COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

These frequently asked questions and answers are intended for the general public. They are reviewed every week, so the content may change often. If you cannot find your question and answer here, or you have a more clinical question, please read through our COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for Healthcare Providers and Professionals.

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Updated 3/5/21

  • To see how to get vaccinated, please go to covid.ri.gov/vaccination
  • Rhode Island Vaccination Timeline
  • Rhode Island Vaccination data
  • If you are eligible to get vaccinated, the best vaccine for you is the one that is available to you first.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, highly effective against serious illness, and prevents you from being infected with COVID-19. Get vaccinated when it’s available to you.
  • A person cannot get COVID-19 from COVID-19 vaccines.
  • You may experience symptoms after vaccination. This means the immune system is working. Symptoms may include: pain or swelling in the upper arm, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, and chills.
  • Because there still may be a small chance you can become infected and spread the virus to others, once you’ve gotten any COVID-19 vaccine, please continue to wear your mask and watch your distance around anyone you don’t live with.

Getting Vaccinated in Rhode Island

Updated 3/26/21 

Similar to COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island, there are different ways to get vaccinated in Rhode Island. The three main ways that people can get vaccinated are: State vaccination sites, designated local pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Stop & Shop), and other local and regional vaccination sites, like clinics run by cities and towns, hospitals, community health centers, and other sites in the community. Please go to covid.ri.gov/vaccination or C19VaccineRI.org to learn how to get a vaccine at a state-run site, a local pharmacy, or at a local or regional vaccine site.  

Please note: To get vaccinated in Rhode Island, you must live in Rhode Island, work in Rhode Island, or go to school in Rhode Island.

Updated 3/26/21 

Eligible Rhode Islanders can schedule an appointment online at www.vaccinateRI.org.  

If you need help scheduling an appointment or would prefer to schedule your appointment over the phone, you can call the automated phone line, 844-930-1779, or 2-1-1. 

At 2-1-1, a live, trained person can offer help scheduling appointments on VaccinateRI.org or signing up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Notification List on portal.ri.gov. This help is available in multiple languages, is free to all Rhode Islanders, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

A person may schedule and consent to vaccination, online or on the phone, for someone else with verbal approval. Appointments will be limited and you must have an appointment to get vaccinated. You cannot just walk in get vaccinated. 

This video by the Rhode Island National Guard goes over how to register for a vaccination appointment: https://fb.watch/3-L0Kz56XS/  

Updated 3/26/21 

At vaccinateRI.org, you will first pick the vaccination site you want to go to. Then, you will attest that you meet the eligibility criteria for vaccine. Next, you will enter personal and contact information; for some clinics, your health insurance information (for those who have health insurance. If you do not have health insurance, you can skip this section and still schedule an appointment to be vaccinated for free), and information about your health. You can then search for an appointment slot.   

It may be that there are no appointments available. This may happen given that there is still limited vaccine and high demand. More appointments are added every Friday at approximately 5 p.m. and every Tuesday at approximately 9 a.m.  

Updated 3/11/21

If you do not have access to a computer, you can call the automated phone line at 844-930-1779. The phone line is available in English and Spanish. At this number, you will request a call back and someone will assist you with your vaccination appointment.

You can also call 2-1-1. At 2-1-1, a live, trained person can offer help scheduling appointments on VaccinateRI.org or signing up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Notification List on portal.ri.gov. This help is available in multiple languages, is free to all Rhode Islanders, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Friends or family can also help you make an appointment. A person may schedule and consent to vaccination, online or on the phone, for someone else with verbal approval.

Updated 3/23/21 

Based on the projections we are getting from the federal government, we believe that we can open eligibility to the last age group on our timeline (people 16 to 39 years of age) by the week of April 19. We are going to continue the approach of vaccinate in age groups, but the timeline will be accelerated. There are no COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States for people under the age of 16.  

This does not mean that everyone will be able to get an appointment by April 19. This is when we think we can open eligibility for everyone. Appointments are booking two and three weeks out. Soon, every Rhode Islander will be eligible to make an appointment for a first dose of COVID-19. We are grateful for everyone’s patience during this time. 

Updated 4/9/2021

Yes. The Vaccine Interest Notification List (VINL) is a tool that Rhode Islanders can use to learn when they are eligible for vaccination and to learn when there is a vaccination appointment open for them.  

You can sign up for the Vaccine Interest Notification List at portal.ri.gov. You will be asked to submit demographic information and how you would prefer to be contacted. You can choose email, text message, or phone call. If you are not able to sign up for VINL online, you can call 844-930-1779 or 2-1-1 and someone will help you over the phone.  

When you are eligible and an appointment opens for you, we will contact you using your preferred method. You will be contacted about an appointment approximately two weeks in advance.

