COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQS – Connecticut

COVID-19 Vaccines Frequently Asked Questions

Connecticut

March 1, 2021

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Select the topic to jump to that section:

What’s new?

Am I eligible?

Vaccine appointments

Are vaccines safe for me?

Side effects

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines FAQ

Where can I go for more information?

 

What’s new?

  • COVID-19 vaccines are available for individuals who live or work in Connecticut in Phase 1a and 1b, including:
    • Healthcare personnel
    • Medical first responders
    • Long-term care facility residents and staff
    • Educators and child care providers
    • Individuals age 55 and older

For a complete list and the latest information about the phases, visit ct.gov/covidvaccine/access.

  • Nuvance Health vaccine clinics at Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Sharon hospitals and Danbury Primary Care are offering first and second doses to eligible individuals by appointment only.
  • CVS, Walgreens and Walmart are now offering vaccines at select retail locations for eligible individuals, too.

Am I eligible?

Who can get a vaccine now?

Nuvance Health is administering vaccines following federal and state distribution guidelines. The State of Connecticut is currently in Phase 1a and 1b of the vaccines rollout.

According to these guidelines, vaccines are available for individuals who live or work in Connecticut in Phase 1a and 1b, including:

  • Healthcare personnel
  • Medical first responders
  • Long-term care facility residents and staff
  • Educators and child care providers
  • Individuals age 55 and older

For a complete list and the latest information about the phases, visit ct.gov/covidvaccine/access.

When can more individuals get a vaccine?

According to the State of Connecticut, individuals in the following age groups will be eligible for a vaccine on the following dates:

  • March 22: Ages 45 to 54
  • April 12: Ages 35 to 44
  • May 3: Ag 16 to 34

Vaccine appointments

Important considerations before scheduling an appointment:

  • Schedule your appointment at a time when you can arrive 15 minutes early to complete paperwork and stay at least 15 to 30 minutes after for observation.
  • Talk with your primary care doctor before scheduling your appointment if you have questions about whether or not you should get a vaccine. Clinic staff will not provide guidance for you at your appointment. You can schedule a virtual visit by calling your doctor or visiting nuvancehealth.org/virtualvisits.
  • Do not schedule your appointment within 14 days before or after receiving other vaccinations (example: flu shot). At this time, there is no data on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines administered at the same time with other vaccines. Therefore, COVID-19 vaccines should be administered alone, with a minimum of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccines.

Important information about how to get a vaccine:

  • Vaccination is by appointment only.
  • Vaccines are in high demand with limited supply. If you cannot get an appointment right away, please continue to monitor the appointment scheduling systems you are using for open appointments.
  • If you want a vaccine at a Nuvance Health location, please schedule an appointment through the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS):
    • Nuvance Health is not scheduling appointments directly through our hospitals or medical practices.
    • At this time, we have clinics at Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Sharon hospitals.
    • For more information how to schedule a vaccine at Nuvance Health location, please review the below steps under “first dose appointment” that apply for you.
  • CVS, Walgreens and Walmart are now offering vaccines at select retail locations for eligible individuals, too.

First dose appointment

I am a not a Medical Practice patient and want a vaccine at a Nuvance Health clinic

  • If you are eligible for a vaccine, complete the Connecticut Department of Public Health online VAMS enrollment form.
  • VAMS will verify your registration and then follow up with scheduling information.
  • You will need to follow these steps if you want a vaccine at a Nuvance Health clinic. However, these steps are optional if you have other options for getting a vaccine, such as directly through another medical provider or a retail location (CVS, Walgreens).

I am a Nuvance Health Medical Practice patient

Following state guidelines for vaccination, we will register our eligible Medical Practice patients in VAMS with the email address we have on file for you.

You should have received an email from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with information about how to register in VAMS:

  • Look for an email from vams@cdc.gov.
  • Search your junk folder if you cannot find the email.
  • If you did not get the email, go to the VAMS login page and select “forgot password” to access your account. We registered you in VAMS with the email address we have on file for you. Use this email address to create an account in VAMS if you have not already.
  • Use Google Chrome web browser to open VAMS; it will not work in Internet Explorer.
  • Following the steps to schedule an appointment.

If you need assistance scheduling your appointment:

  • Call the Connecticut COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 1-877-918-2224 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Due to high volume, hold times may vary.
  • For support with VAMS, review VAMS Frequently Asked Questions.

Second dose appointment

In VAMS, select “second dose clinic” to schedule your appointment. Select the same clinic location where you got your first dose.

According to CDC guidelines, the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose:

  • Schedule Pfizer-BioNTech second dose at 21 days or up to six weeks after first dose
  • Schedule Moderna second dose at 28 days or up to six weeks after second dose
  • Please do not schedule your second dose earlier than the recommended interval for both vaccines.

The type of vaccine you received for your first dose is recorded in VAMS and on the card you received after your first injection. Please bring the card with you to your second dose.

Why do I need two doses?

Most vaccines require two doses. It is important for you to complete both doses to ensure optimal immunity. It is also important for you to get your second dose at the same location where you got first. Your second dose must be from the same manufacturer.

How do I prepare for my appointment?

Visit our website for how to prepare for your COVID-19 vaccination at Nuvance Health.

Are vaccines safe for me?

Who should or should not get a vaccine?

At this time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. Review fact sheets about each vaccine to determine if you should or should not get a vaccine:

Should I get a vaccine if I already had COVID-19?

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and because re-infection is possible, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises people to a vaccine even if they have already been sick. At this time, experts do not know if or how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The potential immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Early evidence suggests any natural immunity gained by an individual to COVID-19 may not last very long.

