Why should I get vaccinated?
There are three main reasons to get vaccinated:
1. The vaccine is safe and will help keep you from getting COVID-19.
All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19 after you get two doses.
All COVID-19 vaccines in development must be evaluated in clinical trials and will be authorized only if they make it substantially less likely you’ll get COVID-19.
Under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the vaccine, the known and potential benefits of the vaccine must outweigh its known and potential risks. Watch a video on what an EUA is.
2. If you do get COVID, you may have a much less severe case.
COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications. There’s no way to know how it will affect you.
Data from early clinical trials lead experts to believe that getting the COVID-19 vaccine may keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get the disease. This is also consistent with what we know about vaccines for other types of diseases.
Clinical studies show that the vaccine provides 94%+ immunity against COVID-19. This provides significant protection, though there is a small chance you could still get it. The vaccine may help make your symptoms much less severe if you do.
3. Vaccination is an important tool to stop the pandemic, stabilize the economy, and get back to normal.
Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. However, there have been instances of re-infection. It is not known how long natural immunity lasts.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness.
About the vaccine
What vaccine is Caroline County using?
Right now, Caroline County is administering the Moderna vaccine. We may receive vaccines from different pharmaceutical companies in the future, but right now, only the Moderna vaccine is available.
How does the vaccine work?
COVID-19 vaccines rely on mRNA, also known as messenger RNA. Most of what has been learned about mRNA vaccines is the result of decades of research into other diseases.
COVID mRNA vaccines give instructions for your cells to make a harmless copy of the “spike” protein found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Your body then builds an antibody response to this replica protein. Here’s how that works:
Your cells make the copy of the spike protein
Your cells break down the mRNA into harmless pieces
Your immune system recognizes the spike protein as an invader and produces antibodies against it
If the antibodies later encounter the actual virus, they are ready to recognize and destroy it before it causes illness
The vaccine DOES NOT contain SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 virus. Therefore, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?
No. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any active virus. Instead, it relies on mRNA as outlined in the previous question.
It is possible to get COVID-19 after being vaccinated before your body has time to build up immunity. That is why it is important to continue to practice physical distancing, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently.
Why are two shots necessary?
From what we know so far, it’s likely that one shot isn’t as effective as two shots and immunity doesn’t last as long with only one shot. This means that if you just get one shot, you could still get sick with COVID-19. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were developed and studied using two shots, and we know that they are both extremely effective — 94% and 95% respectively — at preventing COVID-19 if two shots are received.
What is the effectiveness of the vaccine?
Based on evidence from the clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses, who had no evidence of being previously infected.
How long does it take to build up immunity after getting vaccinated?
It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines that require two shots may not protect you until two weeks after your second shot. So it is important to continue to be very careful after receiving your first shot.
Will the vaccine do anything to my DNA?
No. At no point does the mRNA enter the cell's nucleus, which is where our genetic material (DNA) lives. Therefore, the vaccine cannot alter a person’s DNA.
After getting the COVID-19 vaccine, will I test false positive for COVID-19?
No, the vaccine will not cause you to test positive on a viral test for COVID, which tests for current infection.
Safety & Who should and shouldn't get the vaccine
The vaccine was developed really fast. Is it safe?
Yes, the vaccine is safe. The use of mRNA technology made it much faster to develop and produce the vaccine. Because there is no “live” virus in the vaccine, pharmaceutical companies did not need to grow large amounts of the virus in a lab setting to use in the vaccine. This saved a lot of time.
Another reason that the vaccine was able to be developed so quickly simply has to do with resources. Never in history have there been so many research scientists in every corner of the globe working on a vaccine for one disease. Governments around the world and the private sector have made huge investments of money to support that research.
The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority while federal partners work to make COVID-19 vaccines available. Vaccines undergo a series of rigorous clinical trials using thousands of study participants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses this data to determine their safety and effectiveness to approve or authorize for emergency use. Following approval or authorization, many vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for adverse events or possible side effects. Visit the CDC’s website for more information about ensuring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. — including information about specific vaccine monitoring systems.
What ages is the vaccine available for?
The Moderna vaccine is approved for use in adults 18 and older. While the Pfizer vaccine is approved for those 16 years old and older, Caroline County has not received any Pfizer vaccine at this time.
What about kids?
Considering COVID infection tends to be much less severe in children, they were not included in the initial priority groups for study. However, both Pfizer and Moderna have begun new clinical trials including children as young as age 12. As a result, the vaccine may be available to children in the future, if the data shows that it is safe and effective.
