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Who can currently get the vaccine?

As of the 2023-24 season, the CDC recommends updated COVID-19 vaccines to protect against serious illness from COVID-19. Here are the key points regarding the new dose:

  • Recommended for Ages: The updated COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older.


Why Get the New Dose?

    • Protection Against Variants: The new dose is formulated to offer protection against the most current COVID-19 variants, ensuring you have the latest defense.
    • Sustained Immunity: Even if you've received multiple doses in the past, getting the updated vaccine ensures your immunity remains strong against evolving strains.
  • Two Key Reasons for the New Vaccine:

    1. Broadened Immunity: The updated vaccine is designed to broaden immunity and provide enhanced protection against newer variants that may not be fully covered by previous vaccinations.
    2. Prevention of Serious Illness: With ongoing changes in the virus, the new dose aims to prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and potential death due to COVID-19, including protection against severe outcomes from emerging variants.

If I've already gotten my COVID-19 shots, do I still need to get a booster?

    • Yes, you might need a booster, depending on the latest health guidelines.
    • Boosters help: They strengthen your protection against COVID-19, especially against new variants.
    • Check guidelines: Health authorities update booster recommendations based on new data.
    • Your last shot matters: The timing of your booster depends on when you got your last vaccine dose.
    • Stay informed: Keep an eye on updates from health organizations like the CDC for the latest advice.

Which vaccines does PCC provide?

PCC is providing the Moderna vaccine and booster doses (at all PCC sites):

    • Moderna: 6 months and older
    • Booster Dose


How can I get the vaccine at PCC?

Vaccination is by appointment only. Patients who are interested in vaccination should call the nearest PCC site location, or (708) 368-0845. English or Spanish is available.


Can I get too many vaccines? booster dose at PCC?

No, receiving multiple vaccines, including boosters, is safe and monitored by health authorities. Recommendations for vaccination schedules are based on evidence to ensure efficacy and safety. Always consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice.


Are walk-in appointments available at PCC Community Wellness Center?

At this time, we are doing all COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters by appointment only.


How much does the vaccine cost? Do I need health insurance?

    • No Cost for Vaccine: The COVID-19 vaccine is available at no charge.
    • Insurance Not Required: Vaccination does not require insurance coverage.
    • Insurance Billing: For insured individuals, insurance information will be collected to bill your insurance provider.
    • Medicare and Medicaid: Both programs fully cover the vaccine cost.
    • Commercial Insurance: Federal law mandates that health plans cover the vaccine cost without any charge to the patient.
    • Uninsured Patients: The Bridge Access Program ensures free vaccination for those without insurance.

Who should NOT receive the COVID-19 vaccine?          

There are very few individuals who cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If in doubt talk with your primary care provider. Below are the only reasons to not get the COVID-19 vaccine:

    • People under 6 months old cannot get the vaccine at this time.
    • People with a severe allergy (like anaphylaxis) to the vaccine or any of its components.
    • If you have a history of severe allergies (like anaphylaxis) to any vaccine or injectable medication, you should talk to your primary care provider.


I was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, can I still get the vaccine?

Yes, you can still get the vaccine, but you should wait until your recommended isolation period is complete. This is so you do not infect anyone else while traveling to clinic or being inside the clinic. For reminders on isolation recommendations after symptom onset or COVID-19 positive test, click here

    • Immunity After COVID-19: The CDC acknowledges that individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 develop a degree of immunity against the virus. However, the duration and strength of this immunity can vary.
    • 90-Day Recommendation: The CDC suggests that individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 wait at least 90 days before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine if they were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma. This recommendation is based on the natural immunity that develops post-infection.
    • Two Weeks for Full Protection: After receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, it typically takes about two weeks for the body to build full protection against the virus. This applies to both the initial vaccine series and any subsequent booster doses.
    • Evolving Variants: Despite previous vaccinations, the emergence of new variants can sometimes bypass existing immunity. The updated doses are formulated to better target these variants, providing enhanced protection.
    • Waning Immunity: Immunity from the vaccine or previous infection may decrease over time. The new dose helps to boost the immune system's memory and maintain high levels of protection.
  • Who Should Get It:

    • The CDC recommends that everyone within the eligible age groups for the vaccine, considering the latest evidence and the circulating virus strains, get the updated 2023-24 dose to ensure continued protection against COVID-19.


If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. 

Natural Immunity: Acquired after recovering from an illness, as the immune system learns to fight off the specific pathogen if exposed again.

Full Immunity Process:

  1. Exposure to a virus or vaccine prompts an immune response.
  2. Antibody Production occurs, taking 1-2 weeks for initial effectiveness.
  3. Memory Cell Formation enhances future response to the virus.
  4. Full Immunity is generally achieved two weeks post-vaccination, providing strong defense against the virus.

