COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is NY State’s vaccination plan and phases?  

NY State determines phases and prioritization for vaccination.  See the NY State Vaccine website for the most current information.  

Does an employer have to grant time off for employees to get the COVID-19 Vaccine?  

Governor Cuomo signed legislation granting employees time off to get the COVID-19 vaccine. No employee should be penalized for needing time off to get vaccinated. Under this new law, public and private employees will be granted up to four hours of excused leave per shot that will not be charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued. This legislation takes effect immediately.  

What COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized by the FDA?  

There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA. 

Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine

  • The FDA has given emergency use authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Data has shown that the vaccine starts working soon after the first dose and has an efficacy rate of 95% seven days after the second dose. This means that about 95% of people who get the vaccine are protected from becoming seriously ill with the virus. This vaccine is for people age 16 and older. It requires two injections given 21 days apart.

Moderna Vaccine

  • The FDA has given emergency use authorization for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Data has shown that the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 94.1%. This vaccine is for people age 18 and older. This vaccine requires two injections given 28 days apart.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Vaccine

  • The FDA has given emergency use authorization for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.  The FDA allows the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.  This vaccine requires one injection. 

Other COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Multiple other COVID-19 vaccines are under development. For the most current information go to the FDA’s Vaccine website.  
Administration of Second Dose

Pfizer Vaccine

  • Persons should not be scheduled to receive the second dose earlier than the recommended 21 days after the first dose
  • However, second doses administered within a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended date for the second dose are still considered valid.  
  • The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval 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 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series. (Source Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC).

Moderna Vaccine

  • Persons should not be scheduled to receive the second dose earlier than recommended 28 days after the first dose. 
  • However, second doses administered within a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended date for the second dose are still considered valid. 
  • The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval 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 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series. (Source Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC).
What are mRNA vaccines? 

Messenger RNA vaccines, mRNA vaccines, are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein, even just a piece of a protein, that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.  mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus and they cannot give someone COVID-19.  For additional information see Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines from the CDC

Do I have to wear a mask if I have been fully vaccinated? 

If you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • More things you can do.
If I have been fully vaccinated can I be around someone who has COVID-19?
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
    • However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause someone to test positive on a COVID-19 diagnostic test?

Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States cause you to test positive on viral tests, 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.

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

COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. You should not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated.

However, anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation.

Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired.

Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than protection from COVID-19 vaccines?

The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection.

Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about.

What about coadministration with other vaccines?  

Given the lack of data on the safety and efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines, the vaccine series should routinely be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccine.

However, mRNA COVID-19 and other vaccines may be administered within a shorter period in situations where the benefits of vaccination are deemed to outweigh the potential unknown risks of vaccine coadministration (e.g., tetanus toxoid-containing vaccination as part of wound management, measles or hepatitis A vaccination during an outbreak) or to avoid barriers or delays to mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (e.g., in long-term care facility residents or healthcare personnel who received influenza or other vaccinations prior to/upon admission or onboarding). If mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are administered within 14 days of another vaccine, doses do not need to be repeated for either vaccine.  

Have you had a reaction following a vaccination? 

If you believe that you had a reaction to any COVID-19 vaccine: 

  • Contact your healthcare provider.
  • Report a vaccine reaction by completing the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System Online Form (VAERS). 
  • Important: If you are experiencing a medical emergency, seek immediate assistance from a healthcare provider or call 9-1-1. If you need individual medical or health care advice, consult a qualified healthcare provider. 
What is v-safe? 
  • v-safe is a smartphone-based tool that checks in on you after your COVID-19 vaccination. 
  • Your participation helps keep COVID-19 vaccines safe for you and for everyone.
  • If you got vaccinated in the last 6 weeks, you can participate in v-safe!
  • Share the v-safe flyer with others too!  
  • v-safe info in languages other than English: Español | 한국어 | Tiếng Việt | 中文  
Additional Information

Frequently Requested

Contact

 

Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

ECDOH Locations