COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

Last updated: October 25, 2022

En Español

Currently, the Anne Arundel County Department of Health is providing vaccine by appointment using the COVID Vaccinations Sign-Up Form here. Walk-ins are also welcome as vaccine supplies allow.

Maria Grande gets Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine
Immunizations Outreach Worker Maria Grande got the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman received the COVID-19 vaccine second dose to show it is safe to do.

COVID-19 Vaccine Facts

Why is a COVID-19 vaccine necessary?

Vaccination is a prevention measure to reduce the number of people getting a disease. While masks, distancing and hand washing are slowing the spread of COVID-19, a vaccine can help STOP the Spread! Getting the COVID-19 vaccine to the most people possible will help to reach “herd” or population immunity. Vaccinated people become more immune and are much less likely to catch the disease.

CDC Recommendations

How do the vaccines work?

Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer)

Understanding Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines (Janssen – Johnson & Johnson)

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines cannot infect you with COVID-19 disease. The vaccines currently from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are mRNA and viral vector vaccines, which do not use the virus that causes COVID-19.

Which vaccine is being used in the county?

Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines are being used in the county based on what vaccine is available at that time.

What are the differences between the available vaccines?

Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet
(Johnson  & Johnson)
Fact Sheet
Type of Vaccine mRNA mRNA Viral vector
Administration Route Intramuscular injection in the upper arm Intramuscular injection in the upper arm Intramuscular injection in the upper arm
Number of initial doses 2 2 1
Days between initial doses 28 days 21 days N/A
Days between initial and Third/Additional Dose for Immunocompromised 
More info…
28 days after second dose 28 days after second dose N/A
Booster Dose 5 months after second dose 5 months after second dose 2 months after initial dose
Age groups 18 years of age and older 5 years of age and older 18 years of age and older
Does not contain ●     Eggs

●     Preservatives

●     Latex

●     Eggs

●     Preservatives

●     Latex

●     Eggs

●     Preservatives

●     Latex

Clinical Trials Demographics Breakdown Clinical trials for the Moderna vaccine included people from the following racial and ethnic categories:

●     79.4% White

●     20% Hispanic/Latino

●     9.7% African American

●     4.7% Asian

●     <3% other races/ethnicities

Age and sex breakdown:

●     52.6% male

●     47.4% female

●     25.3% 65 years and older

Most people who participated in the trials (82%) were considered to have an occupational risk of exposure, with 25.4% of them being healthcare workers.

Among people who participated in the clinical trials, 22.3% had at least one high-risk condition, which included lung disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, or HIV infection. Four percent (4%) of participants had two or more high-risk conditions.

Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine included people from the following racial and ethnic categories:

●     81.9% White

●     26.2% Hispanic/Latino

●     9.8% African American

●     4.4% Asian

●     <3% other races/ethnicities

Age and sex breakdown:

●     50.6% male

●     49.4% female

●     21.4% 65 years and older​

The most frequent underlying medical conditions were obesity (35.1%), diabetes (8.4%), and pulmonary disease (7.8%).

Clinical trials for the Janssen vaccine included people from eight countries.

Racial and ethnic categories of U.S. participants (44%):

●       74% White

●       15% Hispanic/Latino

●       13% African American

●       6% Asian

●       1% Native American.

All study participants.

Age breakdown:

34% over age 60

41% percent had comorbidities associated with an increased risk for progression to severe COVID-19.

Side Effects Throughout the body:

●     Chills

●     Tiredness

●     Headache

In the arm where you got the shot:

●     Pain

●     Swelling

●     Redness

There is a rare and very low chance of having myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart). For more information, read

Throughout the body:

●     Chills

●     Tiredness

●     Headache

●     Muscle/Joint Pain

In the arm where you got the shot:

●     Pain

●     Swelling

●     Redness

There is a rare and very low chance of having myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart). For more information, read

Throughout the body:

●     Chills

●     Tiredness

●     Headache

●     Muscle/Joint Pain

●     Nausea

●     Fever

In the arm where you got the shot:

●     Pain

●     Swelling

●     Redness

Efficacy 94.1% effective at preventing serious illness 95% effective at preventing serious illness 85% effective at preventing severe illness
Primary Outcome Criteria Prevents symptoms of COVID-19 after the second dose Prevents symptoms of COVID-19 after the second dose Prevents moderate to severe COVID-19 illness after one dose.
Note: Moderate to severe illness defined as a positive test and exhibiting at least one symptom

How do we know the vaccines are safe and effective?

