Below are answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination. All answers are reviewed by Denver Health physicians. To schedule your vaccination appointment, visit our Vaccination page or call our appointment center at 303-436-7000.
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ
Vaccine Distribution and Timeline FAQ
Q: When can I get the vaccine?
Everyone in Colorado over the age of 6 months is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Q. How can I get the vaccine?
If you are a Denver Health patient, you can access your MyChart account and sign up for your vaccination on your own. If you are unable to self-schedule a vaccine appointment online, you can call 303-436-7000 to be connected to our call center for scheduling. If you are not a Denver Health patient, you can receive the vaccine at Denver Health’s travel and immunization clinic by calling 303-602-3520, or through local pharmacies.
Q: I’ve heard about different COVID vaccines. Which one will I get from Denver Health?
Denver Health’s ACS clinics are using vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Primary series and bivalent (omicron) booster doses are available and are safe and effective. The Immunization and Travel Clinic at Denver Health offers Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Denver Health offers Pfizer for ages 6 months and older for omicron booster doses in its ACS clinics. Moderna bivalent boosters are not stocked or available in its ACS clinics. If patients and families are wanting the Moderna bivalent vaccine, it is available at our Travel and Immunization Clinic at the OMC by calling 303-602-3520. The Moderna monovalent primary series vaccine for ages 6 months and older is available throughout Denver Health’s ACS clinics.
Q: Can I get my vaccine at my regular doctor’s office?
If you are a Denver Health patient, you will be able to get your vaccine at your regular clinic. When making your appointment for the first dose of the vaccine, you will receive information on where it will be scheduled, and you will be given an appointment time. It is extremely important to be on time for these appointments.
Q: Can I just call the appointment center to schedule my appointment?
If you have MyChart, you can choose an appointment at your convenience online. We will also be able to send you appointment reminders. Find out more about setting up a MyChart account here. If you are unable to schedule online, you are welcome to set up an appointment with the Denver Health vaccine hotline at 303-436-7000.
Q: Will I still need to wear a mask after I am vaccinated?
The CDC has guidelines for vaccinated individuals. Because the guidance often changes, we recommend that you visit the CDC link to learn more about what is currently recommended in your area. As of March 1, 2023, patients, visitors and staff are welcome, but not required, to wear a mask on Denver Health’s main campus or in our clinics, as long as they do not have any symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. Unvaccinated staff and anyone with symptoms such as a cough or runny nose are required to wear a mask.
Q: Will I get a document to prove that I am vaccinated?
Yes, vaccine cards are provided to those who receive COVID-19 vaccination. Please keep it as proof that you received the vaccine. If the card is lost, information about the vaccine you received will also be saved in your medical record and can be located in your MyChart account.
Q: Will I have to pay for the vaccine?
No, at this time all doses are being paid for by the U.S. government. Your insurance carrier may be billed for an administration fee, but you should not receive any bill. If you are uninsured, you will not be billed for the administration fee.
Q: Do I need to be a U.S. citizen to get a vaccine?
Whether you are a U.S. citizen or not, we are all in this together. An ID is not required for access to the vaccine. State and local public health agencies will never share your information for any immigration or law enforcement purposes.
COVID-19 Vaccine Safety and Efficacy FAQ
Q: Are the vaccines safe?
Yes. All Covid-19 vaccines have been administered to millions of people and have a strong safety profile.
Q: How effective are these vaccines?
These vaccines decrease the risk of getting sick with COVID-19 by over 80%, and the infections tend to be less severe. Detailed information about each vaccine can be found on the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine website.
Q: What are the side effects of these vaccines?
It is important to recognize that part of why these vaccines work so well is that they cause a strong immune response, which can cause people to feel unwell for a day or so after the vaccine. It is more common after the second dose of vaccine. Symptoms may include soreness, redness, or swelling around the injection site, fatigue, body aches, or headache. These reactions can be treated with ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) if needed.
Q: Should I take acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory (for example, ibuprofen) before getting the vaccine to prevent side effects?
No, it is not recommended to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) before receiving the vaccine. However, you can take them afterwards if you develop discomfort.
Q: Do I really need the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines?
The FDA and CDC state that both doses are need for full immunity and no one should consider themselves protected with only one dose. You may not develop protection, or your partial immunity may also go away after some time, and you could still be at risk for contracting severe disease associated with COVID-19. Thus, it is essential to get your second dose as soon as it can be scheduled.
Q: Will the vaccines protect against variants?