What if I'm pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breast feeding?
Medical associations are recommending the vaccine for women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy, or undergoing fertility treatment. There is no recommendation to withhold the vaccine from patients who are pregnant or breast feeding.
These expert recommendations come from the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM).
There is no reason to delay pregnancy attempts because of COVID-19 vaccination administration. These types of vaccines are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies.
There is no data that shows any impact on sperm quality or male fertility after COVID-19 vaccination.
If you’re still feeling unsure, we recommend you talk with your primary care provider or OB-GYN.
What if I've had COVID-19 previously or had COVID-19 related treatments?
Even if you’ve had COVID-19 before, you should get vaccinated to ensure you are as protected as possible. However, you should wait until you are recovered from the acute illness of COVID-19 and criteria have been met to discontinue isolation. The CDC notes that reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection and that if desired, you can delay vaccination during that 90-day period. However, it is not recommended that you delay.
If you get COVID-19 after your first dose, you are still recommended to get your second dose on schedule, or as soon as you are well and released from quarantine.
If you received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of your treatment for COVID-19, delay for 90 days after treatment and consult with your primary care provider before getting vaccinated.
More detailed information can be found here.
Who should NOT get the vaccine?
If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction*—even if it was not severe—to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer).
If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction*—even if it was not severe—after getting the first dose of the vaccine, you should not get another dose of the vaccine.
*An immediate allergic reaction means a reaction within 4 hours of getting vaccinated, including symptoms such as hives, swelling, or wheezing (respiratory distress).
Do not get the vaccine if you are allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG) and/or polysorbate. Polysorbate is not an ingredient in either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine but is closely related to PEG, which is in the vaccines. People who are allergic to PEG or polysorbate should not get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
When can I get the vaccine?
Caroline County will enter the public portion of Phase 1B the week of January 18 and will enter Phase 1C the week of January 25.
Phase 1B includes:
Assisted living, other congregate settings
Adults age 75 and older
Education (including daycare providers)
Continuity of government
Phase 1C includes:
Adults age 65-74 and older
Essential workers in lab services, agriculture, manufacturing, postal service, etc.
Please note that given limited doses of vaccine available, Caroline County will be concentrating on the 65 and older population first, and essential workers will not be vaccinated until further notice.
Full information on the State’s vaccine plan can be found here.
Do you have enough vaccine?
Vaccine is in limited supply across the country and the world. No local government is receiving as much vaccine as they want. Caroline County will continue to request the maximum amount of vaccine that we think we can quickly and safely administer. However, our ability to complete a phase and move to the next will depend on how much vaccine we receive and on what schedule – something we generally don’t find out until a day or two before the vaccine shipment arrives.
Who determines the priority groups?
The priority groups have been established by the State of Maryland. Full information on the State’s vaccine plan can be found here.
Which essential workers fall into which stages?
The State’s vaccine information site includes some limited information on which essential workers fall into which phase, and can be viewed here. We have asked for clarification about exactly which essential workers fall into Phase 1C and which fall into Phase 2. We will update this answer as we receive more information, so please check back regularly.
If I don't get vaccinated when I first become eligible, will I get another chance?
Absolutely, as we continue a phase and move on to the next, anyone who was in a previous phase but who did not get vaccinated is still eligible.
If I don't want the vaccine but I am eligible, can I give my spot to someone in my family who isn't eligible yet?
No, you cannot “give” your spot to anyone else. Unless someone is eligible for the current phase, they cannot receive a vaccine.
How do I sign up to be vaccinated?
How will I know when it's my turn?
Caroline County will communicate when we are entering each phase the following ways:
On our COVID-19 website at www.carolinecovid19.org
Through the County government Twitter @CarolineMDgov
Through press releases and articles in the Star Democrat newspaper
Using the County’s Smart 911 System. It is important that you be registered at www.smart911.com and that your profile be complete, including all members of your household and their month and year of birth. Many of the public phases are defined by age and having your birth year in this system allows us to notify you directly when we get to your phase.
How do I register for a vaccine clinic?
Vaccine Clinic requirements:
All vaccine clinics require advanced registration.
Walk-ins will not be accepted.
You must be age-eligible and a resident of Caroline County.
Eligibility will be verified by ID at the Clinic, so do not sign up if you are not eligible. You will be turned away and will have taken a vaccine appointment that could have helped someone else.
Registered individuals will receive specific instructions regarding the Vaccine Clinic location and process at the time of registration.
