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COVID Vaccine Information for Healthcare Providers

Become a COVID-19 Vaccine Provider

Entities that are interested in becoming a COVID-19 Vaccine Provider should follow the steps below:

  • Register in I-CARE (Illinois Comprehensive Automated Immunization Registry Exchange) 

     

    • Vaccine for Children (VFC) providers: Enroll to become a COVID-19 vaccine provider within I-CARE under the COVID tab/Enrollment. Complete both the CDC and IDPH COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Agreements. 
    • Non-VFC providers: If you do not already have I-CARE access, request it. The I-CARE enrollment packet can be found here. Once enrolled in I-CARE, access the COVID tab to complete both the CDC and IDPH COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Agreements.
    • Questions about your ICARE or COVID PIN should be directed to [email protected] 
  • Order Vaccine
    • For direct shipments from the manufacturer, order directly in I-CARE. You must be able to order in the appropriate increments. 
    • Cook County Department of Public Health offers pickup from the Oak Forest location in increments as low as one vial (e.g. for those who are not able to order increments of 450 or 1170 Pfizer directly through I-CARE). click here to fill out this survey to start requesting vaccine from CCDPH. 

Click here for CCDPH Vaccine Provider Partner Guidelines.

Talking to Patients about COVID-19 Vaccine

Often as patients’ most-trusted source of information on vaccines, healthcare providers play a critical role in helping patients understand the importance of COVID-19 vaccination. You can provide information and answer questions about vaccine safety, efficacy, benefits and risks, and discuss whether the vaccine is right for them based on their medical history.

Engaging in Effective COVID-19 Vaccine Conversations

1. Start from a place of empathy and understanding

The pandemic has been stressful for many people. The first step is to acknowledge the disruption COVID-19 has caused in all our lives, providing an opportunity to recognize common concerns that can be addressed by a vaccine.

2. Give your strong recommendation

  • Let your patients know you recommend COVID-19 vaccination for them.
  • Explain why you recommend it. For instance, it may be especially important for them because they have an underlying medical condition or are at high risk due to frequent contact with the public.
  • Share the importance of COVID-19 vaccines to protect patients’ health, as well as the health of those around them.
  • Reassure them of the safety of the vaccine. Explain that no steps are skipped during the clinical trial process. COVID-19 vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and cannot give someone COVID-19.
  • Talk about your personal plans to get a COVID-19 vaccine

3. Listen to and respond to patient questions

Make it clear that you understand they have questions, and you want to answer them, so they feel confident in choosing to get vaccinated. Seek to understand your patients’ concerns and provide information they need in a way they can understand it.

4. Remind them of the importance of the vaccine in future visits:

Let your patients know that you are open to continuing the conversation. Because these vaccines are new, their comfort level with when to get vaccinated will vary. Continue to remind them about the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine during future routine visits. In the meantime, encourage them to continue taking steps to protect themselves from COVID-19 and let them know how you plan to share updates about vaccine availability.

Answering Patients’ Questions

Prepare for common patient questions and learn techniques to use during your vaccination conversations, including best practices for online communication. Refer to the FAQs below.

COVID Vaccine FAQs

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

02. Vaccines (52)

Yes. All of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are effective at reducing your chances of getting COVID-19, getting very sick, and dying from COVID-19. To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, you should continue to wear a mask indoors when in public, even if you are fully vaccinated.

Category: 02. Vaccines

All of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are safe. Millions of people in the United States have received these vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. We recommend that you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Yes, effective July 1, 2021, the COVID-19 Vaccination Rights for Employees and Employer Obligations Ordinance went into effect. In Cook County, employers cannot require workers to get vaccinated outside of work hours. If your employer requires you to be vaccinated and your appointment is during your shift, you are to be compensated up to four hours per dose. If your employer does not require you to be vaccinated, you can use paid sick leave or paid time off to get vaccinated, but your employer cannot require you to find coverage for your shift during that time. Learn more or file a complaint with Cook County’s Commission on Human Rights: https://bit.ly/VaxRights

Category: 02. Vaccines

Yes. Businesses with health care, school or higher education employees or students are allowed to require proof of vaccination status for anyone, including visitors.