Yes, the bivalent booster, also called “omicron boosters" and “omicron doses,” contain two messenger RNA (mRNA) components of SARS-CoV-2 virus: The original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the BA.4/BA.5 omicron subvariants of SARS-CoV-2.
Q: Do you need to quarantine from family if you receive the vaccine?
No. There is no active virus in any COVID vaccine so quarantine after receiving the vaccine is not necessary.
Q: Can the vaccines cause COVID-19? How do they work?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not contain the whole virus so they cannot cause COVID-19. The vaccines consist of mRNA that cause your body to make a protein that is on the surface of the virus and your body makes an immune response to this protein. The vaccine is basically telling your immune system what to watch out for and to be prepared to respond quickly if it ever sees the real thing. “mRNA” often makes people think of “DNA” and wonder if the vaccines interact with our genes: they do not! mRNA works in a completely different part of our cells.
Q: I have heard about severe allergic reactions to the vaccine. What do I need to know about that?
Severe allergic reactions were not observed in the vaccine studies but have occurred in a small number of individuals since the vaccine has been administered more widely. These events occurred in people with a history of severe allergy reactions. We are asking everybody who has had a severe allergic reaction (including to food or medications) that required medical treatment to stay in the post-vaccine waiting area for 30 minutes after the vaccine and to inform our staff immediately if any worrisome symptoms arise.
Q: Is there any risk because of the extreme cold that the Pfizer vaccine requires for storage?
No. This vaccine must be fully thawed to room temperature in order to prepare it for administration. While the long-term storage needs of this vaccine vary from those we normally administer, once the vaccine is brought to normal temperature range and prepared, the administration process is the same as other vaccines.
Who Should Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Q: If I am or might be pregnant, should I get the COVID vaccine?
Pregnant women are at increased risk of severe disease when they get COVID-19 and the FDA and CDC have stated that pregnant women may receive the Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax vaccines. If you are or might be pregnant, you are encouraged to discuss with your doctor if you have questions; CDC information is also available here. It is not necessary to have a pregnancy test before receiving your vaccine. It is recommended that pregnant women avoid medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Naproxen. Therefore, if you are or might be pregnant, it is important that you only use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for any symptoms that might arise after vaccination.
Q: Is the vaccine safe if I am breastfeeding?
Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are safe during breastfeeding. Antibodies are passed in breastmilk, so your infant will receive additional protections if you are vaccinated against COVID-19. If you have questions or concerns, you are encouraged to speak to your doctor; further information is also available from the American Academy of Pediatrics. CDC information is also available here.
Q: Can I receive the vaccine if I am immunocompromised?
Yes. Immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk of having a severe infection with COVID-19. It is recommended that immunocompromised individuals receive THREE doses of the Pfizer or Moderna primary vaccine and then one omicron booster dose at least two months after the most recent dose.
Q: Should I get vaccinated if I already had COVID-19?
Yes. The CDC currently recommends vaccination for people who have had COVID-19 as long as they have fully recovered and are no longer required to self-isolate.
Q: Can I receive the vaccine if I have a severe penicillin allergy? What about eggs?
Yes. There is no cross-reactivity between the penicillin antibiotics and the vaccine. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not manufactured using eggs so can be received by those with egg allergies.
Q: Is it recommended to administer the COVID vaccine to any person who has received the flu shot this season?
Yes, everyone who received the flu shot can get the COVID vaccine.
Vaccine Development FAQ
Q: How do I report a problem or bad reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This national system collects these data to look for adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected or have unusual patterns of occurrence. Learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event. Reports to VAERS help the CDC monitor the safety of vaccines.
The CDC has also developed an additional way of communicating concerns about vaccine adverse reactions called V-safe. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through V-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Q: What are the ingredients in the vaccines?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have a simple formulation and contain few ingredients, including the mRNA, a lipid capsule that protects the mRNA until it reaches our cells, sodium and potassium salts and other buffers to balance the pH to match our bodies, and sugars to help the vaccine stay effective at room temperature. Links to the precise ingredients in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available.
Q: Why are there two doses for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?
Many vaccines require multiple doses, such as those for pneumonia, Hepatitis B and measles/mumps/rubella (MMR)--all require multiple doses to ensure full immunity. The first shot shows the immune system a piece of the virus which stimulates an initial immune response. The second shot is the booster, allowing the immune system to fully develop responses that are both effective and long-lasting. Omicron booster doses can be given to anyone ages 6 months or older who has received a primary series and is at least two months past their most recent dose; it does not matter how many monovalent doses they have received. **Please note: Pfizer 6 months – 4 years is a three-dose primary series.
