COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for the Public

Getting vaccinated in Rhode Island

Updated 6/9/21

Find a vaccine clinic near you at C19VaccineRI.org. You do not need an appointment at most vaccination sites.

You can get vaccinated at State vaccination sites; select local pharmacies and other local and regional vaccination sites, like clinics run by cities and towns, hospitals, community health centers, and other sites in the community.

If you need help, you can call 844-930-1779, or 2-1-1. 

Updated 6/9/21

No. Appointments are no longer needed to get vaccinated at State-run sites and many regional sites and pharmacies.

To find a vaccine site near you, view RIDOH’s Vaccine Site Locator.

Updated 7/23/21

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.

RIPTA offers 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 5/24/21

Please show up at your assigned time. Appointments have been spaced out to avoid crowding.

You don't need an ID or insurance to be vaccinated, but if you have one we ask that you bring it.

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 6/9/21

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. Some people have no side effects from getting vaccinated.

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 following vaccination, stay home, call a healthcare provider, and get tested.

If you have any of the following severe symptoms after vaccination or in general, seek medical care right away:

  • Chest pain; shortness of breath; feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart
  • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision; shortness of breath; chest pain; leg swelling; persistent abdominal pain; easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site

Updated 5/24/21 

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.  

Please continue to wear your mask until fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means you’ve gotten all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 14 days have passed since the final dose.

Updated 5/14/21

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.  
  1. 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.  
  1. 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.  
  1. Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., belly 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.

If you have questions about any other symptoms you are experiencing after a COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your healthcare provider.

Updated 6/9/21

COVID-19 vaccines will be provided at no cost. People without health insurance can get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.

No matter where you are vaccinated, COVID-19 vaccine providers cannot charge people if COVID-19 vaccination is the only service provided.

No one can be denied vaccination based on healthcare coverage or network. Providers also cannot require additional medical services to get vaccinated.

Updated 3/3/21

The Federal government does not mandate vaccination for individuals. 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 Rhode Island Department of Health does not mandate or require people to be vaccinated. This is voluntary.  The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, highly effective against serious illness, and prevents you from being infected with COVID-19.

Updated 7/1/21

RIDOH has partnered with Alert Ambulance and MedTech Ambulance to administer COVID-19 vaccines to homebound Rhode Island residents where they live.

We are now also registering by phone Rhode Islanders who are age 50 or older for appointments at vaccination clinics or for at-home vaccination.

RIDOH encourages those who can safely attend vaccination sites outside the home to do so. If you are unable to leave your home, please contact the appropriate partner to schedule an appointment (depending on where you live) by visiting c19vaccineRI.org.

Updated 7/21/21

If you missed your second-dose appointment or did not schedule it while you were at the place where you got your first dose, you may sign up for an appointment for your second dose by visiting C19vaccineRI.org. Make sure to check off that you are getting a second dose of vaccine, and make sure to get the same vaccine you got for your first dose (i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). If you need help, please contact [email protected] or call 844-930-1779 and ask to schedule or reschedule your second dose appointment. You do not need to get your second dose of vaccine where you got your first dose.

The CDC states that you should get the second dose 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 you can’t get your second dose during this time frame, you can get it up to 4 days before or at any time after the recommended date and be considered fully vaccinated.

 

Updated 4/28/21

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.

According to state statute, RIGL 23-4.6-1, “(a) Any person of the age of sixteen (16) or over or married may consent to routine, emergency, medical or surgical care. A minor parent may consent to treatment of his or her child.”

Updated 5/24/21

If they are making an appointment at a State-run vaccination site, people who are age 12-17 must sign up for a clinic offering Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine are for people age 18 or older only.

COVID-19 Vaccine Record

Updated 7/1/21

When you get vaccinated, you’ll get a vaccination card that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you got and the date and location of your vaccination. Keep this card; this card is the best record of your vaccination.

Rhode Islanders can also 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 or 844-930-1779 for help. You can also call your primary care physician to check your vaccine record.

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. 

