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> COVID19 Vaccination FAQ

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Vaccination FAQ

THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING of our community is our top priority. Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) is working closely with community partners to prevent and respond to the evolving novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

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Vaccination Pages
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Updates Related to Reopening and Mask Guidance

Effective May 19, New York State and Tompkins County will adopt CDC guidance stating that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in most settings. Consistent with the CDC guidance, Pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings will continue to follow State's existing COVID-19 health guidelines including distancing and mask wearing until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

Private businesses may still require masks for everyone in their establishments, consistent with the CDC guidance. Unvaccinated people should still wear masks in all settings while around others.

Additional guidance for Gatherings and Weddings and Catered Events.

The Tompkins County Health Department is urging everyone in our community who is able to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as it becomes available. Widescale vaccination is critical for developing immunity in our community. When a high percentage of people are vaccinated, their immunity against the virus will stop the transmission, as well as protect those who are unable to get the vaccine.

Everyone has a part in ensuring that the community stays healthy and safe. In addition to continuing to wear masks, maintain distance, wash hands, and follow gathering guidance, we can all encourage our friends, family, and neighbors to get vaccinated when it is available. Follow this website and the Health Department’s Facebook and Twitter channels for updates on the vaccine in our community.

Common Questions

  • Are the vaccines safe?
  • Can children be vaccinated with the current vaccines?
  • Should I get the vaccine if I have had a coronavirus infection?
  • Can I get vaccinated if I am currently sick with COVID-19?
  • Will getting vaccinated prevent me from getting sick with COVID-19?
  • What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Will the vaccine cause a positive test on future COVID-19 viral tests?
  • Could a vaccine infect me with COVID-19?
  • Can I infect others even after I’m vaccinated?
  • Are the vaccines effective against COVID-19 “variants?”
  • What are the side effects of the vaccine?
  • When can I be vaccinated?
  • How much will it cost to get vaccinated against COVID-19?
  • What do I need to bring to the vaccination site?
  • When do I get the second dose of the vaccine?
Are the vaccines safe?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same rigorous review that all vaccines must follow in the U.S. In New York, the State’s independent COVID-19 Clinical Advisory Task Force also approved these COVID-19 vaccines as safe and effective. While the vaccine is in use, the FDA and the CDC are constantly monitoring for new side effects.

Vaccine fact sheets and safety information.

Can children be vaccinated with the current vaccines?

The Pfizer vaccine has recently been authorized for use in individuals ages 12 and up. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized only for ages 18 and over. Clinical trials for ages 2-11 are underway.

Should I get the vaccine if I have had a coronavirus infection?

Yes. The science shows that the vaccine provides better and longer-lasting protection than the defenses your body builds up when you were infected.

Can I get vaccinated if I am currently sick with COVID-19?

No. People with COVID-19 — both those who have symptoms and those who do not — should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and are released from isolation by the Health Department.

Will getting vaccinated prevent me from getting sick with COVID-19?

Most likely. In the clinical trials, no one who was vaccinated got a case of COVID-19 that resulted in hospitalization or death. There is still a chance of getting a mild case of the disease.

What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

All of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have questions, discuss this with your practitioner. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems.

Will the vaccine cause a positive test on future COVID-19 viral tests?

No. Authorized vaccines will not cause a positive on any of the tests used to detect a current infection.

Could a vaccine infect me with COVID-19?

No. None of the vaccines authorized or under review for use in the U.S. are made with the live virus that causes a COVID-19 infection or would make you sick.

Can I infect others even after I’m vaccinated?

Maybe. This is still being studied, so you should continue taking all precautions when around others who are not in your household, such as wear a mask, maintain distance, avoid gatherings, wash hands well and often.

Are the vaccines effective against COVID-19 “variants?”

There is still only limited information about how well the COVID-19 vaccines work against known variants. Scientists believe they will provide protection against the variants, though the effectiveness rate may not be as high, and higher coverage rates may be needed.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

The vaccination is an injection (shot) like the flu vaccine. The most common side effects are injection site pain or soreness, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, fever. These symptoms go away after a few days. You can learn more about side effects in this section below.

