COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Last revision June 21, 2022

Vaccine registration is available to Hawaii residents who are 6 months of age and older.

If you are looking for a vaccine location, use the link below!

Acronyms and abbreviations used:

  • CDC: US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
  • COVID-19: Coronavirus Disease 2019
  • EUA: Emergency Use Authorization
  • FDA: US Food & Drug Administration
  • HDOH: State of Hawaii Department of Health
  • VAERS: Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System

General Vaccine FAQs

How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

The COVID-19 vaccine is a national public health priority purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars and is offered at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

How many doses of the vaccine are needed to be up to date?

You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines when you have received all doses in the primary series and any boosters you’re eligible to receive. Getting a second booster is not necessary to be considered up to date at this time. The recommendations will be different depending on your age, your health status, what vaccine you first received, and when you first got vaccinated. Learn more here: Stay Up to Date with Your COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women?

Pregnant and recently pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk for severe illness when compared with non-pregnant people. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk for preterm birth and might be at increased risk for other adverse pregnancy complications and outcomes, such as preeclampsia, coagulopathy, and stillbirth. The benefits of vaccination outweigh any known or potential risks of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. Learn more at COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding (cdc.gov).

The COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J) do not contain the live virus and cannot cause infection in either the pregnant person or the fetus.

Other things to consider:

  • COVID-19 risks of severe illness or adverse outcomes are known to be higher for pregnant women and their fetuses.
  • You should talk to your pregnancy healthcare provider and discuss if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine.

You can learn more about vaccines for pregnant women at this CDC site: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pregnancy/index.html and here.

If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available?

You should get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you already had COVID-19.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19. People who already had COVID-19 and do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get vaccinated after their recovery.

No one should be vaccinated while they are currently sick with a COVID-19 infection. Vaccinating should be postponed until the person has no more symptoms and criteria have been met for them to discontinue isolation. View our isolation guidance here: Home Isolation and Quarantine Guidance.

Are there other vaccines that can help prevent me from getting COVID-19? Does getting the annual flu shot help?

Right now, there are three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States.

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty)
  2. Moderna
  3. Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen

The three vaccines mentioned above are the only vaccines available in the U.S. that will protect against COVID-19. However, it is important to also get your annual flu shot during the COVID-19 pandemic. An influenza vaccine (“flu shot”) will not protect you from getting COVID-19, but it may provide several individual health benefits, such as keeping you from getting sick with the flu, reducing the severity of your illness if you do get the flu, and reducing your risk of hospitalization because of the flu. Flu vaccination is very important to keep you healthy and to keep our clinics and hospitals from being overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the differences between flu and COVID-19 at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm.

Can I take the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines such as the flu vaccine?

Yes. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit. You no longer need to wait 14 days between vaccinations. Experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop protection after getting vaccinated (known as an immune response) and possible side effects experienced are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines. Learn more about the timing of other vaccines.

Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than the protection you would get from a COVID-19 vaccine? How long will the vaccine protect people?

The protection someone gains from having an infection (called “natural immunity”) varies depending on how mild or severe the individual’s illness was, the time since his or her infection, and the person’s age.

Some early evidence seems to suggest that natural immunity may only last up to 90 days. As for the protection offered by the COVID-19 vaccine, we don’t know how long immunity lasts. However, we know that getting a COVID-19 vaccination is a safer and more dependable way to build immunity to COVID-19 than getting sick with COVID-19. Learn more at Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC.

Experts are working hard to learn more about COVID-19, including natural immunity and vaccine immunity. CDC and HDOH will inform the public as new evidence becomes available and recommendations change.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine have any side effects? Can it cause you to get sick?

In general, most people do not have serious problems after being vaccinated. Some common but temporary side effects may be soreness, redness, or warmth in the arm where they got the shot. Some people report getting a headache or fever after receiving a vaccine. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. View more about vaccine side effects here.

If you know you are allergic to any ingredient in one of the vaccines, you should not get that vaccine. If you know you have allergies, but don’t know if you are allergic to an ingredient in the vaccines talk to your provider or the provider offering you the vaccine before getting vaccinated. Learn more about allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines.