The COVID-19 pre-registration system began sending appointment notifications on Wednesday, April 7. Email notifications about appointments will come from the email address: [email protected]. An email from this address is a legitimate email about scheduling your appointment. This is the address associated with the scheduling system we are using. Text messages will be sent from 1-443-227-4184. 

The appointment offered to you will be for a specific site on a specific day. You will be able to choose the time, based on what is available. The site will be one of the State-run sites (the Dunkin Donuts Center, Sockanosset Cross Road, Middletown, South County, or Woonsocket).  

The Vaccine Interest Notification List is just one way to get an appointment. You can still try to make an appointment through vaccinateRI.org, at a local pharmacy, or through your city/town.

Updated 4/15/21

Many vaccination sites across the state are accessible by public transportation. To view transportation routes and any possible walking distances, visit www.ripta.com and enter your travel information into RIPTA’s trip planner on the homepage. The website also has detailed maps and timetables for every RIPTA route. If you need help or cannot visit the website, call RIPTA’s Customer Service team at 401-781-9400. 

Starting Monday, April 19, RIPTA will offer free transportation for anyone traveling to or from a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. For more information or to take advantage of this program, please contact RIPTA Customer Service by e-mailing [email protected] or by calling 781-9400.

Anyone enrolled in Medicaid or older than 60 can use the Non-Emergency Medical Transport Service provided by MTM. Transportation can be booked online at https://www.mtm-inc.net/mtm-link/ or by calling MTM at 855-330-9131 (TTY: 711) at least two business days before the appointment. If you are not enrolled in Medicaid, there may be a small cost to schedule a ride. For more information on the Non-Emergency Medical Transport Service, please see this FAQ sheet

 

Updated 3/3/21

Please show up at your assigned time. Appointments have been spaced out to avoid crowding. If you have registered, there is vaccine for you. You do not need to worry about the clinic running out. Please wear a mask and loose-fitting clothing that allows easy access to your upper arm. Follow social distancing guidelines at your appointment. You will receive a vaccination card that indicates which vaccine you received and the date and location of your vaccination. If you received a vaccine that requires a second dose (e.g., Moderna or Pfizer), the card will also note the earliest date you can receive your second dose. We strongly encourage you to sign up for your second dose while onsite and receiving your first dose. After receiving the vaccine, you will be asked to remain on site for a 15- to 30-minute observation period. You can make your second appointment during this observation period.

Updated 3/3/21

If you received a vaccine that requires a second dose (e.g., Moderna or Pfizer), you are encouraged to schedule your second dose before leaving the vaccination site. You can make your second appointment during your observation period.

Vaccines often cause our immune systems to respond in a way that shows the vaccine is working. This is healthy, normal, and expected. You may experience a sore arm, headache, fever, or body aches, but they should go away within a few days. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 following vaccination, stay home, call a healthcare provider, and get tested.

    •  Because there still may be a small chance you can become infected and spread the virus to others, once you’ve gotten any COVID-19 vaccine, please continue to wear your mask and watch your distance around anyone you don’t live with.
    • What to expect after you get your vaccine (English only): https://youtu.be/EILCpte7GSw (CDC video)

What to expect after you get your vaccine (English only): https://youtu.be/EILCpte7GSw (CDC video)

Updated 4/9/2021

Rhode Islanders can now get a copy of their COVID-19 vaccine record through portal.ri.gov/VaccineRecord. From this website, you can search for and print proof of your COVID-19 vaccination. If you need a second dose of vaccine, this record will tell you when you are eligible to get your second dose. Please note that only people who have received their COVID-19 vaccination in Rhode Island will be able to look up their vaccination record online.  

If you are having trouble finding your vaccination record or are not able to go online, you can call 401-222-8022 for help. If you have already called 401-222-8022 and still cannot locate your vaccination record, please fill out the COVID Immunization Record Correction Request form and email to [email protected]. If possible, please include a copy of your vaccination card.

We do not currently have the ability to email or mail a vaccine record. Please keep your vaccination card. If you have a smartphone, it is a good idea to take a picture of your vaccination card with your phone so that you always have a copy with you. 

Updated 2/11/21

After vaccination, people should continue to follow guidance around prevention, testing, quarantine, and isolation. People are likely to experience symptoms after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Here is a list of symptoms and what to do if you experience them:

  1. Local symptoms (e.g., redness or swelling where you receive the injection, muscle pain or discomfort in arm) – This is unlikely to be related to COVID-19. It is ok to go to work or school. No additional testing is needed.
  2. Generalized symptoms (e.g., fever, headache, whole body muscle aches or joint pain) – These symptoms could be related to either COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccine. Please stay home from work or school, call a healthcare provider, and get tested for COVID-19.
  3. Respiratory symptoms (e.g., runny nose, congestion, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell) – These may be related to COVID-19. Please stay home from work or school, call a healthcare provider, and get tested for COVID-19.
  4. Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) – These may be related to COVID-19. Please stay home from work or school, call a healthcare provider, and get tested for COVID-19.

