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COVID-19 INFORMATION: Register for free testingGet your vaccine • Vaccine updates and FAQ

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Pfizer COVID vaccine for ages 12 and up is now available at all ICHS clinics! 
No appointment needed at ICHS clinic pharmacies in International District, Holly Park and Shoreline. Please call 206.788.3700 to make an appointment at our Bellevue Clinic.

COVID-19: Vaccine Update

COVID-19: Vaccine Update

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Thank you for your interest in the COVID-19 vaccine. ICHS is working with public health and community partners to ensure we get as many doses as possible to as many people as possible. An organized and equitable distribution of a vaccine is the key to getting the pandemic under control.

Vaccine appointments are currently for eligible for anyone who lives or works in Washington state. ICHS is offering COVID-19 appointments to people 12+.

We each have a responsibility to ensure that those around us are protected and we help reduce COVID-19 transmission by being vaccinated. This is the only way we can halt the pandemic and ensure the health of our family members, friends and neighbors.

You should follow CDC guidelines once you are fully vaccinated. To learn more about what to do to protect yourself and others once you've been fully vaccinated, visit the CDC website here.

FAQ – about vaccines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in certain populations:

  • People age 65 and older;
  • People at high-risk for severe COVID-19; and
  • People who work in a high-risk job.

Individuals in these groups who previously received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster starting at least six months after their second shot. See the CDC statement.

This recommendation follows FDA's authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be administered as a booster for certain populations. FDA’s authorization applies only to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, as does CDC’s recommendation.

Talk to your health care provider about your medical condition and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for you. ICHS currently offers booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for eligible people. Eligible ICHS patients can receive a booster dose as part of a scheduled medical appointment.

People who were vaccinated outside the United States with a currently FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine or a World Health Organization (WHO)-emergency use listed COVID-19 vaccine and who have received all the recommended doses do not need any additional doses. People who received the first dose of an FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses do not need to restart the vaccine series in the United States, but should receive the second dose as close to the recommended time as possible.

Some people who may have received a COVID-19 vaccine that is not currently approved or authorized in the United States may be offered a complete FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series as follows:

  • People who have not received all the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine listed for emergency use by WHO.
  • People who received all or some of the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is neither approved or authorized by FDA nor listed for emergency use by WHO.

    Limited data are available on the safety or efficacy of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine currently approved or authorized in the United States after receipt of a non-FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. The minimum interval between the last dose of a non-FDA-approved or non-FDA-authorized vaccine, or a WHO-listed vaccine and an FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine is 28 days.

    Only people who have received all recommended doses of an FDA-approved, FDA-authorized, or WHO-listed COVID-19 vaccine are considered fully vaccinated for the purpose of public health guidance.


    WHO has also listed the Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio, Serum Institute of India, Janssen and Moderna vaccines for emergency use.

    The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines approved by the FDA work similarly. They cause the body to develop antibodies (fighter cells). A genetic code of a small part of the virus (the spike protein) is injected into the body; this is taken up by cells, which reproduce the protein. These are then recognized by the body as foreign proteins. The fighter cells work to get rid of the proteins, while creating a memory bank of these proteins to defend against future infection.

    The Johnson & Johnson vaccine works differently than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. A piece of genetic material from the virus’ spike protein is added into another virus. The modified virus enters a cell to put its DNA into the nucleus and give instructions to other cells. Your body reacts by producing antibodies. Your immune system cells then remember how to fight the virus.

    The first two COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA, Pfizer (COMIRNATY) and Moderna, both require two shots. A third vaccine by Johnson & Johnson requires just one shot.

    Two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccines are extremely effective in protecting against severe illness from COVID-19. New evidence suggests that vaccine protection may decrease over time however and those who are immunocompromised may be at greater risk of becoming ill from COVID-19. ICHS is administering third doses to those who are immunocompromised. 

    The COVID-19 vaccine will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance, and will be free if you are uninsured.

    Yes. You will not be asked for any proof of citizenship or residency.

    No, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, while using the same approach, are different from each other. So the second dose should be the same vaccine.