When can I be vaccinated?

Now. Everyone age 12 and over (12+) who lives, works, or goes to school in New York State is eligible to be vaccinated here.

How much will it cost to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Nothing. There is no charge or co-pay to be vaccinated. However, if you have health insurance or Medicare Part B, bring your card with you to the clinic.

What do I need to bring to the vaccination site?

You need to bring identification that shows your date of birth and that you are a resident of New York State. If you are not a resident, you need to bring documents that show you work or go to school in New York.

When do I get the second dose of the vaccine?

Your second dose is 28 days after your first for the Moderna vaccine, 21 days for the Pfizer vaccine. You will make the appointment for your second before you leave the vaccination clinic. The second dose must be given at the same location where you got the first. If you get the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, there is no second dose.

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Questions You Asked Us

Will the vaccine affect my fertility?

It is very unlikely. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that either the COVID-19 vaccines or being infected by the virus affect fertility in women. Out of all the women of child-bearing age who have been either infected or vaccinated, there is no evidence that the COVID pandemic has changed fertility patterns.

What is the difference between the vaccines?

The first difference is how they are made: the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are “mRNA” vaccines, and the Johnson & Johnson is a “viral vector” vaccine. All of them use virus parts (either mRNA or proteins) to trigger the immune system to build defenses that block production of those parts in the actual virus. In either case, these parts break down quickly and have no further influences on the body.

A second difference is dosage: are that the Pfizer requires 2 doses spaced 21 days apart, the Moderna is 2 doses spaced 28 days apart, and the J&J requires only one dose. The Pfizer is the only one that has been authorized for use in people ages 16 and 17. The other two are only for ages 18 and up.

A third difference is storage: the mRNA vaccines must be stored and transported at extremely low, subzero temperatures. This makes their distribution difficult in areas that do not have the specialty freezers necessary to transport or store the vaccine. The J&J vaccine simply needs to be refrigerated, and can be stored there for up to 3 months. (Source)

What is the same is that they are all very effective at preventing hospitalizations and death!

Information about the J & J pause and return to use.

Can I get time off to get vaccinated?

A NYS law grants public and private employees time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Under the law, employees will be granted up to four hours of excused leave per injection that will not be charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued. This legislation was passed and signed in March 2021, and remains in effect through the end of the year. Click here for an FAQ from the NYS Department of Labor.

Can I get sick pay if I have side effects from the vaccine? How long will I be out of work if I have side effects?

Whether there are side effects from the vaccination, and if so the severity, is different for everyone. Governor Cuomo has stated that, "no New Yorker will miss a day's pay because of getting the vaccine. The Department of Labor will be issuing guidance to all employers reminding them that in the unlikely event someone needs time off after experiencing side effects, by law, that is considered a paid sick leave day." Additional information will be posted as available.

I’ve seen TikTok videos and other things on social media that have people saying the vaccines are dangerous. Is that true?

No, the vaccines are not dangerous. Doctors, faith leaders, and people of all ages in every state have gotten the vaccine with no negative effects other than common side effects that last a day or 2.* The dangers of being hospitalized, and maybe dying from COVID-19 are much greater, and the vaccine will almost always prevent that from happening. (*There are fewer than 20 reported cases of a serious side effect from the J&J vaccine.)

I’ve got a lot of allergies and someone told me not to get it

There is a remote chance that a vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction, but this would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting vaccinated. For this reason, individuals are asked to stay at the clinic site for 15 to 30 minutes after they get their shot to be monitored by medical staff for any allergic response. Registered nurses are on site, both administering vaccinations and in the observation area, so be sure to tell one if you are concerned.

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There is a 98% survival rate for Covid-19, so why bother getting vaccinated?

Clinical trials have shown there is a 100% survival rate for people who are vaccinated. Plus, even if you don’t get sick, you may still harbor the virus and spread it to family, friends, and loved ones. Getting vaccinated significantly drops the chance of that happening.