Updated 2/17/21

No. COVID-19 vaccines will be provided at no cost. Those who administer vaccines may charge insurance companies a fee for giving the someone the shot, but they will not charge the person being vaccinated.

Updated 2/17/21

Yes, people without health insurance will receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. 

Updated 2/1/21

Yes. Undocumented immigrants are eligible for vaccine in Rhode Island. No questions about immigration status will be asked at vaccination appointments. We do not share information with immigration authorities. *Please note that for vaccinations happening in Central Falls, you may be asked for proof of residency (e.g., identification, driver’s license, utility bill, rent bill). This is because they are prioritizing vaccine for community members. For more information and resources for undocumented immigrants, please see here.

Updated 1/22/21

Vaccine amounts are allocated on a per capita basis by the federal government.

Updated 1/26/21

Rhode Island does not yet receive enough vaccine to give to everyone at once. The State’s planning is informed by the National Academies of Medicine, Engineering, and Science’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 vaccine; recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Rhode Island COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee; new information from CDC and other partners about the availability and safety of various COVID-19 vaccines; and consultation with industry leaders, subject matter experts, and community partners. Equity is a top priority that will continue to inform our vaccine planning.

Rhode Island’s COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee meets regularly. To receive updates on meetings and meeting minutes, please follow this link to the Secretary of State’s Open Meeting website. Click on the orange box that says “email” to register your email address for automatic updates.

Updated 1/19/21

Rhode Island administers vaccine at roughly the same rate that the State receives vaccine. But there are several steps between receiving vaccine doses in Rhode Island and getting vaccine into someone’s arm. Those steps, such as recording and allocating specific doses or organizations which are vaccinating, distributing and transport of vaccine from a centralized site, ensuring accountability and logging of each dose and scheduling people for shots, take a few days. For this reason, there will always be a small difference between the number of doses we have received and the number of doses that have been administered.

Vaccines are not going to waste in Rhode Island. Each vaccination site has systems in place to bring people from eligible populations to receive any remaining doses from an opened vial.

Updated 4/9/2021

The Rhode Island Department of Health does not currently mandate or require people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. However, some employers may require or mandate staff to be vaccinated. Check with your employer to see if they have rules that apply to you. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, highly effective against serious illness, and prevents you from being infected with COVID-19. 

Currently, neither states nor the federal government require the general public be vaccinated against any disease, though states require children to be vaccinated against diseases such as polio and measles before they go to school and child care. Rhode Island allows families to opt out of vaccination requirements for medical reasons or because they have religious objections. Rhode Island also requires vaccinations for college students and certain healthcare workers, also with exemptions.  

Current vaccination requirements in Rhode Island apply to healthcare workers, childcare workers, and students. These requirements are found in the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)’s Immunization, Testing, and Health Screening for Health Care Workers regulations and Immunization and Communicable Disease Testing in Preschool, School, Colleges or Universities regulations. Both apply to workers employed in State-licensed facilities. 

Updated 4/1/2021


RIDOH is partnering with three agencies—Alert Ambulance, MedTech Ambulance, and PACE—to administer COVID-19 vaccines to homebound Rhode Island residents where they live. If someone has already completed  the survey, one of these agencies will contact to them soon to schedule a vaccination appointment. These agencies began vaccinating some people as early as March 20.

Please note that Rhode Island has access to a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Appointments for in-home vaccination are therefore being prioritized based on age and geography. Appointments will be made first for the oldest people and those who live in one of the following high-density communities: 02860, 02861, 02863, 02893, 02895,02904, 02905, 02906, 02907, 02908, 02909, 02910, 02911, 02914, 02919, and 02920. 

RIDOH encourages those who can safely attend vaccination opportunities outside the home to do so. Due to limited vaccine supply, requests to vaccinate caregivers during a homebound vaccination appointment will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Such requests should only be made in situations where a caregiver leaving the home to seek vaccination will jeopardize the safety or care of the homebound individual. Caregivers who are vaccinated during a homebound vaccination appointment must meet current Rhode Island COVID-19 vaccination eligibility criteria

If you are unable to leave home to receive COVID-19 vaccination, or are the healthcare provider or family caregiver of someone who is homebound, please inform RIDOH through the following survey: http://bit.ly/homeboundvax

 

Updated 4/9/2021

Many Rhode Islanders living in specific geographies have experienced higher rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths throughout the pandemic. Such differences are directly connected to the settings in which some communities of color are more likely to live and work every day, and to systems of structural racism and discrimination that have historically undermined the health and well-being of these communities.  