These side effects are signs that your immune system is working as it should, to build protection against the disease for which you’re being vaccinated. Talk to your provider or the provider offering you the vaccine and ask questions before getting vaccinated.

What is known so far about the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots?

It is important to remember this adverse effect after getting the J&J COVID-19 vaccine is very rare. The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination continue to outweigh any potential risks. Less than 1 in one million people have experienced CVST in combination with low levels of blood platelets after receiving the J&J vaccine.

Learn more about the J&J vaccine here: Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety | CDC

Learn more about selected adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccines here: Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC

Should I receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after hearing about the potential side effects?

  • Like all vaccines, viral vector vaccines benefit people who get vaccinated by giving them protection against diseases like COVID-19 without them having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick.
  • CDC recommends that people who are starting their vaccine series or getting a booster dose get either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines). The mRNA vaccines are preferred over Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (viral vector) in most circumstances, but the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine may be considered in some situations.

Learn more about the J&J vaccine here: Understanding Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC

If I am up to date on vaccinations, are there still actions I should take to protect myself and others?

Yes, you should still protect yourself and others by wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others not in your household, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Learn more about How to Protect Yourself & Others | CDC.

How do I report it if I have a problem or bad reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible side effects (“adverse events”) through VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) and V-safe.

An “adverse event” is any health problem that happens after a shot or other vaccine. An adverse event might be truly caused by a vaccine, or it might be pure coincidence (something that happened after vaccination but not caused by the vaccine).

One of the main jobs of CDC’s Immunization Safety Office is doing research to find out if adverse events that are reported by doctors, vaccine manufacturers, and the public are truly caused by a vaccine.

  • VAERS on the Internet

VAERS is a national system that collects data to look for side effects (“adverse events”) that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or occur in unusual patterns. CDC uses VAERS to monitor the safety of vaccines across the country, which is a top priority. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) can be found at the following website: vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html.

  • V-safe on your smartphone

You can also use a tool on your smartphone, called V-safe, to tell CDC about any side effects you have after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. V-safe will also provide you reminders if you need a second vaccine dose.
V-safe uses text messages 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 problems you experience after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information.

You can learn more about how to register and use V-safe at the following website: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/vsafe.html.

You can learn more about the difference between routine side effects and adverse events at this CDC website: www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/ensuringsafety/sideeffects/index.html.

What do I do if I am up to date on vaccinations and have tested positive for COVID-19?

People are considered up to date on their vaccinations when they have received all doses in the primary series and one booster when eligible. View our isolation guidance to learn more.

What do I do if I am a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 and am experiencing symptoms but I am up to date on vaccinations?

People are considered up to date on their vaccinations when they have received all doses in the primary series and one booster when eligible. View our isolation guidance to learn more.

In isolation:

  • Separate yourself from others in your household
  • Wear a mask even at home to protect others in your household
  • Notify anyone who you spent time with (from 2 days before you got sick) that you tested positive for COVID-19. View our guidance on how to talk to your close contacts.
  • Stay home except when getting medical care

If you are up to date on vaccinations and you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should tested as soon as possible. View our self-test guidance here: When to Use a COVID-19 Self-Test.

What do I do if I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 but I am not experiencing any symptoms and am up to date with vaccinations?

If you are up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations you do not need to quarantine after being exposed but you should take a self-test. View our self-test guidance at When to Use a COVID-19 Self-Test. View our quarantine guidance here: Self-Quarantine For contacts of COVID-19.

Can my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine be from a different manufacturer than my first dose? Can I mix and match vaccines for my primary series?

No, at this time, you cannot mix and match primary doses; you may only mix and match booster doses. If the COVID-19 vaccine you received for your first dose requires a second dose (Pfizer or Moderna), the second dose must be from the same manufacturer as your first.

Example: If you received the Pfizer vaccine for your first dose, you must receive the Pfizer vaccine for your second; you cannot receive the Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccine for your second dose.

Where can I find out more information?

For more information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/novel-coronavirus-2019.html. You can also visit HDOH’s COVID-19 websites at hawaiicovid19.com and health.hawaii.gov/coronavirusdisease2019.

