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The vaccines can protect you from getting severe COVID-19

Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your community healthy.

Vax and Relax.

COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications. If you get sick, you might spread the disease to friends, family, coworkers, and everyone around you.

If you’ve had the virus, you may have some natural protection, known as immunity, but we don’t know how long this protection lasts. The COVID-19 vaccinations will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.

Wearing masks and social distancing will reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

(April 23, 2021) CCDPH resumes distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Please click here for more information.

We are committed to equity.

CCDPH is committed to an equitable distribution of vaccine, with an emphasis on communities that have been most dramatically impacted by COVID such as senior citizens and traditionally underserved populations. Click here to see CCDPH’s White Paper on our commitment to vaccine equity

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COVID Vaccine FAQs

Read below for the common questions and answers related to the COVID-19 vaccination.

Getting the vaccine

Where can I get the vacciine?

The vaccines are widely available—you can get a vaccine at one of CCDPH partner locations/pharmacies, doctor’s offices, or one of CCH’s larger vaccination sites. In most cases, appointments aren’t necessary and you can simply walk in. There are mobile vaccination events and pop-ups happening daily—click here to see if the vaccine is coming to your neighborhood.

Do I need an ID or Insurance?

We are asking for identification and insurance information if you have them. The vaccine is free and you do not need to be insured to receive a vaccine. Any insurance information is used by the partner site for re-imbursement purposes. There are no out-of-pocket fees.

Is the vaccine free?

The vaccine is free. You do not need to be insured to receive a vaccine. We ask for insurance information so that partner sites can use it for reimbursement for administration. There is no out-of-pocket fee.

Can I call to make an appointment?
Yes, for people without internet or computer access, a call center is available. The call center will be open Monday through Friday 7am to 7pm. The number is 1-833-308-1988.
Can the sites take walk-ins?

Many sites and local pop-up vaccination events are taking walk-ins.

How will patients be notified for 2nd shots?

This varies by site. Some will have you schedule your second dose at the same time as the first. Some will have you schedule during your first appointment. Some may send follow up links with information about how to schedule your second dose. Please make sure to have all of your questions answered about this at your first appointment.

If you receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, only one dose is required.

Can you be undocumented? Is a SSN required?

All residents of Cook County are eligible to be vaccinated, included undocumented residents. The vaccine is free and nobody should charge you for the vaccine dose or ask for your social security number.

Will my personal information by shared with others?

Your private health information is secured and always kept completely confidential. We will not ask for your social security number. We will not share your name with anyone, including law enforcement, debt collection agencies, or immigration.

Our health department will not share personal information with any other health departments or any other government or private entities. We will share more general information, such as changes in the number of people who are sick or and racial and other inequities, with the public and our partners.

How quickly will I be protected from COVID after receiving the vaccine?

Similar to the flu vaccine, it will take a few weeks ​after completing the COVID-vaccine before your body builds up the immune response to protect against COVID-19. ​If you receive a 2-dose vaccine, the full immune response is not completed until a few weeks after the 2nd dose. Even with the high efficacy of the vaccines, no vaccine is 100% protective. CCDPH still recommends mask wearing when you are in large crowds, surrounded by people you don’t know, or are inside a public place. Social distancing and washing your hands frequently are also good ideas,even if you have received the vaccine.

Who will know if I get vaccinated?

Information collected when you get the vaccine follows all HIPPA privacy requirements. The health department or medical provider will retain some information for dose tracking purposes. No information is shared with non-public health agencies.

Can I just get one of the vaccine doses?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two doses. One dose will not give you the same level of immunity. 

Once I have the vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask and social distance?
Even after someone has been vaccinated the individual should continue to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. While we know the vaccines protect the individual from contracting COVID, but we do not know if it prevents spreading COVID. As more people receive the vaccine, we may be able to dial back these measures.
Can I pick which vaccine I get?

At this time individuals cannot choose which vaccine they receive.