RIDOH believes reaching high vaccination rates across all individuals and communities regardless of ZIP code is key to saving lives and achieving broader population immunity. Rhode Island’s Hard-Hit Community Vaccination Strategy aims to ensure equitable vaccine access by distributing vaccine more quickly and deliberately in the hardest-hit ZIP codes. This includes focused efforts to expand access to and uptake of vaccine among communities of color at highest risk of hospitalization and death. Given the current limitations on vaccine supply, focused strategies are necessary to ensure vaccine access for the most vulnerable members of the hardest-hit areas in the state. 

The Hard-Hit Community Vaccination Strategy currently applies to the following ZIP codes in Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Providence: 02863, 02860, 02861, 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908, and 02909. 

People who are 16 years of age and older, who live in one of eight hardest hit ZIP codes covering parts of Providence, Cranston, North Providence and all of Pawtucket and Central Falls, can register for vaccination appointments at State-run vaccination sites and participating pharmacy locations. These ZIP codes are: 02863, 02860, 02861, 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908, and 02909.

Starting April 9, eligibility opened for residents age 16 and older in Woonsocket. On April 12, eligibility opened for certain ZIP codes in Pawtucket, West Warwick, Providence, Cranston, North Providence, East Providence, and Johnston. These ZIP codes are 02893, 02906, 02910, 02920, 02911, 02914, and 02919.

Learn about Rhode Island's Hard-Hit Community Vaccination Strategy.   

Updated 3/3/21

To get vaccinated in Rhode Island, you must live in Rhode Island, work in Rhode Island, or go to school in Rhode Island.

If you received a vaccine that requires two doses (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna), you should receive both doses in the same state and at the same location. This is because the second dose will be shipped automatically to the healthcare provider or location that gave you the first dose.

Updated 3/3/21

The best vaccine is the first one available to you. In general, only one vaccine may be available through a healthcare professional or vaccination clinic. Please talk to a healthcare provider if you have specific questions or concerns about one COVID-19 vaccine versus another.

Updated 3/26/21 

If you missed your second-dose appointment or did not schedule it while you were at the site where you received your first dose, please contact [email protected] and ask to schedule or reschedule your second dose appointment. 

Guidance from the CDC states that the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval (21 days after the first dose for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, 28 days for Moderna vaccines) as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. Despite lack of efficacy data, when unavoidable delays occur, the second dose may be administered beyond the six-week window and there is no need to restart the series.  

Updated 4/1/2021

Yes. A person age 16 or 17 in Rhode Island can sign a vaccination consent form on their own and they do not need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to receive a vaccine.

Updated 4/1/2021 

People with conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, and weakened immune systems are eligible for vaccine since they are at higher risk for becoming hospitalized if they get COVID-19. To see the full list of qualifying underlying conditions in Rhode Island, please visit health.ri.gov/underlyingconditions. The list is available in Spanish and Portuguese.

Updated 3/11/2021

No. People must agree that they are age 16 or older and have one or more qualifying underlying medical condition(s) before making a vaccine appointment online or over the phone. They do not need a note from a medical provider. If people have questions about whether their underlying medical condition(s) qualify, they should contact their primary care provider.

Updated 3/11/2021  

If they are making an appointment at a State-run vaccination site, people who are 16 and 17 years old must sign up for a clinic offering Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) are for people 18 years old and older only. 

Updated 3/17/2021 

You can cancel your COVID-19 vaccination appointment by clicking on the “cancel” option in your confirmation email or by emailing [email protected] with your request.  

About COVID-19 Vaccines

Updated 3/11/2021

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses. The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) requires one dose. If you get a first dose of Moderna or Pfizer, it is important to get the second dose because two doses are what was shown to be effective during clinical trials.

Updated 4/13/21

All COVID-19 vaccines are safe; highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations, and death; and reduce the risk of being infected. All three vaccines will help protect you from getting different variants of COVID-19. If you are eligible to get vaccinated, the best vaccine for you is the one that is available to you first.

Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective at preventing COVID-19.

Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine was 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 among people who received two doses.

Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Janssen vaccine was 66% effective at preventing COVID-19. In addition, the Janssen vaccine was very effective at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did get sick and may provide protection against asymptomatic infection.

It is important to note that comparing the results from the Pfizer and Moderna trials to the results from the Janssen trials is like doing an apples and oranges comparison. This is because the vaccines were tested at different times, in different places, with different groups of people. Further, different strains of the coronavirus were more present than others, depending on where the trials were done. For example, the Janssen vaccine was tested in multiple countries, including South Africa, where the dominant strain is more contagious.

The vaccines will continue to be studied over time, so we will have more comparable data in the future.