About COVID-19 Vaccines

Updated 6/29/21

There are no data yet about the safety of getting an mRNA vaccine after being fully vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

If you are fully vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine and have additional questions about getting vaccinated with one of the mRNA vaccines, please contact your primary care provider or another physician.

Updated 7/22/21

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

 

Updated 3/11/2021

The CDC continues to study and monitor how long COVID vaccines are effective and there are no recommendations yet on whether a booster dose is needed. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

Updated 3/24/20 

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.

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 5/14/21

The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for people 12 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 younger children. They hope to have results by late summer 2021.  

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 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine (Janssen), 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-reaction.html and https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/clinical-considerations.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/pfizer/clinical-considerations.html 

Updated 3/24/21 

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 4/28/2021

Getting vaccinated is a personal choice. According to the CDC, any of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines can be offered to people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Pregnant and breastfeeding people should discuss benefits and risks of vaccination with their healthcare provider before getting vaccinated. 

 

For people who are pregnant: 

Pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people. Pregnant people with COVID-19 might be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19. 

CDC recommends that pregnant people receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy can protect against severe COVID-19.  
 

Pregnant people should consider their risk of exposure to COVID-19, the risks of severe disease, the known benefits of vaccination, and the limited but growing evidence on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy.

A conversation with a healthcare provider may help them decide when to be vaccinated. 

CDC and 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. 
 
Read the CDC's new report in the New England Journal of Medicine: Preliminary Findings of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons

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

 

For people who are breastfeeding:  

Clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use under an Emergency Use Authorization in the United States did not include people who are breastfeeding. Because the vaccines have not been studied on lactating people, there are no data available on: 

  • The safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating people 
  • The effects of vaccination on the breastfed infant 
  • The effects on milk production or excretion 

The COVID-19 vaccines authorized now are non-replicating vaccines, meaning they are able to create an immune response but do not reproduce inside host cells. Because non-replicating vaccines pose no risk for lactating people or their infants, COVID-19 vaccines are also thought to not be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. Therefore, lactating people may choose to be vaccinated.

Updated 6/23/21

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, and vaccination can protect you from other variants of 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 5/18/21

Yes. According to CDC, it is safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have gotten another vaccine recently. CDC had recommended waiting 14 days between someone’s last immunization and their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but updated guidance says that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at or around the same time as other vaccines.  If you have any questions or concerns, check with your healthcare provider.

Updated 5/18/21

Yes. According to CDC, it is safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccinations. Your healthcare provider will decide the timing that is best for you. If you are getting the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as another vaccine, your healthcare provider may give you the shots in the same arm or in different arms or legs, depending on which vaccine(s) you are getting.

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.

Updated 7/16/21

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration are monitoring reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) after receiving the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. GBS is a neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system damages nerve cells causing muscle weakness or—in the most severe cases—paralysis. Each year in the United States (US), an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS. It is typically triggered by a respiratory or gastrointestinal infection. Most people fully recover from GBS.

Reports of GBS after receipt of the Johnson & Johnson COVID‐19 vaccine in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) are rare but do likely indicate a small possible risk of this side effect following this vaccine. Around 100 preliminary reports of GBS have been detected in VAERS after 12.8 million doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID‐19 vaccine administered. These cases have largely been reported about two weeks after vaccination and mostly in males, many age 50 or older. Available data do not show a similar pattern with mRNA vaccines (Pfizer‐BioNTech and Moderna), after more than 321 million doses administered in the US.

The risk of severe adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination remains rare. Everyone age 12 or older is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine and Prevention

Updated 6/9/21

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination reduces the risk of COVID-19 and its potentially severe complications. All COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use in the US helped protect people against COVID-19, including severe illness, in clinical trial settings. So far, studies that have looked at how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world settings (vaccine effectiveness studies) have shown that these vaccines are working well.

Vaccine effectiveness studies provide growing evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) offer similar protection in real-world conditions as they have in clinical trial settings, reducing the risk of COVID-19, including severe illness, among people who are fully vaccinated by 90 percent or more. Most vaccine effectiveness data now available are related to mRNA vaccines.

