COVID-19 Vaccines: Information and Appointments

A hand holding a stack of "I got my COVID-19 Vaccine" stickers

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You’ll also find up-to-date information to help you make informed decisions for yourself and your family:

$100 gift cards

People who get a first- or single-dose vaccine shot at an OHSU vaccination site will have a chance to get a $100 Fred Meyer or Safeway gift card. Cards will be given first-come, first-serve while supplies last at the following sites. (Ages 12 to 17 will get a card with permission from a parent or guardian.) See location information lower on this page for hours and available vaccines.

Walk-in/drive-up vaccinations — no appointment needed

OHSU is holding community vaccination events across the Portland area in June and July. All community members ages 12 and older are welcome to get a vaccine, without an appointment. (Ages 12-14 need to come with a parent/guardian or with written permission from a parent/guardian.)

Vaccines are free of charge. Appointments are also available for those who prefer one.

Walk-in/drive-up vaccinations are also available at the following. See location information lower on this page for days and hours.

Questions? Need help?

  • Call your OHSU clinic or reach our call center at 833-647-8222, weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Comuníquese con nuestro centro de atención llamando al 833-647-8222, de lunes a viernes, de 8 a. m. a 5 p. m.
  • Hãy liên lạc tổng đài của chúng tôi theo số 833-647-8222 , các ngày trong tuần 8 giờ sáng đến 5 giờ chiều
  • С нашим колл-центром можно связаться по номеру 833-647-8222 в будние дни с 8 a.m. до 5 p.m.
  • تواصل مع مركز الاتصالات الخاص بنا على الرقم 8222-647-833 ، طوال أيام العمل الأسبوعية من الساعة 8 صباحًا إلى الساعة 5 مساءً

Unsure about getting a vaccine?

We've gathered FAQ and other information for you to consider. We want to help you make the best decision for yourself and your family.

OHSU COVID Vaccine Tool

  • Appointments are available at no cost for people ages 12 and older.
  • For ages 12-14: People ages 12-14 must be signed up for an appointment by a parent/guardian (if making an appointment instead of coming to a drive-up or walk-in site). They also must come to the vaccination with a parent/guardian OR with written permission for a vaccine from a parent/guardian.
  • For ages 15-17: Under Oregon law, those who are at least 15 do not need a parent/guardian to consent to medical care. They may make an appointment (or choose a drive-up or walk-in site) and come to a vaccination alone.
  • People with mobility issues: The drive-through PDX Airport Red Economy Lot and Hillsboro Stadium sites are best because you don’t have to leave your car.
  • IMPORTANT: Please bring your insurance card, if you have one, to your appointment. You will not pay anything for your vaccine, but we may bill your insurance. Also, please do not come to your appointment if you are sick. Learn more in our "Prepare for your appointment" section.

Need help? Call 833-647-8222 weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

More vaccine tools

If you got your shot at an OHSU site (except for the Oregon Convention Center):

  • Log into your MyChart account.
    • Laptop/desktop: Click "Menu." Under the "My Record" heading, click "Health Summary." (Or type "Vaccination" in the search field.) Open the "Immunizations" tab.  In the box listing your COVID vaccination, click "View details" to open it. Then click the printer icon in the upper right corner to print it. 
    • On a tablet or smartphone: Tap "Menu." Under the "My Record" heading, tap "Health Summary." Tap the "Immunizations" icon (at the bottom of the screen, in the middle) to see your record.
  • If you don’t have a MyChart account, call us at 833-647-8222 to have your record printed and mailed to you.

If you got your shot at the Oregon Convention Center:

  • Log into your Legacy MyHealth account. Go to the menu.  Under "My Record," you will find COVID-19 with your vaccination record. 

OHSU students and employees:

  • Log into the OHSU Occupational Health Portal  and look for “Print COVID Record.” Please note that if you want your COVID record to be included in your overall medical records, you will need to share it with your primary care provider.

Others:

You can schedule your second vaccine dose with OHSU even if you got your first dose elsewhere.

Call 833-647-8222, weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to schedule.

  • Bring proof of your first dose to your appointment. You cannot get a second dose from OHSU without it.
  • You must call to schedule. These appointments are not available online.
  • Your appointment will be at the PDX Airport Red Economy Lot.
  • If you already have a second appointment elsewhere but decide to come to OHSU, please cancel the other appointment.