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

4/13/2021

No. Vaccines do not cause COVID-19 disease. However, vaccines can cause your immune system to respond. This is a sign that the vaccine—and your body’s immune system—is working.  

We expect people to have symptoms after vaccination with any of the currently available vaccines. People may feel some soreness in their upper arms, some aches, fever, and fatigue. These symptoms may be more noticeable than those that occur with a flu vaccine. This is completely normal and they will clear up in a few days. Some people may experience no symptoms.  

Safety is a top priority. COVID-19 vaccines have been tested in large clinical trials with people of different ages, races, ethnicities, and people with different health conditions to make sure they are safe. No steps involving safety have been skipped—COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same standards as other vaccines to make sure they are safe. To ensure the safety of all vaccines in the United States, there is a rigorous vaccine development and approval process. Once a vaccine is available for use, there are additional systems in place to continue to ensure safety.

After any vaccine is approved and distributed in the United States, there are systems to monitor their safety. If something unexpected happens, experts study the event to determine whether changes are needed in vaccine recommendations.

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national vaccine safety surveillance program of the FDA and CDC. An “adverse event” is any problem or “side effect” that happens after vaccination. VAERS cannot tell if the vaccine caused the event, but can decide whether further investigation is needed. Anyone (healthcare providers, patients, family members, etc.) can submit a report to VAERS by going to this link: https://vaers.hhs.gov/index

There are several other systems to monitor vaccine safety. You can learn more about vaccine safety monitoring at the CDC’s page on Ensuring the Safety of Vaccines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.html

V-safe is a smartphone-based tool—developed by CDC—that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And v-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one. Your participation in CDC’s v-safe makes a difference—it helps keep COVID-19 vaccines safe. For more on v-safe, visit CDC’s site.

Updated 3/11/2021

The COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized were tested in large clinical trials with people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as people with different underlying health conditions. Nearly half (42%) of Moderna’s study participants belong to high-risk groups. This means that they are older than 65 or have chronic conditions like diabetes, severe obesity, and cardiac disease. More than one third (37%) of study participants belong to communities of color. Ten percent of people who enrolled in both the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials are Black.

Demographic and age information from Pfizer clinical trials can be found here, demographic and age information from Moderna clinical trials can be found here, and demographic and age information from the Janssen clinical trials can be found here.  

Updated 3/26/21 

The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for people 16 years old and older. The Moderna vaccine and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) have been authorized for people 18 years old and older. Both Moderna and Pfizer have started clinical trials for their COVID-19 vaccines in children. They hope to have results by late summer 2021.  

Rhode Island is pausing administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccine as federal partners continue to get more information. 
 
No information reported to RIDOH has indicated that Johnson & Johnson vaccine represents a health or safety concern. However, RIDOH is taking this step in alignment with federal partners. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. Health care providers are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html.  

The CDC and the FDA are recommending a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to allow researchers at both agencies time to better understand a small number of reported cases of women developing a rare clotting disorder after receiving the vaccine. As of April 13, 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered and six cases of blood clots have been reported. All six known cases have occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48, within six to 13 days of receiving the vaccine. 

The purpose of the pause is to determine if there is any association, the strength of the possible association between the vaccine, the health of the six affected women, and the clotting disorder. Having this information will help screen patients. According to the CDC, the number of cases at this point is too small to determine specific risk factors that might predispose someone to the clotting problem. 

This clotting issue is very rare; fewer than one in 1 million people have experienced it after receiving the Johnson & Johnson shot. 

The great majority of people who have received the Johnson & Johnson  vaccine have not experienced any harmful side effects. According to the CDC, if you received your shot over a month ago, your risk is very low, and you do not need to take any specific action. If you have concerns, consult your doctor. 

If you received the Johnson & Johnson  vaccine within the last month and develop any of the following symptoms within three weeks of receiving your shot, you should contact your doctor or seek medical treatment: severe headache, blurred vision, fainting, seizures, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath. Mild fever, mild headache, fatigue, and joint or muscle pain after vaccination are routine and typically go away within two to three days. 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are continuing to be administered and continue to show very strong safety and efficacy. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both mRNA technology vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson  vaccine uses a different technology called vector vaccine. 

This pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson  vaccine means that the vaccine safety monitoring system is working. Responding to the pandemic has required many difficult decisions on the part of federal experts. They are working to balance vaccine safety while also vaccinating people as quickly as possible. 

The CDC and FDA have called for this pause in an “abundance of caution.” They will continue to review the known cases of the clotting disorder and make further recommendations soon. CDC officials have said that the pause is intended to allow time to learn more about the clotting issue and share information with health care providers to help them recognize and treat the clotting problem. 

COVID-19 Vaccine and Contraindications  

Updated 3/24/21 

If you have allergies that are not related to vaccines (e.g., food allergies, pet allergies, latex allergies), the CDC recommends that you receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please discuss with a healthcare provider if you have any questions.   