In addition to providing protection against COVID-19, there is increasing evidence that COVID-19 vaccines also provide protection against COVID-19 infections without symptoms (asymptomatic infections). COVID-19 vaccination can reduce the spread of disease overall, helping protect people around you.

Updated 7/21/21

All COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the US (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) are effective to varying degrees against COVID-19 variants, including the Delta variant. For the best protection, you need to be fully vaccinated—meaning two weeks have passed since you’ve gotten the second dose of a two-dose series (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech) or a single dose of a one-dose series (Johnson & Johnson).

There is limited evidence showing exactly how effective the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is in protecting against the Delta variant. RIDOH is monitoring the situation and will share any peer-reviewed data and related CDC guidance once it is available. Based on currently available evidence, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines do appear to be slightly more effective against the Delta variant. However, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still considered to be effective against the Delta variant.

If you are fully vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine and have additional questions about getting vaccinated with one of the mRNA vaccines, please contact your primary care provider or another physician.

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 Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  

Updated 7/22/21

If you're not fully vaccinated, the Rhode Island Department of Health recommends you wear a mask indoors near anyone you don't live with to protect yourself and your household from COVID-19. Your mask should fit snugly but comfortably over your nose, mouth, and chin without any gaps. Rhode Island Masking FAQ 

Learn more about how to protect your household from COVID-19

Updated 7/22/21

Whether or not you’re vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask in the following settings:

  • If a business, school, camp, healthcare setting, or other entity requires it
  • On public transportation like planes, buses, and trains
  • When providing or using paid ground transportation services
  • In transportation hubs like airports and stations
  • In enclosed or semi-enclosed transit stops and waiting areas
  • If working in a healthcare setting where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated 
  • When required by other federal laws or regulations

Learn more about current masking requirements in our Rhode Island Masking FAQ

Updated 5/3/21

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 United States (US) and US territories or from a hot spot within the United States and US territories, you do not need to quarantine if:

  • You’ve gotten a final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, that is authorized by either the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO), 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. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate at home and get tested. Vaccinated close contacts and travelers should still get a COVID-19 test between 5 and 10 days after their last exposure or out-of-state travel. 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 6/10/21

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.

Some people can also get post-COVID conditions, such as “long COVID.” Post-COVID symptoms  vary by person but can include a range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems lasting weeks or even months after first being infected. You can experience post-COVID conditions even if you did not have symptoms.

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 6/24/21

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

People who completed a COVID-19 vaccination series with a vaccine that has been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) do not need any additional doses with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

People who are partially vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine series authorized for emergency use by WHO may be offered an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series.

People who completed or partially completed a COVID-19 vaccine series with a vaccine that is not authorized by FDA or not authorized for emergency use by WHO may be offered an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series.

COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing

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.

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: 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 6/10/21

No. 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. This is known as “long COVID,” which can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19 even if the illness was mild. Vaccination is the best protection.

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.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for Healthcare Providers and Professionals

About COVID-19 Vaccines

Updated 6/24/2021

Please monitor patients for the following symptoms after vaccination, as they require prompt medical attention:

  • Chest pain; shortness of breath; feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart
  • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision; shortness of breath; chest pain; leg swelling; persistent abdominal pain; easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site

Please review the CDC Health Alert: Cases of Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia after Receipt of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

Please review CDC’s Clinical Considerations: Myocarditis and Pericarditis after Receipt of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Among Adolescents and Young Adults

If you have any questions about symptoms or reactions after a COVID-19 vaccine, please contact a physician .

Vaccine Storage and Handling

Updated 5/27/21

Starting in June, some vaccination providers will begin receiving 14-dose vials of Moderna vaccine. The labeling for the 14-dose cartons and vials is very similar to the labeling for the 10-dose cartons and vials, but the 14-dose cartons and vials have a blue band.

See the differences between the 14- and 10-dose cartons and vials on the DailyMed website (scroll to the “Package/Label Display Panel” sections at the bottom of the page).

