COVID-19 vaccine Q&A

Page last updated: Sept. 8

We update this page regularly with information about the COVID-19 vaccine. Also, check the CDC for more information.

COVID-19 vaccine appointments available (including booster doses)

Edward-Elmhurst Health is offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments at 2205 Butterfield Road in Downers Grove (drive-thru only) for the Pfizer vaccine (ages 6 months+) or Moderna vaccine (ages 6 months-5 years, and ages 18+), including booster* doses for those eligible, and for the Novavax vaccine (ages 18+).

Schedule your COVID-19 vaccine now (we are offering "booster" doses to ages 5+).

*The CDC recommends everyone ages 6 months+ get vaccinated against COVID-19, and ages 5+ get a booster dose, if eligible. Read more.


Are you vaccinated yet? The COVID-19 vaccine is the safest and smartest way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19.

Vaccine distribution Q&A

How do I schedule a COVID-19 vaccine?

Edward-Elmhurst Health is currently scheduling vaccine appointments at 2205 Butterfield in Downers Grove (drive-thru only) for the Pfizer vaccine (ages 6 months+) or Moderna vaccine (ages 6 months-5 years, and ages 18+), including booster* doses for those eligible, and for the Novavax vaccine (ages 18+).  

It’s easy to schedule a vaccine appointment. Simply log in to your Edward-Elmhurst Health MyChart® account, find the COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule box and click “Schedule Now.” No MyChart account? It’s easy to sign up. If you need help, call the MyChart Help Line at 630-527-5070.

MyChart is required to schedule the Novavax vaccine. 

You can also schedule the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine online, including pediatric vaccine appointments, if you don't have a MyChart account.

Booster doses

*The CDC recommends a booster dose for ages 5 and older. Read the CDC’s booster shot recommendations.

Updated COVID-19 boosters, also known as “bivalent” boosters, protect against the most recent omicron subvariants as well as the original strain.

The CDC recommends that ages 12 and older receive the updated (bivalent) mRNA booster dose (Pfizer or Moderna for ages 18+, and Pfizer for ages 12-17).

Children ages 5-11 years may receive the original (monovalent) mRNA booster dose, if eligible.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not yet authorized as a booster. 

Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Edward-Elmhurst Health now has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available to anyone in our communities age 6 months and older. 

We are currently scheduling vaccine appointments at 2205 Butterfield in Downers Grove (drive-thru only) for the Pfizer vaccine (ages 6 months+) or Moderna vaccine (ages 6 months-5 years, and ages 18+), including booster* doses for those eligible, and for the Novavax vaccine (ages 18+).

Certain moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals are eligible for a third dose of Pfizer (ages 5+) or Moderna (ages 18+) as part of their initial vaccination series), 28 days after their second shot.

Note: Children under age 12 receive a smaller, pediatric dose of the vaccine based on age on the day of vaccination, not on size or weight.

*Booster doses

The CDC recommends a booster dose for ages 5 and older. Read the CDC’s booster shot recommendations.

Updated COVID-19 boosters, also known as “bivalent” boosters, protect against the most recent omicron subvariants as well as the original strain.

The CDC recommends that ages 12 and older receive the updated (bivalent) mRNA booster dose (Pfizer or Moderna for ages 18+, and Pfizer for ages 12-17).

Children ages 5-11 years may receive the original (monovalent) mRNA booster dose, if eligible.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not yet authorized as a booster.

Where can I get the vaccine?

Edward-Elmhurst Health now has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available to anyone in our communities age 6 months and older. We are currently scheduling appointments at the following Edward-Elmhurst Health location by appointment only:

  • Edward-Elmhurst Health – Downers Grove (drive-thru)
    2205 Butterfield Rd
    Downers Grove, IL 60515

Note: For those under 18 who are being vaccinated, parents/guardians must sign the consent forms AND be physically in attendance at the time of the vaccine.

How much will the vaccine cost?

COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone age 6 months and older in the United States at no cost. Learn more.

Who is currently eligible for a third dose or "booster" dose?

Edward-Elmhurst Health is now scheduling third doses and "booster" doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for eligible individuals. 

Third dose (part of initial series)

Research uncovered that immunocompromised people don’t always build the same level of immunity after the standard two mRNA vaccine doses like those with healthy immune systems do (CDC). A third mRNA dose was added to the initial vaccination series for certain individuals. Certain moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals are eligible for a third dose of Pfizer (ages 5+) or Moderna (ages 18+) as part of their initial vaccination series), 28 days after their second shot. If they receive Moderna, they need the full dose (whereas the Moderna booster is a half-dose shot). 