Will I need the vaccine to go to school? (college?)

Some colleges are requiring students to be fully vaccinated before they can enroll this fall, so you should check with the individual institution. For K-12 schools, that will probably depend on whether there is widespread availability of vaccines authorized for use in children under age 16.

I’m afraid of needles, is there another way to receive the shot?

Many people are afraid of needles, so you are not alone. However, right now there are no other ways of getting vaccinated. If you have a chronic illness or condition and are concerned about pain during or after you get a shot, it is best to talk with your primary care doctor who knows your situation. You may also speak with a nurse at the vaccination site.  

The vaccine was developed too fast.

Even though this is the first time the “mRNA” vaccines have been authorized for public use, the science and testing behind them has been underway for more than 10 years. The clinical trials for the vaccines were thorough and the results were carefully reviewed. Because the FDA granted a Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for each vaccine, they were available much sooner than would be expected when an emergency use is not necessary.

I take a lot of vitamins and keep myself really healthy.

A healthy lifestyle can make you feel better everyday!  But that may not be enough to keep you from getting infected with the virus. Even with a mild or “asymptomatic” case of COVID-19, you can still spread the virus to others with weaker immune systems. That is why it’s so important to get vaccinated, and continue to wear a mask in public places, wash hands well, avoid crowds, and social distance to prevent the disease from spreading.

I didn’t know J&J was a pharmaceutical company? When did that happen?

J&J has been producing medicines and developing vaccines for decades, including work towards the treatment of Tuberculosis, vaccine development for Ebola, and now for the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more at:

What does the 3 month/90-day mark mean for the length of protection from the vaccine?

This was set early on, when the vaccines were still in clinical trials or use by the public was still new. As more people are vaccinated, scientists will continue to review their information on how the vaccines are working, and may revise the length of protection as they know more.

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Vaccine Details & Fact Sheets

Safety of the COVID-19 Vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same rigorous review that all vaccines must follow in the U.S. As of February 27, 2021, three vaccines have been authorized for emergency use by the FDA: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

These authorizations followed three rounds of clinical trials with thousands of participants with a diverse range of race, age, and other demographics.

Pfizer/BioNTech clinical trial info (95% effective after second dose):

One-page Fact Sheet for the Pfizer vaccine (PDF, 1 page)

FDA Fact Sheet for the Pfizer vaccine (PDF, 7 pages)

  • Phase 2/3 clinical trials had about 43,400 participants who participated at 152 clinical sites across the globe, 130 of which were in the United States.
  • Half of participants received the vaccine, the other half received a placebo (assigned randomly)
  • Demographics of participants:
    • 49% female, 51% male
    • 83% white
    • 9% Black or African American
    • 28% Hispanic or Latinx
    • 4.3% Asian
    • 0.5% Native American/Alaska Native
  • 35% of participants were clinically obese
  • 21% of participants had at least one coexisting condition
  • The median age was 52 years old
  • The age range of participants spanned from 16 to 91
Moderna clinical trial info (94.5% effective after second dose):

FDA Fact Sheet for the Moderna vaccine (PFD)

  • Phase 3 clinical trials had about 30,400 participants from the United States
  • Half of participants received the vaccine, the other half received a placebo (assigned randomly)
  • Demographics of participants:
    • 48% female, 52% male
    • 79% white
    • 10% Black or African American
    • 21% Hispanic or Latinx
    • 5% Asian
    • 0.8% American Indian/Alaska Native
  • 22% of participants had at least one high-risk condition
  • 25% of participants were health care workers
  • Median age of 52
  • The age range of participants spanned from 18 to 95

Johnson & Johnson (J&J/Janssen) (Source: CDC and FDA)

FDA Fact Sheet for the J&J/Janssen vaccine (PDF)