When can life return to normal?

Widespread vaccination and lower case-counts has allowed suburban Cook County ​to dial back restrictions set in place to slow the spread of COVID. This is subject to change if case counts increase.

Vaccine Safety

Is the vaccine safe?

All vaccines in Illinois are being distributed because they are deemed safe. The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have completed the multiple stages of clinical trials to meet Emergency approval.

Official FDA approval is expected to occur around November after enough data has been collected during the Emergency distribution phase to accommodate the stringent FDA regulations.

Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.

Messenger RNA vaccines—also called mRNA vaccines—are the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States. mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. 

At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. That immune response and making antibodies is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

Is the vaccine effective?

Pfizer has reported preliminary data that demonstrates their vaccine is 95% effective. Moderna has reported preliminary data that demonstrates their vaccine is 94.1% effective.

The CDC is working to make sure vaccine effectiveness assessments include diverse groups of people, such as healthcare personnel, essential workers, older adults, and those living in nursing homes, people with underlying medical conditions, racial and ethnic minority groups, and tribal nations. It is important to measure how well COVID-19 vaccines work in groups of people who are at increased risk of getting COVID- 19, as well as in those who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

Has the vaccine been approved by the FDA?

The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 11, 2020. They will decide on the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17, 2020.

What does Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) mean?

In an emergency, like a pandemic, it may not be possible to have all the evidence that the FDA would usually have before approving a drug, device, or a test. When there is a declared emergency, the FDA can allow the use of a product, like a vaccine, before full approval by issuing an Emergency Use Authorization or EUA.

After the requisite determination and declaration have been issued, and after feasible and appropriate consultations, FDA may issue an EUA only if FDA concludes that the following four statutory criteria for issuance have been met.

  1. Serious or Life-Threatening Disease or Condition
  2. Evidence of Effectiveness
  3. Risk-Benefit Analysis
  4. No Alternatives

More information on EUA is available on the FDA website.

How was the vaccine developed so quickly?

The COVID-19 vaccine was developed through the Health and Human Services’ Operation Warp Speed. No safety measures were cut in its design, testing or manufacturing. A focus was placed on early manufacturing and the use of new technologies so as soon as the vaccine was deemed safe by the appropriate agencies, distribution could begin. More information about Operation Warp Speed is on the HHS’ website.

Who was represented in the clinical trials?

Pfizer’s clinical trial enrolled 43,000+ participants with 42% globally having racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Moderna’s 30,000 trial ​included participants from minority communities, including 6,000 Hispanic and 3,000 Black participants. AstraZeneca’s initial trial data included participants from Brazil and the United Kingdom while the company continues to conduct trials in South Africa, Kenya, Latin America, Japan, Russia and the United States.

I have more questions about vaccine safety.

Please visit this page and this page on the CDC’s website for more additional questions and answers about vaccine safety.

Community Vaccine Sites

Where are the community vaccination sites located?
Can my organization partner with CCDPH to host a vaccination clinic?

CCDPH has released a registration form for community organizations (such as adult daycare, community center, employer, senior housing, shelter, place of worship, or other large institution) that would like to work with CCDPH to organize on-site vaccinations. A mobile vaccination unit may be sent to your site to run an onsite vaccination clinic to vaccinate ONLY pre-registered staff/residents/clients. Given that vaccine supply is highly limited, CCDPH will prioritize requests based on COVID-19 impact and vulnerability.

To qualify for mobile team assistance, you must:

  1. Employ or serve individuals in Phase 1b with limited resources or access to care within suburban Cook County (excluding Evanston, Skokie, Oak Park, or Stickney Township).
  2. Have a secure space to conduct vaccination while maintaining social distancing
  3. Support clinics for COVID-19 vaccination doses 1 and 2
  4. Support setting up appointments and pre-register staff/clients

To register, please visit the Community Vaccination Program website, and click the “Organization Sign-Up” link on the right side of the menu bar.

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