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Who should get vaccinated?
      
Are the vaccines safe for adults?   
Are the vaccines safe for children?   
Which vaccine is better?    
Is the vaccine effective immediately?      
Will the vaccines protect people from the newer strains (variants) of the virus?   
If a person is vaccinated, can they still get COVID?      
If a person has already had and recovered from COVID, do they still need to get vaccinated?      
Will we need to get vaccinated every year?      
What does it cost to get vaccinated?      
Where can I get vaccinated?      
Where can I be tested for COVID 19?      
Do we have to continue health measures after being vaccinated?      
Are we required to get the vaccine? 
When might we expect to go “back to normal”?

COVID Vaccine - Frequently Asked Questions

Who should get a vaccination for COVID?  
The Pfizer vaccine is approved for those age 5 years and above, the Moderna for 18 and above.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all eligible persons 12 years and older—including pregnant and lactating individuals—receive a COVID-19 vaccine series.   Most experts advocate for vaccinating women who are breastfeeding. There are no plausible mechanisms for how the vaccine would be any danger for breastfeeding, and it’s likely that breastfeeding women would produce protective antibodies in their breast milk that could help protect their babies.  The vaccine is also recommended for people trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.

Are the vaccines safe for adults?  
Yes. The FDA originally approved and authorized the vaccines under emergency use.  The Pfizer vaccine now has full FDA approval.  Approval for others is expected to follow soon.  Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines completed Phase III trials which showed both safety and effectiveness. Clinical trials included diverse participants.  Multiple millions of people have already received a dose. Post release monitoring is in place and so far has only demonstrated a few severe allergic reactions, all of which were treated successfully. These allergic reactions are very rare and similar to reactions that can happen with other vaccines, medications, or some foods.  Mild systemic side effects are most common after the second dose and include tiredness, body aches, and headaches, most of which last only 1-2 days and are treated with rest or over the counter medications. 
The vaccines (from the University of Nebraska Medical Center):

Regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: On April 12, 2021, in collaboration, the CDC and FDA  announced they would be pausing distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  A 10-day pause gave health officials time to review additional data to better understand the degree of risk associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine related to a blood clotting disorder. It also gave federal agencies and the medical community time to determine and share information on the most appropriate treatment response. During that time, nine additional cases of the clotting disorder were identified, bringing the total number of known cases to 15 (among the nearly 7 million people who received the vaccine).

The decision to lift the pause is based on the experts’ determination that the benefits of again administering the vaccine greatly outweigh the very small degree of risk associated with its use, particularly now that the risk and treatment protocols are better understood. The risk of blood clotting is much higher for people who contract COVID than it is for people who receive the J&J vaccine.

More information about the J & J vaccine.

Are the vaccines safe for children?
Children 5 years and older are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.  COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, including studies in children 5 years and older. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine.  Like adults, children may have some side effects after COVID-19 vaccination. These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.  CDC has received some reports of myocarditis and pericarditis in adolescents and young adults after COVID-19 vaccination. The known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. The CDC recommends the FDA approved COVID-19 vaccination for anyone 5 years of age and older. Read more about the vaccine for children 12 year and older.    Read more about the vaccine for children 5 - 11 years.

Which vaccine is better?
All available vaccines effectively prevent moderate cases and are extremely effective at preventing the severe disease that can lead to hospitalization and death.  Adults and teens 16 years and old should take whatever vaccine is available. The Pfizer’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children ages 5 years and older.  Download this info sheet for additional information.

Is the vaccine effective immediately?
For full immunity:
   *Pfizer vaccine  - 7 days after 2nd dose.
   *Moderna vaccine - 14 days after 2nd dose
  *Johnson & Johnson vaccine - 28 days after single dose
*Those who are immunocompromised or with high risk conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, etc., need at least six weeks after their final dose to ensure full immunity.

Will the vaccines protect people from the newer strains (variants) of the virus?
The coronavirus continues to spread and mutate, with 6 major mutations present in the US as of July. Evidence shows that all three vaccines approved in the US (Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna) provide some protection against all the variants.  The Delta variant is the main variant spreading around the world in the summer of 2021 and is the most concerning one so far. The Delta variant spreads more quickly and may lead to more severe disease and hospitalizations, especially in young people and unvaccinated people. This variant may also be resistant to COVID-19 medicines like monoclonal antibodies.  The spread of the virus and development of more mutations can all be stopped by getting vaccinated and following CDC guidelines if you have COVID-like symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has COVID.

If a person is vaccinated, can they still get COVID?
Because no vaccine is 100% effective, some people who are fully vaccinated will get COVID-19. These are called vaccine breakthrough cases, and they are expected. A CDC study is among the first to show secondary benefits of vaccination for people who got COVID-19 after they were fully or partially vaccinated. Benefits included:

  • Fewer sick days in bed
  • Less likely to have fever or chills
  • May be less likely to spread the virus to others

While vaccines must be highly effective to be approved for use, no vaccine provides 100% immunity. Fully vaccinated individuals, especially seniors and immunocompromised people should continue to take precautions in public and when around unvaccinated people.