J&J Pause Information

  • Phase 3 clinical trial of 39,321 participants.
  • The J&J/Janssen vaccine was 66.3% effective in clinical trials (efficacy) at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who had no evidence of prior infection 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine. People had the most protection 2 weeks after getting vaccinated.
  • The vaccine had high efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did get sick. No one who got COVID-19 at least 4 weeks after receiving the J&J/Janssen vaccine had to be hospitalized.
  • Early evidence suggests that the J&J/Janssen vaccine might provide protection against asymptomatic infection, which is when a person is infected by the virus that causes COVID-19 but does not get sick.
  • CDC will continue to provide updates as we learn more about how well the J&J/Janssen vaccine works in real-world conditions.
  • Demographic information from clinical trials
    • 58.7% White
    • 45.3% Hispanic or Latino
    • 19.4% Black or African American
    • 9.5% American Indian or Alaska Native
    • 5.6% Multiple races
    • 3.3% Asian
    • 0.2% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Sex breakdown
    • 54.9% Male
    • 45.0% Female
    • <0.1% Undifferentiated or unknown sex
  • Age breakdown
    • 66.5% 18–59 years
    • 33.5% 60 years and older
      • 19.6% 65 years and older
      • 3.5% 75 years and older

What you need to know about J&J safety
CDC Updates as of April 25, 2021
  • CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine resume in the United States, after a temporary pause.
  • Reports of adverse events following the use of J&J/Janssen vaccine suggest an increased risk of a rare adverse event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Nearly all reports of this serious condition, which involves blood clots with low platelets, have been in adult women younger than 50 years old.
  • A review of all available data at this time shows that the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks.
  • However, women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare but increased risk of this adverse event and that there are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen.
  • CDC and FDA will continue to monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Seek medical care right away if you develop any of the symptoms below after receiving the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, call your doctor, nurse, or clinic.
Precautionary Information
  • There is a plausible causal relationship between J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS). However, after reviewing all available safety data, CDC and FDA recommend use of this vaccine resume in the United States given that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks.
  • This adverse event is rare, occurring at a rate of about 7 per 1 million vaccinated women between 18 and 49 years old. For women 50 years and older and men of all ages, this adverse event is even more rare.
  • For three weeks after receiving the vaccine, you should be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot with low platelets. These include:
    • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • Leg swelling
    • Persistent abdominal pain
    • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site

Seek medical care right away if you develop one or more of the symptoms listed above.

FDA web page for the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine (J&J)

CDC’s Product information for Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine  

CDC prevaccination checklist for health care providers

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These vaccines were produced so quickly. How do we know they are safe?

It is the job of the U.S. vaccine safety system to make sure that all vaccines meet its highest standards. The new COVID-19 vaccines have been evaluated in tens of thousands of individuals who volunteered to participate in clinical trials that were conducted according to rigorous standards required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Through this process the FDA determined that the newly authorized COVID-19 vaccines meet its safety and effectiveness standards. Therefore, the FDA has made these vaccines available for use in the United States under what is known as an Emergency Use Authorization. The FDA and the CDC continue to monitor the vaccines and the vaccination process for effectiveness and adverse events.

In New York, the State’s independent COVID-19 Clinical Advisory Task Force, made up of prominent health experts, also agreed that these COVID-19 vaccines as safe and effective. These principles are number 1 and 2 of the State's Guiding Principles for vaccination distribution and administration.

Will these new vaccines continue to be monitored for problems?

Yes. Even though no safety issues arose during the clinical trials, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal partners will continue to monitor the new vaccines for serious side effects that may not have been seen in clinical trials. Any unexpected side effect will be quickly studied to determine if it is an isolated incident or a broader safety concern.

How will experts evaluate the COVID-19 vaccines in real-world conditions?

Experts are working on many types of real-world studies to determine vaccine effectiveness, and each uses a different method. CDC will use several methods because they can all contribute different information about how the vaccine is working.

  • Case-control studies.
  • A test-negative design study.
  • Cohort studies.
  • Screening method assessments.
  • Ecologic analysis assessments.

Details about the different types of studies are in this FAQ Addendum.