(Updated 2.17.2021)

The vaccine does not need to be kept in a different container once it reaches a distribution site. The CDC recommends that vaccines and diluents be stored in their original packaging with lids closed until ready for administration. Note that, upon arrival, shipments of refrigerated and frozen vaccine should be immediately examined for signs of damage, for indication of a temperature excursion during transit, and to guarantee receipt of the appropriate vaccine types and quantities. (Source: CDC)  

Emergencies such as equipment failures, power outages, severe weather conditions, or natural disasters usually happen without warning and may compromise storage conditions. Because of the limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccines, especially during early US vaccination efforts, it is critical that COVID-19 vaccination providers have plans in place for emergency situations. Some key issues to remember include:

  • Vaccines may remain inside a nonfunctioning unit as long as appropriate temperatures are maintained. Monitor your Digital Data Logger (DDL) to determine when additional action should be taken.
  • Having an on-site generator(s) prevents the need to transport vaccines to an alternative storage facility during a power outage.
  • Emergency situations can arise outside of normal business hours, so your office staff as well your facility’s building manager and/or security staff, if appropriate, should understand how to implement your emergency operation plans or access your facility if necessary.
  • Ensure your facility has the resources on hand to safely pack vaccines for transport during emergencies.

(Source: CDCResponse added 1.11.2021

(Updated 3.4.2021)

 

On February 25, 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it is allowing undiluted frozen vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to be transported and stored at conventional temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers (-25°C to -15°C; -13°F to 5°F) for a period of two weeks. This reflects an alternative to the recommended storage of undiluted vials in an ultra-low temperature freezer between -80°C to -60°C (-112°F to -76°F).

  • Storage between -60°C and -25°C (-76°F and -13°F) is considered an excursion from the recommended storage condition, and any time vials are stored within this range should be counted against the 2 weeks allowed for storage at -25°C to -15°C (-13°F to 5°F).
  • The data loggers RIDOH supplies for temperature monitoring are set up to alarm when the routine frozen vaccines go out of range—not the tight range for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

If a site plans to use a freezer solely for storing Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, they must adjust the settings on their datalogger so it will alarm when temperatures go out of the -13°F to 5°F range. RIDOH can supply a datalogger for sites that do not have one for a separate freezer.
 

For more storage information related to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, read the Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers.

(Updated 3.4.2021)

CDC does allow the transport of frozen vaccine when packed appropriately, so sites that do not have ultra-low cold storage can receive redistributed frozen vaccine.

Updated 5/20/21

The FDA has authorized undiluted, thawed Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine vials to be stored in the refrigerator at 2°C to 8°C (35°F to 46°F) for up to one month. Previous guidance stated that thawed, undiluted vaccine vials could be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. For more information, please read the Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine.

Updated 5/20/21

Do not refreeze COVID-19 vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be stored in the freezer for two weeks and then the refrigerator for another 31 days (in that order).

Updated 5/20/21

Yes—vaccine may be refrigerated for a total of 30 days.

COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility and Distribution

Updated 7/22/21

Primary care providers (PCPs) in Rhode Island have been getting COVID-19 vaccine and are vaccinating in their offices.  RIDOH continues to onboard other clinics and PCPs, including larger family medicine and pediatric practices. RIDOH is working through a list of all practices enrolled in Rhode Island State-Supplied Vaccine (SSV) program. Practices will be contacted directly to determine interest and begin the process of onboarding. Practices do not need to contact RIDOH unless they are being engaged through the survey follow up.

If you are interested in becoming a COVID-19 vaccine administrator, please visit covid.ri.gov/vaxproviders.

 

Administering COVID-19 Vaccine

Updated 7/21/21

All organizations and providers who want to administer the COVID-19 vaccine must be enrolled as State-Supplied Vaccine (SSV) providers for the 7/1/2021 - 6/30/2022 program year.

If you are not currently enrolled in the SSV program learn more about enrolling in the SSV Program.

  • If you are already enrolled in the SSV program and would like to enroll as a COVID-19 vaccine provider, contact your Immunization Program representative.
  • If you are not currently enrolled in the SSV program, contact Heidi Wallace.  Learn more about enrolling in the SSV Program.