Finally, you can contact HDOH’s partners at Aloha United Way from anywhere in Hawaii for information and referral services:

What is the interval at which to receive the vaccines?

View the COVID-19 vaccine schedule here: Clinical Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC

What is the interval at which people who are immunocompromised should receive their vaccines?

View the COVID-19 vaccine schedule for immunocompromised people here: Clinical Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC

Vaccine FAQs For Children 5-11 Years Old

How is the children’s dose different from the adult dose?

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine dosage for children age 5-11 is 10 micrograms, 1/3 the dose used for adults and adolescents. 

How can you tell the difference between an adult vial and pediatric vial?

The adult/adolescent vial has a purple cap and the pediatric vial has an orange cap. 

Is there a difference in the dilution of the adult and pediatric doses?

The adult dose of 30 mcg is diluted with 1.8 mL diluent. The pediatric dose of 10 mcg is diluted with 1.3 mL of diluent.  

What side effects should I anticipate for my child following the shot?

Your child may have some side effects, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. On the arm where your child got the shot:
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
Throughout the rest of your child’s body:
  •  Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle Pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
Learn more here: COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects in Children and Teens (cdc.gov)

Should I keep my child home from school the day after receiving the vaccine?

Side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects.  
Ask your child’s healthcare provider for advice on using a non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home to comfort your child. It is not recommended you give pain relievers before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effect.

Why should my child be vaccinated?

Although children are at a lower risk of becoming severely ill when infected with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can get very sick, have both short and long-term health complications, and spread COVID-19 to others. Children are more likely to be asymptomatic than adults and can spread it unknowingly to those who are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill.

  • COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people getting COVID-19 and can also reduce the risk of spreading it. The risk of severe illness is much greater for people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19.
  • CDC recommends everyone ages 5 years and older get their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, and receive a booster dose when eligible, so they can stay up to date on vaccines.
  • People who are up to date on COVID-19 vaccines will not be required to quarantine if they come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and children and teens.

Which COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for kids?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given only the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization for children ages 5 through 11. 

How many doses will my child need to get? What if my child is immunocompromised?

For children who are not considered moderately to severely immunocompromised, a 2 dose series is recommended at this time. The second dose of Pfizer should be given 21 days (3 weeks) after the first dose. The second dose can be given up to six weeks after the first dose, if needed. However, it’s recommended to receive the second dose as close to 3 weeks after the first dose, if possible.

For moderately to severely immunocompromised children, an additional primary dose should be given at least 4 weeks after the initial 2-dose primary series.

Learn more here: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (5 Through 11 Years of Age) | CDC

Should I still get my child vaccinated even though there’s a possible risk of myocarditis?

Yes. CDC continues to recommend that everyone ages 5 years and older get vaccinated for COVID-19. The known risks of COVID-19 illness and its related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death, far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.

Is my child at risk of myocarditis after receiving the vaccine?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the lining outside 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.

The severity of cases of myocarditis and pericarditis can vary. For the cases reported after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, most who presented to medical care have responded well to medications and rest.

Learn more here: COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Children Aged 5–11 Years — United States, November 3–December 19, 2021 | MMWR (cdc.gov)

Will there be a pediatrician on site at my child’s vaccine clinic?

It is not required that a pediatrician be on site at a child’s vaccination clinic. However, we encourage vaccine clinics to have one on site so that questions may be answered.

If I received passive antibody treatments (monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma) can I still get a COVID-19 vaccine?

People who previously received antibody products (anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma) as part of COVID-19 treatment, post-exposure prophylaxis, or pre-exposure prophylaxis can be vaccinated at any time. COVID-19 vaccination does not need to be delayed following the receipt of monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma. Learn more about therapeutics for the outpatient treatment of COVID-19.

Vaccine FAQs for Children 6 Months to 5 Years Old

What is the dosage given to children ages 6 months to 5 years old?

The Pfizer vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years is one-tenth of the dosage given to adults.

The Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years is a quarter of the dosage given to adults.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE THAT WERE NOT ANSWERED HERE:

Please call the Immunization Branch Vaccination Call Center at (808) 586-8332 or 1-833-711-0645