If you have had an allergic reaction to other types of vaccines, CDC recommends that you speak with a healthcare provider about whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  

If you have had a severe allergic reaction or an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get either of the currently available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.  

If you have had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to any ingredient in the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine (Johnson& Johnson), you should not get the Janssen vaccine.  

Learn more about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines and their ingredients on the CDC website.  

If you have an allergic reaction to an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, CDC recommends that you should not get the second dose. Examples of allergic reactions include hives, swelling, wheezing, dizziness and weakness, and reactions that need to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen© or hospital care. 

If you are not able to get the second shot of an mRNA vaccine because you had an allergic reaction to the first shot, ask your doctor if you should get a different type of COVID-19 vaccine.  

For more information, please see CDC’s recommendations for people with allergies: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/allergic-reac… and https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/clinical-consider… 

 

Updated 4/1/2021

An allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen© or if they must go to the hospital. An example of a severe reaction is anaphylaxis.

An immediate allergic reaction means a reaction within four hours of getting vaccinated, and includes symptoms like hives, swelling, or wheezing (respiratory distress).

Updated 3/25/21 

Pregnant and breastfeeding women can be vaccinated if they choose, after they have had the opportunity to discuss risks and benefits with their healthcare providers. This recommendation applies to Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. 

Based on how these vaccines work in the body, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant. However, there are currently limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people. 

  • Clinical trials that look at safety and how well the COVID-19 vaccines work in pregnant people are underway or planned. Vaccine manufacturers are also monitoring data from people in the clinical trials who received vaccine and became pregnant. 

  • Studies in animals receiving a Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, or Janssen COVID-19 vaccine before or during pregnancy found no safety concerns. 

CDC and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) have safety monitoring systems in place to gather information about vaccination during pregnancy and will closely monitor that information. Most of the pregnancies in these systems are ongoing, so we don’t yet have information on the outcomes of these pregnancies. We need to continue to follow pregnancies long-term to understand effects on pregnancy and infants. 

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are mRNA vaccines that do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 and, therefore, cannot give someone COVID-19. Additionally, mRNA vaccines do not interact with a person’s DNA or cause genetic changes because the mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.  

The Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, meaning it uses a modified version of a different virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells. Viral vector technology has been used by Janssen for other vaccine development programs. Vaccines that use the same viral vector have been given to pregnant people in all trimesters of pregnancy, including in a large-scale Ebola vaccination trial. No adverse pregnancy-related outcomes, including adverse outcomes that affected the infant, were associated with vaccination in these trials.  

For more, see CDC’s page on COVID-19 vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant.

Updated 1/4/21

Yes, you should still get the COVID-19 vaccine. We do not know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.

Updated 1/4/21

No, you cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are currently infected. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must wait until you have completed your isolation period and are considered recovered. It is uncommon for people who do get COVID-19 again to get it within 90 days of when they recovered from their first infection. For this reason, you can delay your vaccination until 90 days after infection, if you would like.

Updated 12/17/20

People who have received any other vaccine should wait until 14 days have passed to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Updated 2/26/21

 

Taking antihistamines or fever-reducing medications before vaccination is not recommended. This is because there is not enough information on their impact on mRNA COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness, and because they could prevent you from noticing a symptom of allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.

However, you may take fever-reducing medications after vaccination, if medically appropriate.

Yes, you can still get the COVID-19 vaccine when fasting for religious reasons, such as Ramadan, or personal reasons, such as intermittent fasting. The vaccine will be just as effective when fasting. Many religious leaders and groups also say the vaccine does not break a religious fast.

Vaccine and COVID-19 Prevention

Updated 3/11/2021

People are considered fully vaccinated two or more weeks after they have received the second dose of a two-dose series (for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) or two or more weeks after they have received the single dose of the Janssen vaccine.

Updated 2/25/2021

Yes, you will need to wear a mask after being vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, highly effective against serious illness, and prevents you from being infected with COVID-19. Get vaccinated when it's available to you. 

Because there may still be a small chance you can become infected and spread the virus to others, once you've gotten any COVID-19 vaccine, please continue to wear your mask and watch your distance around anyone you don't live with.

Updated 4/14/21

Yes, you still need to practice social distancing after vaccination. Because there still may be a small chance you can become infected and spread the virus to others, once you’ve gotten any COVID-19 vaccine, please continue to wear your mask and watch your distance around anyone you don’t live with.

If you are fully vaccinated, there are a number of things you can now do. Find out what you can do once fully vaccinated here

Updated 4/9/2021 

If you’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or you’ve recently arrived in Rhode Island from outside the 50 states or the District of Columbia (DC) or from a hot spot within the 50 states or DC, you do not need to quarantine if: 

  • You’ve gotten a final dose of COVID-19 vaccine, that is either FDA approved or received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), at least 14 days before your last exposure or out-of-state travel and 

  • You haven’t had symptoms of COVID-19 since your last exposure or out-of-state travel. 