Getting your first dose at an OHSU site? You will schedule your second dose at the appointment for your first one. This process isn’t changing.

The CDC's VaccineFinder tool helps you find vaccines in your area. Just enter your ZIP code.

You can also find the tool and more information on the Oregon Health Authority's "How to find a COVID-19 Vaccine in Oregon" page.

The Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Spotter tool will help you look for appointments at Oregon pharmacies. (Go to VaccineSpotter.org to use the tool for other states.)

You can also check pharmacy sites. Walk-in vaccinations and same-day appointments are available.

Text your ZIP code to 438229 (GETVAX), and you'll get a list of nearby locations with vaccines. Find more information at Vaccines.gov.

Information and help

Gov. Kate Brown announced a lottery for Oregonians who get at least one vaccine shot by midnight June 27.

People ages 18 and older will have a chance to win one $1 million prize or one of 36 $10,000 prizes, one for each county. People ages 12 to 17 will have a chance to win one of five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarships.

Oregonians will be entered automatically, with protections for patient privacy. The drawing will be June 28.

The “Take Your Shot Oregon” campaign is a joint effort by the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Lottery and the Oregon State Treasury. It will be paid for with $1.86 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Act money. Learn more.

You can now get a free ride with Uber or Lyft to get vaccinated. The program, a partnership with the White House, runs through July 4.

Lyft: Download the app or visit Lyft’s website. The company will cover rides, costing up to $15 each, to and from a vaccination site between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Uber: Download the app and tap the vaccine icon. The company will cover rides, costing up to $25 each, to and from a vaccination site between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

(OHSU employees can get a code from OHSU Occupational Health.)

Find the Lyft app:

Find the Uber app:

For people enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan:

  • Ride to Care (Health Share of Oregon members): 503-416-3955 or 855-321-4899
  • MTM (Trillium members): 877-583-1552
  • Tri-County MedLink (Oregon Health Plan Fee for Service members): 800-889-8726

For some others:

  • Ride Connection (weekdays, older adults and people with disabilities in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties): 503-226-0700
  • TriMet LIFT (people unable to use regular buses and trains because of disability; enroll before scheduling): 503-962-8000
  • One Call (Providence Medicare members): 866-733-8994
  • Text ORCOVID to 898211 for updates (English and Spanish only)
  • Email ORCOVID@211info.org
  • Call 211 or 866-698-6155, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day
  • TTY: Call 711 or 866-698-6155
  • Help for people with disabilities or who speak a language other than English: Call 971-673-2411 or email COVID19.LanguageAccess@dhsoha.state.or.us

OHSU vaccination locations

PDX Airport Red Economy Lot

This is a drive-through site. You are welcome to drive up without an appointment. 

Vaccine: Pfizer (ages 12+)

Drive-up hours are:

  • Saturday, June 12: 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 13: 8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 19: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
A traffic controller directs cars through the PDX airport vaccination site

Address:
Red Economy Parking Lot

Portland International Airport
10105 N.E. Airport Way
Portland, OR 97220

Directions: From Airport Way, follow signs to Economy Parking and then to the Red Lot.

Partners: OHSU, Port of Portland, American Red Cross

Overhead map of the red lot economy parking area at the Portland Airport (PDX).
Tap or click image to view full size.

Hillsboro Stadium

This is a drive-through site. You are welcome to drive up without an appointment. 

Vaccine: Pfizer (ages 12+)

Drive-up hours are:

  • Thursday, June 17: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Friday, June 18: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Monday, June 21: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 22: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 23: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Friday, June 25: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This site closes June 25. Those who get first doses at the site in June will be scheduled for the second dose at a Hillsboro Medical Center location.

Personas muestran sus curitas después de recibir la vacuna contra el COVID-19.

Address:
4450 N.E. Century Blvd.
Hillsboro, OR 97124

Partners: OHSU, Hillsboro Medical Center

OHSU Primary Care Clinic at Scappoose

This is an indoor site.

Scappoose Family Medicine Building

Address:
51377 Old Portland Road
Crossroads Plaza, Unit C

Scappoose, OR 97056

Partners: OHSU, Columbia County

OHSU Multnomah Pavilion

This is an indoor site. Walk-ins are welcome, no appointment needed. You can also make an appointment if you prefer.