About the Vaccine Clinics:
Currently scheduled clinics are full and registration is closed.
New clinics will be scheduled once we know vaccine distribution levels from the State.
We will have a limited number of doses each week.
Appointments will be filled on a first come, first served basis.
Advance registration will always be required.
The best way to know when you are eligible for a clinic and when appointments open up is to complete a profile at www.Smart911.com, including your month and year of birth.
Individuals may complete the registration on behalf of their senior family members but will need their personal information and medical history to do so.
What if I don't have an ID or my ID doesn't show my current Caroline County address?
Bring any form of identification that includes your name and physical address. This may include a utility bill or bank statement. You must be a resident of Caroline County to be vaccinated at one of our public clinics.
Will my insurance be billed? What if I don't have insurance? What is the cost?
The vaccine itself is provided free by the federal government, and there is no charge for vaccine administration at any government-run public clinic, including those run by the Caroline Health Department and County government.
In the future if vaccines are offered at primary care offices, your insurance may be billed for the cost of vaccine administration. However, it is expected that most insurance plans will cover the full cost with no direct expenses to the policy holder.
What if I need help getting to the vaccination site?
Can I get on a list to be notified directly?
If you are age 75 or older, you will be able to register for notifications. This information will be updated as soon as this service is available.
If you are under the age of 75, we are not creating a waiting list. We recommend that you create an account with the County alert system Smart911 at www.smart911.com. Be sure to complete your profile, including listing all members of your household and their month and year of birth. Most vaccine phases are defined by age. This is information the County does not have without your Smart911 profile. So while you may see public notifications, you would need to register within Smart911 to receive direct notification based on your age.
What do I need to bring with me?
Photo ID or other form of identification showing name and address
The cell phone you provided at the time of registration
Be prepared to answer questions about your medical history and any allergies.
What should I wear to be vaccinated?
Wear a short-sleeved shirt or comfortable, loose fitting clothing that allows you to expose your arm to receive the vaccine.
Can I bring someone with me to help me or support me while being vaccinated?
If you need someone to assist you for mobility reasons, you can bring one person into the clinic site with you. Minor children who cannot be left alone may also be brought with you. Anyone accompanying you must be wearing a face covering.
What is the process of being vaccinated?
Step 1: On the day of your appointment, arrive at least 5-10 minutes early. We request that you wait in your vehicle in the parking lot until notified it’s your turn.
Step 2: When the Clinic is ready to serve you, you will receive a text message asking you to enter the clinic site. Have your photo ID ready for check-In staff when they greet you. They will screen you for Temperature/Symptoms and medical history.
Step 3: Once checked-in, the next available Clinic staff will assist you and provide your vaccination. Please have your arm exposed for the Clinic staff.
Step 4: After receiving your vaccination, you will be provided a reminder card which lists your name, the vaccine received, the lot number, and the approximate date of your second dose appointment. Save this card for your records.
Step 5: Clinic staff will direct you to a separate waiting area. We ask that you remain in this area for at least 15 minutes so Clinic staff can monitor for adverse reactions, should they occur.
Step 6: After waiting 15 minutes, you may exit the Clinic site and return home.
What side effects might I experience?
You may experience some effects after being vaccinated. Generally, these mean that your body’s immune system is doing its job.
Side effects that have been reported with the Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine include:
Injection site reactions: pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, swelling (hardness), and redness
General side effects: fatigue, headache, chills, and fever
There is a remote chance that the Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose of the Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine. For this reason, your vaccination provider may ask you to stay at the place where you received your vaccine for monitoring after vaccination. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include:
Swelling of your face and throat
A fast heartbeat
A bad rash all over your body
Dizziness and weakness
Why is a second shot so important?
The vaccines were studied with a two-shot regimen and have proven to be highly effective if two shots are given. If you only get one shot, you are not getting the full protection of the vaccine.
Generally, when a vaccine requires two shots, the first shot helps your body recognize the virus and gets your immune system ready, while the second shot strengthens that immune response. This makes your body more prepared to fight infection.
How will I be notified when it's time for my second shot and when will I be notified?
After receiving your first dose of vaccine, you will be given a reminder card with the approximate date that you should receive your second dose (approximately 28 days after your first dose). Additionally, you will be sent a reminder via text and email using the phone number and email address that you use when you register for your first dose. Then, you simply register for an available clinic in the same manner in which you registered for your first dose.
Why do I still have to wear a mask and social distance after being vaccinated?
No vaccine is 100% effective. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, getting a COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
The following resources provide additional information about the COVID-19 vaccine: