COVID-19 Vaccine:

Your Questions Answered

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are currently being distributed right here in our community. The discovery of a vaccine gives us reason to celebrate as it provides a light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic. Do you have questions about the vaccine? You aren’t alone. The Texas Department of State Health Services is your best resource for updates including when and where you can receive your vaccine.

We’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the vaccine below. Remember to always consult with your primary care provider to determine the best decision regarding your own health.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Am I eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

    UPDATE: The CDC, FDA, and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have recommended Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in 12 to 15 year olds. Vaccine providers have been notified to begin administering the Pfizer vaccine to this age group.

    COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens

    All COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for people age 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine currently authorized for people 12 and older.

    Reminder: Parental consent is required for the vaccination of children. Youth (ages 12-17) and parents should contact providers in their area to ensure they are offering the Pfizer vaccine before making an appointment or attending a walk-up vaccine clinic.

    Not sure if you’re eligible? Learn more here.

    Where can I get the vaccine?

    Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is faster and more convenient than ever. About nine out of 10 Americans live within five miles of a COVID-19 vaccination site.

    The new Texas Vaccine Scheduler can help Texans get scheduled for a COVID-19 vaccine.

    Register online at GetTheVaccine.dshs.texas.gov. You will be notified by email or text when and where to get the vaccine.

    Call (833) 832-7067 if you don’t have internet or need help signing up. Call center support is available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

    Spanish language and other translators are available to help callers.

     

    Other Scheduling Tips:

    • Text VACCINE to 55000 or (in Spanish) VACUNA to receive text messages notifying you to which locations have available vaccine appointments.
    • Visit vaccines.gov; text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX); or call 1-800-232-0233 to find appointments near you.
    • Find tools for locating vaccine providers at covidvaccine.texas.gov or vacunacovid.texas.gov.
    • Download the Ready South Texas and University Health mobile apps. Enable push notifications to receive alerts about vaccine availability.

     

    Can I get the vaccine at my pharmacy?

    Retail pharmacies across the country are now receiving new allotments of the COVID-19 vaccine from the government as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. Pharmacies will open new appointment times immediately after receiving the vaccine. Not all pharmacies will be receiving the vaccine. Local pharmacy partners participating in this program include:

    Reminder: As more and more pharmacies and other providers begin to receive the vaccine, please visit DSHS to check vaccine availability near you.

    How much does the vaccine cost?

    The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost.

    How does the vaccine work?

    Currently, the FDA has approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by three manufacturers: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

    Pfizer and Moderna:

    The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. Essentially, using an mRNA vaccine, we trick our own cells into developing an immune response to COVID-19 which can protect us against a real infection in the future.

    There is NO live, weakened, or active coronavirus in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. You CANNOT get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

    • Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given in two doses. You need both doses of the vaccine for it to be fully effective.
    • It’s important to not mix and match vaccines. If you started with Pfizer, your second vaccination should be Pfizer. If you started with Moderna, your second dose should be Moderna.
    • Pfizer is recommended for ages 12 and up. Moderna is recommended for ages 18 and up.
    • Maximum protection will happen a few weeks after your second dose.

    To learn more about how mRNA vaccines – like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine – work, visit CDC: Understanding and Explaining mRNA Vaccines. 

    Johnson & Johnson 

    The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is what’s known as a viral vector vaccine. It uses a harmless cold virus (NOT the coronavirus) to deliver a gene that instructs our cells to make a spike protein found in the coronavirus. This triggers production of antibodies and a resulting immune response, helping protect us against a real infection in the future.

    The virus used in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine poses no threat of causing illness in humans because it has been modified or, in some cases, because the type of virus used cannot cause disease in humans.

    • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single dose.
    • The vaccine is recommended for ages 18 and up.
    • Maximum protection will happen a few weeks after you receive the vaccine.

    To learn more about how viral vector vaccines – like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – work, visit CDC: Understanding and Explaining Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines.

    UPDATE: CDC and FDA recommend use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a temporary pause. A review of all available data has shown that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh it’s known and potential risks.

    However, women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the rare but increased risk of blood clots and low platelets. Look out for possible symptoms after receiving the vaccine, including: severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision, shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, easy bruising, and/or tiny blood spots under the skin. There are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen.

    What you need to know about Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine

    Johnson & Johnson Q&As

    What are the possible side effects?

    Side effects reported include soreness at the injection site, fever, chills, headache, or muscle and joint pain. This is similar to reactions some people have to other vaccines, including flu and shingles.

    Have you experienced a side effect following COVID-19 vaccination? You can report it to VAERS. Anyone can submit a report to VAERS including parents and patients.

    I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to get the vaccine?

    Metro Health recommends that anyone who has had COVID-19 wait 90 days before receiving the vaccine. Your body will have created antibodies that should fight the disease if you were exposed again within this frame. Those same antibodies might also fight the vaccine.

    If you had COVID-19, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never get it again. The CDC recommends that you should get the vaccine regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 or not.

    What should I do if I contract COVID-19 between the first and second shot?

    If you contract COVID-19 during the waiting period between your first and second shot, you should quarantine/isolate and contact primary care physician. 

    Once are symptom-free and have completed the recommended quarantine period, you can receive the second dose of the vaccine. If the waiting period for your second shot has passed, you should get your vaccine as soon as possible.

    Get the second shot once you’re feeling better. You may still benefit from it and be better protected in the future.