Always watch for symptoms for a full 14 days. Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get a COVID-19 test after domestic out-of-state travel. Vaccinated travelers are encouraged to get a COVID-19 test between 3-5 days after travel outside the United States. 

All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before they board a flight. 

Vaccinated hospitalized patients and long-term care facility residents must still quarantine for 14 days. 

Nothing changes with isolation:

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate at home and get tested.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you must still isolate for 10 days after your symptoms start or after your test date if you have no symptoms.

Updated 1/4/21

Yes, you must isolate if you test positive for COVID-19 whether or not you have received a vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine does not in any way interfere with PCR or rapid testing from a respiratory specimen. If you test positive after receiving the vaccine, please seek guidance from your/a healthcare provider.

Updated 1/11/21

The protection someone gains from having an infection (called “natural immunity”) is different by disease and by person. Because this is a new virus, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Early evidence suggests that it may not last very long. Also, we don’t yet know how long immunity lasts from vaccination, because these vaccines are new and we are still collecting data over time. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are learning more about. The CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

Updated 4/9/2021

Vaccinated persons should continue to follow all current guidance to protect themselves and others, including following CDC travel guidance.

International Travelers: Not all countries have started vaccinating their populations, so continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines such as mask wearing and social distancing when you travel. Different governments across the world are likely to have different protocols for travelers to prove their vaccination status and to test and/or quarantine if they been not been vaccinated, so check the guidelines of the country you plan to visit before traveling.

Domestic Travelers: Quarantine restrictions and rules will continue to vary depending on which state you are traveling to. To learn more about the current restrictions that are in place, check with the health department of the state you are traveling to.

People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States:  

  • Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it.

  • Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to self-quarantine.

Fully vaccinated travelers should still follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely including:  

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth.

  • Stay 6 feet from others and avoid crowds.

  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.

COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing

Updated 3/3/21

No, you do not need to get tested for COVID-19 before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or are currently infected with COVID-19, you should not get vaccine until after you have completed your quarantine or isolation requirements.

This recommendation applies to people who develop COVID-19 infection before receiving any doses and those who develop COVID-19 infection after the first dose (of a vaccine requiring two doses) but before the second dose.

If you were scheduled to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while you are still in isolation or quarantine, you will need to cancel or reschedule for after you have completed isolation. After ending quarantine or isolation, you do not need to wait for any specific length of time before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. You may choose to delay vaccination for up to 90 days after infection. This is because you will likely have a short-term immunity to COVID-19 after infection (it is rare that people become infected again with COVID-19 in the 90 days following their first infection).

If you test positive for COVID-19 on a respiratory specimen (nasal swab), you have COVID-19 infection and must isolate whether or not you have received a vaccine.

There are two types of tests for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests.

Viral tests (i.e., PCR or rapid antigen tests), such as nasal swab test, test for current infection. Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in trials in the United States cause positive viral test results. 

Antibody tests check the blood for antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19. If your body develops an immune response following a COVID-19 vaccine—which is the goal of vaccination—an antibody test may come back positive. Positive antibody test results also indicate that you may have previously been exposed to the virus causing COVID-19. A positive antibody test result does not necessarily mean you have protective immunity. There is no way to tell whether a positive antibody test is from a previous infection or from vaccination. Experts are looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

Updated 2/25/21

Yes, you must continue to participate in surveillance testing even after being vaccinated. Because there still may be a small chance you can become infected and spread the virus to others, once you’ve gotten any COVID-19 vaccine, please continue to wear your mask and watch your distance around anyone you don’t live with. Please also continue to take part in required and optional testing at your workplace and elsewhere. 

COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment

Updated 12/17/20

The CDC advises waiting 90 days after monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma treatment before receiving COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine Authorization and Approval

Vaccines go through three phases of clinical trial. Each phase tests for safety and effectiveness across an increasing number of test volunteers.

In Phase 1, vaccines are tested by approximately 20 to 100 people.

In Phase 2, vaccines are tested by several hundred volunteers.

In Phase 3, vaccines are tested by thousands of volunteers.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will only approve a vaccine if it is safe, effective, and if its benefits outweigh its risks.

Updated 3/3/21

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is an authority that allows the FDA to make certain medical products (e.g., vaccines, treatments) available during public health emergencies. It also can allow the use of medical products that have been approved, but for use in a different way than originally intended. An EUA lasts for the length of an emergency. A regular FDA approval lasts forever, unless a safety or efficacy issue comes up that needs further review. The FDA has authorized COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen for emergency use.