Vaccine: Pfizer (ages 12+) 

  • Sunday, June 13: 8:15 a.m. to noon
  • Sunday, June 20: 8:15 a.m. to noon 
  • Sunday, June 27: 8:15 a.m. to noon
  • Sunday, July 11: 8:15 a.m. to noon
  • Sunday, July 18: 8:15 a.m. to noon
  • Sunday, July 25: 8:15 a.m. to noon
A person receives the COVID-19 vaccination at OHSU Multnomah Pavilion.

Address:
Multnomah Pavilion
3161 S.W. Pavilion Loop
Portland, OR 97239

Free parking: Go to Parking Garage B in the Physicians Pavilion. Map and directions.

Transit: Public transportation is available, but the Portland Aerial Tram is closed on Sundays.

OHSU clinics at Richmond (Southeast Portland)

These are indoor sites.

OHSU Primary Care Clinic at Richmond

OHSU Primary Care Clinic Richmond building photo

Address:
3930 S.E. Division St.
Portland, OR 97202

OHSU Immediate Care Clinic at Richmond

OHSU Primary Care Immediate Care Clinic Richmond building

Address:
4212 S.E. Division St.
Portland, OR 97206

Oregon Convention Center

  • This is an indoor site.
  • Single-dose vaccinations (Johnson & Johnson, ages 18+) and second doses (Pfizer, ages 12+) will be given until June 19, then the site will close.
  • Find walk-in hours at all4oregon.org.
A person receives the COVID-19 vaccination at the Oregon Convention Center vaccine site

Address:
777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Portland, OR 97232

Partners: OHSU, Kaiser Permanente, Providence, Legacy Health

Learn more about what to expect at this site.

Prepare for your OHSU vaccination appointment (first, second or single dose)

Insurance card: You will receive a vaccine at no cost to you. You also do not need to have health insurance. If you do have insurance, please bring your insurance card to your appointment. Vaccine providers are allowed to charge your insurance company an administration fee. You will not be charged. If you do get any kind of bill, do not pay.

QR code: If we email you a QR code, please bring it with you to streamline your appointment. You can print it out or have it on your phone.

If it’s your second dose and your first dose was elsewhere: Bring proof of your first dose. You cannot get a second dose without it.

Don’t come if you are sick:  Please do not come to your appointment if you are sick or have symptoms that could be from COVID-19.

What to wear: Wear something that makes it easy to expose an upper arm for your shot.

When to arrive: Please don't come early; early arrivals can create long lines for everyone. Exception: Family members who have appointments on the same day may choose one of the times and come together. 

Who can come with you:

  • Drive-through sites: You can have support people and family members in the car with you. They may also be able to get a vaccine.
  • Indoor sites: You can bring a support person. This person may be able to get a vaccine, too. 
  • Animals: Service animals are allowed. Please leave pets home.

What to expect at your OHSU vaccination appointment

Directions: Greeters will direct you through the process. 

Accommodations for disabilities and language: When you arrive, ask any staff member for any of the following. You can also ask about other accommodations or modifications, and we'll do our best to grant them.

  • Personal amplification device
  • Language interpreter services
  • Whiteboard
  • Clear face masks
  • Braille and large-print vaccine information 
  • Vaccine information in languages other than English

Observation: After your shot, you will be asked to wait in an observation area for either 15 or 30 minutes to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction.

Second dose (if applicable): The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses — Pfizer after three or four weeks, and Moderna after four. At OHSU sites, you will schedule your second dose at your first appointment. If your first dose was elsewhere, you can schedule your second dose with your original provider, or you can call 833-647-8222 to schedule with OHSU.

Side effects: Learn about possible side effects and where to report them in the FAQ section below.

Why aren’t vaccine providers wearing gloves? Gloves are not required for vaccinating, and medical gloves are in short supply. Regulators and medical experts agree that proper hand hygiene is an appropriate option instead. Learn more in the FAQ section below.

Safety after your vaccination: You won't be fully vaccinated until it's been at least two weeks since your one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or since your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. During this time, you should continue wearing a mask, staying 6 feet from others and washing your hands often.