COVID-19 Vaccine Myths
1. Myth: COVID-19 Vaccines impact fertility.
Q: Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?
Yes. If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to you.
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.
Like all vaccines, scientists are studying COVID-19 vaccines carefully for side effects now and will continue to study them for many years.
2. Myth: COVID-19 Vaccines will alter my DNA.
Q: Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?
No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. There are currently two types of COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized and recommended for use in the United States: messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and a viral vector vaccine. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the genetic material in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. All COVID-19 vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.
3. Myth: If I get a vaccine, I’ll also get COVID-19.
Q: Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
4. Myth: Receiving the vaccine will make me magnetic.
Q: Can receiving a COVID-19 vaccine cause you to be magnetic?
No. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth alloys, as well as any manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, and nanowire semiconductors. In addition, the typical dose for a COVID-19 vaccine is less than a milliliter, which is not enough to allow magnets to be attracted to your vaccination site even if the vaccine was filled with a magnetic metal.
5. Myth: COVID-19 Vaccines were funded by individuals wishing to track Americans every move.
Q: Do the COVID-19 vaccines contains controversial substances or implants such as microchips or tracking devices?
No. The first two COVID-19 vaccines to be authorized by the FDA contain mRNA and other, normal vaccine ingredients, such as fats (which protect the mRNA), salts, as well as a small amount of sugar. These COVID-19 vaccines were not developed using fetal tissue, and they do not contain any material, such as implants, microchips or tracking devices.
6. Myth: 5G mobile networks can spread COVID-19
Q: Can viruses spread through radio waves/mobile networks?
Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.
COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose.
7. Myth: I’ve already had COVID-19, I don’t need the vaccine. I’m immune.
Q: If you’ve already had COVID-19 is a vaccine effective to prevent re-infection?
Yes, vaccination regardless of previous COVID-19 infection is effective in combating severe disease. An individual can be re-infected with COVID-19 even after recovering from a natural infection. Early evidence suggests that natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long. Therefore, it is recommended that even people who have had COVID-19 should be vaccinated.
8. Myth: COVID-19 vaccines interact negatively with other medications.
Q: Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am taking other medications?
Yes, you can still get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are taking medications. Although vaccines and medications can sometimes affect each other, these interactions don’t usually cause problems. People with a variety of medical conditions were included in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials.
9. Myth: COVID-19 vaccines are not safe for people with substance use disorders.
Q: Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I misuse substances?
Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages people with underlying medical conditions, including substance use disorders, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. No safety issues have been reported linking substance use to adverse reactions to any of the COVID-19 vaccines available to consumers in the United States.
10. Myth: The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous and not worth the shot.
Q: What are the side effects of vaccination and are they worse than just getting COVID-19?
The COVID-19 vaccines can have side effects, but the vast majority are very short term and not serious or dangerous. The vaccine developers report that some people experience pain where they were injected; body aches; headaches or fever, lasting for a day or two. These are signs that the vaccine is working to stimulate your immune system. In contrast, getting COVID-19 can cause a prolonged illness, hospitalization, and even death.
If you have allergies — especially severe ones that require you to carry an EpiPen — discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with your doctor, who can assess your risk and provide more information about if and how you can get vaccinated safely.
Vaccine Booster Shot FAQ
Q: What vaccines have been approved for booster doses?
As of Aug. 31, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to authorize bivalent (omicron) formulations of the vaccines for individuals 6 months and older who have completed their primary series and at least two months past their most recent dose.
Q: Can I mix and match my booster dose?
Yes. The FDA and CDC have approved mixing and matching of booster doses.
Q: What if I am immunocompromised? Should I mix and match my booster?
While the choice is up to each individual, the FDA and CDC advise immunocompromised individuals to talk with their medical providers and stick with their vaccination series to receive an omicron booster shot, if possible. Adults ages 50 years and older and people ages 6 months and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get one additional monovalent dose after completing their COVID-19 vaccine primary series, then one omicron booster dose two months after their most recent dose.
Q: Can I receive the influenza vaccine on the same day as my booster vaccine?
Yes! The CDC has updated their guidance on the timing of the COVID-19 vaccine. You no longer need to space out the COVID-19 vaccine from other vaccines. You can get more than one vaccination at the same time.
Q: Will additional booster shots be needed every year?
We don’t know the frequency with which booster shots will be necessary. We will update you as we obtain more information.
Q: Do I need to wear a mask after receiving a booster shot?
