COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
January 22, 2021
Please review the following information to determine if you are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are eligible, follow the State of Connecticut or New York State steps to schedule an appointment. Nuvance Health is using the state systems for scheduling vaccinations at our locations; you cannot schedule an appointment directly through us. We are not keeping wait lists. Please help us by not contacting our hospitals or medical practices to ask about vaccines.
- Find out if you are eligible for a vaccine by visiting ct.gov/covidvaccine/access.
- At this time, the following individuals are eligible according to State of Connecticut Phase 1a and 1b guidelines:
- Phase 1a:
- Healthcare workers
- Longer term care facility residents
- Medical first responders
- Phase 1b:
- Scheduling now: Individuals 75 and older
- Scheduling next: Individuals between the ages of 65 and 74
- Scheduling information coming soon:
- Frontline essential workers
- Individuals with an underlying medical condition with increased risk for severe illness
- Congregate settings will be phased in throughout Phase 1b
- For a complete list, visit ct.gov/covidvaccine/access.
- Phase 1a:
- If you are eligible now, follow the State of Connecticut’s process for scheduling an appointment. You can also call the Connecticut COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 1-877-918-2224:
- The state is using the CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) to schedule appointments.
- You cannot schedule an appointment directly at Nuvance Health. Nuvance Health locations are listed in VAMS.
- Vaccination is by appointment only.
- Appointments are in high demand. Continue to monitor VAMS for openings if none are available when you go to schedule an appointment.
- Proof of appointment and eligibility are required upon arrival for your appointment.
- Here is how to prepare for your vaccination appointment at Nuvance Health.
At this time and based on available supply, Nuvance Health is only able to offer vaccines to our eligible healthcare workers. In addition, any eligible individual who received a first dose at our clinics will get their second dose at our clinics. Here is information about eligibility from New York State:
- Find out if you are eligible for a vaccine by using New York State’s “Am I eligible?” online tool or calling the New York State Vaccination hotline at 1-833-697-4829.
- At this time, the following individuals are eligible according to New York State Phase 1a and 1b guidelines:
- Phase 1a: Healthcare workers and nursing home residents
- Phase 1b: Individuals age 65 and over, front line essential workers, and residents in congregate settings and staff. Visit New York State’s website for a complete list.
- If you are eligible now, follow New York State’s process for scheduling an appointment.
- Vaccination is by appointment only.
- Appointments are in high demand. Continue to monitor New York State’s website for openings if none are available when you go to schedule an appointment.
- Proof of appointment and eligibility are required upon arrival for your appointment.
The following information is based on current guidelines from the CDC and Connecticut and New York state governments.
Why do we need a vaccine?
According to the 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 a COVID-19 vaccination 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.
How are the vaccines tested for safety?
According to the CDC, the United States 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 an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is granted by the FDA for a vaccine, the known and potential benefits must outweigh the known and potential risks for use.
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
Is the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA?
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.
Is the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA?
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.
When will vaccines be available for more individuals?
Vaccines are currently available in limited supply for those who are eligible within Phase 1a and 1b federal and state government guidelines. Check to see if you are eligible and schedule an appointment:
- Residents of Connecticut: ct.gov/covidvaccine/access
- Residents of New York: Use the “Am I eligible?” online tool or call the New York State Vaccination hotline at 1-833-697-4829
I am eligible for a vaccine, but there are no available appointments near me. What should I do?
Vaccines are in high demand with limited supply. We know it is difficult, but please be patient when it comes to scheduling your appointment. You may need to monitor the scheduling system’s website until there are openings.
How many doses of the vaccine do I need?
At this time, the two vaccines that the FDA authorized for emergency use require two doses. It is important for you to complete both doses to ensure optimal immunity. The second dose must be from the same manufacturer.
After your first dose, you will get a vaccination card that will indicate what type of vaccine you received. Bring the card with you to your second dose. The type of vaccine you received will also be recorded in the scheduling system.
Depending on the type of vaccine you get for your first dose, plan to schedule your second-dose appointment 21 days (Pfizer-BioNTech) or 28 days (Moderna) from your first dose.
We understand you may not be able to schedule your second dose exactly 21 days or 28 days apart from your first dose. That is okay. The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible, but not more than four days before the recommended second dose. For example:
- Pfizer-BioNTech: Schedule your second-dose at least 17 days after your first dose
- Moderna: Schedule your second-dose at least 24 days after your first dose
I received my first dose, and now am having trouble scheduling my second-dose appointment. What should I do?
If you received your first dose, you will get your second dose. We know it is difficult, but please be patient when it comes to scheduling your appointment. You may need to monitor the scheduling system’s website until there are openings.
Who should or should not get vaccinated?
At this time, the FDA has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. It is important to review fact sheets about each vaccine to determine if you should or should not get vaccinated when it is your turn:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older fact sheet for recipients and caregivers
- Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older fact sheet for recipients and caregivers
Also, talk with your primary care doctor if you have questions about whether or not you should get vaccinated when it is your turn.
Finally, a COVID-19 vaccine will not be authorized for children under age 16 until more studies are completed.
If I’ve already had COVID-19, should I still get vaccinated?
Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact re-infection is possible, the CDC advises people to get vaccinated 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 vaccinated when it is my turn?
According to the FDA, there are not enough data to inform whether there are vaccine-associated risks specific to pregnancy or lactation. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, discuss your options with your primary care doctor. Vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
At this time, the 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:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet for recipients and caregivers
- Moderna COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet for recipients and caregivers
What should I do if I experience side effects of a vaccine?
If you experience a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine, call 911, or go to the nearest hospital.
Call your primary care doctor if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away. 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.
The CDC and FDA also encourage the public to report possible side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Reports to VAERS help the CDC monitor the safety of vaccines. Learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event.
Will the vaccine 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 vaccinated?
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.
After I get vaccinated, will I test positive for COVID-19?
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.
If I get vaccinated, will I need to keep wearing a mask, social distancing and washing my hands?
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.
Who is paying for the vaccine?
Vaccine doses purchased with United States taxpayer dollars will be 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.
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.
If there are many vaccines under development in the United States, which one will I get?
The vaccine that will be available to you will depend on supply and other variables.
How will vaccines be stored?
Nuvance Health will follow FDA and manufacturer guidelines for storage.
Where can I go for more information?
Stay informed with accurate facts from trusted sources about the COVID-19 vaccines. Focus on facts, take a deep breath and remember we’re all in this together.
Use these trusted sources to find out more:
- Visit org/coronavirus/vaccine for the latest information about vaccines at Nuvance Health
- Connecticut COVID-19 vaccine program
- New York COVID-19 vaccine program
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Food and Drug Administration
- Common vaccine questions: gov
For general questions about COVID-19, try these:
- Call the Nuvance Health COVID-19 Community Hotline at 1-888-667-9262
- Connecticut: ct.gov/coronavirus or call 211
- New York: health.ny.gov or call 1-888-364-3065
Nuvance Health is keeping our communities informed on social media @NuvanceHealth. You can also search for your hospital’s name on social media. Nuvance Health hospitals include Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, Norwalk Hospital and Sharon Hospital in Connecticut; and Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York.