  • Language help: Interpreters will be available if you speak a language other than English.
  • Ayuda en otros idiomas: Habrá intérpretes disponibles si habla un idioma que no sea inglés
  • Trợ giúp ngôn ngữ Sẽ có thông dịch viên nếu quý vị nói một ngôn ngữ không phải tiếng Anh.
  • Языковая поддержка: Если вы не говорите на английском языке, будут доступны услуги устного перевода. 
  • 语言协助:如果您讲英语以外的其他语言,可以为您提供口译员。 
  • المساعدة اللغوية: سيُتاح مترجمون فوريون إذا كنت تتحدث لغة أخرى غير اللغة الإنجليزية

How OHSU is vaccinating Oregonians

At OHSU, Oregon’s public academic health center, getting Oregonians vaccinated as quickly as possible is mission No. 1.

  • OHSU is deploying leaders and thousands of employees to focus on vaccinations.
  • We are working with partners, including other health systems, to run mass-vaccination sites. 
  • We have added vaccines to OHSU outreach vans that travel to rural areas.
  • OHSU teams are doing outreach and holding events to make sure vulnerable and underserved communities are vaccinated.

Learn more: OHSU steps up to vaccinate Oregon

Benefits of getting a vaccine

An OHSU provider prepares a vaccine dose.
An OHSU provider prepares a vaccine dose.

A vaccine helps protect you: A vaccine will make you much less likely to get COVID-19. If you do get COVID-19, health experts expect the vaccine to make you less likely to become seriously ill.

You can resume most activities without a mask or physical distancing: Once you are fully vaccinated, you can go back to most activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet from others.  The CDC relaxed guidelines, and Oregon followed suit. “Fully vaccinated” means it’s been at least two weeks since your one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or since your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Getting vaccinated helps protect those around you: If you avoid getting sick, you are less likely to spread the virus to others. This includes people in your family and people at high risk of becoming seriously ill.

Vaccination is a safer way to get immunity: You may develop natural immunity by getting  COVID-19, but we don’t know how well this will protect you or how long this natural immunity may last. COVID-19 is unpredictable and can cause serious illness and death, so gaining immunity through infection is not as safe as being vaccinated. Also, getting sick puts you at higher risk of infecting others.

Vaccines can help end the pandemic: Over time, vaccines help populations safely develop immunity. Once enough people are vaccinated, the coronavirus won’t be able to widely spread, ending the pandemic. People who haven’t been vaccinated (such as babies) will also be protected because those around them won’t have the virus. 

In Oregon, you'll be entered into a lottery: Oregonians who get at least one vaccine shot by midnight June 27 will be automatically entered into a June 28 lottery. Those ages 18 and older can win a $1 million prize, or one of 36 $10,000 prizes (one in each county). Those ages 12 to 17 can win one of five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarships.

COVID-19 vaccine FAQ

General

  • Every Oregonian age 12 and older is eligible for a vaccine.
  • A vaccine will help protect you and your family from getting COVID-19.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency-use authorization to three vaccines: by Pfizer-BioNTech, by Moderna and by Johnson & Johnson.
  • The Pfizer vaccine is approved for ages 12 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for ages 18 and older. The FDA needs more data to know if the vaccines are safe for younger people.
  • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses — Pfizer's three to four weeks apart and Moderna's four weeks apart. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is one dose.
  • If you miss the recommended time frame for your second dose, schedule it as soon as you can. You do not have to start over with another first dose. Learn more in the FAQ below titled "I missed the recommended time frame for my second dose. Should I still get it?"
  • Experts have placed a high priority on making sure the vaccines are safe and effective. All three vaccines approved so far were found to be highly effective in clinical trials.
  • Vaccines are provided at no cost to you. The federal government is buying doses to provide free of charge.
  • It’s important to continue safety practices until you are fully vaccinated (two weeks after your final dose): Wear a mask, maintain physical distance, and wash your hands often.

All three vaccines spur the body to make antibodies that specifically fight the coronavirus. Antibodies are made by white blood cells and are part of the immune system — the body’s system to fight infection.

Pfizer and Moderna:

These vaccines send a snippet of genetic material from the coronavirus — instructions called messenger RNA or mRNA — into  cells. The instructions tell the cells to make a harmless spike protein like the one on the coronavirus.

The body’s immune system recognizes that this protein doesn’t belong here. It activates white blood cells to form the infection-fighting antibodies. The immune system also remembers the spike protein, so it's ready to fight the real coronavirus should it become present in the body.