    Not getting a vaccination is more than an individual choice, it has a much wider impact on everyone’s health and wellbeing. It will make it harder to achieve herd immunity, a level of immunity that will prevent the virus from circulating in the community and protect us all. Without immunization, you place yourself at greater risk of severe illness or long-term health issues from COVID-19.

    While getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection or immunity, the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you without having to be sick.

    When you get the vaccine, you also help protect people in high-risk groups that might not be able to get vaccinated themselves, including members of your community, friends and family.

    Yes. Although fewer children have been infected with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can:

    • Be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
    • Get sick from COVID-19.
    • Spread COVID-19 to others.

    CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic. Getting your child or teen vaccinated can bring you one step closer to enjoying the activities you miss. Children 12 years and older are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

    Please bring a photo ID with your date of birth. You will not be turned away if you don’t have ID. If you have health insurance, bring your insurance card. Please wear a short-sleeved shirt or clothing with sleeves that can be rolled up.

    If you are arriving for your second or third dose, please bring your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card.

    ICHS is following the CDC and FDA recommendation to resume administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. ICHS also continues to work with public health and community partners to administer Pfizer vaccines to protect patients and community members.

    FAQ – vaccine safety

    Vaccine safety is a priority. All COVID-19 vaccines must go through a rigorous and multi-step testing and approval process before they can be used. They will only be approved if they pass safety and effectiveness standards. Many people took part in this testing to see how the vaccines offer protection to people of different ages, races and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions. Vaccines will also be monitored for safety once they are given.

    After a temporary pause, the CDC and FDA recommend vaccination with the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine resume among people 18 years and older. However, women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare but increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). TTS is a serious condition that involves blood clots with low platelets. There are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen.

    Your arm may be sore, red or warm to the touch. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. Some people report getting a fever, fatigue, headache, chills, or muscle and joint pain. This is a natural response and a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is expected to do. It is working to build protection to disease. Vaccines will also be monitored for safety once they are given.

    There have been extremely rare reports of individuals who experienced heart inflammation side effects after receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. These cases represent a fraction of a percent of those who have had a COVID-19 vaccine, and individuals usually respond well to treatment. 

    According to the FDA and CDC issued guidance last week for patients and medical professionals, Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine recipients should seek medical attention if they have the following symptoms within a week after COVID-19 vaccination:

    • Chest Pain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Feeling a fast-beating, pounding heart rate

    Read more at: https://www.ichs.com/news/pfiz... 

    COVID-19 vaccines are being tested in large clinical trials to assess their safety. However, it does take time, and more people need to be vaccinated before we learn about very rare or long-term side effects. That is why safety monitoring will continue by an independent group of experts with the CDC. They will provide regular safety updates for our immediate action.

    As of April 23, 2021, more than 8 million Americans have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and it’s proven to be a very safe and effective vaccine in preventing severe and fatal cases of COVID-19. You should expect to have side effects such as soreness in the arm, fever and a headache.

    As of April 23, 2021, experts reviewing safety reports for this vaccine found 15 reports of women who got the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and later developed thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). TTS is a serious condition that involves blood clots with low platelets.

    These reports represent a reporting rate of 7 such events per 1 million vaccinations among women 18 through 49 years old and a rate of 0.9 per 1 million vaccinations among women 50 years and older. For all women, this is a rare adverse event. For men of all ages, the adverse event is even more rare. Reports show that symptoms of this adverse event started between 6 and 15 days after vaccination.

    For three weeks after receiving the vaccine, you should be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot with low platelets. These include:

    • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • Leg swelling
    • Persistent abdominal pain
    • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site

    Seek medical care right away if you develop one or more of these symptoms and report adverse events to VAERS.

    If you were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, contact your vaccine provider to learn about additional vaccine eligibility.

    No, the vaccine will not cause the COVID-19 illness. The vaccine is made up of only a part of the virus (the spike protein), just enough for the body to recognize as a foreign material to produce antibodies. For this reason, the vaccination cannot create a false positive COVID-19 test.

