 vaccine, or consider downloading and using the CDC’s smartphone app, , to track and report side effects, receive personalized health checks, and get second dose reminders. The CDC recommends patients and providers report adverse or allergic reactions to the .
Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
While we have made some progress in the fight against COVID-19 with public health measures like masking and social distancing, widespread vaccination is the only way that we can stop the pandemic.
Not only does getting the vaccine protect you against COVID-19, it also reduces the chances that you will spread it to others, including your family and friends. Together, the COVID-19 vaccination and simple masking, hygiene, and distancing guidelines offer the best protection from COVID-19. Wear a mask, wash your hands, stay at least six feet from others, and remain home if you’re sick.
I am young and healthy and at low risk for COVID. Why should I get the vaccine?
Even younger people can have severe complications from COVID-19, although their risk is not as high as older people or those who have serious health conditions. The more people who get the vaccine, the closer we can get to reaching herd immunity. Herd immunity is when most people are immune to a disease, meaning they can’t get it, because they received the vaccine or have already had the disease and cannot get it again, at least for a while. Herd immunity can stop or slow the spread of disease.
If I had COVID-19 should I get the vaccine?
Yes. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 produce antibodies that offer some protection against the virus, but we don’t know enough yet about antibody protection and how long it may last, so we recommend that everyone get the vaccine.
If I’m pregnant or lactating, should I get the vaccine?
The Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) clinical trials did not include pregnant or lactating people, so there is currently no data on the safety of vaccines for those groups. The , the , and the currently recommend making the vaccine available to pregnant and lactating people who are healthcare workers or members of other priority groups. The decision to vaccinate or not is up to each person. A conversation with your care provider may assist you in making an informed decision, though this is not required.
Can kids receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be given to people age 16 and older, while the Moderna vaccine is for people ages 18 and older. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine was approved for people ages 18 and older. No vaccine has been approved yet for children under age 16. Several companies, including Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, have started including children as young as age 12 in clinical trials. However, much more information is needed before a vaccine can be given to children.
Do I have to continue wearing a mask after I get the vaccine?
Yes. Everyone should wear face masks, wash their hands frequently, practice social distancing, and take other safety steps until more people have received the vaccine, the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide is no longer at pandemic levels, and we understand more about how long these vaccines will protect us.
Should I be tested for COVID-19 prior to receiving the vaccine?