Category: 02. Vaccines

If you work in healthcare, at a school, college, university, state-owned or operated church or place of worship, and you are not fully vaccinated, you are required to get tested weekly. Employees who are exempt from the vaccine requirement due to a medical or religious reason must get tested weekly.

Category: 02. Vaccines

All healthcare providers in the state enter immunization data into the state IDPH I-CARE system. CCDPH has access to vaccination records through the Illinois Comprehensive Automated Immunization Registry Exchange (I-CARE) system. You can see vaccination data for the CCDPH jurisdiction on our ShinyApp: https://ccdphcd.shinyapps.io/covid19/. For more information about I-CARE visit:https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/immunization/icare.html.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Many people have no side effects from the COVID-19 vaccination. Some people experience soreness where they received the vaccine, a headache or other side effects that make them feel under the weather for one or two days. These side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Usually the answer is yes, but it can be complicated depending on exactly what vaccine the person received. If you have a primary doctor, they can help you decide what vaccines you need. If you don’t, go to a location that has COVID-19 vaccines and ask to speak to someone who can help you. Most pharmacists at the drug store can help.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Yes. If you are required to get vaccinated (because you work in healthcare, at a school, college/university or state-owned or operated church or place of worship), you do have the option to be tested weekly instead. However, your employer may have stricter requirements.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

Yes, you can get COVID-19 even if you already had it. Getting the vaccine will give you a strong boost in long-term protection against severe illness, hospitalization or death.

Tags: Guidance, Vaccine
Category: 02. Vaccines

No. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any parts of the virus, so they can’t give your child COVID-19.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

Yes. Private workplaces can require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Yes, health care workers, school personnel, higher education personnel and students, and state employees and contractors who work at state-owned or operated congregate facilities are required to be fully vaccinated or  undergo weekly testing and can provide confirmation of a negative test result on a weekly basis.

Category: 02. Vaccines

There is no federal or state mandate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC recommends the vaccine to all Americans 12 and over.

Category: 02. Vaccines

CDC recommends everyone ages 5 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to help protect against COVID-19. On Nov. 4, 2021, the Biden administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring large companies with 100 or more employees to mandate coronavirus vaccinations by January or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work. OSHA issued an Emergency.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Yes. In Illinois, as long as you can medically tolerate it, everyone 2 years and older should wear a mask over their nose and mouth in indoor public places. Masking is also recommended for crowded outdoor settings and activities that involve close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.

You can remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking (including in bars or restaurants). While working, workers can remove their masks as long as they consistently maintain six feet of distance. An example of this would be if you’re working in your own office room or cubicle.

Everyone is required to wear a face covering on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation; in transportation hubs such as airports, train and bus stations; in congregate facilities such as correctional facilities and homeless shelters; and in healthcare settings.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Yes. As of October 21, 2021, the most current recommendations are: There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Yes. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for all children age 5 and older. The vaccine is free for everyone, both kids and adults. You don’t need to show proof of insurance or immigration to receive it.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

Vax Verify allows individuals to download and print their vaccination records from the Illinois Comprehensive Automated Immunization Registry Exchange (I-CARE). To access Vax Verify, visit http://idphportal.illinois.gov.

Category: 02. Vaccines

If you need a new card, ask your physician to look in I-CARE and give you a new one. If you lost or misplaced your vaccination card, visit IDPH Vax Verify website and print verification.

Category: 02. Vaccines

If you lost or misplaced your vaccination card, visit IDPH Vax Verify website and print verification. If you need a new card, ask your physician to look in I-CARE and give you a new one.