Vaccination Post-Infection:

  • Wait until recovery from COVID-19 and isolation period ends before vaccination to prevent virus spread.
  • 90 Days Post-Treatment: If treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, wait 90 days before vaccination to avoid interference with vaccine efficacy.
  • Two-Week Protection: It takes about two weeks post-vaccination for the body to develop significant protection.


Safety, Side effects, and Effectiveness

What are common side effects of the vaccine 

  • Pain, redness, or swelling at injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills or fever
  • Nausea
  • Side effects are generally mild and go away after a few days 

 Pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant individuals. Here's a summary of the risks and impacts:

  1. Higher Risk of Severe Illness: Changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant individuals more susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19. This means they are more likely to require hospitalization, intensive care, or ventilation support if infected.
  2. Impact on Hospitalization: Pregnant individuals with COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted to the hospital than those who are not pregnant. This heightened risk underscores the need for preventive measures such as vaccination.
  3. Need for Ventilators: In some cases, severe COVID-19 can lead to respiratory issues that necessitate mechanical ventilation to assist with breathing, indicating a higher level of care needed for pregnant individuals affected by the virus.
  4. Effects on the Fetus: COVID-19 infection during pregnancy can increase the risk of pregnancy complications. Some studies suggest a higher risk of preterm birth and might also affect the health of the fetus, although more research is needed to fully understand these impacts.

How effective are the COVID-19 Vaccines?

  • Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. 
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also help keep you from getting seriously ill or hospitalized, even if you do get COVID-19.
  • Some people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still get COVID-19 because no vaccine is 100% effective. 
  • COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. It typically takes 2 weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. That means it is possible a person could still get COVID-19 before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection. 

Is the vaccine safe for pregnant or breastfeeding people to get?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals. Health authorities like the CDC recommend it to protect against severe illness from COVID-19. Vaccination during pregnancy can also pass protective antibodies to the baby. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personal advice.

What if you’re asymptomatic and don’t know you’re COVID-19 positive and you receive the vaccine? What will happen?

CDC is recommending even those who have had COVID-19 and have antibodies receive the vaccine, so this is not a problem.

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as another vaccine?

Yes. 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 the flu vaccine.


About the COVID-19 Vaccines

How does the mRNA vaccine work?

The mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. They are not a live virus vaccine and they do not contain the actual COVID-19 virus. They teach our cells how to make a protein that starts an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real COVID-19 virus enters our bodies.


Can the vaccine change your DNA?

No. Neither mRNA nor viral vector vaccines can change or interact with your DNA in any way

The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. Viral vectors also do not become incorporated into your DNA.  Instead, COVID-19 vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.

At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. That immune response and making antibodies is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.


Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. None of the recommended COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

There are several different types of vaccines in development. All of them teach our immune systems 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 protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause me to have a positive COVID-19 test?

The vaccine will not cause a positive COVID-19 diagnostic test (PCR or antigen).


Is the vaccine preservative free?

The Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax COVID-19 vaccines are all preservative free. 


Will this vaccine protect against the new strains we are seeing?

To protect against new strains of COVID-19, scientists and health organizations are taking several measures:

    1. Developing Updated Vaccines: New vaccine formulations, including bivalent or multivalent boosters, are being developed to target the most prevalent and concerning variants, ensuring continued effectiveness.
    2. Global Surveillance: Ongoing monitoring of the virus's evolution helps identify new variants quickly. This involves genetic sequencing of virus samples from around the world.

    3. Vaccine Efficacy Studies: Researchers continuously study vaccine effectiveness against emerging strains to guide public health recommendations and vaccine updates.

    4. Public Health Measures: Encouraging continued adherence to public health measures, such as mask-wearing in high-risk settings and maintaining hygiene practices, to reduce transmission.

    5. Booster Recommendations: Health authorities, including the CDC, recommend booster doses for eligible populations to enhance immunity against known variants.

    6. International Collaboration: Global cooperation in sharing data and resources accelerates the response to new variants, including vaccine development and distribution.


If someone is vaccinated, can they still be a carrier of COVID-19 and give it to other people?

Vaccinated individuals are much less likely to be infected, but they can still be infected. If they do get infected, they are almost always less sick. Studies show that vaccinated people who are asymptomatic have lower amounts of virus, so are less able to infect other people. Still, it is possible for vaccinated people to infect other people, especially unvaccinated people; so it is still important for unvaccinated people to continue to be very careful in wearing a mask and social distancing.  

When are the vaccines considered fully effective?

Protection begins building soon after the first dose. Maximum protection is achieved two weeks after dose.  


Important Links and Resources:

CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Information

V-Safe After Vaccination Health Checker

CDC Ensuring the Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines in the United States 

Chicago Department of Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Page

Chicago Department of Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs