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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a critical component of the U.S. strategy to reduce COVID-19-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Easy access to COVID-19 vaccines is equally important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with public health departments, health care providers, and other partners to make sure people can easily get a COVID-19 vaccine and that cost is not a barrier. Within Illinois, the CDC recognizes the state and the city of Chicago as separate jurisdictions for the distribution of vaccine. Both Illinois and Chicago, however, are collaborating to ensure that vaccines are delivered and available in accordance with the CDC guidelines and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Vaccine availability

Q. When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

A. The first supply of COVID-19 vaccine receiving Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began being distributed in the U.S. on December 14, 2020. Initial supplies of

the vaccine will be limited, and therefore allocated to health care personnel and Long-term care (LTC) residents and staff. However, the vaccine supply will increase over time and all adults should be able to

be vaccinated in 2021. (To view the categories of priority populations in Phase 1a, please see the chart below.)

Q. Where can I get the vaccine?

A. Initially, hospitals will provide COVID-19 vaccine to health care personnel. As more vaccine is distributed by the federal government, several thousand vaccination providers will be available, including but not limited to doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), across the state.

CDC is working with pharmacies to establish a system to offer on-site COVID-19 vaccination services to residents and staff in LTC settings, including skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living

facilities where most individuals are over 65 years of age.

Q. Will the state (or federal government) establish mass immunization programs, like they did in the 1960’s?

A. Illinois is working with local health departments and providers across the state to provide COVID-19 vaccinations that resemble larger versions of yearly flu clinics, rather than the mass vaccination activities of the past.

Q. My family member was offered a vaccine through their employer. Why can’t the rest of my family get the vaccine?

A. Because vaccine will be very limited when it first comes out, administration will be limited to those identified in prioritized (high-risk) groups by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)

and the CDC. This is to ensure that all individuals in the high-risk groups are able to receive the vaccine. As more vaccine becomes available, those groups eligible to receive the vaccine will expand.

Q. IIs there a scheduled date for distribution per phases?

A. There is not a scheduled calendar date, but once ACIP provides its recommendation on priority vaccination groups, IDPH will distribute vaccine to Regional Hospital Coordinating Centers (RHCC) partners throughout the state. From there, the distribution will continue ultimately through local health departments to local health care providers.

Q. Will distribution of vaccine be divided per capita?

A. Vaccine will be distributed according to the population of each county, adjusted to ensure health equity using the COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI).

Q. What about one municipality that has very high numbers of COVID-19 cases within a county that otherwise had less cases? (in reference to prioritizing vaccine distribution)

A. Distribution within counties will be overseen by local health departments (LHD). IDPH will work with LHDs to ensure providers have adequate amounts of vaccine to support the municipalities/communities they serve.

Q. I understand the vaccination requires two shots. Why, and what if I am unable (or do not want) to get a second shot?

A. The currently available COVID-19 vaccines require two shots to be fully effective. This helps make sure that enough antibodies are being produced to provide effective and long-lasting protection. We do not know if receiving only one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is protective. If you choose not to get a second dose, you may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. The first dose of the vaccine will provide some protection, but the recommendation is to receive two doses to be protected as intended.

Q. Different COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be available. Which vaccine should I take?

A. Any COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to be effective. Data available at this point would suggest that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are very similar in their abilities to produce immunity to the virus. The recommendation would be to take whatever vaccine is made available to you and be sure to receive the booster shot of that same vaccine at the appropriate time. If you choose not to get a second dose, you may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Q. What happens if they run out of the vaccine before I get my second shot?

A. CDC is structuring shipments in such a way that 21 or 28 days after the first shipment, the same number of doses will be shipped, so providers will have enough vaccine for a second dose. The 21- or 28-day requirement between doses is a minimum requirement, not a maximum. If, for some reason, you are unable to receive the second dose at the recommended interval, you can receive the second dose at a

later date.



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