Navigating COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated September 22, 2023 

At this point, the FDA and CDC have approved/authorized the 2023/2024 COVID-19 mRNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna. The authorization of Novavax is pending data submission by the manufacturer and is expected this fall.

Individuals age 6 months and older are eligible for the 2023/2024 COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, regardless of vaccination status. The dose must be administered 2 months or longer after your most recent COVID-19 vaccine

For individuals age 5 and older, one (1) dose of 2023/2024 COVID-19 vaccine is authorized regardless of your prior vaccination status. This vaccine can be of any brand and does not need to be the same brand you have received in the past.

For individuals age 6mo-4 years, the number of doses of the new vaccine will depend on previous vaccines received and should be of the same vaccine brand.

For immunocompromised individuals, an additional dose may be available in some circumstances.

The FDA approved the 2023/2024 vaccine on September 11, 2023.

Over time, the COVID-19 virus has mutated to form new variants. The new variants have differences in spike proteins, which are the target for vaccines. The 2023/2024 COVID-19 vaccine was developed to target the XBB.1.5 variant, which was the most common variant in June 2023. Based on the manufacturer studies, the 2023/2024 vaccines produce a boost to immunity for not only the XBB.1.5 variant, but other variants.

You may get the new COVID-19 2023/2024 vaccine and the flu shot at the same time. It is recommended that you get them in separate arms.

It is anticipated that there will be an updated COVID-19 vaccine each year, similar to the flu vaccine.

Riverside Health System will be offering Pfizer 2023/2024 COVID-19 vaccines for individuals 6mo and older at select location in early October.

Riverside Health System will be offering 2023/2024 COVID-19 vaccines through our primary care offices and at dedicated COVID-19 vaccine clinics. We anticipate starting to offer 2023/2024 COVID-19 vaccines in early October. At that time, you can schedule an appointment through myChart or

Effective this fall, COVID-19 vaccines are no longer provided by the federal government, but should be covered by your insurance plan. Riverside will bill your insurance for the vaccine and administration. For individuals without insurance, there is federal program to allow vaccines for all. This program will be offered through retail pharmacies, the health department and select health care providers. Riverside Health System plans to participate in this program.

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.

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 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.