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COVID-19 vaccine safety, availability and delivery


Initial rollout timeframe and availability

Learn more about and pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine.

  1. When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available for healthcare workers in St. Louis? 
  2. The first vaccine shipments have arrived and vaccination of patient-facing health care workers is under way. 
  3. Who will be the first to receive the vaccine?
    Consistent with prioritization guidelines set by federal health authorities BJC HealthCare will provide the first round of vaccines to employees who have direct contact with patients.
  4. Does BJC HealthCare recommend that I get the vaccine if I have the opportunity? 
    BJC HealthCare strongly encourages vaccination for anyone who is eligible to receive it. Talk to your provider if you have questions regarding your personal health situation.

    Get more information on the CDC website
  5. How many doses of the vaccine did BJC HealthCare receive initially? 
    We received an initial delivery of 9,750 doses, with more supply of varying quantities expected on a weekly basis.
  6. When will the vaccine be available to the general public? 
    Decisions about who to prioritize for access to a COVID-19 vaccine are made by federal and state public health agencies. Due to the prioritization process established by federal health agencies, which seeks to provide the vaccine first to the most vulnerable, it will be several months before the vaccine is available to the general public.

    Read more about the vaccine prioritization process
  7. Who will distribute the vaccines to the general public?
    The distribution of vaccines to the general public will likely be led by public health officials. Those logistics are still being worked out.
  8. Where can I get more information on the vaccines?
    Online resources are available and this list will continue to be updated. Visit:


Vaccine safety

  1. How do I know the vaccine is safe? 
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitor all U.S. vaccines for safety and provide data and insight continuously to government health agencies, public health partners, and the public. Based on clinical trial data, the FDA has determined the vaccine is safe for distribution. As part of its process it will continue to monitor for possible side effects.

    Learn more about vaccine safety
  2. What if the vaccine is found to cause further complications?
    Based on clinical trial data, the FDA has determined the vaccine is safe for distribution. However, as part of its process it will continue to monitor for possible side effects.

    Learn more about vaccine safety
  3. Can/should I get the vaccine if I’m pregnant or may become pregnant?
    The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend pregnant women be offered the vaccine, as long as they are otherwise healthy and eligible to receive it.

    Learn more from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
  4. The development of the vaccines was accelerated and the long-term effects are unknown, right?
    Scientists have been working on coronavirus vaccines for decades, after SARS-1 emerged and in response to MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).  Neither of these viruses turned out to spread as quickly as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, so those vaccines were never brought to market at the time. 

    The funding provided by the federal government allowed vaccine developers to pursue all the usual vaccine development studies and safety testing at the same time instead of one phase at a time – and also allowed them to manufacture doses before the vaccine was approved.  This support moved the process along more quickly, without any shortcuts in the development, effectiveness and safety testing process.
  5. What are the side effects? 
    At this time, the most common reported side effects have been fever, headache, fatigue, and body or muscle aches in the days immediately following vaccination. It is possible these side effects will be more prominent than what it is experienced after a flu shot. Per early reports, these effects are more common after the second dose.
  6. How long will the vaccine be effective?
    This is not yet entirely clear. Studies have measured antibodies that persist for at least several months after vaccination. Antibodies are an important part of the immune system but not the only way disease is prevented. An important part of the FDA’s decision about whether to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine will be whether it is safe and effective. How long a vaccine is likely to provide protection will likely require more study.
  7. When the manufacturers mention 95% effectiveness, what does this mean? Does that mean a 95% chance of being COVID-19-immune or that you will experience 95% less symptoms if you contract COVID-19?
    Vaccine effectiveness is a mathematical calculation that compares the risk for developing disease (COVID-19) among a group of people who received the vaccine compared to the risk for developing the disease among a control group who did not receive the vaccine. So a vaccine efficacy of 95% indicates a 95% reduction in disease among those who were vaccinated, or a 95% reduction from the number of cases you would expect among those who were not vaccinated.
  8. I have a severe latex allergy. Can the COVID-19 vaccine be given safely to me?
    The CDC has confirmed that neither the Pfizer vaccine nor the Moderna vaccine contains latex.
  9. Once I’m vaccinated, can I still spread COVID-19 to others?
    We know the vaccine protects against symptomatic COVID-19 and against severe disease with COVID-19. It is unknown whether it is possible for someone who has been vaccinated to still acquire and spread COVID-19 to others. This is one reason it will be essential to continue wearing a mask, avoid crowds, physical distance and wash your hands even after vaccination until this becomes clearer.
  10. What does Emergency Use Authorization mean?
    An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is a process the federal government can use during an emergency to authorize use of a vaccine, drug or medical device that is not yet licensed or that is licensed for a different purpose. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have both received EUA from the FDA.
  11. Can I catch COVID-19 from the vaccine?
    No. The vaccines do NOT use live virus and therefore cannot cause COVID-19.
  12. Do I still need to wear a mask and practice physical distancing if I’ve been vaccinated?
    Yes. It’s important to continue practicing these safety measures until broad public immunity is achieved.
  13. Is there an age recommendation for children to receive the vaccine?
    More information about safety and whether children and teenagers can be vaccinated will be available in coming months.
  14. Is this vaccine safe for people who have an autoimmune disease and are on medication for treatment?
    We do not yet know what personal health factors would make it unsafe for you to receive this vaccine. People should discuss with their providers their risk of acquiring COVID-19, their risk of poor outcomes if they do get COVID-19, the impact of COVID-19 infection on their underlying conditions, and consider vaccination in light of those conversations.
  15. Do I need a vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
    Yes. It’s unclear how long immunity lasts after COVID-19 infection and it may vary from individual to individual. It is likely that vaccination will ensure more consistent immunity across the population of recipients.
  16. Is there a way to sign up to get the vaccine once available to the public?
    Public vaccinations are expected to be coordinated by public health departments over the coming months. You can stay connected with BJC for more information and an e-newsletter sign up.

Vaccine administration/delivery

  1. Is the vaccine a 2-part vaccine? If so, will I be scheduled to return for the second dose? Will it be every year, like the flu shot?
    The first vaccines will require two doses separated by at least three or four weeks depending upon which vaccine you receive. At this time, we do not know whether follow-up vaccinations will be required for COVID-19, as they are for influenza.
  2. Will a negative COVID-19 test be required before receiving the vaccine? 
    No. As with most vaccines, you should not receive it if you are currently ill with a fever.
  3. If I am allergic to the seasonal flu vaccine, should I get the COVID-19 vaccine? 
    Your doctor may be able to help assess this risk, which will depend on what exactly you are allergic to and whether that is a component of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  4. If I have tested positive for COVID-19 but am no longer sick, can I get the vaccine? 
    Yes, you can still be vaccinated if you previously had COVID-19 and have recovered.
  5. Will BJC eventually be administering COVID-19 vaccinations to the public like they do with flu shots
    At this time local public health departments are planning how to vaccinate the public. Similar to the seasonal influenza vaccine, it is expected that eventually the COVID-19 vaccine will be available through your local pharmacy, primary care physician or clinic.

Vaccine manufacturers

  1. Who are the manufacturers in these initial rounds of vaccine supply? 
    Pfizer and Moderna are the two manufacturers who will provide the initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
  2. How do these new vaccines work? 
    The two vaccines that have received EUA approval – from Pfizer and Moderna – use a technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA.

    From the CDC: How mRNA works
  3. Will there be a website/resource to report side effects from the vaccine, if there are any?
    Recipients of the vaccine will have an opportunity to report side effects using a mobile app.