As of March 1, 2023, Denver Health patients, visitors and staff who do not have any symptoms of upper respiratory infection, such as a cough or runny nose, are welcome, but not required, to wear a mask in Denver Health facilities.
Q: How much additional benefit does the Pfizer booster shot provide to me?
In a large nationwide study, a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine given at least 5 months after completion of the initial two dose series resulted in an 11-fold decreased risk in developing confirmed COVID-19 infection 12 days or more after the booster compared to vaccinated persons who did not get the booster in person age 60 or older. In this same study the rate of developing severe COVID-19 was reduced 20-fold with boosters.1 A smaller study showed a 5-fold increase in effective antibody levels after a booster dose in persons age 18-55. 2 The increase in effective antibody levels was even higher for those over age 65.
Q: How long do I need to be monitored after my booster vaccine?
A 15-minute period of monitoring is recommended after all vaccines, however, persons who have had their initial COVID-19 vaccination series without a serious reaction (rash, hives, swelling or trouble breathing) are not required to stay in the vaccination area after the booster beyond standards recommended after any vaccine.
Q: Should I expect even worse side effects after the booster shot?
It is impossible to predict side effects for each individual since everyone is different. Some people have no side effects. Many people have reported side effects, such as headache, fatigue and soreness at the injection site, which are generally mild and go away within a few days.
Vaccines for Children
Q: Are Pfizer and Moderna safe for children?
Yes. Data from research studies suggest that vaccination protects children and adolescents from complications such as hospitalization and/or long COVID. Young people who do not have underlying health issues often do not get very sick with COVID-19, but that does not mean all kids are safe from complications related to COVID-19 infection.
Q: What other benefits are there to vaccinating children?
Vaccination of this age group not only protects the individual but also protects the people they live or spend time with. Many young children live with caregivers who are at high risk of COVID-19 related health complications. Vaccinated people are less likely to infect others.
Q: Will vaccination interrupt my child’s in-person learning?
No, in fact, vaccination can help keep your child in school. COVID-19 has had a negative impact on children and families. If your child is fully vaccinated, they are much less likely to be asked to miss school, sports, or other activities.
Q: What should I look out for once my child has received the vaccine?On the arm where your child got the shot they may have pain, redness, or swelling. Your child may also experience fever, chills, tiredness, pain, headache, or nausea. Side effects may feel like flu and even effect your child’s ability to do daily activities. These symptoms are normal and will typically resolve within a few days (typically < />
Q: What can I give my child to help with any side effects?
If your child has pain or discomfort after the vaccine, talk to your doctor about giving an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. It is not recommended to give these medications to your child before they get their immunization.
Get your child the second shot (Moderna series) and three shots (Pfizer) even if they have side effects after the first one, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to do so. It takes time for the body to build protection after any vaccination. Full protection from COVID-19 vaccine may not develop until two weeks after the second shot for adults. Children are fully protected after two weeks after completing their primary series. It is important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions.
Q: When should I call the doctor?
If any side effects from the vaccine, such as fever, tiredness, headache, nausea, or flu like symptoms persist for three days or more after vaccination you should call your doctor to confirm that you child is not ill with COVID-19 or any other illnesses. Cough and shortness of breath are not side effects of the vaccine and should also be discussed with a provider if severe or progressive. If you child experiences severe hives, throat swelling or tightness, or loss of consciousness after receiving the vaccine call 911 immediately.
Q: Have there been any reported side effects in pediatric patients receiving the vaccine?
Yes. The CDC announced that since April 2021, several cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported in the United States after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna), particularly in older adolescent males. These cases are extremely rare given the number of vaccine doses administered.
Q: What do we know about the cases of myocarditis that have been reported?
Cases have predominantly occurred in male adolescents and young adults 16 years and older. Onset is typically within several days after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, and cases have occurred more often after the second dose than the first dose. In most cases, patients who presented for medical care responded well to medications and rest and had rapid improvement of symptoms.
Q: What are myocarditis and pericarditis?
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the tissue that forms a sac around the heart. In both cases, the body’s immune system is causing inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger. Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath or palpitations (fast heart rate). The severity of cases of myocarditis and pericarditis can vary. For the cases reported after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, most have had onset within several days after vaccination (more often after the second dose), and most who presented to medical care responded well to medications and rest.
Q: Is vaccination still safe for pediatric patients based on these new findings?
Yes. The CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for individuals 6 months of age and older given that the known risks of COVID-19 illness and related complications—such as long-term health problems, hospitalization and even death—are still occurring at high rates for children and adolescents in the U.S.