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Safety of Being Vaccinated

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Side effects that have been reported with the Pfizer vaccine include:

  • Injection site pain
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Injection site swelling
  • Injection site redness
  • Nausea
  • Feeling unwell
  • Swollen lymph nodes

There is a remote chance that the Pfizer vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction including difficulty breathing, swelling of your face and throat, rapid heartbeat, a rash all over your body, dizziness and weakness. Severe allergic reactions usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting vaccinated. For this reason, individuals are asked to stay at the clinic site for a 15 to 30 minute observation period after they get their shot. If you experience a severe allergic reaction, seek medical attention or call 9-1-1.

Should I get the vaccine if I have had a coronavirus infection?

Yes. The science shows that the vaccine provides better and longer-lasting protection than the defenses your body builds up when you were infected. If you are sick with COVID-19 now, you must wait and finish the 10-day isolation period before you make an appointment to be vaccinated.

Will getting vaccinated prevent me from getting sick with COVID-19?

Most likely. The first two vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, have 90-95% efficacy at preventing the disease when administered the way the manufacturer has specified. Some may develop a mild case of COVID-19. Researchers believe the current vaccines will also provide protection against the emerging UK variant, though the effectiveness rate may not be as high, and higher coverage rates may be needed.

What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Currently, there are limited data available on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for women who are pregnant. While studies have not yet been done, based on how mRNA vaccines work experts believe they are unlikely to pose a risk for people who are pregnant. mRNA vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 and therefore cannot give someone COVID-19. Additionally, mRNA vaccines do not interact with the cell's DNA because the mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell. Cells break apart the mRNA quickly. Ongoing studies and clinical trials will provide more insight on the potential risks of mRNA vaccines to a pregnant woman and her fetus.

Key considerations pregnant patients can discuss with their healthcare provider include:
  • The likelihood of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Risks of COVID-19 to them and potential risks to their fetuses
  • What is known about the vaccine: how well it works to develop protection in the body, known side effects of the vaccine, and lack of data during pregnancy

Observational data demonstrate that, while the chances for these severe health effects are infrequent, pregnant women with COVID-19 have an increased risk of severe illness. Additionally, pregnant women with COVID-19 might be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm births.

COVID-19 vaccination considerations for women who are breastfeeding

There are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or on the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion. mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. People who are breastfeeding and are part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, such as healthcare personnel, may choose to be vaccinated. If they have questions around getting vaccinated while breastfeeding, a discussion with a healthcare provider might help them make an informed decision.

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If I get vaccinated, will I test positive on future COVID-19 viral tests?

No, authorized vaccines will not 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, which is 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.

Could I get sick with COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. None of the vaccines authorized or under review for use in the U.S. use the live virus that causes a COVID-19 infection, so the vaccine itself cannot infect you.

Could I become infected with the Coronavirus after I get vaccinated?

It is possible for you to be infected with the virus just before or just after being vaccinated. While different types of vaccines work in different ways, all trigger the body’s immune system to develop a type of white blood cell to fight a specific virus. This typically takes a few weeks and that lag in your immune response makes it possible for you to be infected just before or just after vaccination, and get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection. An individual is considered "fully vaccinated" two weeks after receiving their second dose.

Can I spread the virus to infect others after I have been vaccinated?

While this is still being studied, there is some evidence that vaccinated individuals can still spread the virus and infect others, even while the vaccine is keeping you from becoming ill. You should continue taking all precautions when around others who are not part of your household, including handwashing, distancing, and wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

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Vaccination Timeline

How often will I need to get a COVID-19 vaccination?

Two of the currently authorized vaccines require a second dose to increase their effectiveness, and one just a single dose. The Pfizer vaccine second dose should be 21 days after the first shot, and the Moderna vaccine’s second dose should be taken 28 days after the first. Second doses must be given at the same location where you received your first dose. Be sure you have an appointment for your second shot before you leave the clinic where you get your first shot. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is just one dose, and no future appointments are needed to become fully vaccinated.

Will there be enough vaccine for my second dose?

