Frequently Asked Questions

To receive weekly email updates from Skagit Regional Health regarding vaccination plans, distribution and resources, sign up for our weekly COVID-19 Vaccine Update email.

Here are some frequently asked questions:

When can I get the vaccine?
Washington is currently in Phase 1B - Tier 1 of the phased approach and is prioritizing appointments for individuals 65 and older, or 50 and older if they live in a multigenerational household. Vaccine appointments are dependent upon vaccine availability and weekly shipments of vaccine from the state of Washington. Phase eligible patients can now join the waitlist

Due to limited supply, we do not know exactly when the will advance to future phases. As Washington moves forward in it's phased approach, and vaccine is available, we will update our website. Community members are encouraged to use the Vaccine Phase Finder tool to be notified when their phase opens. 

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?​
The FDA's job is to ensure that all vaccines are safe and effective. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been extensively studied and have completed the three clinical study levels required before a vaccine can be approved. While the timeline has moved quickly given the nature of the pandemic, all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccine have been completed. And as with any medication or vaccine, once the product is released to the general public where many more people receive it, there is a very small chance that very rare unexpected side effects will occur and that is why we will be monitoring people for 15 minutes after they receive the vaccine. Learn more about COVID vaccine safety from the CDC. 

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No. The COVID-19 vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19. They do not contain live viruses. These vaccines do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way.

What are the vaccine side effects?
According to the Washington Department of Health: The most common side effects of the vaccine are similar to some routine vaccines, including a sore arm, tiredness, headache and muscle pain.

Data from clinical trials showed the following in people younger than 55:

  • About 80 percent reported pain at the injection site
  • About half reported tiredness and headache
  • Less than one-third (30 percent) reported muscle pain
  • Most side effects occur within two days of getting the vaccine and last about a day
  • Side effects are more common after the second dose than the first dose

Side effects typically resolve within 24-48 hours Fever may occur; Tylenol may be given if fever or pain develop but should not be taken preventatively.

Serious allergic reactions to coronavirus vaccine are extremely rare and much less dangerous than the virus itself, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found only 21 such incidents among 1.9 million people vaccinated in the program's first two weeks. The CDC said all but one of the allergic reactions resulted in full recoveries.

How much does a COVID-19 vaccine cost?
Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers may be able to charge administration fees for giving the shot. Vaccination providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

What brands of vaccine will Skagit Regional Health have available?
Skagit Regional Health has been approved by the Washington Department of Health (DOH) to receive both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine was issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on December 11, 2020 and the Moderna vaccine on December 19, 2020.

Vaccines offered at the two vaccine locations are dependent upon vaccine quantities available. 

What age groups can receive the vaccine under the Emergency Use Authorization?
Pfizer vaccine is currently approved for use under the EUA for persons age 16 and above. 

Moderna vaccine is currently approved for use under the EUA for persons age 18 and above.

How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
Pfizer and Moderna are considered mRNA vaccines. They induce antibodies that can block entry of the COVID-19 virus into cells, thereby preventing infection. 

What is an mRNA vaccine and how does it work?
mRNA vaccines take advantage of the process cells use to make proteins in order to trigger an immune response. mRNA vaccines do not contain live virus, so there is no risk of the vaccine causing COVID-19 in the vaccinated person. mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person's DNA. Learn more here.

How effective are COVID-19 vaccines?
After receiving two doses of vaccine, both are considered 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in a vaccinated person. Protection is not immediate. It will take 1-2 weeks following the second dose to be considered fully vaccinated.

Why is Skagit Regional Health's Pfizer vaccine only available in Mount Vernon?
The Pfizer vaccine requires specialized “ultra-cold” storage. Skagit Regional Health was fortunate to receive an unsolicited donation of a sub-zero freezer, which is now located on the Mount Vernon campus. The Pfizer vaccine has very strict storage and transportation requirements to ensure the vaccine is kept in its ultra-cold state leading up to inoculation, therefore it currently is not feasible to transport the Pfizer vaccine to any off-site location. All Pfizer vaccines and boosters will be administered in Mount Vernon.

