COVID-19 Vaccine:

Your Questions Answered

COVID-19 FAQs

Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? You aren’t alone. We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the vaccine below, including information about booster shots and the vaccine for children.

Remember to always consult with your primary care provider to determine the best decision regarding your and your family’s health.

New CDC Online COVID-19 Tools

COVID-19 Community Level: Search your state/county to view risk level.

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Tool: Determine when or if you/your child should get a COVID-19 booster shot.

 

Who is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

All COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for people age 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine currently authorized for individuals ages 5 and older.

CDC Guidance: COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens

Booster Shot Eligibility

May 19, 2022 (Update): CDC now recommends that children ages 5 through 11 years should receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer vaccination series. In addition, CDC is strengthening its recommendation that those 12 and older who are immunocompromised and those 50 and older should receive a second booster dose at least 4 months after their first.  

CDC recommends everyone ages 12 years and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. Some people can receive two boosters.

CDC Guidance: COVID-19 Boosters

 

Where can I/my child 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.

Pharmacies

Click the link to schedule your appointment at local participating pharmacies:

University Health
University Health offers free walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters for people 5 and older at their pharmacies including: Robert B. Green Campus, Medical Center Pavilion, Southeast Clinic, Southwest Clinic, and Texas Diabetes Institute.

To receive a booster, you must bring your vaccination card with you if you did not get your 1st and 2nd doses from University Health.

University Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Your PCP, Pediatrician, & Clinics

All vaccines, including booster shots and the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 may be available at your PCP, your child’s pediatrician, or local vaccination centers in your neighborhood.

PCP/Pediatrician
Check with your provider for availability. Your PCP or your child’s pediatrician are your best source for guidance on the vaccine.

Pop-Up Clinics
Click here for an updated list of vaccine pop-up clinics located in and around San Antonio.

Do I need a COVID-19 booster shot?

May 19, 2022 (Update): CDC now recommends that children ages 5 through 11 years should receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer vaccination series. In addition, CDC is strengthening its recommendation that those 12 and older who are immunocompromised and those 50 and older should receive a second booster dose at least 4 months after their first.  

  • COVID-19 vaccine boosters can further enhance or restore protection that might have decreased over time after your primary series vaccination.
  • People are protected best from severe COVID-19 illness when they stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, which includes getting all recommended boosters when eligible.
  • There are different COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.
  • It is never too late to get the added protection offered by a COVID-19 booster.

Use this CDC tool to determine when or if you (or your child) can get one or more COVID-19 boosters.

Where can I get my booster shot? Your local pharmacy, primary care provider, a University Health pharmacy, or a pop-up clinic in and around San Antonio.

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

    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. 

    Pfizer or Moderna (COVID-19 mRNA vaccines) are preferred. You may get Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in some situations.

    Note: CDC does not recommend mixing products for your primary vaccine series.

    How Do I Know If I'm Up-To-Date On My COVID Vaccinations?

    You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines when you have received all doses in the primary series and all boosters recommended for you, when eligible.

    Vaccine recommendations are different depending on your age, the vaccine you first received, and time since last dose, as shown below.

     

    Recommended: 1 Booster Recommended: 2 Boosters
    How does the vaccine work?
    DECEMBER 16, 2021 UPDATE: The CDC is expressing a clinical preference for individuals to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine over Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

    Individuals who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine will continue to have access to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

    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?

    The Food and Drug Administration has given its full approval of the Pfizer 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. The CDC has developed an After Vaccination Health Checker tool to help track any side effects you might experience after getting the vaccine.

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

    How much does the vaccine cost?

    The COVID-19 vaccine for all age groups, including the booster shot, 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.

    Is the vaccine for children ages 5-11 the same as the vaccine for teens and adults?

    The Pfizer pediatric vaccine is one-third the adult dose and, like the adult vaccine, is given in two doses, three weeks apart. The lower dose was chosen to minimize side effects and still produce strong immunity.

    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 health care professional if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

    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.

      Ask the Experts

      Priti Mody-Bailey, MD, Community First Chief Medical Officer, and pediatrician Teresa Ruiz, MD, Community First Medical Director, answer common questions about the COVID-19 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.

      Is the vaccine safe for children?

      Scientists have conducted clinical trials with about 3,000 children and the FDA has determined that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has met the safety and efficacy standards for authorization in children ages 5 through 15 years.

      Safety data from the trials, which included more than 3,000 children who received the vaccine, found the most common reactions were pain at the injection site, fatigue, and headache. Reactions were mostly mild or moderate. There were no serious adverse events related to the vaccine, including myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction).

      The benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks of getting the disease. Get a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 years and older as soon as you can.

      Why should I get my child vaccinated against COVID-19?

      Experts believe that there are many benefits to getting your child vaccinated.

      The most important reason is that the vaccine helps prevent kids from getting COVID-19. Vaccination can keep children from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19.  Some children infected with the coronavirus can get severe lung infections, become very sick and require hospitalization. They can also have complications that may require intensive care or long-lasting symptoms. The virus can also cause death in children, although this is much rarer than for adults.

      The vaccine helps prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19. Vaccinating children can help protect family members, including siblings who are not eligible for vaccination and family members who may be at increased risk of getting very sick if they are infected.

      Having your child vaccinated for COVID can help restore a more normal life. Vaccinating children can help keep them in school and help them safely participate in sports, playdates, and other group activities.

      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.

      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

      Visit our COVID-19 Testing & Prevention page for a list of local COVID-19 testing locations and updated quarantine guidelines from the CDC.

      The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has also 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) or visit the COVID-19 City of San Antonio webpage.

      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.

      COVID-19 Resources by County

      Click on the county you live in for a list of area-specific COVID-19 vaccine resources.

      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 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:

      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.

        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.

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