Second doses are distributed to clinics by the Federal Government based on the number of first doses administered. They are counted and distributed separately from the federal allotment to states. Your second dose is not dependent on the NYS allotment to counties that is announced weekly by Tompkins County.

What happens if I don’t get the second shot on time?

There have not been enough studies to know if a delayed second shot will still reach the full effectiveness for each vaccine. The schedule for doses of each vaccine is based on data from clinical trials. Everyone who receives a first dose of the vaccine should get the second dose according to schedule in order to provide the best possible protection against the disease.

Do “leftover vaccines” or open appointments occur at a site if an individual does not show up for their vaccination?

No. There are pharmacists on site who carefully manage vaccine supply, including storage and administration. Each dose is accounted for by an audited system and stored properly for administration to the currently eligible population, so there are very few doses left over after any given clinic. Any that might be are used for priority populations — healthcare and first responder — who are contacted directly through their employer.

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Vaccination Process

There is no residency requirement for being vaccinated at a Tompkins County facility.

How much will it cost to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

There is no charge or co-pay to be vaccinated at the NYS-operated clinics or at the Cayuga Health Service clinic. You will be asked if you have insurance or Medicare, so please bring your card(s) with you to the clinic. It is not required that you have either insurance or Medicare.

How is the vaccine given?

The vaccine is given as an injection in the arm. If you are getting a 2-dose vaccine, your second dose must be from the same manufacturer as the first dose.

After your first dose, you may get a vaccination card to show you when to return for your second dose (Pfizer and Moderna vaccines). Remember to bring your card when you return.

What do I need to bring to prove I am eligible to be vaccinated?
  • Government issued photo ID with date of birth.
  • Proof of residence in New York or proof of employment in New York.
  • If you have an insurance card and/or Medicare Part B card, please bring it with you. 
  • All individuals receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at an NYS site must complete the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form before arriving for their first dose. One or more of the proof of eligibility documents listed below must be provided at your vaccination appointment.
Employment Eligible

If an individual is eligible due to their employment status, they must prove they are employed in the State of New York. For residents of NYS who work outside the state, proof of residence is also required. Such proof may include:

  • an employee ID card or badge,
  • a letter from an employer or affiliated organization, or
  • a pay stub, depending on the specific priority status.
  • display proof of work via an application (e.g., Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, etc.).

Alternatively, employers or organizations can provide a list of staff who meet the eligibility criteria for vaccination.

Age Eligible (12+)

If an individual is eligible due to their age, they must produce proof of age and proof of residence in New York State. To prove New York residence, an individual must show:

  • One of the following: State or government-issued ID; Statement from landlord; Current rent receipt or lease; Mortgage records; or
  • Two of the following: Statement from another person; Current mail; School records.
  • For age, such proof may include:
    • Driver’s license or non-driver ID;
    • Birth certificate issued by a state or local government;
    • Current U.S passport or valid foreign passport;
    • Permanent resident card;
    • Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship;
    • Life insurance policy with birthdate; or
    • Marriage certificate with birthdate.
  • Anyone under age 18 must have consent from a parent, guardian, or caregiver
What questions will be asked before I get the vaccine?

Your vaccinator will ask you a series of screening questions before you are vaccinated, similar to questions you are asked when you get a flu shot. Examples are listed below. You may be asked these questions on your registration form, and again at the vaccination site.

  • Have you ever had an allergic reaction to any vaccine or shot?
  • Do you feel sick today?
  • In the last 10 days, have you had a COVID-19 test or been told to isolate or quarantine at home?
  • Are you immunocompromised or on a medicine that affects your immune system?
  • Are you pregnant or plan to become pregnant?
  • Are you breastfeeding?

Sample screening forms


Explainer Video

This 2-1/2 minute (2:19) video provides the basic information about the vaccine and vaccination. Watch on YouTube or Download from Google.

This same video is currently available in these languages: Karen, Spanish

What should I do to keep myself safe while waiting to get vaccinated and after I get vaccinated?

