Navigating COVID-19

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Frequently Asked Questions

Updated October 5, 2022

Three COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved for use in the United States to prevent COVID-19. Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (COVID-19 mRNA vaccines) are preferred. You may get Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in some situations.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA). Since granted emergency use authorization, the vaccines have been administered to millions of individuals worldwide.

After COVID-19 vaccination, some people may have no side effects. Others have reported mild side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination such as pain where the shot was given, fever, or tiredness. These usually last for a day or two after receiving the vaccine and are more common after the second dose of a Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building immunity. Commonly reported side effects after COVID-19 vaccination include:

  •  Swelling, redness, and pain at the injection site
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Nausea

You should get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you already had COVID-19.

Getting sick with COVID-19 offers some protection from future illness with COVID-19, sometimes called “natural immunity.” The level of protection people get from having COVID-19 may vary depending on how mild or severe their illness was, the time since their infection, and their age. No currently available test can reliably determine if a person is protected from infection.

All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine gives most people a high level of protection against COVID-19 even in people who have already been sick with COVID-19.

Emerging evidence shows that getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection to your immune system. One study showed that, for people who already had COVID-19, those who do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more than 2 times as likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get fully vaccinated after their recovery.

People who were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma or people who have a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults or children (MIS-A or MIS-C) may need to wait a while after recovering before they can get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable for your COVID-19 vaccine primary series. If you received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for your first shot, you should get the same product for your second shot.

Additional Primary Dose If You Are Immunocompromised

If you received a Pfizer-BioNTech (ages 12 and older) or Moderna (ages 18 and older) mRNA COVID-19 vaccine primary series and have a moderately or severely compromised immune system, you should receive an additional primary dose of the same mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after the second dose.

Additional primary doses are not interchangeable. The vaccine used for the additional primary dose should be the same as the vaccine used for the primary vaccine series. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.

Currently, CDC does not recommend an additional primary dose if you received a single-dose J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine or in children less than 12 years old with moderate or severely compromised immune systems.

The CDC recommendation is that individuals 12 years of age and older should get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine: for mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna), the booster dose is due 5 months after the primary series, for Janssen/Johnson and Johnson the booster dose is due 2 months after the primary series.

Those that are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received an additional (3rd dose) should also get a booster dose.

Bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card with you to your appointment if you need another shot of COVID-19 vaccine so your provider can fill in the information about your additional shot.

If you have lost your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card or don’t have a copy, contact your vaccination provider directly to access your vaccination record.

The CDC has approved COVID-19 vaccines for those 6 months of age and older. You can schedule your vaccination appointment today with Riverside Health System, even if you've not been a patient with Riverside before.

Use one of the links below to find an appointment that works for you. Or call 757-534-5050.

If you live on the Eastern Shore, please call (757) 442-6600 to schedule your vaccine appointment

Current Patients
General Public

Yes, those under the age of 18 have to have a parent or legal guardian with them when they receive the vaccine to give verbal approval.

How do I prepare for my vaccination?

Arrive as close to your appointment time as possible (5-10 minutes) to avoid long wait times. If you have mobility concerns, please come prepared with walkers, etc. to support needs.

Wear a short sleeve top with loose-fitting sleeves to allow for easy access for injection.

Let healthcare professionals know if you’ve received another vaccine (i.e. Shingles, Flu, etc.) in the past 14 days.

Avoid taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or NSAID (such as ibuprofen[Advil, Motrin] or naproxen [Aleve]) immediately before your vaccination. However, you may take these medications after receiving your vaccine to assist with managing any side effects such as headache, injection site pain or muscle/joint pain.

No. You do not have to be a patient of Riverside to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.

No. While there is currently more than one vaccine brand available, each has been vetted by the CDC and FDA for quality and safe use. Additionally, each vaccine has an efficacy rate higher than 70%, which is higher than the annual flu vaccine, and has been proven to be effective against COVID-19 variants.

Those ages 12-17 are currently only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine as their booster. However, those 18 and older are eligible for Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J. Which vaccine you receive is dependent on supplies at the time.

What You Need to Know.

At your first vaccination appointment, you should get a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it.

Keep your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card for future use. Consider taking a picture of your card after your vaccination appointment as a backup copy.

If you did not receive a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card at your first appointment, contact the vaccination provider site where you got your first shot or your state health department to find out how you can get a card.


What You Need to Know

People who are fully vaccinated can resume many activities they did before the pandemic. However, people should wear a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.