COVID-19 Vaccine:

Your Questions Answered

The COVID-19 lab positivity rate and the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have increased rapidly in our area. This increase is being driven by the Delta variant. COVID-19 vaccines are strongly encouraged for all eligible persons.

Don’t hesitate, vaccinate.

Do you have questions about the vaccine? You aren’t alone. We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the vaccine below, including information about additional doses and booster shots. Remember to always consult with your primary care provider to determine the best decision regarding your own health.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Am I eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

    UPDATE: As of October 21, 2021, The FDA has issued emergency use authorization and the CDC has authorized booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines for certain groups.

    If you have received a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after your second shot if you are:
    – 65 years or older.
    – Over 18 and at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection because of health conditions.
    – Over 18 and at high risk of exposure due to your job or living arrangements.

    For patients who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are recommended if you are 18 and older and were vaccinated two or more months ago.

    Other Important Information:

    All COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for people age 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine currently authorized for people 12 and older.

    Reminder: Parental consent is required for the vaccination of children. Youth (ages 12-17) and parents should contact providers in their area to ensure they are offering the Pfizer vaccine before making an appointment or attending a walk-up vaccine clinic. COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens

    Not sure if you’re eligible? Learn more here.

    Where can I get the vaccine?

    Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is faster and more convenient than ever. About nine out of 10 Americans live within five miles of a COVID-19 vaccination site.

    The Texas Vaccine Scheduler can help Texans get scheduled for a COVID-19 vaccine.

    • Register online at GetTheVaccine.dshs.texas.gov. You will be notified by email or text when and where to get the vaccine.
    • Call (833) 832-7067 if you don’t have internet or need help signing up. Call center support is available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Spanish language and other translators are available to help callers.

    Retail pharmacies across the country are now receiving new allotments of the COVID-19 vaccine. Pharmacies will open new appointment times immediately after receiving the vaccine. Not all pharmacies will be receiving the vaccine. Local participating pharmacy partners include:

    Other Scheduling Tips:

    • Text VACCINE to 55000 or (in Spanish) VACUNA to receive text messages notifying you to which locations have available vaccine appointments.
    • Visit vaccines.gov; text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX); or call 1-800-232-0233 to find appointments near you.
    • Find tools for locating vaccine providers at covidvaccine.texas.gov or vacunacovid.texas.gov.
    • Download the Ready South Texas and University Health mobile apps. Enable push notifications to receive alerts about vaccine availability.

     

    How does the vaccine work?

    Pfizer and Moderna:

    The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. Essentially, using an mRNA vaccine, we trick our own cells into developing an immune response to COVID-19 which can protect us against a real infection in the future.

    There is NO live, weakened, or active coronavirus in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. You CANNOT get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

    • Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given in two doses. You need both doses of the vaccine for it to be fully effective.
    • It’s important to not mix and match vaccines. If you started with Pfizer, your second vaccination should be Pfizer. If you started with Moderna, your second dose should be Moderna.
    • Pfizer is recommended for ages 16 and up. Moderna is recommended for ages 18 and up.
    • Maximum protection will happen a few weeks after your second dose.

    To learn more about how mRNA vaccines – like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine – work, visit CDC: Understanding and Explaining mRNA Vaccines. 

    Johnson & Johnson 

    The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is what’s known as a viral vector vaccine. It uses a harmless cold virus (NOT the coronavirus) to deliver a gene that instructs our cells to make a spike protein found in the coronavirus. This triggers production of antibodies and a resulting immune response, helping protect us against a real infection in the future.

    The virus used in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine poses no threat of causing illness in humans because it has been modified or, in some cases, because the type of virus used cannot cause disease in humans.

    • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single dose.
    • The vaccine is recommended for ages 18 and up.
    • Maximum protection will happen a few weeks after you receive the vaccine.

    To learn more about how viral vector vaccines – like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – work, visit CDC: Understanding and Explaining Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines.

    What do we know about the vaccine's safety?

    UPDATE: The Food and Drug Administration has given its full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, calling it a “key achievement for public health.” The two-dose vaccine is now fully approved for people ages 16 and older.

    Several important steps were taken in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine:

    • Careful testing. The FDA approval process for the COVID-19 vaccine included rigorous standards including a four-phase process of volunteer trials. The FDA ONLY approves a vaccine if it’s safe and effective AND the benefits outweigh the risks.
    • Authorization for emergency use. If a vaccine or medicine is needed to address an emergency situation such as the coronavirus pandemic, once it is shown to be safe and effective, the FDA can grant it an emergency use authorization, or EUA. An EUA allows a vaccine, treatment or medication to be used before the formal FDA approval.
    • Continuous monitoring. The FDA and CDC continue to monitor any problems or side effects experienced by those receiving the vaccine.

    You can learn more from the CDC about the safety steps for the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Does the vaccine protect me from the new Delta variant?

    Available data demonstrates that the COVID-19 vaccines available are still highly effective against the Delta variant in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations for people who are fully vaccinated. It is possible for a fully vaccinated person to get COVID-19, but they usually have mild or asymptomatic infection. 

    • The Delta variant is more contagious. The Delta variant is highly contagious, more than 2x as contagious as previous variants.
    • Some data suggest the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous variants in unvaccinated people. The vast majority of hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19 are in unvaccinated people.
    • Unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern: The greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus. Fully vaccinated people get COVID-19 (known as breakthrough infections) less often than unvaccinated people.
    • Fully vaccinated people with Delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others. However,                                                                      vaccinated people appear to spread the virus for a shorter time. 

    Delta Variant: What We Know About The Science

    How much does the vaccine cost?

    The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost.

    What are the possible side effects?

    Side effects reported include soreness at the injection site, fever, chills, headache, or muscle and joint pain. This is similar to reactions some people have to other vaccines, including flu and shingles.

    I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to get the vaccine?

    You should get a COVID-19 vaccine, even if you have already had COVID-19 because:

    • Research has not yet shown how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again after you recover.
    • Vaccination helps protect you even if you’ve already had COVID-19.

    Evidence is emerging that people get better protection by being fully vaccinated compared with having had COVID-19. A recent study has shown that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than two times as likely than fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19 again.

    Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

    If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your healthcare professional if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

    What should I do if I contract COVID-19 between my first and second shot?

    If you contract COVID-19 during the waiting period between your first and second shot, you should quarantine/isolate and contact your primary care provider. 

    Once you are symptom-free and have completed the recommended quarantine period, you can receive the second dose of the vaccine. If the waiting period for your second shot has passed, you should get your vaccine as soon as possible.

    Get the second shot once you’re feeling better. You will still benefit from it and be better protected in the future.

    Do I need a COVID-19 booster shot?

    UPDATE: As of October 21, 2021, The FDA has issued emergency use authorization and the CDC has authorized booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines for certain groups.

    If you have received a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after your second shot if you are:
    – 65 years or older.
    – Over 18 and at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection because of health conditions.
    – Over 18 and at high risk of exposure due to your job or living arrangements.

    For patients who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are recommended if you are 18 and older and were vaccinated two or more months ago.

    Where can I get my booster shot?

    Pfizer (1st and 2nd doses, and boosters) are now available for qualifying individuals at Wonderland of the Americas vaccine center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the upper level (4522 Fredericksburg Rd.) No appointment or registration is needed. 

    Moderna (1st and 2nd doses, and boosters) are now available for qualifying individuals at the Robert B. Green Campus Pharmacy (903 W. Martin Street) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Saturday. No appointment or registration is needed.

    You must bring your vaccination card with you if you did not get your 1st and 2nd doses of Pfizer from University Health. Find more information here.

    Questions? Check with your primary care provider for guidance and more information.

      What's the difference between an "additional dose" and a "booster?"

      Additional (Third) Dose:

      The CDC and FDA recommend an additional (third) dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for persons who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. This group includes:

      • Some people receiving cancer treatments
      • Organ and stem cell transplant recipients
      • Persons with severe immunodeficiency or untreated HIV infection
      • Those taking medications that may suppress the immune system.

      These people may not have had a strong immune response to the vaccine, so the CDC recommends a third dose no sooner than four weeks after their second dose.

      Booster Shot:

      The FDA and the CDC now recommend a single booster dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine to be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series to qualifying individuals, including:

      For Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients, the FDA and CDC recommend a booster be administered at least two months after receiving the vaccine for individuals ages 18 and up.

       

        I lost my vaccination card. What can I do?

        At your first vaccination appointment, you should have received a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it. 

        If you lost your card:

        • Contact the vaccination site where you got your first shot. Anyone who received a vaccination through University Health can access their vaccine record through their MyChart account.
        • Check your vaccine provider’s website. Retailers and pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens have vaccine information for patients on their respective websites. If you received your first or second dose at one of these retailers you can create an account online and access your COVID-19 vaccination records.
        • State health departments are also able to issue replacement vaccination cards. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) uses the Texas Immunization Registry, called ImmTrac2, to keep vaccine records.

        The CDC also recommends taking a photo of your vaccination card as a backup copy.

        Can I mix and match My Booster Dosage?

        Yes. According to the CDC, eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others, may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

        Ask the Expert

        Priti Mody-Bailey, MD, Community First Health Plans Chief Medical Officer, explains why you should get vaccinated and what’s next when it comes to the vaccine.

        It seems like the vaccine was developed very quickly. Why should I trust it?

        While this is the first time that a vaccine using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology (Pfizer and Moderna) has been authorized, the technology is not new! COVID-19 vaccines were developed using science that has been around for decades.

        Advancements in our understanding of mRNA and its potential for use in medicines, along with the creation of new technologies over the last 30 years, made these vaccines possible. And recent research on coronaviruses made these vaccines safe and effective

        If you or your loved one is still hesitant, consider the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a viral vector vaccine. Scientists began creating viral vectors in the 1970s. Besides being used in vaccines, viral vectors have also been studied for gene therapy, to treat cancer, and for molecular biology research. For decades, hundreds of scientific studies of viral vector vaccines have been done and published around the world.

        Someone I know was vaccinated, but still got COVID-19. If it’s still possible to get the virus when vaccinated, do I really need the vaccine?