I am pregnant or breastfeeding. Should I get a vaccine when it is my turn?

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, speak with your OB/GYN about what may be best for you. Also, review the following information:

  • According to the FDA, there are not enough data to inform whether there are vaccine-associated risks specific to pregnancy or lactation.
  • Nuvance Health OB/GYNs follow guidelines from American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the CDC. These organizations have taken the position that COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna not specified, should not be withheld from pregnant women who want a vaccine and should be offered based on federal and state eligibility guidelines.

Vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

I have an underlying medical condition. Should I get a vaccine when it is my turn?

According to the CDC, adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to people with underlying medical conditions who want them provided they have not had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.

Learn more about underlying medical conditions and vaccines.

I have cancer or am in survivorship. Should I get a vaccine when it is my turn?

COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been studied in people with cancer. However, early evidence suggests that most people with cancer can safely receive a vaccine. Although, there is a risk that some immunocompromised people may not mount an immune response to a vaccine, making it less effective for them.

If you are receiving cancer treatment and have questions about vaccines, ask your doctor if you should get one. If you decide to get a vaccine, the next step is to determine when you are eligible.

Side effects

What are the side effects of vaccines?

At this time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. The fact sheets about each vaccine include side effects that have been reported for each type of vaccine:

What should I do if I experience side effects or adverse reactions to a vaccine?

There are three ways to report side effects and adverse reactions:

  • Enroll in v-safe, the CDC’s after vaccination health checker. Learn more about v-safe.
  • Report side effects and adverse reactions in your VAMS account.
  • Call your primary care doctor. If you do not have a doctor, for information about Nuvance Health Virtual Visits, to schedule an appointment or to find a doctor, visit nuvancehealth.org/virtualvisits.

Learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event.

How do vaccines work?

How are vaccines tested for safety?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccine safety system ensures all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority while federal partners work to make COVID-19 vaccines available.

Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a vaccine, the known and potential benefits must outweigh the known and potential risks for use.

Will vaccines give me COVID-19?

No. According to the CDC, none of the vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The goal for each vaccine is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign the body is potentially building immunity. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

Can I still get COVID-19 if I get a vaccine?

Yes. It is possible to get COVID-19 even if you get vaccinated. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build up its immunity after vaccination. That means it is possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

According to the CDC, no vaccine is 100 percent effective. If you have COVID-19 symptoms a few days or more after getting the vaccine, follow the guidelines for someone with suspected infection: quarantine (avoid contact with others) and get tested. Learn more about COVID-19 testing at Nuvance Health.

I test positive for COVID-19 after I get a vaccine?

According to the CDC, vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States will not cause you to test positive on viral tests. Viral tests are used to see if you have a current infection.

On the other hand, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and you may have some level of protection against the virus. The goal of vaccination is to develop an immune response (antibodies) without getting sick.

Vaccines FAQ

Why do we need vaccines?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on what is known about vaccines for other diseases, experts believe getting a vaccine may help prevent you from getting COVID-19 or help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get the virus. Getting vaccinated may also help protect people around you, particularly those at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

How will vaccines help protect me?

According to the CDC, the goal of the vaccine is to teach your immune system how to recognize COVID-19, so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. The combination of getting vaccinated and following the three W’s — wear a mask, watch your distance from others and wash your hands — will offer the best protection from COVID-19. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

Will I need to keep wearing a mask, social distancing and washing my hands if I get a vaccine?

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

No vaccine is 100 percent effective. Even though vaccines reduce symptom severity and duration of illness if you were to get sick, you still need to follow precautions to minimize the risk of you and those around you getting sick.

How many vaccines are in development?

According to the CDC, multiple COVID-19 vaccines are in development. Currently, large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials are in progress or being planned for multiple COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Phase 3 is the final clinical trial phase before a new treatment or vaccine can receive FDA authorization or approval.

What is an Emergency Use Authorization?

According to the FDA, during a public health emergency, the FDA can use its EUA authority to allow the use of unapproved medical products, such as a drug, vaccine or diagnostic device, to diagnose, treat or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases when certain criteria are met; including that there are no adequate, approved and available alternatives.

What vaccines have FDA Emergency Use Authorization?

At this time, the FDA granted EUA for two vaccines:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older

Did the FDA approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine?

This product has not been approved or licensed by the FDA, but has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA, under an EUA to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for use in individuals 16 years of age and older; and the emergency use of this product is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of the medical product under Section 564(b)(1) of the FD&C Act unless the declaration is terminated or authorization revoked sooner.

Did the FDA approve the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?

This product has not been approved or licensed by the FDA, but has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA, under an EUA to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for use in individuals 18 years of age and older; and the emergency use of this product is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of the medical product under Section 564(b)(1) of the FD&C Act unless the declaration is terminated or authorization revoked sooner.

Which vaccine will I get?

Nuvance Health will offer the vaccines that are allotted to us by the State of Connecticut. At this time, Nuvance Health is offering Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The vaccine that will be available to you will depend on supply and other variables.

Who will administer my vaccine?

Nuvance Health is following federal and state guidelines for administering the vaccine. Qualified, trained clinical personnel are administering vaccines.

How will vaccines be stored?

Nuvance Health will follow FDA and manufacturer guidelines for storage.

Who is paying for the vaccine?

Vaccine doses purchased with United States taxpayer dollars are given at no cost. However, vaccination providers, such as medical practices, will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

Where can I go for more information?

Call Nuvance Health’s Community Hotline with questions about vaccines at 1-888-667-9262.

Visit nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus/vaccine for the latest information about vaccines at Nuvance Health

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