    No, while the vaccine is made of a genetic material, it does not interact with the genome. It encodes for specific proteins (in this case the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus), which then gets decoded by the ribosome (protein making organelle/part of a cell) located outside of the nucleus where our genome is housed. mRNA in the cell is also degraded relatively quickly limiting long-lasting impact.

    Yes, you can receive COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding. Even though pregnant and breastfeeding women were not included in the clinical trials, experts support vaccination to prevent infection. Read here and here to learn more.

    Please consider following the below guidelines before scheduling your vaccine. Regardless of if you have a history of allergic reactions or not, trained health care personnel will be onsite to monitor you for 15 minutes after the vaccination and can assist you should an allergic reaction occur.

    Per CDC recommendations, do not schedule a vaccine if:

    • You had a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of either Pfizer or Moderna, both of which require two doses.
    • You are allergic to PEG or polysorbate.

    Consult your doctor if you have had an immediate allergic reaction to another vaccine or injectable therapy for another disease, even if it was not severe.

    You may still schedule a vaccine appointment if:

    • You have had severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies.
    • You have a history of allergies to oral medications.
    • You have a family history of severe allergic reactions.

    It is safe to be vaccinated if you have mild cold-like symptoms, but we ask you to reschedule if you have a fever.

    Some people feel sick after vaccination. These symptoms are the same symptoms we get when we have the infection and are a sign of the body working hard to fight the infection and develop antibodies.

    FAQ – vaccine effectiveness

    Both the vaccines from Pfizer and from Moderna have two doses. After only one shot your protection might be around 50%. The second shot provides a boost that gives strong, long-lasting immunity. After both shots, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have 94% and 95% efficacy, respectively.

    We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.

    You will still need to practice precautions like wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing and other hygiene measures until many more people are vaccinated. This is because there’s still a chance you could pass the virus to someone else even though you don’t get sick yourself. However, if you are fully vaccinated, you may start doing many things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.

    Multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants are circulating globally and scientists are working to learn more about them. The current vaccines were designed around earlier versions of coronavirus, but scientists believe they should still work against new variants, although perhaps not quite as well.

    We can expect variants to continue to emerge in the future as the virus evolves. Efforts are now underway to redesign the current vaccines to be a better match. In the future, we may need a new COVID-19 shot each year like we do with flu immunizations, to account for any changes in circulating viruses.

    If you’ve had COVID-19, you have natural immunity that may last months to years but is not indefinite. People who have had COVID-19 are advised to get the vaccine because they could still be reinfected and could still possibly infect someone else.

    It will take about a week after the second shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for you to have the vaccine’s full protection. You will have full protection from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine one week after your shot.

    The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently approved by the FDA require two shots to be fully effective. A third vaccine by Johnson & Johnson requires only one shot. The CDC says your second shot can be scheduled up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first and remain effective. If a delay occurs, there is no need to repeat the first shot again.

    The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both work well, offering strong protection after two shots and over 90% protective across age groups and racial and ethnic groups. A third vaccine by Johnson & Johnson has been shown to offer strong protection but was paused nationwide by the CDC and FDA as of April 13 to examine data of reported six cases of adverse events. These six cases represent a fraction of a percent of the 6.8 million people in the United States who have received the Janssen vaccine.

    The evidence is clear — you should get the first vaccine available to you instead of waiting for a particular one. This is the best way to protect yourself, as well as everyone else. Immunizing as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, will help us to reduce overall COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

    A study suggesting the Pfizer vaccine was less effective among Asian Americans did not have not enough people participating from within those groups to give data for a firm conclusion. There is no reason to believe that any one vaccine is less effective among Asians and NHPI, AIAN or multiracial groups.

    You should follow CDC guidelines once you are fully vaccinated. Continue taking precautions in public places by wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and wash your hands often. To learn more about what to do to protect yourself and others once you’ve been fully vaccinated, visit the CDC website here.

    Additional resources

    Visit the Public Health – Seattle & King County website for the latest information and updates about vaccine development and distribution.

    COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC

    Vaccine Information: Washington State Department of Health

    COVID-19 Vaccines | FDA

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