Continue to cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay 6 feet away from others who are not in your household, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often. All of these precautions must continue as you wait for the second dose and as we wait for a majority of the population to be vaccinated. Everyone must continue to use all the tools available to us to stop this pandemic as experts continue to learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide us.

Continue to follow these safety guidelines while the community gets vaccinated
— Click any image for information on that topic —

  • Distance--Please do not form lines or groups. Keep 6 feet of distance at all times
  • Density--Avoid entering crowded rooms or areas. Reduce occupancy to allow for proper distancing
  • Face Covering--You must wear a face covering when in public buildings and outdoor spaces around others
  • Hand Hygiene--Wash hands well and often. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often
  • Symptoms--If you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or body aches, stay home and get tested

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Overview for Tompkins County

The TCHD has been planning and practicing the distribution of Medical Countermeasures (MCMs) during public health emergencies for many years, and is preparing to manage the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

  • Medical Countermeasures (MCMs) can include vaccines, antiviral drugs, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Tompkins County has submitted their COVID-19 Vaccination Plan to NYS DOH as of mid-November and it's currently pending review. The plan directly references Tompkins County's Public Health Emergency Preparedness Plan and Medical Countermeasure (MCM) Plan.
  • Initial planning meetings have been held with both Cayuga Health System and Long-Term Care Facilities to plan for initial phase of distribution to Phase I priority populations as outlined in the NYS Vaccination Plan.
  • Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with potential Open Points of Dispensing (POD) locations have been reviewed and locations contacted to confirm availability to serve as a site for COVID-19 vaccination. Additional open POD locations have been brainstormed in each municipality.
  • While progress is being made in the development of a vaccine, a timeline, amount of vaccine, or other information for Tompkins County has not been released by the NYS DOH.
  • When a vaccine is available, it is likely that first responders, health care workers, and residents of long-term care facilities will have priority access. (See NYS Phased Distribution Plan, below.)
  • Safety protocols continue to be important to protect our community: wearing a face covering, hand washing, maintaining distance, avoiding unnecessary or non-essential gatherings and travel.
Questions? Need a ride? Call 2-1-1 (877-211-8667)

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“Office Hours” Live Stream Video Series

Photo graphic for the Office Hours live stream series

"Office Hours" is a series of virtual Vaccine Q&A live streams produced by TCHD in partnership with local physicians and community members. Each event is designed to offer a safe space and informative experience for attendees seeking more information on COVID-19 vaccines.

Each event is moderated by a member of the community or TCHD staff and will focus on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Attendees will be able to ask questions live or anonymously. Some sessions will be recorded for later viewing and archived on the County's YouTube Channel. Direct links to recordings are in the listings.

Registration: Online use the links below. By phone call 2-1-1 (or 1-877-211-8667). 

