Idaho, Utah and Wyoming Coronavirus Vaccine FAQ
Sterling Urgent Care has developed this FAQ to answer commonly asked questions about coronavirus vaccine and vaccinations in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. The information contained in this FAQ represents the latest guidance and findings from the Centers for Disease Control, the Untied States Food and Drug Administration and health departments in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.
For state-specific information on COVID vacinations, please see our state-specific pages:
Answers to Common Coronavirus Vaccine Questions
Who Should Get COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots?
Your booster schedule depends on which vaccine you intially received.
Johnson & Johnson/Janssen
As of May 2023, the Johnson & Johnson vacccine is no longer available in the United States. Anyone requiring a booster should speak with their healthcare provider about receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna boosters.
- Over Age 50: First booster 5 months after initial vaccination, second booster 4 months after initial booster. Third booster 2 months after second booster.
- Immunocompromised/Health Conditions Over Age 12: First booster at least 3 months after initial vaccination. Second booster 4 months after first booster.
- Third booster 2 months after second booster.
- Healthy People Ages 12 to 49: First booster at least 5 months after initial vaccination. Second booster at least 2 months after first booster.
- Healthy Children Ages 5 to 11: First booster at least 5 months after initial vaccination. As of October 2022, this will be a bivalent booster. The CDC recommends this new booster for children who received a previous booster dose. It should be given at least 2 months after any previous booster.
- Children Who Are Immunocompromised or Have Health Conditions Ages 6 to 11: First booster at least 3 months after intial vaccination. No second booster recommended at this time.
- Over Age 50: First booster at least 5 months after initial vaccination. Second booster at least 4 months after initial booster. Third booster 2 months after second booster.
- Healthy People Ages 18 to 49: First booster at least 5 months after initial vaccination. Second booster at least 2 months after first booster.
- Healthy Children Ages 6 to 11: A bivalent booster should be given at least 2 months after initial vaccination or a previous booster. As of October 2022, this will be a bivalent booster that provides some protection against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and an Omicron variant.
- Immunocompromised/Health Conditions Ages 18 to 48: First booster at least 3 months after initial vaccination. Second booster at least 4 months after initial booster. Third booster 2 months after second booster.
At this time, booster shots are not authorized for the Novavax vaccine. Two doses, adminstered 3 weeks apart, are available as an initial course of vaccination.
What Is the Difference Between the Coronavirus Vaccines?
There are two types of coronavirus vaccine now available.
MRNA vaccines include Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. These vaccines use a simulated SARS-CoV-2 virus created with messenger RNA (MRNA) to teach the immune system to identify and block the virus that causes COVID-19.
As of MAy 2023, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is no longer available in the United States.
Protein vaccine made by Novavax uses traditionall vaccine-making methods and contains no MRNA. The Novavax vaccine delivers a copy of the spike protein that SARS-CoV-2 uses to invade cells along with an immune-boosting ingredient, called an adjuvant, that teaches the immune system to fight off the protein.
Both types of vaccine have shown similar levels of efficacy in preventing severe illness and symptomatic disease. The Novavax vaccine may be better tolerated by people who have had allergic reactions to vaccines in the past.
No vaccine provides complete immunity from COVID-19 infection. Regular boosters are needed with MRNA vaccines to maintain the highest levels of protection. Boosters are not yet authorized for the Novavax vaccine, but this is likely to occur in the future.
What Is a Bivalent Vaccine?
Bivalent vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna include both the original MRNA vaccine designed to protect against SARS-COV-2 and a second MRNA vaccine that targets mutations in the SARS-COV-2 spike protein associated with more-transmissable Omicron variants.
By including MRNA for both the original spike protein and recent mutations, it is hoped that the vaccines will provide a broader spectrum of protection against infection or severe illness from COVID-19. Bivalent vaccines have an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Controll (CDC) recommends the Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent booster for all people over the age of 12 and the Moderna bivalent booster for all people over the age of 18. Boosters should be given at least two months after a previous booster or initial vaccination.
What COVID-19 Vaccines Are Available for Children Ages 6 Months to 5 Years?
There are two vaccines with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years:
- 2 shots, given 4 weeks apart
- 2 shots, given 3 weeks apart
- 1 shot, given 8 weeks later
A child is not considered vaccinated until this entire initial course of vaccinations is complete. This takes 4 weeks for Moderna and 11 weeks for Pfizer/BioNTech.
What COVID-19 Vaccines Are Available for Children Ages 6 to 17?
Pfizer/BioNTech has an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for kids between the ages of 5 and 17.
Moderna has an Emergency Use Authorization for kids between teh ages of 12 and 17.
