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.  

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. This vaccine is for people 12 years and older and requires two injections given 21 days apart.

Moderna Vaccine

  • The FDA has given emergency use authorization for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine is for people 18 years and older and 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.  This vaccine is for people 18 years and older and only 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.  
Timing of Second Dose

The timing between your first and second shots depends on which vaccine you received.

  • If you received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, you should get your second shot 3 weeks (or 21 days) after your first.
  • If you received the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, you should get your second shot 4 weeks (or 28 days) after your first.

You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 4-week interval as possible. However, your second dose may be given up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessary. You should not get the second dose early. There is currently limited information on the effectiveness of receiving your second shot earlier than recommended or later than 6 weeks after the first shot.

However, if you do receive your second shot of COVID-19 vaccine earlier or later than recommended, you do not have to restart the vaccine series. This guidance might be updated as more information becomes available.

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

Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause someone to test positive on a COVID-19 diagnostic test?

No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. Neither can any of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States. Vaccinations protect most people from getting sick. However, a small percentage of fully vaccinated people will still get COVID-19. There is some evidence that vaccination may make illness less severe in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.

If your body develops an immune response to vaccination, which is the goal, 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? 

See this page

How long does protection from COVID-19 last?

We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.

Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available. For more information see How vaccines Work 

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) or call 1-800-822-7967.
  • 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



Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

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

ECDOH Locations