Booster dose (first and second)

The booster is intended to “boost” immunity, as research suggests that the level of virus-fighting antibodies starts to wane several months after getting the vaccine.

The CDC recommends a booster dose for ages 5 and older. Read the CDC’s booster shot recommendations.

Updated COVID-19 boosters, also known as “bivalent” boosters, protect against the most recent omicron subvariants as well as the original strain.

The CDC recommends that ages 12 and older receive the updated (bivalent) mRNA booster dose (Pfizer or Moderna for ages 18+, and Pfizer for ages 12-17).

Children ages 5-11 years may receive the original (monovalent) mRNA booster dose, if eligible.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not yet authorized as a booster.

If I'm not a patient, how can I get the vaccine?

Edward-Elmhurst Health now has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available to anyone in our communities age 6 months and older.

In addition to the efforts of Edward-Elmhurst Health, vaccinations may be available through your local pharmacy or health department. As supplies increase, the vaccine will become more widely available to the general public.

Some county health departments are offering information and surveys to receive weekly updates on vaccine availability:

Pharmacies:

Can I choose which vaccine to get?

Which vaccine you receive depends on supply and where you decide to get it. Edward-Elmhurst Health now has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available to anyone in our communities age 6 months and older.

We are currently scheduling vaccine appointments at 2205 Butterfield in Downers Grove (drive-thru only), for the Pfizer vaccine (ages 6 months+) or Moderna vaccine (ages 6 months-5 years, and ages 18+), including booster* doses for those eligible, and for the Novavax vaccine (ages 18+).

Certain moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals are eligible for a third dose of Pfizer (ages 5+) or Moderna (ages 18+) as part of their initial vaccination series), 28 days after their second shot. 

Note: Children under age 12 receive a smaller, pediatric dose of the vaccine based on age on the day of vaccination, not on size or weight.

*The CDC recommends a booster dose for ages 5 and older. Read the CDC’s booster shot recommendations.

Updated COVID-19 boosters, also known as “bivalent” boosters, protect against the most recent omicron subvariants as well as the original strain.

The CDC recommends that ages 12 and older receive the updated (bivalent) mRNA booster dose (Pfizer or Moderna for ages 18+, and Pfizer for ages 12-17).

Children ages 5-11 years may receive the original (monovalent) mRNA booster dose, if eligible.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not yet authorized as a booster.

Is there anything I should do to prepare for my vaccine appointment?

  • In order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to our patients, providers and staff, we are asking that you come alone to your vaccine appointment. If you are under age 18 and being vaccinated, your parent/guardian must be physically in attendance at the time of your vaccine. If you need the support of a partner due to limited mobility, cognitive impairment or language barriers, an exception may be made. We are unable to allow children to accompany you. Please arrange for childcare prior to your appointment.
  • Please wear comfortable clothing with a short sleeve in order to allow easy access to your upper arm.
  • You can expect to spend approximately 30 minutes at the vaccination site. Part of this time will be spent making sure you don’t have any medical symptoms.
  • If you begin to experience any symptoms of COVID-19 prior to your vaccination appointment, it is important that you cancel your appointment.
  • Additionally, you should not get a vaccine for COVID-19 if you have received plasma or monoclonal antibodies in the past 90 days. If this applies, please cancel your vaccination appointment.
  • You will be asked to complete a vaccine consent form prior to receiving your vaccine. You can fill out your form in advance to save some time. Bring it with you to the appointment. For those under age 18 who are being vaccinated, parents/guardians must sign the consent forms AND be physically in attendance at the time of the vaccine.
  • Patients who receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Edward-Elmhurst Health are required to opt in to I-CARE, which retains vaccine data permanently. I-CARE was developed by the IDPH and is designed to protect patient confidentiality while providing access to statewide registry information.

View Fact Sheets for the COVID-19 vaccines:

What information should I know after I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Where can I check my vaccine history/status?

In MyChart,® you’ll find a COVID-19 page. Go to “Your Menu,” In the drop down under “My Record,” select “COVID-19.” You will then be able to:

  • Review/update your COVID-19 vaccine history/status
  • Upload an image of your vaccine card
  • Review your past COVID-19 test results
  • Get links to helpful COVID resources on the CDC site
  • Download your COVID-19 vaccine and test result information as a PDF
  • Access scannable QR codes to share your COVID-19 information at participating locations.

How do I update my vaccine status in MyChart?