For most kids, vaccination includes 2 initial shots, at least 3 weeks apart, followed by a booster at least 3 months after the initial vaccination. As of October 2022, these will be bivalent boosters that produce antibodies for both the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and an Omicron variant. This provides a broader range of protection from infection and serious illness.
Pfizer/BioNTech’s bivalent booster has an Emergency Use Authorization as a single dose for kids ages 5-11. A separate bivalent booster has an Emergency Use Authorization for kids over the age of 12.
Moderna’s bivalent booster has an Emergency Use Authorization as a single dose for kids over the age of 6.
Kids who are immunocompromised or who have health conditions that put them at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19 should get a second booster at least 4 months after the initial booster.
Kids over the age of 12 should receive a Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent booster at least 2 months after their initial vaccination.
I have severe allergies. Should I get the coronavirus vaccine?
Health officials in the United Kingdom and in the United States have advised people with a history of severe allergies to discuss getting the vaccine with their healthcare providers. Pfizer and BioNTech are currently investigating those allergic reactions, which were not life-threatening, to try and understand why they occurred.
People with known allergies may want to cosider the Novavax vaccine, which received an EUA in July 2022. This vaccine contains no MRNA and is made with organic ingredients that may be better tolerated by some patients. You should discuss this option with your doctor if concerns over vaccine allergies have kept you from getting an MRNA vaccine.
What is the coronavirus vaccine?
Coronavirus vaccines have been developed to reduce the risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorizations in the United States for a two-shot vaccine developed by Moderna and a single-shot vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and distributed by Johnson & Johnson. A two-shot vaccine developed by Pfiizer/BioNTech has full FDA approval.
As of June 2022, anyone over the age of 6 months can receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The Moderna vaccine has FDA Approval for people over 18 and for pediatric patients ages 6 months to 5 years as of January 2022.
The Novavax vaccine has an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for patients over the age of 18 as of July 2022.
As of May 2023, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is no longer available in the United States.
Can I Mix and Match Boosters?
FDA has authorized so-called “mix and match” boosters from different manufacturers only for those over the age of 17.
- If you received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, you can get a Moderna booster or a Pfizer/BioNTech booster.
- If you received the Moderna vaccine, you can get a Pfizer/BioNTech booster or a Moderna booster.
- If you received the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, you can receive a Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech booster. As of May 2023, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not available in the United States.
Note that Moderna booster doses should be a half dose. Please let your vaccine provider know that you are receiving a booster. The simplest way to do this is to present your vaccination card when you arrive for a booster shot.
Individuals ages 11-17 are only eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. They should receive a booster dose 5 months after the initial 2-dose vaccination.
Why Did the CDC Change the Interval Between Initial Doses of Some Vaccines?
In February 2022, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its guidance for the timing of initial vaccinations with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. People between the ages of 12 and 64 with healthy immune systems are encouraged to wait 8 weeks between doses. All others, including children and people at any age with compromised immune systems, should follow the original guidelines of 3 weeks between doses for the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine and 4 weeks for the Moderna vaccine.
The CDC made these changes in response to new clinical data from Canada, which extended the time between initial doses to as much as 16 weeks in 2021 when vaccine demand outpaced supply. Several studies of Canada’s vaccination and infection rates found that waiting longer provided a stronger overall immune response and reduced the chance of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, in males ages 12 to 39. Males in this age group with healthy immune systems are encouraged to wait the full 8 weeks between their initial coronavirus vaccine doses, as this was found to further reduce the already rare chance of developing heart inflammation.
What is the difference between FDA Authorization and FDA Approval?
An FDA-approved vaccine is one that has been thoroughly researched with its short- and long-term effects documented. Flu vaccines, mumps vaccines and TDAP vaccines are all FDA authorized and safe for use in the overwhelming majority of people.
An FDA-authorized vaccine has not been fully studied and documented, but it is believed that it will not harm people and that providing it will protect public health. Emergency Use Authorizations are commonly issued by the FDA when a clinical study shows strong results and minimal side effects.
The CDC strongly recommends any available COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women, who are at a significantly higher risk of severe complications, including fetal harm, from COVID-19.
People with a history of severe allergies, including anaphylaxis, are advised to speak to their physicians before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Were coronavirus vaccines rushed to market?
Coronavirus vaccines were not rushed to market. There has been considerable confusion about these vaccines, the science behind them and Operation Warp Speed.
Messenger RNA, or MRNA, vaccines have been around for more than a decade. Originally developed as cancer treatments, they have since been used to develop vaccines for MERS (a close cousin of COVID-19), Ebola and Zika. In treatment settings and clinical trials, these vaccines have proven to be safe, even in very ill people.
The technology to make coronavirus vaccines existed and simply needed a genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which was released in January 2020. Vaccine development and clinical trials began shortly after the genetic sequence of the virus was known.
Operation Warp Speed provided money for companies like Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer to manufacture millions of doses of vaccine before it was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. Typically, drug companies cannot afford to make vaccines until they are approved. By removing this financial risk, Operation Warp Speed allowed the United States to have immediate access to vaccines as soon as they were authorized, instead of waiting another year for manufacturing to ramp up.
If the vaccines had not been authorized, the stockpiles would have been destroyed. The United Kingdom enacted a similar program with AstraZeneca to speed delivery of their vaccine once it was authorized.
The time savings only occurred after the vaccines were authorized. Full clinical trails were conducted for all vaccines authorized in the United States, and a few of those vaccines never made it past Phase 1 of their trials.
If I get a COVID vaccine, do I still have to wear a mask and social distance?
New guidelines for fully vaccinated people were released by the CDC in late April 2021. Those who are fully vaccinated:
- Do not need to wear a mask outdoors except in very crowded areas
- May gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without masks
- May opt out of regular COVID-19 testing as long as they are asymptomatic
- May travel without quarantine; note that proof of vaccination may be required by travel providers and at your destination
- May refrain from testing and quarantine after a known exposure, depending on circumstances where they live and work
Vaccinated people should remember that there is still a chance that they can catch and transmit COVID-19 even after getting a COVID vaccine. Care should be taken around unvaccinated people, particularly children and those at a high risk for complications.
Does the coronavirus vaccine work?
In clinical trials, the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective at preventing infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine also prevented people who were infected from developing the most severe symptoms.
The Novavax vaccine demonstrated a similar effectiveness of approximately 90% in preventing symptomatic illness.
Protection from all vaccines is believed to wane over time, with most studies finding the strongest protection during a six-month period after a booster or initial vaccination. Those with compromised immune systems may need more frequent boosters to maintain their protection.
Why should I get the coronavirus vaccine?
COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, can be fatal for people of all ages. Some people who get the virus never get symptoms but are still able to infect others. By getting vaccinated, you reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 and spreading it to others. You will be helping your community dramatically reduce the number of infections.
Will the COVID vaccine make me immune to coronavirus?
Vaccines very rarely offer full immunity to any virus. During clinical trials, the COVID vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech has been found to be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections. It also reduced the severity of symptoms in people who were infected. The vaccine should be considered good protection against the worst outcomes from a coronavirus infection, but it does not offer total immunity.
Why is the COVID vaccine kept at very cold temperatures?
The Pfizer and BioNTech COVID vaccine must be kept at temperatures of -94 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. This is because the Messenger RNA (MRNA) that stimulates the human immune response is very fragile and will break down quickly in the vaccine solution at warmer temperatures. This does not happen in the human body.
I have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Do I still need the coronavirus vaccine?
Health officials recommend waiting for 90 days (3 months) after a COVID-19 diagnosis before getting the coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine is recommended even for those who have been diagnosed with COVID, as there is little known about how long antibodies from a COVID-19 infection last.
Do I need to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 if I have been vaccinated?
According to new guidance from the CDC, people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 do not need to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated. “Fully vaccinated” is defined as a period two or more weeks after the second vaccination with an FDA-authorized vaccine.
Are There Side Effects from the COVID Vaccines?
The most common side effect from the three authorized vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech 2-shot, Moderna 2-shot) is soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. These symptoms may appear a few hours to one day after injection and typically clear up in 24-48 hours. You should recieve guidance on over-the-counter medicines you can take for the pain. Ice, cold compresses and movement may help to relieve soreness as well.
If pain or redness at the injection site gets worse after 24 hours, you should see a physician.
Following a second injection with the 2-shot Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, some people report chills, fatigue, fever, nausea and headaches. These symptoms are a sign that your body is generating an immune response, and they vary greatly from person to person. Some people experience no symptoms at all.
Symptoms should clear up in 48-72 hours. Making surge that you are hydrated the day before a second vaccination, the day of vaccination and the day after vaccination may help to alleviate symptoms. You should also receive guidance on over-the-counter remedies to help manage symptoms.
If your symptoms last for more than 72 hours or if they get worse over time, you should see a physician.
Side effects for boosters are similar to those for a second injection and include soreness at the injection site, mild fever, fatigue, nausea and headaches in some people. A past history of side effects from a second vaccine dose has not been reported to make individuals more or less likely to experience side effects, or to make side effects more or less severe.
There have been reports of heart inflammation, including myocarditis and pericarditis, in males between the ages of 12 and 39. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat and typically occur within a week of the second dose. Males between the ages of 12 and 39 should watch for these symptoms and report them to a physician. Treatments are available, and most cases are mild.