Tag: ID
Category: 02. Vaccines

You can access your immunization records by visiting the Vax Verify portal.
http://www.dph.illinois.gov/immunizationsupport

Categories: 0 Hot Topics, 02. Vaccines

All steps have been taken to ensure the vaccines are safe and effective.
Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.
The CDC recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/safety-of-vaccines.html

Category: 02. Vaccines

In the clinical trials (the research), zero out of 3,082 children from 5-11 years old developed myocarditis due to COVID-19 vaccination. Still, we believe there is a very small risk of a child developing myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

It usually takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to build protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. If you get a two-dose vaccine, you are not fully vaccinated until 2 weeks after your 2nd dose.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Yes. As of October 21, 2021, the most current recommendations are: There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Yes. Anyone who has COVID-19 can spread it to others, whether they have had the vaccine or not. When a person who got the COVID-19 vaccine gets infected with COVID-19 it is called a “breakthrough infection.” COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing most infections but not all of them. Your chances of getting COVID-19 are much lower if you get the vaccine. You also have a much lower chance of getting really sick or needing to go to the hospital.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Children are just as likely to get COVID-19 as adults! It is true that children are less likely to have symptoms and if children have symptoms they are usually mild. But children with COVID-19 can still get very sick, need to go to the hospital, and even die.

Tags: Kids, Symptoms
Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

Yes. Having COVID-19 in the past does not give you lasting immunity. The COVID-19 vaccines can give you long-lasting immunity and also protect you against other COVID-19 variants.

Category: 02. Vaccines

If you received your first two vaccinations at a Cook County site and you get the booster at a local pharmacy, the booster vaccination does not show up in your Cook County vaccination records. Only vaccinations received from Cook County will show up in Cook County records. However, all immunization data is entered into the IDPH I-CARE system and can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health Vax Verify website. Learn more at: https://idphportal.illinois.gov/s/?language=en_US.

Category: 02. Vaccines
The vaccines are working very well to prevent the worst cases of COVID-19 that lead to hospitalization or death, even against the highly contagious Delta variant. The virus is constantly changing and scientists are seeing reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. A booster dose is recommended for all individuals 18 years and older if it has been at least 6 months after receiving their second Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or at least two months after receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Category: 02. Vaccines

Children and adolescents (ages 12-18 years) receive the same dosage of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as adults. There are no weight requirements for vaccination and the dose is the same no matter what you weigh.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children and teens. CDC recommends everyone ages 5 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to help protect against COVID-19. The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks. For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and recommended for most people with any medical conditions. Vaccination helps to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. If you have a medical condition, speak with your healthcare provider about steps you can take to manage your health and risks. Getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, washing your hands, and keeping your distance from others are all very important to keep you safe from COVID-19.

People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine after the initial 2 doses. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html

Category: 02. Vaccines

No. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips. Vaccines work by using your body’s natural defense system to help your body fight disease.

You should vaccinate your child as soon as possible, even if that means they will get the smaller dose. When your child returns for their 2nd dose, at age 12, they will get the higher dose.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

Many people do not have any side effects after getting the vaccine.
Some common side effects include:
• pain, redness and swelling on the arm where you got the shot
• tiredness
• headache
• muscle pain
• chills
• fever
• nausea

Category: 02. Vaccines

The possible side effects of the vaccine for children are the same as for adults: things like fever, chills, or a sore arm. Young children usually have less side effects from the vaccine than adults do.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

The active ingredient in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is Messenger RNA (or mRNA). Messenger RNA is a protein that helps the body make antibodies to the COVID-19 virus. Antibodies are like soldiers that fight the virus. The vaccine gets your body ready to fight for when it recognizes the real virus.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Most side effects will go away on their own.
If you gave pain, redness or swelling on the arm where you got the shot, you can put a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area. Keep using your arm as you usually do.
If you are feeling feverish, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly. Talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
If your side effects don’t go away within 3-4 days, talk to your doctor.