Learn more by visiting covid.ri.gov/vaxproviders.

 

Updated 5/20/21

Yes. According to CDC, COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may now be administered without regard to timing. This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines on the same day as well as coadministration within 14 days. It is unknown whether reactogenicity of COVID-19 vaccine is increased with coadministration, including with other vaccines known to be more reactogenic, such as adjuvanted vaccines or live vaccines.

When deciding whether to coadminister other vaccine(s) with COVID-19 vaccines, providers should consider the following:

  • Whether the patient is behind or at risk of becoming behind on recommended vaccines
  • Their risk of vaccine-preventable disease (e.g., during an outbreak or occupational exposures)
  • The reactogenicity profile of the vaccines

If multiple vaccines are administered at a single visit, administer each injection in a different injection site. For adolescents and adults, the deltoid muscle can be used for more than one intramuscular injection.

Best practices for multiple injections include:

  • Label each syringe with the name and the dosage (amount) of the vaccine, lot number, the initials of the preparer, and the exact beyond-use time, if applicable.
  • Separate injection sites by 1 inch or more, if possible.
  • Administer the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccines that may be more likely to cause a local reaction (e.g., tetanus-toxoid-containing and adjuvanted vaccines) in different limbs, if possible.

For more information, visit CDC’s Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States.

Updated 7/22/21

The CDC states that people should get the second dose 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 someone can’t get the second dose during this time frame, they can get it up to 4 days before or at any time after the recommended date and be considered fully vaccinated.

 

Updated 7/16/21

The current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or with other COVID-19 vaccine products. The safety and efficacy of mixing these vaccines has not been evaluated. Per the CDC, in exceptional situations in which the first-dose vaccine product cannot be determined or is no longer available, any mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at a minimum of 28 days between doses. 

There are no data available to support using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to complete a vaccination series initiated with another COVID-19 Vaccine.

Additionally, there are no data yet about the safety of getting an mRNA vaccine after being fully vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Please review RIDOH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance for People with Special Health Circumstances.

Updated 2/16/21

RIDOH has established a provider-only Help Desk to assist with technical issues related to provider standup, PrepMod support (online clinic management and appointment scheduling system), onboarding providers, and staff inquiries.

For inquiries related to PrepMod or data reporting requirements, please call the COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Help Desk

  • Phone: 888-662-4341
  • Hours
    • Monday – Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Saturday – Sunday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Email: [email protected]

CDC has issued guidance for clinicians if there are errors in vaccine administration related to site/route, age, vaccine intervals, mixed series, dosage, storage/handling, and diluents.

For all vaccine administration errors:

Updated 4/8/2021 

Yes. Patients may contact your office if they have been unable to access their COVID-19 vaccination record at https://portal.ri.gov/VaccineRecord/s/. When a patient looks up their COVID-19 vaccine record, an accurate cell phone or email address is required for authentication. They must also enter their name, date of birth, and zip code to access the record. Providers can help patients by updating cell phone, email address, and other information in RICAIR web on the demographics page. Patient privacy is better protected this way because providers can more accurately verify their patients' identity when updating information. 

Providers who do not currently have access to RICAIR or need help in updating demographics can request assistance by emailing [email protected].  

Patients can also submit a data correction form to RICAIR here

COVID-19 Variants and Vaccines

Updated 6/17/21

There are multiple COVID-19 variants circulating around the world. CDC and WHO are tracking this development.

 To learn about COVID-19 variants in Rhode Island, please see the COVID-19 Variants web page.  

These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths. For this reason, we must continue to practice protective measures.

For more information, check out CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant.html

Updated 6/17/21

The COVID-19 vaccine is highly protective against variants, including the Delta variant. For  the best protection, you need to be fully vaccinated—meaning two weeks have passed since you’ve gotten the second dose of a two-dose series (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech) or a single dose of a one-dose series (Johnson & Johnson).