Males ages 12 to 39 should wait 8 weeks between their first and second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines to further reduce the risk of heart inflammation, unless they have compromised immune systems. Those with compromised immune systems should follow a vaccination schedule of 3 weeks between Pfizer/BioNTech shots and 4 weeks between Moderna shots.
In rare cases, people have experienced allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines. Allergic reactions will take place within 30 minutes of injection, and anyone concerned about an allergic reacton should feel free to wait at the vaccination site for 30 minutes instead of 15.
If you have had anaphylaxis from any previous vaccination, please inform whoever is administering the vaccine before your recieve your shot. You may want to get vaccinated in a hospital or clinic rather than a mass-vaccination site if you have experienced anaphylaxis in the past.
Is the COVID vaccine safe?
COVID vaccines should be considered safe and effective. There have been rare instancces, approximately 1 in 1,000,000, of a blood clotting disorder reported in people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States or the AstraZeneca vaccine outside the United States. This condition is treatable and occurred primarily in premenopausal women. People concerned about this and other potential side effects should speak to their doctor or a physician before vaccination.
As of May 2023, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not available in the United States.
People who have had allergic reactions to vaccines in the past should report this when they get vaccinated. Allergic reactions are uncommon, but those who have had past reactions are advised to monitor for symptoms for 30 minutes after an injection instead of 15. If you have expereinced a severe reaction to a vaccination, such as anaphylaxis, you should speak to your physician about getting vaccinated in a health-care setting, rather than at a mass-vaccination clinic.
There have been very rare cases of heart inflammation, including Myocarditis and Pericarditis, in people who have received COVID-19 vaccinations. These cases are more common in adolescent and young males. No specific link between the vaccines and heart inflammation has been found, but people who receive the vaccines are advised to monitor for symptoms, which can include chest pain, fatigue, unusual shortness of breath, light-headedness or swelling of the legs, ankles and feet.
Should anyone avoid the COVID vaccine?
People who have had allergic reactions to vaccines in the past should inform the person adminstering the vaccine before they are vaccinated. As a rule, people with past allergic reactions will be monitored for side effects for 30 minutes instead of 15 minutes. People who have experienced anaphylaxis or other severe vaccine reactions are advised to get vaccinated at a hospital or health clinic rather than a mass-vaccination site.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the authorized COVID-19 vaccines for women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding. Current monitoring by the CDC and clinical studies from drugmakers have found no significant concerns for pregnant women or their children. You should discuss vaccination with your doctor to determine if it is right for you.
I have a compromised immune system. Should I get the vaccine?
The United States Centers for Disease Control recommends vaccination for all immunocompromised people, with a preferential recommendation for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna two-dose vaccines, followed by boosters. Severely immunocompromised individuals may need boosters more frequently than the general public. You should speak with a health care professional to determine your booster needs.
People with weakened immune systems should get their initial doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine 3 weeks apart, and their doses of the Moderna vaccine 4 weeks apart.
I have Giullian-Barré Syndrome. Is the COVID vaccine safe for me?
People with Giullian-Barré Syndrome should talk to their healthcare providers and review their medical history before getting the COVID vaccine. If you have a history of severe reactions to vaccines, including neurological reactions or anaphylaxis, you may want to avoid getting the COVID vaccine at this time. Your healthcare provider can help you make the best choice based on your medical history.
Do COVID vaccinations cause infertility?
No COVID vaccinations cause infertility. This rumor never applied to male fertility.
A German epidemiologist asked European regulators to delay approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on the grounds that the spike protein in the vaccine shared some characteristics with a protein in the placenta, which might cause women to have difficulty conceiving.
Data from clinical studies and millions of vaccinations has found no cause for concern. Women who receive the vaccine are capable of conceiving and carrying healthy babies to term. Concerns over fertility should not prevent women from getting these vaccines. They were authorized for use in pregnant women by the Centers for Disease Control in late April 2021.
Similar vaccines have been used in cancer treatment for more than a decade, and to treat MERS, Zika and Ebola in recent clinical trials. No impact on fertility has been found in any of the past studies.
Does the coronavirus vaccine cause Bell's Palsy?
Some people experienced Bell’s Palsy during the clinical trials for coronvirus vaccines. The number of Bell’s Palsy cases were not statistically higher than those found in the general population, so researchers have not established a clear link between these cases and the vaccines. Bell’s Palsy is a weakness in muscles on one side of the face. In the majority of cases, it is temporary and clears up within a few weeks.
If you have ever experienced a significant reaction to a vaccine, including anaphylaxis, you should speak to your physician before receiving coronavirus vaccines.