Category: 02. Vaccines

A booster shot is recommended due to concern that the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases over time and may not protect against a new strain, such as delta. Doctors use the term third dose when referring to people with compromised immune systems who may not have gotten the level of protection needed from the first two doses. The third dose provides additional immunity.

Tags: Boosters, Vaccine
Category: 02. Vaccines

Millions of Americans are now eligible to get a COVID-19 booster dose. The most current recommendations as of October 21, 2021 are:

For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings.

For the nearly 15 million people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Category: 02. Vaccines

They must have received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (Pfizer or Moderna) or a single dose vaccine (J&J) by September 19, 2021.

For those with Pfizer or Moderna 2-dose vaccine: The second dose must be done within 30 days (no later than October 19, 2021). For employees starting in these positions after September 19th, the employer will determine when vaccination must be completed.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

As long as you are no longer in isolation or infectious, it is safe to get the vaccine. If you had symptoms of COVID-19, you are no longer infectious 10 days after your symptoms started. If you never had any symptoms of COVID-19, you are no longer infectious 10 days after the day you tested positive.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Clinical trials (the research) are happening right now to make sure the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for kids as young as 6 months old. We cannot say for sure but it looks like the vaccine will be ready for children under 5 sometime in the beginning of 2022.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

Many pediatricians are ordering the COVID-19 vaccine to have it ready for their patients. If your pediatrician does not have it, you can find the Cook County Health site closest to you here: myshotcookcounty.com.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

If you work in healthcare, at a school, college, university, state-owned or operated church or place of worship, you are required to be fully vaccinated.

Category: 02. Vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective in protecting fully vaccinated people from catching and spreading the virus. Unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people (according to CDC data, August 2021). While COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, no vaccine provides 100% immunity.

Because this is a new virus, scientists and medical experts continue to monitor how long immunity lasts, how well the vaccines protect against new variants of the virus, and whether some groups may need additional doses. Secretary Powell, while vaccinated, was also being treated for Parkinson’s disease and multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. The medications he had to take for his health conditions made the vaccine less effective. This is one reason why it is so important for other people to get vaccinated, to protect people with health conditions like Secretary Powell from getting COVID.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Data shows the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination for all people 5 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks. For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html

Category: 02. Vaccines

No. There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

Many people do not have any side effects after getting the vaccine.
Some common side effects include:
• pain, redness and swelling on the arm where you got the shot
• tiredness
• headache
• muscle pain
• chills
• fever
• nausea

Categories: 0.5 Children, 02. Vaccines

No. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any parts of the virus, so they can’t give you COVID-19.

Category: 02. Vaccines

Getting the vaccine

How do I make an appointment?

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 the vaccine supply is still quite limited.

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.
Can the sites 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.
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.
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, social distancing and washing your hands frequently, 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.
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.
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. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose. All the vaccines are safe and effective against getting the most severe cases of COVID-19.
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.
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.
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.

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.

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. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.

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.

CCDPH’s Vaccination Distribution

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.

COVID-19 Vaccination Phases and Plans
Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) is making the COVID-19 vaccine available as soon as possible to people living and working in CCDPH’s jurisdiction of suburban Cook County. (Evanston, Oak Park, Skokie and Stickney Township have their own state-certified local health departments and are not part of CCDPH’s jurisdiction).

CCDPH has expanded to Phase 1b of the Vaccination Plan as of January 25. We will continue to prioritize any remaining Phase 1a individuals.

The expansion to Phase 1b includes members of the general public for the first time – about 375,000 people aged 65 and over. The 65+ population represents a majority of people within phase 1b. Phase 1b also includes police, firefighters and other essential workers, such as manufacturing employees and grocery store workers – a group estimated at 270,000.

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.

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 week 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 sites have opened at the Tinley Park Convention Center and Triton College. In the weeks ahead, pending vaccine availability, Cook County expects to open additional large-scale sites.

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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