Once the proteins are made, the body destroys the mRNA.

Johnson & Johnson: 

This is a viral vector vaccine. Specifically, it’s a type called an adenovirus vector vaccine or an adenovector vaccine.

Like the mRNA vaccines, the vaccine uses a snippet of genetic material from the coronavirus to tell cells to make spike proteins. The spike proteins activate the immune system.

In this case, though, instructions are in DNA delivered in a virus called an adenovirus. Normally, this virus causes the common cold. It is NOT the coronavirus.

The adenovirus is genetically altered. The virus cannot make copies of itself, and it cannot cause illness. The virus is just a carrier (vector). The DNA cannot change your DNA.

After vaccination with any of these vaccines:

  • If you contract the coronavirus, your immune system is better able to attack it, making you less likely to develop COVID-19.
  • Based on knowledge of other illnesses, health experts expect that if you do develop COVID-19, you will be less likely to become seriously ill.
  • Your immune system knows how to fight the coronavirus without having come in contact with it.

Learn more:

Learn how COVID-19 vaccines work, why OHSU experts are confident they’re safe, and why they recommend getting one.

To start your protection as soon as possible, you should be vaccinated as soon as possible. This means getting any of the vaccines that are available to you.

You can look on this page, in the information with each vaccination site, to see the vaccine(s) available at each site. You can also filter by vaccine in the CDC VaccineFinder tool. 

The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have all been found to be highly effective. In addition, any new vaccine must be found to offer good protection against COVID-19 to win FDA authorization. The FDA also continues monitoring vaccines to see how they perform.

  • To start your protection as soon as possible, you should get vaccinated as soon as possible. That means getting any of the three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson) that are available to you.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective at preventing serious illness and death.
  • OHSU is using all three vaccines. All three are safe, effective and free of charge. They are all essential to meeting our goal of vaccinating as many Oregonians as quickly as possible.
  • The three vaccines can’t be directly compared because they were studied at different times, in different geographic areas, with different infection rates, and with different circulating variants.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one dose. That makes it convenient for anyone who would find it hard to attend two appointments.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not need ultra-cold storage, making it an option for more areas.
  • OHSU posts on this page which vaccines are in use; scroll up to see information for each vaccination site. We also tell people which vaccine is available when they arrive at a vaccination site so they can make an informed decision.

The 10-day pause in using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine:

  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused for 10 days in April after six women (the tally later rose to 15) developed dangerous blood clots.
  • The women, nearly all ages 18 to 49,  were among more than 8 million people who had gotten the vaccine at that point.
  • The CDC and the FDA concluded that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks. CDC and FDA leaders also called the risk of blood clots extremely small.
  • The vaccine now has updated fact sheets for health care providers and for those getting the vaccine.
  • The pause was a reassuring sign that national vaccine safety monitoring is working well to identify potential complications.

What should you do if you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

  • See the fact sheet for people who get the vaccine. It outlines possible complications and when to seek care.
  • See the fact sheet for health care providers. It includes how to identify and treat adverse reactions, including blood clots.
  • Anyone who has health issues after getting a vaccine from OHSU can call our hotline at 833-647-8222.

All three vaccines are highly effective, health experts say. The three vaccines did report different efficacy rates, though, and you may have concerns about that.

Let’s take a look:

  • Johnson & Johnson reported an efficacy rate of 66%. Pfizer and Moderna reported rates of about 95%. The efficacy rate is the reduction in any severity of illness, during clinical trials, among those who got the vaccine compared with those who didn’t.
  • But health experts say the vaccines can’t be compared apples-to-apples. The vaccines were tested in different ways and at different times. Johnson & Johnson’s was tested later, for example, after more-contagious variants had emerged.
  • On the most important measures — preventing hospitalization and death — Johnson & Johnson had a 100% efficacy rate. That means no one who received the vaccine in clinical trials died or needed hospital care because of COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine also had an 85% efficacy rate for preventing severe illness.

Overall, health experts advise getting whichever vaccine is available to you first. Speed is especially important as variants emerge and spread.

Learn more: 

Dr. Dawn Nolt, an OHSU expert on infectious diseases, addresses the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in a clip from a March 9 presentation.