    What do we know about the vaccine's safety?

    Several important steps were taken in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine:

    • Careful testing: The FDA approval process for the COVID-19 vaccine included rigorous standards including a four-phase process of volunteer trials. The FDA ONLY approves a vaccine if it’s safe and effective AND the benefits outweigh the risks.
    • Continuous monitoring: The FDA and CDC continue to monitor any problems or side effects experienced by those receiving the vaccine.

     

    COVID-19 Local Information

    The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has opened a COVID-19 Hotline for residents to ask questions about the virus. The hotline is available in English and Spanish. Residents can call 311 or 210-207-6000 (select option 8 for COVID-19 Hotline) or visit the COVID-19 City of San Antonio webpage for more information including: 

    • Testing Locations
    • COVID-19 Risk Level and Case Numbers
    • Current Orders & Declarations

    Transportation:  VIA is offering free transportation to or from an appointment at a City/County-sponsored COVID-19 vaccination site. Visit VIA Metropolitan Transit for more information.

    Have questions on testing and prevention? Check out our COVID-19 testing and prevention page to learn more.

    COVID-19 Resources by County

    Click on the county you live in for a list of area-specific COVID-19 vaccine resources including how to sign up for vaccine availability alerts or to be added to a county/provider’s vaccine waitlist. 

    ATASCOSA

    Atascosa County COVID-19 Hotline: (830) 580-2606  (This phone number is for information only. It cannot be used to sign up for a vaccine).

    BANDERA

    COVID-19 Vaccine Waitlist

    Call Bandera County Emergency Management at 830-460-8299 or Silver Sage Senior Center at 830-796-4969 to sign up for the Bandera County waitlist.

    Please note:  If the waitlist is full, it will re-open as more vaccines are administered. Signing up for the waitlist does not guarantee residents will receive a vaccination from Bandera County. 

    Additional Information:

    Bandera County Emergency Management Office Facebook

    COMAL

    Comal County COVID-19 Vaccine Standby List

    1. Click here to register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment with the Comal County Health Department. If appointments are not currently available, register for a spot on the Comal County Standby List (see information below).
    2. Those who register for the Standby List will be contacted with appointment information as more vaccines become available. Please respond to appointment email, texts, and/or voice calls as soon as possible.

    Please note:  If the waitlist is full, it will re-open as more vaccines are administered. Signing up for the Standby List does not guarantee residents will receive a vaccination from Comal County.  

    Additional Information:

    GUADALUPE

    City of Seguin COVID-19 Vaccine Information

    Click here for vaccine FAQs for Guadalupe County residents. When clinics are announced, a link will be provided on this page and on the county and City of Seguin’s social media pages (see links below) where you can sign up for the waitlist method to set an appointment. Guadalupe County Vaccine Clinics are held at the Seguin Coliseum located at 950 S. Austin Street in Seguin.

    Additional Information:

    KENDALL

    On April 21, 2021 the Boerne/Kendall County vaccine HUB held its final event for first-dose appointments. Anyone still wishing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can contact their primary care physician, Boerne H-E-B, Walmart, CVS or My Urgent Care Boerne on River Road to schedule appointments.

    Additional Information:

    MEDINA

    Medina County Vaccine Information and Online Registration 

    Click here to sign up for a vaccine appointment and to review walk-in availability with local providers in Medina County.

    Please note: If appointments/waitlist spots are unavailable, they will re-open as more vaccines are administered. Signing up for a waitlist does not guarantee residents will receive a vaccination from Medina County.  

    Additional Information:

    WILSON

    i-INFO: Email Vaccine Availability Alerts for Wilson County Residents

    1. Enroll in the i-INFO system, Wilson County’s mass notification system. Click here to enroll.
    2. Upon enrollment, you will receive a notification via email when vaccine appointments become available.
    3. The email will include a link which will direct you to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine date and time. 

    Additional Information:

    I got my COVID-19 vaccine! What happens next?

    Priti Mody-Bailey, MD, Community First Health Plans Chief Medical Officer, explains what to expect as more and more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

    I got my vaccine! Can I still get sick from COVID-19?

    Yes, but it’s much less likely. Based on evidence from clinical trials, the vaccine was 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness in people who had not been previously infected. If you do get infected, you will likely experience milder symptoms.

    Do I still have to wear my mask and social distance even after I get the vaccine?

    Yes. Texas will need millions of vaccines for all who want one, and the vaccine process takes a month or longer for maximum protection.

    Experts are still learning about the protection the vaccine provides under real-life conditions. Everyone needs to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, including:

    • wearing a mask,
    • practice social distancing,
    • and washing your hands often.
    Now that the vaccine is available, how long will it take for the pandemic to end?

    For the pandemic to end, we need to achieve herd immunity. Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result of herd immunity, everyone within the community is protected, even if some people don’t have any protection themselves.

    Experts do not know what percentage of people need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Although the vaccine appears to be very effective, we need to learn more about the protection it offers before stopping other prevention steps we’ve adopted during the pandemic.

    Will I need to get the COVID-19 vaccine every year, like the flu shot?

    We won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccine works. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after the initial infection. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of stopping COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about.

    We Are Here To Help

    We are happy to answer any questions you may have about your Community First Member benefits. Call 800-434-2347, Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm to speak with a representative who can help. 

    If you have questions after hours, call the Community First Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-434-2347 available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help you get the care you need.