Updated 6/17/21

While variants tend to spread easily and quickly and may lead to more serious cases of COVID-19, the good news is that the COVID-19 vaccine is protective against variants, including the Delta variant. To get this protection, you need to be fully vaccinated.

If you’re not yet fully vaccinated, getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and weekly testing are more important than ever to stop the variant from spreading and to protect the progress we’ve made. 

COVID-19 Vaccines and Contraindications

Updated 7/16/21

It is unclear if people who developed myocarditis or pericarditis after a first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be at increased risk of further adverse cardiac effects following a second dose of the vaccine. Until additional safety data are available, experts recommend that people who develop myocarditis or pericarditis after a first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine defer receiving the second dose.

Administration of the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series can be considered in certain circumstances.

Clinicians should consult current clinical guidance for information on the evaluation and management of myocarditis.

People who have a history of myocarditis or pericarditis unrelated to mRNA COVID-19 vaccination may receive any FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine after the episode of myocarditis or pericarditis has completely resolved. The CDC is continuing to investigate cases of myocarditis or pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination; this guidance may be updated as new information is obtained. All cases of myocarditis or pericarditis following COVID-19 vaccination should be reported to VAERS.
 
Review the complete guidance, Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States.

Updated 4/1/21 

Please review the information about vaccine contraindications and precautions to assist you in your discussions about COVID-19 vaccination in patients who had an initial reaction to a vaccine dose: CDC interim clinical considerations for COVID-19 vaccines

If, after reviewing this information, you feel that additional advice would be helpful for a specific patient scenario, you can consult with an allergist-immunologist, and/or the clinical safety line from CDC: 

  • Healthcare personnel or health departments in the United States can request a consultation from the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment COVIDvax project about an individual patient residing in the United States for a complex COVID-19 vaccine safety question not readily addressed by CDC guidance.  This request can be made through CDC-INFO by calling 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636), or submitting a request via CDC-INFO webform

Please also note that adverse events that occur in a recipient following COVID-19 vaccination should be reported to VAERS. Vaccination providers are required by the FDA to report the following that occur after COVID-19 vaccination under EUA: 

  • Vaccine administration errors 
  • Serious adverse events 
  • Cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome 
  • Cases of COVID-19 that result in hospitalization or death 

Reporting is encouraged for any other clinically significant adverse event, even if it is uncertain whether the vaccine caused the event. Information on how to submit a report to VAERS is available at https://vaers.hhs.gov or by calling 1-800-822-7967. 

Updated 4/15/21     

For timely consults, providers can call Lifespan’s Infectious Disease (ID) Consult Line at 401-474-7622. This line is for providers only.  

For patient referrals, providers or clinic staff can call 401-793-2020 to set up an appointment for an outpatient visit for a patient to see a physician. 

Updated 2/25/21 

Appropriate medical treatment used to manage immediate allergic reactions must be immediately available in the event an acute anaphylactic reaction occurs following administration of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on anaphylaxis management, visit CDC’s interim considerations for the management of anaphylaxis following COVID-19 vaccination and laboratory evaluation of persons who experience anaphylaxis after vaccination

Updated 4/20/21 

People should get vaccinated once they have recovered from COVID-19 and completed their isolation period. Getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected with COVID-19. According to CDC, the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 outweighs any benefit of natural immunity.

Updated 3/11/21 

For vaccinated people who later experience COVID-19, prior receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine should not affect treatment decisions (including use of monoclonal antibodies, convalescent plasma, antiviral treatment, or corticosteroid administration) or timing of such treatments.  

If a person is fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks after completion of a two-dose mRNA series or single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and tests positive for SARS-CoV-2, healthcare providers and local health departments are encouraged to request the specimen be held and to report the case to their state health department immediately. CDC will work with the state health department to collect information about the case. In addition, information about these cases should be reported to VAERS. 

Updated 5/6/21

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have recovered should still get vaccinated. Experts do not yet know how long you are protected after having COVID-19. Vaccines help protect you from getting COVID-19 again and will also protect you against variants. Every shot gets us closer to ending the pandemic. Vaccine appointments are now widely available for people age 16 and older.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ Archive