        Vaccine breakthroughs are expected. COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness. Some fully vaccinated people will get sick, and some will even be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. However, there is evidence that vaccination may make illness less severe for those who are vaccinated and still get sick. The risk of infection, hospitalization, and death are all much lower in vaccinated compared to unvaccinated people.

        Why is it important that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the FDA?

        For months now, the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been approved under emergency use authorization, or EUA, by the FDA. The Pfizer was the first of the vaccines to receive the EUA, and it’s also the first of the vaccines that applied for full FDA approval. Full FDA approval is a process that usually requires at least six months of safety data. Pfizer’s vaccine is now fully approved for people 16 years of age and older. 

        This is a huge milestone that will hopefully persuade more unvaccinated people to get their shot.

        When will a vaccine be available for children under the age of 12?

        Trials of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for children younger than 12 have been underway since March. These trials involve testing different dosages of the vaccines to help determine what dosages should be used for each age group. The FDA will likely consider an emergency use authorization (EUA) after reviewing four to six months of data from the trials. This could mean that a vaccine could be available as early as this fall/winter for children under 12. However, this timeline could be delayed.

        Do I still have to wear my mask and social distance even after I get the vaccine?

        Yes. Texas will need millions of vaccines for all who want one, and the vaccine process takes a month or longer for maximum protection.

        Experts are still learning about the protection the vaccine provides under real-life conditions. Everyone needs to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, including:

        • Wearing a mask
        • Practice social distancing
        • Washing your hands often

        COVID-19 Local Information

        The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has opened a COVID-19 Hotline for residents to ask questions about the virus. The hotline is available in English and Spanish. Residents can call 311 or 210-207-6000 (select option 8 for COVID-19 Hotline) or visit the COVID-19 City of San Antonio webpage for more information including: 

        • Testing Locations
        • COVID-19 Risk Level and Case Numbers
        • Current Orders & Declarations

        Transportation:  VIA is offering free transportation to or from an appointment at a City/County-sponsored COVID-19 vaccination site. Visit VIA Metropolitan Transit for more information.

        Have questions on testing and prevention? Check out our COVID-19 testing and prevention page to learn more.

        COVID-19 Resources by County

        Click on the county you live in for a list of area-specific COVID-19 vaccine resources including how to sign up for vaccine availability alerts or to be added to a county/provider’s vaccine waitlist. 

        ATASCOSA

        Atascosa County uses the the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler. Register online at GetTheVaccine.dshs.texas.gov. You will be notified by email or text when and where to get the vaccine. If there’s not an available clinic near you, you will be directed to other places to get your vaccine. 

        If you do not have interent, or need help scheduling an appointment, call the Texas Vaccine Support Center seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 833-832-7067. 

        Additional Information:

        BANDERA

        COVID-19 Vaccine Information

        Call Bandera County Emergency Management at 830-460-8299 or check with your local pharmacy or medical provider to see when vaccine appointments are available.

        Additional Information:

        Bandera County Emergency Management Office Facebook

        COMAL

        Comal County COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

        Comal County Public Health Department is now administering Moderna & Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.

        Call Comal County at 830-221-1150 to schedule an appointment. Please fill out the forms below and present them with your state-issued photo ID upon arrival.

        Additional Information:

        GUADALUPE

        City of Seguin COVID-19 Vaccine Information

        Click here for vaccine FAQs for Guadalupe County residents.

        Guadalupe County uses the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler.

        • Register online at GetTheVaccine.dshs.texas.gov. You will be notified by email or text when and where to get the vaccine.
        • If there’s not an available clinic near you, you will be directed to other places to get your vaccine. 

        If you do not have internet or need help scheduling an appointment, call the Texas Vaccine Support Center seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 833-832-7067. 

        Additional Information:

        KENDALL

        The Kendall County Health Department is currently accepting appointments for COVID-19 vaccines for those who live and work in Kendall County.

        If you don’t have access to the internet, please call the Health Department at (630) 553-9100. Provide your name and best phone number to reach you at and someone call you to get you registered for your
        COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

          Additional Information:

          MEDINA

          Medina County Vaccine Information and Online Registration 

          Walk-ins for the COVID-19 vaccine are available at the Medina County Health Unit Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-11 a.m.and 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

          Click here to sign up for a vaccine appointment and to review walk-in availability with local providers in Medina County.

          Please note: If appointments are unavailable, they will re-open as more vaccines are administered.   

          Additional Information:

          WILSON

          i-INFO: Email Vaccine Availability Alerts for Wilson County Residents

          1. Enroll in the i-INFO system, Wilson County’s mass notification system. Click here to enroll.
          2. Upon enrollment, you will receive a notification via email when vaccine appointments become available.
          3. The email will include a link which will direct you to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine date and time. 

          If you do not have access to the internet, call the Connallly Memorial Medical Center COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline for more information at (830) 251-3105.

          Additional Information:

          We Are Here To Help

          Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine or your health care benefits? Call 1-800-434-2347 Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to speak with a representative who can help. 

          If you have questions after hours, please call the Community First Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-434-2347 available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help you get the care you need.

          Visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) page for the latest vaccine information, updates, and frequently asked questions.

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