If a person has already had and recovered from COVID, do they still need to get vaccinated?
Yes. Most experts recommend getting vaccinated once 90 days have passed from a prior infection.  This is because data shows that some people with mild infections do not have full immunity, so those people may benefit from a booster vaccine to strengthen their protection against reinfection

Will we need to get vaccinated every year?
The FDA and the scientists and health and medical experts who developed the vaccines are continuing to study the virus and vaccines closely to understand how long immunity lasts and how well the vaccines protect against new mutations of the virus.   Everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are 6 months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or 2 months after their initial Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, especially the following groups:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

More information about boosters.

What does it cost to get vaccinated?
Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people for free. Vaccine providers are allowed to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. This fee will be paid by your insurance provider or Medicare. If you do not have health insurance, the vaccination is free.

Where can I get vaccinated?
Health districts in the State can open up eligibility to anyone 16 or older.  Check here for the latest Nebraska information.  Health districts and local health departments may be prioritizing other age groups, such as adults 50 and older. For more information about eligibility in your county, visit your local health department website.

Lancaster County  As of November 5, 2021, all Lancaster County residents age 5 and older are eligible for vaccinations.  The Pfizer’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children ages 5 -15 years. Children 5 years and older may also receive the vaccine from their Lincoln pediatricians' offices.  All minor children 18 years old and younger must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when receiving vaccine. Other vaccines should not be given two weeks before or two weeks after receiving COVID-19 vaccine.  Check for the latest Lincoln/Lancaster County information.   An online COVID-19 vaccine registration form for Lancaster County residents is available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov.  Those who do not have online access or who need assistance may call LLCHD’s COVID-19 hotline at 402-441-8006 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays to register.  Those who are registered will be given an appointment to be vaccinated. Appointments for vaccinations are dependent on vaccine supply and are not related to the order in which people register. 

In Lincoln, vaccines are also available by appointment or walk-in, at HyVee, WalMart, Sam's Club, Costco, and CVS pharmacies. Vaccines are available at Rely Care pharmacies with appointment. Nebraskans can visit any available pharmacy regardless of jurisdiction.  The pharmacies are:

  • Wells Drug at 113 S. 4th St. in Albion
  • Alliance Community Pharmacy at 2409 Box Butte Ave. in Alliance
  • Ashland Pharmacy Inc. at 1401 Silver St. in Ashland
  • Clabaugh Pharmacy at 501 Court St. in Beatrice
  • Walmart at 1882 Holly St. in Blair
  • Walmart at 510 Linden St. in Chadron
  • Walmart at 818 E. 23rd St. in Columbus
  • Walmart at 1800 E. 29th St. in Crete
  • Emerson Apothecary at 1003 S. Main St. Ste 2 in Emerson
  • Walmart at 2831 Highway 15 in Fairbury
  • Walmart at 3010 E. 23rd St. in Fremont
  • Weaver Pharmacy at 1014 G St. in Geneva

Where can I be tested for COVID 19?
Drive-through testing is available from:

  • CHI Health St. Elizabeth: Autumn Ridge Family Medicine, 5000 North 26th St. and Southwest Family Health, 1240 Aries Drive.  Call either site to schedule an appointment: Autumn Ridge, 402-435-5300 and South West Family, 402-420-1300. 
  • Testing is also available without an appointment at the three Bryan Urgent Care locations, 7501 S. 27th St., 5901 N. 27th St. and 4333 S. 86th St. To check wait times, call 402-481-6343.
  • Several pharmacies including CVS, HyVee and Walgreens along with other health care provider offices and urgent care clinics also offer testing. If a person is uninsured or underinsured, they can call the COVID-19 hotline at 402-441-8006 and the health department will connect them to testing resources.

Do we have to continue health measures like wearing masks, social distancing, hand sanitizing, and avoiding crowded and confined spaces after being vaccinated?  
Although the current vaccines are 94-95% effective, they are not 100% effective and full immunity is not present until several weeks after the 2nd shot.  Until community spread drops to very low levels, wearing masks is advised.  Once we have a sufficient number of people vaccinated against COVID we should be able to return to our lives.  If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you can enjoy the outdoors without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart except in crowded areas. Because of the highly infectious delta variant, vaccinated people in counties with substantial or high transmission of the infection should still wear masks in confined spaces, crowded outdoor or indoor spaces, and where masks and distancing are required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, including local business and workplace guidance.  Fully vaccinated people are still protected against severe disease, hospitalization and death from delta. Face masks continue to be a highly effective tool to prevent COVID-19 spread.

Are we required to get the vaccine?
No, but it is our best chance at returning to our lives by keeping ourselves, our loved ones, our community, and our economy safe and healthy.  However, employers may require employees to get vaccinated, similar to how many healthcare facilities may require their employees to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B or Influenza.

When might we expect to go “back to normal”?
Once we achieve "herd immunity" (meaning over 80% of our population is vaccinated) and community spread drops to very low levels, then we will be able to get back to our lives in a "new normal".