Vaccines in the United States are thoroughly tested before being licensed or approved for the public. All clinical trials follow scientific and ethical standards that go through three phases.

Phase 1 studies dosage, efficacy and possible side effects.
Phase 2 focuses on common short-term side effects and how dosage size relates to immune response.
Phase 3 compares the vaccine with a placebo for safety and effectiveness, identifying any common side effects.

All results are carefully evaluated, including the physical, chemical and biological properties and how vaccines are manufactured.

How can we be sure the vaccine is safe?

The national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) collects information from individuals and providers on any adverse reactions after vaccination with any vaccine including the COVID-19 vaccine. For the COVID-19 vaccine specifically, there’s an additional program called V-safe where you’ll be asked questions via mobile phone about any symptoms you’re having after vaccination.

With the rapid development and licensing of COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine safety monitoring has been a high priority for the establishment of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continuously monitor for vaccine safety.

Why are two doses needed for some COVID-19 vaccines?

For most COVID-19 vaccine products, two doses of vaccine, separated by 21 or 28 days, will be needed. Because different COVID-19 vaccine products are not interchangeable, a vaccine recipient’s second dose should be from the same manufacturer as the first dose. Second-dose reminders for vaccine recipients will be critical to ensure compliance with vaccine dosing intervals and achieve optimal vaccine effectiveness. If delays are unavoidable, second doses may be given up to 42 days. Longer delays do not require restarting the vaccination series. Further research may show that annual booster shots may be necessary also.

Am I eligible for a third dose or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The third dose for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised has been approved for PFIZER-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine AND Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and must be administered no earlier than 28 days after a second dose. The third dose must be from the same manufacturer as the first two doses.

The booster shot has been approved for PFIZER-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and must be administered at least six months after the initial series completion. Johnson & Johnson booster shots are also recommended for those who were vaccinated two or more months ago. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose.

Information about Vaccinations

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be easy to get? Will I be required to get vaccinated? Why should I want it for myself and my family?

The COVID-19 vaccine is free and it is available to most people. While it may not be mandatory, for the general public it is highly recommended for most people in order to stop the spread of COVID-19, prevent illness and save lives.

I’m pregnant. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, the CDC and the independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend that pregnant people get the COVID-19 vaccine. If they have questions about getting vaccinated, a discussion with a healthcare provider might help them make an informed decision. For more information, please click here.

CDC Update on COVID-19 Vaccination during Pregnancy: Key Messages and Talking Points for Partners

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No. None of the authorized and recommended vaccines or other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.

If your body develops an immune response—the goal of vaccination—there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

I have tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. You should not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection do not need to but may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired.

How will I know how much vaccine is being given out?

The Department of Health will be adding information to our data dashboard.

Do you ever throw away vaccine?

Never. We are dedicated to getting this vaccine into everyone’s arm. Vaccines come in vials that have either five doses (Pfizer and Janssen) or 10 doses (Moderna). On rare occasions, there might be a dose or two left at the end of a session that needs to be administered to avoid throwing it out. In those instances the Department of Health will do its best to identify alternative individuals within that priority group to get the vaccine. If we cannot do so in a timely manner, we may need to vaccinate a very small number of people out of order to prevent wasting the vaccine. This is why it is critical that everybody who signs up for a vaccine comes to their appointment.

I’m in health care. How can I help?

Please sign up with Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps. We periodically use this list to contact volunteers to help meet vaccination staffing needs.

As more people get vaccinated, how can we keep slowing the spread of COVID-19?

Wearing a mask is the best way to slow the spread when around others outside your household. The two biggest risks are social gatherings and public dining, which bring people together who are not usually together. Keep your bubble of contacts as small as possible and do not let your guard down.
Show your respect and consideration for others by wearing a mask indoors. Remember:

  • Watch your distance.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Limit your activity.
  • Don’t ignore cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms. Get tested and quarantine until you get your results.

Also get a seasonal flu vaccine. Be kind to yourself and others. We’re all in this together.

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