Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When will I be able to get the vaccine?

A: As of March 31st, all Minnesotans 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated! Supply is still limited, so it may still be hard to find an appointment for a little while.

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are only approved for use on people of 18 years or older. Pfizer is the only vaccine currently approved for use on 16- and 17-year-olds. A children’s vaccine may come at a later time.

Q: How do I get an appointment?

A: One great way to stay updated about the vaccine rollout and learn when you are eligible is to sign up for the MN Vaccine Connector (now available in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali). This tool will notify you when it is your turn to sign up for a vaccine and help you figure out how to get your shot. 

The MN vaccine connector lets you know when it is your turn to get vaccinated.

Even after you sign up for the Vaccine Connector, you can increase your chances of getting a vaccine earlier by getting on a waitlist at your primary care provider, if you have one, and searching with other tools. Here are a few options:

  • MDH Find My Vaccine tool 
  • Vaccine Spotter
  • Find A Shot and Dr. B can both notify you when appointments or extra doses become available due to cancellations or extra stock that needs to be used. 
  • Facebook groups where people help each other find vaccines - here is one for Minneapolis and one for Saint Paul (despite the city-specific names, each group will help any Minnesotan in any location find their shot).

Our COVID community coordinators are a great resource to help you navigate this process. Call the COVIDLine at (612) 254-0116 to speak to someone today.

Q: What should I expect from the vaccine?

A: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given in 2 doses, 3 or 4 weeks apart. Protection kicks in about 2 weeks after the second dose. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine only requires one dose and protection begins after two weeks. Even after getting vaccinated, it is recommended that you wear a mask and continue to social distance until the vaccine has been widely distributed.

For a walkthrough of one person's experience, check out Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s livestream of her recieving the Pfizer vaccine here.

Q: Are there any side effects?

A: Some people experience side effects for a few days after the vaccine, including soreness in the arm where the vaccine was injected, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, and occasionally fever. Watch this video for more details about what causes side effects.

Q: How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

A: COVID-19 vaccine will be provided to everyone at no cost.

Q: What is in the vaccine?

A: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not contain any live virus. Instead, it uses messenger RNA to teach our cells how to fight off the virus. The RNA in the vaccines cannot change your DNA in any way. For more detail on how mRNA vaccines work, visit the CDC website.

The third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, works a little differently. From Yale Medicine:

"This is a carrier vaccine, which uses a different approach than the mRNA vaccines to instruct human cells to make the SARS CoV-2 spike protein. Scientists engineer a harmless adenovirus (a common virus that, when not inactivated, can cause colds, bronchitis, and other illnesses) as a shell to carry genetic code on the spike proteins to the cells (similar to a Trojan Horse). The shell and the code can’t make you sick, but once the code is inside the cells, the cells produce a spike protein to train the body’s immune system, which creates antibodies and memory cells to protect against an actual SARS-CoV-2 infection."

There are no eggs, preservatives, latex, or pork products in any of the vaccines. They are halal. For a complete list of ingredients, see the fact sheets for the three vaccines that have been authorized by the FDA so far: 

See this page from Yale Medicine for more details about the differences between the various vaccines. All three options have been tested extensively and determined to be safe and effective.

Q: Will the vaccine be mandatory?

A: The vaccine will not be mandatory, it is your choice whether or not to take it.

Q: How did the vaccine get developed so quickly?

A: This vaccine was developed much more quickly than many others mostly because it was the top priority for scientists around the world - a lot of money, resources, and labor have gone into creating a safe vaccine. The requirements for this vaccine were the same as all other vaccines and no stages were skipped in the development process. Instead, some of the clinical trials were done at the same time rather than one after the other. In addition, scientists were able to build on years of research about other coronaviruses and mRNA vaccines. The vaccines that have been authorized for use have been tested on tens of thousands of people and reviewed by many scientists. For more details on how the vaccine was made, see this short document from the MN Department of Health.

Q: Do I need to be vaccinated if I have already had COVID-19?

A: it is recommended that all adults get the vaccine even if they have already had the disease. Although getting the virus can give you a certain amount of immunity, we don’t know for sure how long it lasts and the vaccine will offer better protection against becoming re-infected.

Q: Do you need to be a U.S. citizen to receive the vaccine?

A: No, the vaccine is available and free for everyone regardless of citizenship status. You will not be asked for proof of citizenship at any point in the vaccine process. You may be asked to provide proof of residency in Minnesota (i.e. your address).