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COVID Vaccine FAQs

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

Community Vaccine Sites

Who are the community vaccination sites for?

The community vaccination sites are for people living or working in suburban Cook County, who are in the Phase 1a or Phase 1b vaccination groups. This includes people over the age of 65, essential workers, healthcare personnel, and people living in long-term care facilities. For more details about who is eligible for vaccination, please see this page.

Is an appointment required?

Yes, an appointment is required. Cook County Health will release new appointments every Friday at noon for the following week based on the amount of vaccine on hand. Based on current vaccine supply, approximately 15,000 appointments will be released on Jan. 22 to cover all Cook County Health sites. Please note that there is not enough vaccine at this time to vaccinate everyone in the Phase 1b.

How do I make an appointment?

Please visit vaccine.cookcountyil.gov. Those who are eligible to be vaccinated at this time can schedule an appointment to receive vaccine if enough vaccine is available. Please note that there is not enough vaccine at this time to vaccinate everyone in the Phase 1b.

Where are the community vaccination sites located?

The first community vaccination site will open on Jan. 26 at the Tinley Park Convention Center. In the weeks ahead, pending vaccine availability, Cook County expects to open additional large-scale sites.

Will you need to provide proof of age if you are 65?

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 will be no out-of-pocket fees.

Will you need to provide proof of occupation?

Yes, for Phase 1a and Phase 1b frontline essential workers we request any ONE of the following for proof of phase eligibility:

    • Professional/work-related staff identification
    • Professional license number or certificate
    • Paystub from employer
    • Signed letter from employer
    • Uniform
    • For family caregivers/unpaid home health – letter from an organization (e.g. Age Options) or physician indicating their role

vaccine.cookcountyil.gov

What is vaccine.cookcountyil.gov?

vaccine.cookcountyil.gov is a site where people living, working, or receiving medical care in suburban Cook County can register for vaccine. Those who are eligible to be vaccinated at this time can schedule an appointment to receive vaccine if enough vaccine is available. Please note that there is not enough vaccine at this time to vaccinate everyone in the Phase 1b.

How will a patient be directed to a specific facility?

On the new site, residents will be given a list of facilities within a 15-mile radius. They can choose any of those locations at which to make appointments.

Can the identified facilities take walk-ins?

Each site requires an appointment. We are aiming to be as efficient as possible in our planning, so we are requiring patients to provide information when they make an appointment so the process of vaccination can happen as quickly as possible on site.

Will you need to provide proof of age if you are 65?

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 will be no out-of-pocket fees.

Will you need to provide proof of occupation?

Yes, for Phase 1a and Phase 1b frontline essential workers we request any ONE of the following for proof of phase eligibility:

    • Professional/work-related staff identification
    • Professional license number or certificate
    • Paystub from employer
    • Signed letter from employer
    • Uniform
    • For family caregivers/unpaid home health – letter from an organization (e.g. Age Options) or physician indicating their role
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.

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.

Vaccine Safety

Is the vaccine safe?

All vaccines in Illinois will only be distributed when they are deemed safe. Both the Pfizer and Moderna have completed multiple stages of clinical trials.

The CDC, along with FDA and other federal partners, will use established safety systems to conduct heightened safety monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines. Additional safety measures include active surveillance using text messaging and web surveys from CDC, and enhanced passive surveillance through other data sources from healthcare facilities.

If a link is found between a side effect and a COVID-19 vaccine, public health officials will take appropriate action by weighing the benefits of the vaccine against its risks to determine if recommendations for using the vaccine should change and continuously monitor and evaluate safety thereafter.

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

Getting the Vaccine

When will I be able to get the vaccine?

It is anticipated all adults should be able to get vaccinated later in 2021. There will be a phased roll-out of the vaccine. The initial supply will be limited, and based on national guidance, healthcare workers will be the first population recommended to receive the vaccine, and even then, those who treat COVID-19 patients and perform certain procedures will likely receive the vaccine first.

Can I register to get the vaccine now?

There is currently no public registration for COVID vaccine at this time. CCDPH will update this website with registration and clinic information as additional groups are recommended for vaccine and as clinics are scheduled.

I had COVID before. Do I still need to get the vaccine?

Yes, people who have had COVID in the past will still need to get the vaccine. Though past infection is thought to provide some immunity, we do not know how much protection is provided or how long this protection may last. It is recommended that people who have had COVID in the past still get 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.

Does it cost anything to get vaccinated?

The vaccine distributed at CCDPH vaccination sites will be at no cost to the individual.

Is the vaccine still frozen when the shot is given?

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at an ultra-cold temperature and the Moderna vaccine needs to be stored at frozen temperature. Both will be defrosted before administering the shot.

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, social distancing and washing your hands frequently, even if you have received the vaccine.

Why are some people prioritized?

The initial supply of vaccine will be limited, and based on national guidance, healthcare workers will be the first population recommended to receive the vaccine, and even then, those who treat COVID-19 patients and perform certain procedures will likely receive the vaccine first. This prioritization ensures those with the highest risk of contracting COVID are protected. Additionally, by vaccinating those who provide direct patient care will protect our healthcare workforce capacity. Priority will also be given to older adults living in long-term care facilities to prevent outbreaks.

Can I just get one of the vaccine doses?

No. 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.

When can life return to normal?

Widespread vaccination will ​allow suburban Cook County ​to dial back restrictions set in place to slow the spread of COVID​, but this process will happen over many months. As more ​residents get vaccinated, there will be more opportunity to ​safely move back to normal lives. In the meantime, CCDPH still recommends mask wearing, social distancing and washing your hands frequently, even if you have received the vaccine.

CCDPH’s Vaccination Distribution

Can I pick which vaccine I get?

At this time individuals cannot choose which vaccine they receive.

Where can I get a vaccine?

As the vaccine supplies increases, COVID-19 vaccine will be available through additional vaccination providers, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.

How will the vaccine be distributed across suburban Cook County?

CCDPH will follow federal and state guidelines for distributing the vaccine. Distribution prioritization is based on risk, not geographic location. However, all hospitals across the city will receive doses of the vaccine based on their healthcare workforce and patient populations. Access to the vaccine will always be looked at through an equity lens.

How is an essential worker defined?

There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof. Additional information on these sectors can be found on the CISA website.