What You Need to Know about the COVID-19 Vaccine
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, we will update this page with information.
Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine
When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available to patients?
We are expecting to receive doses for patients and begin vaccination in January of 2021. All Nevada residents may have access to COVID-19 vaccines by the summer of 2021. Patients will need to be scheduled to receive the vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine will also be offered by other community partners based on state guidelines including:
- UMC is scheduling appointments online and by phone
- VA of Southern Nevada will be contacting patients to schedule appointments
- Southern Nevada Heath District including the Cashman Center vaccination site
Who will get vaccines first and how will vaccines be distributed?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the prioritization for those to be vaccinated. As Intermountain receives vaccine access, the current distribution plan, subject to change, involves three phases:
- Phase I: Healthcare workers most at-risk of exposure to COVID-19 and long-term care facility residents, high-risk people (with underlying medical conditions) age 65 and older and people age 75 and older.
- Phase II: All healthcare professionals and other essential workers
- Phase III: People at increased risk for severe illness or of acquiring/transmitting COVID-19
- Phase IV: Healthy adults
How can I sign up for a vaccine? Is there a wait list?
Once the vaccine is available to patients, we will schedule patients to receive it based on CDC published prioritization and state guidelines. There currently isn’t a wait list, but as more patients are scheduled, appointments may not be immediately available.
How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?
COVID-19 vaccine and some related supplies will be procured and distributed by the federal government at no cost to Intermountain, payers, or patients. CDC will share more information about reimbursement claims for vaccine administration fees for our commercial patients as it becomes available.
Do I have to continue to wear a mask and social distance upon receiving the vaccine?
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all best practices available to help stop the pandemic. Until we reach herd immunity and different health guidelines are provided, you must continue to wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands often.
When will a pediatric vaccine be available?
The safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccinations have not been assessed in people less than 18 years of age.
Safety and Effectiveness
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Safety is Intermountain’s top priority. We will only implement vaccines that are FDA authorized or approved.
Do the vaccines have any side effects?
The CDC has not reported on general side effects of the vaccine, but we anticipate some of those who receive it may report mild symptoms (slight pain, swelling, or redness at the site of injection; mild fever; chills; feeling tired; headache; and muscle and joint aches). Any additional reported side effects will be shared at the time of vaccination. The vaccine has not been studied on pregnant/breastfeeding women nor children.
How long after the second dose will I be considered safe or immune?
Immunity is established two weeks after the second dose. Further studies are being conducted to better understand how long the vaccination offers immunity from COVID-19.
What if I get COVID-19 after my first dose before receiving the second?
If an individual tests positive for COVID-19 after receiving the first dose, they must wait 90 days before receiving the second.
What if I am pregnant or nursing? Is it still safe for me to receive the vaccination?
The CDC has concluded “people who are pregnant and part of a group recommended to receive the coronavirus vaccine, such as health care personnel, may choose to be vaccinated. The CDC also states that “mRNA (Moderna) vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant.”
How are vaccine manufacturers able to develop a safe vaccine in such a short timeframe when vaccines usually take years to develop?
The CDC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other national organizations have partnered to form an Operation Warp Speed (OWS) initiative to accelerate the COVID-19 vaccine program safely. OWS is taking processes for vaccine development, evaluation, and approval that normally take years and compressing them into months, by running these processes at the same time rather than in sequential steps. OWS began manufacturing the vaccine while running the phase 3 trials, before knowing vaccine effectiveness. If the vaccine turns out to be effective and the FDA approves, vaccines will be ready to use immediately upon approval by the FDA. Vaccines not proven effective won’t be approved or allowed to use.
How effective will the vaccine be?
Vaccines will need to be at least 50% effective (reduces the risk of infection by one half) for it to be granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Another way to say this is: you are half as likely to become infected compared to those who are not vaccinated. Any level of effectiveness can help slow the spread. Because we don’t yet know how effective the vaccines are and for how long, individuals will need to continue all other prevention methods including masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene. The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that have been granted EUAs are both around 95% effective.
How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
Vaccines help the body develop immunity by training the immune system to recognize and remember how to respond to the disease-causing part of a virus. Vaccines traditionally contain either weakened or inactivated (killed) viruses or purified, signature proteins of viruses. In the COVID-19 response, some manufacturers are making vaccines in new ways, using messenger RNA (mRNA).
mRNA is genetic material that encodes the signature proteins of the viruses. These genetic instructions are injected into the person rather than the viral protein itself. mRNA vaccines use only what is needed to guide immune system response and development of antibodies, so if and when the body is exposed to the actual virus, the immune system knows how to respond and protect the individual from getting sick or from getting very sick.
Should individuals who were COVID-19 positive and recovered, or who are currently COVID-19 positive, get a vaccine?
Individuals should not be vaccinated while they have any active illness. They should hold on vaccinating until they are recovered and feeling well. Because we don’t know how long immunity or antibodies to the COVID-19 virus will last, we recommend that individuals vaccinate for COVID-19 even if they were previously positive.