Yes. If you got a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, it’s important to get your second shot, or booster. This makes sure that your vaccination is as effective as possible. Schedule your second dose as soon as you can. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is just one dose.)

It’s also important to know:

  • There is no maximum time between doses.
  • OHSU has no limit on how long after a first shot people can schedule a second.
  • OHSU recommends second doses:
    • 19-35 days after your first Pfizer dose (Pfizer recommends three weeks, or 21 days).
    • 25-35 days after your first Moderna dose (Moderna recommends four weeks, or 28 days).
  • The CDC updated its guidelines to recommend second doses — when a delay is unavoidable — up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose.
  • Even if you miss all these windows, you don’t have to start over by repeating a first dose. Just get your second dose.
  • There is little data on how well mRNA vaccines (like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) work when the second dose is more than six weeks after the first. That means it’s not known whether waiting longer makes the vaccine more effective, less effective or causes no change.

Learn more:

The Pfizer vaccine is now approved for ages 12 and older. 

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are testing their vaccines in ages 12 to 17 but haven’t announced results or sought FDA approval for this age group.

All three vaccine makers gained emergency-use authorization from the FDA to use their vaccines in older people. Pfizer first gained approval for ages 16 and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have approval for ages 18 and older.

Vaccines are tested in adults first to make sure they are safe and effective. Then they are tested in older children, then in younger children.

Pfizer and Moderna also have clinical trials underway to test vaccines in children ages 6 months to 12 years. Pfizer plans to seek FDA approval in September to use its vaccine in ages 2 to 11. Moderna expects results in 2022, CEO Stephane Bancel has said.

Medical gloves are in short supply worldwide. Oregon would need millions of additional pairs if gloves were used for all vaccinations.

In addition, under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, providers are not required to wear them for COVID-19 vaccinations. Except in special cases, providers can clean their hands between each recipient instead.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices agree that hand hygiene can replace glove use.

Learn more: 

The Reason Why Nurses Don’t Wear Gloves When Giving COVID-19 Vaccine Explained

Yes. It's possible to get COVID-19 again, which can result in serious illness.

In addition, experts don’t know how long people can expect to be immune after having COVID-19. The CDC said early evidence suggests it’s not very long.

Scientists don’t know yet. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, estimates the U.S. will reach population immunity (also called herd immunity) when 75-80% of the population has been vaccinated. This is the point at which enough people have immunity to keep the coronavirus from easily spreading.

Vaccine safety

Health and government experts are confident the vaccines are as safe as possible.

The FDA’s emergency-use authorization makes a vaccine or other treatment available quickly in a crisis. It is not full FDA approval. Vaccines are also being developed in months instead of years.

To get emergency authorization, though, vaccines have gone through three phases of clinical trials (tests on people) involving tens of thousands of participants. Clinical trials must follow rigorous rules for safety and oversight.

The FDA, CDC and other government agencies have many systems to monitor the vaccines for any safety issues that didn’t turn up in the trials. They can act quickly if a problem is spotted. Tools include v-safe, which lets people use a smartphone to report any side effects to the CDC.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, is among health officials who say speed did not sacrifice safety. “The speed was the reflection of extraordinary advances in the science of vaccine platform technology,” Dr. Fauci told ABC.

Learn more:

The CDC is investigating whether rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) are related to COVID-19 vaccines.

A small number of people nationwide have developed myocarditis after getting an mRNA vaccine (the type made by Pfizer and Moderna).

It’s important to know:

  • Reported cases of myocarditis after vaccination are very rare.
  • Most cases are mild.
  • The CDC does not yet know if vaccines are the cause. Myocarditis has many causes.
  • The CDC has not changed its guidance on who’s eligible for a vaccine. Every Oregonian ages 12 and older remains eligible.

The CDC says cases seem to be:

  • Mostly in teens and young adults. 
  • More often in males.
  • More often after the second dose.
  • Typically within four days after vaccination.

Anyone with these symptoms should get medical care right away, regardless of whether they got a vaccine:

  • Chest pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart racing

If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine or potential side effects, including myocarditis, talk to your primary care provider or another trusted health care professional.

No. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines do not contain live virus. That makes it impossible to get COVID-19 from a vaccine.

Although mRNA vaccines have not been widely used against an infectious disease before, they have been used in cancer treatments. Researchers have also been working with mRNA vaccines for years in studies of the flu, Zika and other illnesses.

The mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 have been developed with the same rigorous standards applied to all vaccines.

No. DNA is in the nucleus of cells, protected by the nuclear membrane. The mRNA does not enter the nucleus, and it does not affect or interact with DNA. In addition, mRNA from a vaccine cannot be made into DNA that could change a person's DNA.  

Viral vector vaccines have been studied since the 1970s. Two Ebola vaccines are viral vector vaccines. The vaccines have also been used in clinical trials against viruses that include the Zika virus, HIV and flu viruses. 

In addition, all COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S. were developed with the same rigorous standards applied to all vaccines.

No. Unlike with mRNA vaccines, the genetic material (DNA) does enter the cell’s nucleus. But the cell only reads the instructions. The DNA cannot interact, alter or combine with your DNA.

Side effects and after vaccination

You can expect mainly mild to moderate side effects such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches and pains

In clinical trials, side effects tended to be higher after the second dose, and less for those older than 65.

Side effects can be managed with:

  • Rest
  • Drinking fluids
  • Fever-reducing medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

Call your health care provider if you have side effects that bother you or that don't go away.

Learn more:

What to Expect after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine, CDC

Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital if you have a severe allergic reaction such as:

  • Swelling of the throat and mouth
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Blue skin or lips
  • Fainting

Call your health care provider if you have side effects that bother you or that don’t go away.

Learn more:

COVID-19 Vaccines and Allergic Reactions, CDC

Health officials are tracking side effects as part of widespread efforts to monitor vaccine safety. You can report side effects to:

  • The FDA/CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS): Visit the VAERS website or call 1-800-822-7967.
  • V-safe: Learn how to use the CDC’s new v-safe smartphone tool.

It depends on the situation.

You should wear a mask:

  • Until you are fully vaccinated. That happens after it’s been at least two weeks since your one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or since your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
  • If required under local rules, including guidance for workplaces and businesses, and if a business asks you to.
  • On public transit and at travel hubs such as airports and bus stations.
  • When going to the doctor, and at hospitals and long-term care facilities. (Masks are required at OHSU hospitals and clinics, for example.)
  • In group settings such as homeless shelters, jails and prisons.

You can go without a mask and keeping 6 feet from others:

You will NOT be charged anything for a vaccine, and you do not need health insurance to get a vaccine.

If you do have health insurance, though, providers are allowed to charge your insurance company an administration fee. This fee may temporarily appear in your MyChart account as it is processed. You will NOT be billed.

Pregnancy, breastfeeding and women's health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you get vaccinated.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky gave the updated advice at a White House briefing April 23. She said data from vaccine-monitoring systems found no safety concerns among 35,000 women in their third trimester. Early findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The agency had been advising people to talk with their pregnancy provider because scientists had little information about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy. Pregnant people were not included in clinical trials.

Walensky said the decision remains personal, and she encouraged people to still talk with their doctors and primary care providers about “what is best for them and for their baby.”

Health experts have noted that pregnant people have:

  • A higher risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19.
  • A higher risk of premature birth or other pregnancy complications if they get COVID-19 while pregnant.

They also advise considering:

  • Your risk of being exposed to the coronavirus.
  • Whether you have any other medical condition that could put you at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Learn more:

Vaccination Considerations for People who are Pregnant or Breastfeeding, CDC

OHSU experts recommend that you talk with your health care provider. The CDC says people who are both breastfeeding and in a high-priority group recommended for vaccination, such as health care workers, may choose to be vaccinated.

There is no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in people who are breastfeeding, in breast milk or in breastfeeding infants. Breastfeeding people were not part of clinical trials. The CDC says, though, that mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to breastfeeding infants.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that vaccination be offered to people who are breastfeeding under the same guidelines as for people who aren’t.

Learn more:

Vaccination Considerations for People who are Pregnant or Breastfeeding, CDC

For some people, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is followed by swelling in lymph nodes under the arm where they got the shot.

The swelling is a normal sign that your body is building protection against COVID-19. It could cause a false result on a mammogram, though. If you are due for a mammogram, we recommend that you:

  • Get your mammogram before your vaccine.
  • Or wait at least four weeks after your Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines

An OHSU health care worker is vaccinated for COVID-19
An OHSU health care worker is vaccinated.

Questions? Need help?

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