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Vaccine FAQ: What You’ll Need, Making an Appointment, Where to Go

January 22, 2021

Hartford HealthCare wants to keep Connecticut among the top states per capita in administering the COVID-19 vaccine. We’re providing you with the latest information on eligibility, registration, vaccine clinic locations, when you can schedule your second dose and everything else you’ll need to protect you and your family against the coronavirus.

Things are changing fast. Always visit hartfordhealth.org/vaccine for updates.

Q: Who can get a vaccine now?
Healthcare workers, medical first-responders, residents of long-term care facilities and people over age 75. The next groups include people between ages 65 and 74 (likely February), people with an underlying medical condition that increases their risk of severe illness (likely March) and frontline essential workers (likely March). Get more details here.

Q: What if I’m not eligible yet?
A: Register here. We’ll let you know when you can get a vaccine.

Q: Will I need an appointment to receive the vaccine?
A: Yes, vaccination at Hartford HealthCare vaccine clinics is by appointment only. To ensure safety, no walk-ins are allowed. People eligible for a vaccine who already have a MyChartPlus account can log in and make an appointment at a Hartford HealthCare vaccine clinic. If you don’t have a MyChartPlus account, set one up on Hartford HealthCare’s MyChartPlus.org website. Click here for instructions.

If you’d prefer to schedule your appointment by phone, call the Hartford HealthCare Access Center at 860.827.7690 or toll-free at 833.943.5721. Our call centers are experiencing high volume, so the quickest and easiest way to schedule an appointment is through MyChartPLUS.

Q: Where can I get a vaccination?
A: You can schedule appointments (when available) at Hartford HealthCare vaccine clinics in Hartford, Wethersfield, Norwich and Shelton. More are coming soon. For the latest information, click here.

Q: What happens when I get to the vaccine clinic?
If you have a MyChartPlus account, use E-CheckIn before entering the clinic. Once leaving your car (parking is free), please wear a mask at all times. Inside, you’ll register and get a vaccine card issued by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After your vaccination, a staff member will complete the card with the date and the type of vaccine. You must wait at least 15 minutes before leaving. If you’re feeling no side effects, that’s it. (Click here for more information.)

Q: When can I get the second dose of the vaccine?
A: If you received the Pfizer vaccine, the second shot is scheduled 21 days after the first. If you received the Moderna vaccine, the second shot is scheduled 28 days after the first. Schedule it through MyChartPlus.

Q: What if I make an appointment, then change my mind or am too busy to attend my scheduled vaccine clinic time?
A: Please do not schedule an appointment if you are still unsure about receiving the vaccine. You could be taking an appointment that could be used by another person who needs it.

Q: If more than one type of vaccine is available, can I choose which one I want?
A: No. Both available vaccines have been authorized as safe and effective protection against COVID-19. Vaccine supply is limited and allocation decisions are made by the state, so selection isn’t possible.

Q: Will I have to pay anything if I get my vaccine through Hartford HealthCare?
A: Hartford HealthCare will bill your insurance for vaccine administration reimbursement. Check with your insurance company about any additional costs.

Q: Is it true I can get a vaccine, even if I’m not eligible, if I pay an extra fee?
A: No. If you receive an offer like that, it’s a scam. Click here to learn six ways to identify a vaccine scam.

Q: Once I have received the required two vaccine doses, must I continue to wear a mask and take other precautions against COVID-19?
A: Yes. Experts suggest that masks and other public health precautions will probably be necessary through much of 2021. Precautions must be taken to protect our patients, our co-workers and our communities.

Here are three reasons:

  1. The vaccines are estimated to be 95 percent effective, meaning that over 5 percent of vaccinated people could still get the virus.
  2. It may take a month or more for the protective effect of the vaccine to take hold, leaving you vulnerable to infection during that time period.
  3. If people worried about the vaccine don’t take it, a large population could still be spreading the virus.

Q: How do the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work?
A: These vaccines are the first using a technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA). Rather than delivering a virus, these vaccines contain part of the virus’ genetic information that helps your body’s cells produce a viral protein that stops COVID-19. Click here for more information.

Q: Is the vaccine safe and effective?
A: So far, the data we have indicates the vaccine is safe. No serious long-term side effects have been documented, and any side effects that do occur are not severe. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is 95 percent effective and the Moderna vaccine is 94.1 percent effective. As a comparison, the flu vaccine is usually considered between 40 and 60 percent effective each year.

Q: Are there any side effects?
A: Some people experience pain at the injection site, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, mild fever or joint pain.

Q: Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
A: No. The vaccine does not contain live or dead virus, so it cannot infect you with COVID-19.

Q: Can the vaccine affect a woman’s fertility, pregnancy or breastfeeding?
No, says Dr. Elizabeth Ann Deckers, a Hartford Hospital obstetrician/gynecologist. “It’s understandable that women would be concerned about getting a vaccine that hasn’t been tested in pregnancy,” says Dr. Deckers. “Women have to balance what’s known about the vaccine and the risks of what could happen if they get severe symptoms of COVID-19 when pregnant. They also have to look at their personal risk of exposure to the virus.”

For  more information, here’s a podcast featuring OBGYNs Dr. Kelly McGonigle, who is 24 weeks pregnant, and Dr. Stephanie Bakaysa, who is currently breastfeeding her baby born at the onset of the pandemic. Both doctors have been vaccinated.

Q: Should I get the vaccine if I am immunocompromised?
A: At present, there is not enough data to make conclusions about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine in immunocompromised patients. But an immunocompromised state does not mean one cannot get the vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine should be offered. The decision to be vaccinated should involve a discussion between you and your care provider.

Q: If I have had COVID-19, do I still need a vaccine?
A: Yes, but evidence now available suggests it’s unlikely you’ll get reinfected within 90 days of the initial infection. So you can delay the vaccine until the end of that period. If you have COVID now, wait until you’re healthy again before getting vaccinated.

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