To issue an EUA:

  1. The known and potential benefits of a drug, device, or test must outweigh the risks.
  2. The drug, device, or test must meet certain thresholds for safety and effectiveness.
  3. People must be in urgent need of care.

The FDA released guidance for vaccine manufacturers considering requests for an EUA. This guidance explains the criteria that need to be met before any vaccine for COVID-19 will receive an EUA. To meet criteria, manufacturers will use data from a Phase 3 clinical trial. The vaccine’s potential and known benefits must outweigh the potential and known risks. In addition, the vaccine must be at least 50% effective and must meet certain safety standards among a sufficiently large group of volunteers. The FDA will also consult with an independent advisory committee before issuing an EUA for a COVID-19 vaccine. Granting an EUA does not mean that vaccine clinical trials will stop. Data can continue to be collected through trials even if an EUA is granted. For more on EUAs, visit the FDA web pages on Emergency Use Authorization and FAQs on Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for Devices - COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same standards as other vaccines to make sure they are safe. No steps involving safety have been skipped.

There are some differences in other processes that have made COVID-19 vaccines available much faster than a typical vaccine. Importantly, there has been much collaboration across the scientific community to develop a vaccine. This is a global pandemic. As a result, a lot of time and resources from across the globe have gone into developing several COVID-19 vaccines.

Further, researchers had a head start on vaccine development because of research already done on similar coronaviruses. This includes the viruses that caused Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Also, the government began producing doses of certain COVID19 vaccines when they reached Phase 3 trials. This way, when these vaccines were determined to be safe and effective, people could get them immediately.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine: Addressing Misinformation

There is a lot of information about COVID-19 vaccines. It can be difficult to know which sources of information to trust. Here are some suggestions for where and how you can look for accurate and trustworthy vaccine information.

Updated 1/11/21

No. There is no vaccine microchip, and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database. This myth started after comments made by Bill Gates from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about a digital certificate of vaccine records. The technology he was referencing is not a microchip, has not been implemented in any manner, and is not tied to the development, testing, or distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

 

Updated 3/3/21

No. The COVID-19 vaccines that use messenger RNA (mRNA) (Pfizer and Moderna), will not change your DNA. Messenger RNA vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response, according to CDC. Messenger RNA injected into your body does not enter the cell nucleus, which is where DNA is kept. The mRNA do not interact with DNA in any way. Human cells break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after they have finished using the instructions.

Updated 1/11/21

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development or in use in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. The goal for each of the vaccines is to teach our immune system 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 that the body is building immunity.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick, but this is not because they got the vaccine. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

 

Updated 1/19/21

It is unclear how long immunity lasts after natural infection after recovering from COVID-19. However, people who get COVID-19 can have serious illnesses, and some have debilitating symptoms that persist for months. Vaccination is the best protection, and it is safe.

Updated 1/11/21

No. Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19; however, flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting a flu vaccine this season will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce healthcare resources.

Updated 3/3/21

Yes. In a March 2 statement, chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine and the Committee on Pro-Life Activities state that it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines. For more information on this, please see:

Moral Considerations Regarding the New COVID-19 Vaccines (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Answers to Key Ethical Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Note of the Vatican Covid-19 Commission in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Life “Vaccine for all. 20 points for a fairer and healthier world” (Vatican Covid-19 Commission in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Life)

Updated 1/11/21

No. Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the US cause you to test positive on viral tests (for example a nasal swab), which are used to see if you have a current infection.

If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

Updated 1/22/21

No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infertility. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccine causes increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies of any kind. Several national medical organizations have put out statements that say as much, such as this statement from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. CDC has also shared information on vaccines during pregnancy here.

Teachers, School Staff, and Licensed Child Care Providers

Updated 3/30/2021

Pre-kindergarten to grade 12 teachers, school staff, and child care workers at centers and family child care sites licensed by the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) are being vaccinated at municipal vaccination clinics. Some clinics are serving more than one community. School leaders and licensed child care providers are working directly with municipalities to schedule staff for vaccination. Your school or child care facility will share more information with you about how to make an appointment.

As of March 30, pre-kindergarten to grade 12 teachers, school staff, and child care workers are eligible to schedule vaccination appointments at State-run vaccination clinics if they have not yet gotten a first dose of vaccine at a municipal site or at a local pharmacy. All pre-kindergarten to grade 12 teachers, child care workers, and staff members should get the second dose of vaccine where they got the first dose (if they are getting the two-dose series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine).

All vaccines are free of charge regardless of immigration status and health insurance.

Not at this time; however, all staff are strongly encouraged to participate in this opportunity.

No. You should maintain these records as required (determined) by your HR department.

No. You should maintain these records as required (determined) by your HR department.