  • For All Community Members.
    • Open session for all community members with questions and concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. 
    • Hosted by Dr. Kathryn Rooth, Cayuga Medical Center
    • Watch the recorded event on YouTube
  • Focus on Questions from People of Color.
  • With REACH Medical.
    • Open session with REACH Medical, for community members with concerns about the vaccine. 
    • Hosted by Dr. Judy Griffin & Dr. Elizabeth Ryan, REACH Medical
    • Watch the recorded event on YouTube
  • For Parents and Caregivers.
    • Open session to answer questions and concerns from those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or parents/caregivers about the vaccine & children.
    • Hosted by Dr. Audrey DeSilva & Dr. Jeffrey Snedeker, Northeast Pediatrics
    • Watch the recorded event on YouTube  
  • For Karen/Burmese Speakers.
    • Catholic Charities Immigration Services with translation for Karen/Burmese speakers.
    • Contact Paige Cross at Catholic Charities for access to recording: (607) 272-5062; 
    • Hosted by Tompkins County Health Department Community Health Nurses Melissa Gatch, Karen LaCelle, & Director of Health Promotion Samantha Hillson
  • For Older Adults
    • Wednesday, Feb. 24, 3:00 p.m. 
    • Open session for older adults with questions about the COVID-19 vaccine
    • Hosted by Dr. Deidre Blake, MD, Cayuga Health Systems Orthopedic Program
    • Watch the recorded event on YouTube
  • Horario de Oficina en Español
    • Miércoles 24 de Febrero, 17:00 h. 
    • Con Dr. Maya Aponte, CMC, y Carolina Gilbert, RN, CMC
    • Moderado por Patricia Fernandez de Castro Martinez, Asociación Cívica Latina
    • Mira el evento grabado en YouTube
  • Q&A for communities of color
    • ​Friday, March 5, 6:00 p.m. 
    • Guest practitioner: Dr. Daryll Dykes, Upstate Medical Center
    • Moderators: Rev. Wright, Calvary Baptist Church, and Dr. Clarke, Tompkins County Office of Human Rights
    • In partnership with Calvary Baptist Church, St. James A.M.E. Zion, Baptized Church of Jesus Christ, T.C. Office of Human Rights and T.C. Dept. of Veteran Services
    • Watch the recorded event on YouTube
  • Vaccine Q&A with Dr. Blake (Live)
    • Wednesday, May 5, 3:00-4:00 p.m.
    • Guest practitioner: Dr. Deidre Blake, Cayuga Medical Center
    • Open session for all interested community members
    • Register for the event here.Registration required to ask questions live or anonomously. 
  • Preguntas y respuestas para hispanohablantes (evento en vivo)
    • Martes, 18 de mayo de 2021, 12:00 p.m.
    • Con la Dr. Maya Aponte de CMC
    • Durante cada evento, los asistentes tendrán la posibilidad de hacer preguntas en vivo o de forma anónima. Cada evento será moderado por un miembro de la comunidad o el personal de TCHD.

    • Mira el evento grabado en YouTube
  • Vaccine Q&A for parents and caregivers (Live)
    • Tuesday, May 18, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
    • Guest practitioners: Dr. Snedeker, Northeast Pediatrics and Dr. Casey, Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics 
    • Vaccinating children, and questions related the vaccine and fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding

    • Watch the recorded event on YouTube

Flu Vaccine

Everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu shot to be immunized against influenza now. Visit your local pharmacy or your health care practitioner today. More info is here.

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References and resources:

New York State
  • NYS Guidance for NYS Vaccination Program (Effective date: 2/15/21, PDF)
  • NYS Vaccine Information for Providers
    • Guidance for the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Office of Mental Health (OMH), and Office of Addiction Services and Support (OASAS) Click Here
    • Guidance for age 16+ residents of NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)-registered facilities Click Here
    • Guidance for Medical Examiners, Coroners, and Funeral Workers Click Here
    • Guidance for Emergency Medical Services Personnel Click Here
    • Guidance for age 16+ residents of NYS OCFS-registered facilities Click Here
  • Executive Order 202.86:
    • “To ensure that the State has complete and accurate information about who is receiving the State’s currently limited quantity of vaccine …
    • “healthcare providers shall require any person who is receiving the vaccine to provide information, including but not limited to an attestation that they are a member of a specific priority group that has been determined by the Department of Health to be eligible for the vaccine …”
  • Executive Order 202.91:
    • Local health departments and county governments receive allocation for and must  prioritize essential workers in the 1b category. 
    • Hospitals receive allocations for and must prioritize healthcare workers. 
    • Pharmacies are to prioritize individuals that are 50+. The minimum age was lowered from 60+ to 50+ effective March 23, 2021. 
    • NYSDOH approved general population mass vaccination sites are to prioritize 50+ and essential workers in the 1b category.  
  • Executive Order 202.95 (2/22/21):
    • P-12 school employee vaccination reporting to their school or districk
    • P-12 school or district vaccination reporting to NYSDOH  
  • United Health Services (UHS) Southern Tier Region FAQ
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
Other sources
Professional Associations

If you have questions about whether you meet these criteria after you read the guidance or have questions about registration, you may email the Tompkins County Health Department at, or call 2-1-1 (877-211-8667)

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