The Moderna vaccine does not require ultra-cold storage so we plan to offer Moderna vaccine at multiple Skagit Regional Health locations in Skagit and Snohomish Counties.

Is a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine required?
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a second dose. Efficacy of a single dose has not been systematically evaluated.

According to the DOH, a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine needs to be administered 17-21 days after the first dose (3 weeks following first dose with a 4 day grace period). Moderna vaccine must have a second dose administered 28 days after the first dose.

Patients receiving their first dose should form a plan to return for their second dose. DOH noted that the effectiveness of a single dose has not been sufficiently evaluated, so it is important for everyone to plan to receive both doses.

If I get the Pfizer vaccine for my first dose, can I get the Moderna as my second dose? Are the COVID-19 vaccines interchangeable?
No - people should receive the same vaccine for both doses. Safety and efficacy of a mixed series has not been evaluated. COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable. 

Can I get the Pfizer vaccine at the same time as getting another vaccine, such as the flu vaccine?
No - Pfizer vaccine should be administered alone, with a minimum of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccines. Safety and efficacy while administered simultaneously with other vaccines has not been studied. 

Is the COVID-19 vaccine needed annually?
It is currently unclear how long the COVID-19 vaccines will protect the recipient, though most experts expect at least a year. More research will be conducted over the next few years.

Will we need to continue to mask and social distance once we have received the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, even if you get vaccinated, the Washington Department of Health recommends you continue with the other prevention measures you've been doing, such as washing your hands, wearing a mask, staying six feet apart and limiting gatherings.

More research is needed to determine if the vaccine prevents people from spreading the virus. The vaccine prevents symptoms, but we do not yet know if it prevents transmission.

Additionally, many people in our state will need to wait months to get the vaccine, and masks and other prevention measures are still recommended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to people who are not yet vaccinated.

If I had COVID-19 previously, am I able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
According to the CDC, there is no recommended minimum interval between COVID-19 infection and vaccination, once the patient is no longer symptomatic. Current evidence suggests that reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Thus, persons with documented acute SARS-CoV-2 infection in the preceding 90 days may delay vaccination until near the end of this period, if desired.

If I currently have COVID-19, can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
According to the CDC, vaccination of persons with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should be deferred until the person has recovered from the acute illness (if the person had symptoms) and criteria have been met for them to discontinue isolation. This recommendation applies to persons who develop SARS-CoV-2 infection before receiving any vaccine doses as well as those who develop SARS-CoV-2 infection after the first dose but before receipt of the second dose. While there is otherwise no recommended minimum interval between infection and vaccination, current evidence suggests that reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Thus, persons with documented acute SARS-CoV-2 infection in the preceding 90 days may delay vaccination until near the end of this period, if desired.

If I have been exposed to COVID-19, should I get the vaccine?
If a person has a known exposure to COVID-19 and is within a quarantine period, that person should wait until after the quarantine period has ended to avoid exposing others to the virus during the vaccination visit.

I have an underlying medical condition. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Vaccine may be administered to people with underlying medical conditions who have no contraindications to vaccine. Phase 2/3 of the clinical trials demonstrate similar safety and efficacy profiles for people with underlying medical conditions, including those at increased risk for severe COVID-19, compared to people without underlying medical conditions. 

I am immunocompromised. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
People with HIV infection, other immunocompromising conditions, or who take immunosuppressive medications or therapies might be at increased risk of severe COVID-19. Data is not currently available to establish safety and efficacy of vaccine for these groups. These individuals may still receive COVID-19 vaccine unless otherwise contraindicated.

Immunocompromised individuals should be counseled about: 

  • Unknown vaccine safety and efficacy profiles in immunocompromised persons 
  • Potential for reduced immune responses 
  • Need to continue to follow all current guidance to protect themselves against COVID-19

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant or lactating?
According to the Department of Health, "There is limited data on the use of the vaccine for pregnant people. If you are pregnant or lactating and part of a group who is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (for example, health care personnel), you may choose to be vaccinated. You should discuss this with your health care provider to make an informed decision."

Additional information can be located on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website.


Updated 1/22/2021