COVID-19 Vaccine Information
We are now scheduling first dose (Moderna) vaccine appointments for all patients over the age of 18. Appointments are available at all sites. To make an appointment, please call 212.271.7200.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions to empower informed decisions about the vaccines for COVID-19. For additional questions or information, please speak with your healthcare provider.What are the vaccines?
Today, there are three vaccines approved for use in the United States: Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson, though there may be more that come on the market. Moderna and Pfizer each require two shots, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one. At this time, Callen-Lorde is offering the Moderna vaccine to all patients over the age of 18. To schedule a first dose appointment, call 212.271.7200.
All three vaccines were built on technology that has been studied for decades, and scientists from across the world worked together to quickly develop safe and effective vaccines.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a technique called “mRNA” or “messenger RNA” that teach your body how to build spike proteins like the one found on the outside of the virus that causes COVID-19. Once the vaccine is injected, your cells produce copies of the spike protein and your immune system learns how to defend against COVID-19. Scientists have been working on making mRNA vaccines for over 30 years, but because mRNA is very delicate it has taken awhile. These are the first commercially available mRNA vaccines.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a “viral vector” technique with a different type of virus, an adenovirus, that has been modified to carry a code for making the spike protein. Once this is introduced into the body, the body’s cells decode the viral vector’s instructions and makes mRNA that tells the body to make spike protein. After that, the body’s immune system makes defenses against COVID-19. This technology is commonly used for vaccines and the viral vector used in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has successfully been used in an Ebola vaccine several years ago.
Yes! The vaccines have been tested carefully and over 150 million people worldwide and 63 million Americans have been fully vaccinated (at time of publication). You cannot catch COVID-19 or a cold from any of the vaccines because they do not contain a live virus. However, this does not mean you may not experience side effects. Although dangerous complications like allergic reactions can happen, people are watched for at least 15 minutes after vaccination to make sure they are safe. Dangerous reactions are very rare (less than 1 per 100,000).
f you already got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you still have protection against COVID-19. The risk of you having a bad reaction is extremely small. However, if you get a very bad new headache, bad abdominal pain, new leg pain, or trouble breathing within the first three weeks of having the J&J vaccine please contact your medical provider right away.
The most common side effects are a soreness at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, nausea, chills, joint pain, redness or swelling on the arm where the injection was given, and fever. While side effects may be uncomfortable and inconvenient, they are a normal immune response as your body learns how to recognize and defend against COVID-19. These side effects usually don’t last more than 24-48 hours, and many people may not have any side effects from vaccination at all.
All the vaccines available in the US are almost 100% effective at preventing severe and critical COVID-19 – meaning illness that causes hospitalization or death. This is the most important reason to consider getting vaccinated. Scientists have also found that vaccination dramatically reduces the risk of mild and asymptomatic infections—by up to 90%. This helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 in communities. However, it is still possible for vaccinated people to get mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 – meaning they may be infected but have little or no symptoms. People with mild and asymptomatic infections can still pass the disease to others, so it still important to wear masks in public even if you have been vaccinated.
We don’t know yet how long the vaccines will offer protection against COVID-19, but the data we have so far suggests that people have good protection at least 6 months after their vaccination. As with other vaccines, it is possible that extra “booster” shots may be required after the initial series to make sure the immune system remembers how to fight COVID-19.
It is also important to remember the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to change. There is the possibility that it will eventually outsmart the current vaccines and that slightly different vaccines could be needed in the future. However, right now, all three vaccines are doing well protecting against these different strains of the virus.
If you have had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine before, you should talk to your healthcare provider before getting a vaccine for COVID-19. However, the vaccines for COVID-19 do not contain other common allergens like eggs, latex, or gelatin.
No. The vaccine does not affect ability to become pregnant.
The vaccines seem to be very safe in pregnancy—over 77,000 pregnant people in the US have been vaccinated and enrolled in a reporting system for any complications. Of these, vaccinated people had no more issues in pregnancy than unvaccinated people. Data also indicates safety in lactation.
- Age over 65
- Cancer or history of cancer
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung disease (like moderate or severe asthma and COPD)
- Dementia and other forms of neurological disease like ALS
- Down syndrome
- Heart disease including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and heart muscle abnormalities (cardiomyopathies)
- HIV and other immunocompromising conditions (including taking daily oral steroids)
- Liver disease like fatty liver disease and cirrhosis of the liver
- Obesity (BMI over 30)
- Sickle cell disease and thalassemia
- History of organ transplant or stem cell transplant
- History of stroke
- Substance use disorder
- Tobacco use or history of tobacco use.
- People living with HIV? Yes.
- People with cancer receiving treatment? Yes.
- Kidney disease? Yes.
- Lung disease? Yes.
- Neurological disease? Yes.
- Heart disease and hypertension? Yes.
- Liver disease? Yes.
- Pregnancy? Yes.
- Sickle cell disease? Yes.
- Organ transplants? Yes.
- History of stroke? Yes.
- Substance use disorder? Yes.
- Smokers? Yes.
- Folks with more than one of the above conditions? Yes.
Temporary swelling at the site of filler injections is rare but has been reported with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines (not with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). People with a history of filler injections are still recommended to get whichever vaccine they can as soon as they are eligible. If swelling happens they should reach out to their medical provider
It is possible, but in general, antibody tests are not recommended as they are not an indicator of whether or not you are protected from COVID-19.
Yes. The vaccine protects you against getting COVID-19 again.
Generally, whichever vaccine you can get first is the best. Vaccinating everyone as quickly as possible is important to stop COVID-19 once and for all!