Log in to MyChart®. Go to “Your Menu,” In the drop down under “My Record,” select “COVID-19.” You will then be able to view your vaccination history or take steps to update your vaccination details.

If your COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Illinois and you don’t see it in MyChart, you can update your vaccine status. Click on “Update” under the message “Not seeing your vaccine?” This will query the Illinois state registry, I-CARE. If the query does not find a 100% match, you can click on “Enter vaccine details” to manually submit your COVID-19 vaccine details and upload a photo of your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card.

This data will be verified against the Illinois state registry and your record will be updated. If you were vaccinated outside of Illinois, we will not be able to validate the submission. Please allow 5-7 business days for your submission to be reviewed.

If I'm fully vaccinated, do I still need to get a COVID-19 test before a procedure?

We are currently requiring pre-procedure COVID-19 testing for all patients regardless of vaccination status. Testing must be completed within 72 hours of the procedure and the patient must attempt to quarantine from the time of the test to procedure time. Testing protocols may change in the future as we continue to re-evaluate based on guidance from the IDPH and CDC.

While COVID-19 vaccines are effective, no vaccine prevents illness 100 percent of the time. A small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated may still get COVID-19 if they are exposed, called “vaccine breakthrough cases.” This means that while people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to get sick, it may still happen (although evidence suggests the vaccine helps protect against severe illness). Experts are continuing to investigate how common COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases are, how long protection from the vaccine lasts, and how effective the vaccine is against emerging variants.

If you need a surgical procedure and you haven’t been vaccinated, you should get vaccinated against COVID-19 before surgery to protect yourself and others. Vaccination can help protect against COVID-19 illness and significantly reduce the risk of complications. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or a single-dose vaccine (Janssen/J&J). Read the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.

Vaccine Q&A

What COVID-19 vaccines been approved?

In August 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech, for ages 16 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for ages 6 months-15 years, and as a third dose for certain immunocompromised individuals ages 5 and up.

In January 2022, the FDA approved the second COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna, for ages 18 and older. The Moderna vaccine is available under EUA for ages 6 months-17 years, and as a third dose for certain immunocompromised individuals ages 18 and older.

In February 2021, the FDA issued an EUA for a third COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, for ages 18 and up. Due to the ongoing risk of rare but serious blood clots, in May 2022, the FDA limited the use of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to adults age 18+ for whom the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are not accessible or clinical appropriate, or for adults age 18+ who elect to receive the J&J vaccine because they would otherwise remain unvaccinated.

In July 2022, the FDA issued an EUA for a fourth COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax, for ages 18 and older. The Novavax vaccine meets the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality, and provides another vaccine option for adults (ages 18+) for the prevention of COVID-19, including the most severe outcomes, such as hospitalization and death.

EUA is an authorization process used by the FDA if there is an emergency and enough evidence that the vaccine will be safe and helpful. Vaccines authorized for EUA still need to meet the FDA's rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and quality.  

The CDC recommends a booster dose for ages 5 and older. Read the CDC’s booster shot recommendations.

Updated COVID-19 boosters, also known as “bivalent” boosters, protect against the most recent omicron subvariants as well as the original strain.The CDC recommends that ages 12 and older receive the updated (bivalent) mRNA booster dose (Pfizer or Moderna for ages 18+, and Pfizer for ages 12-17). Children ages 5-11 years may receive the original (monovalent) mRNA booster dose, if eligible.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not yet authorized as a booster.

View Fact Sheets for the COVID-19 vaccines:

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

The COVID-19 vaccines train the body’s immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

The Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna mRNA 1273 are mRNA vaccines. They contain the portion of mRNA (molecule that carries a genetic code) that sends the body’s cells instructions to make a harmless piece of spike protein, the button on the surface of the SARS-CoV2 virus. It is not a live virus, cannot replicate itself and is quickly destroyed in the cell shortly after translation. Once the spike protein is translated by the mRNA, an immune response is elicited, resulting in the production of antibodies against the spike protein. When the SARS-CoV2 spike protein is bound up by antibodies, it cannot attach to and infect human cells.

The Janssen (J&J) vaccine is a vector vaccine that uses an adenovirus (a type of virus that causes the common cold, not the virus that causes COVID-19) that has been genetically modified to make it harmless, to instruct the body’s cells to make the SARS CoV-2 spike protein. Our immune system recognizes the threat and begins producing antibodies to fight off what it thinks is an infection. This trains the body's immune system to protect against an actual SARS-CoV-2 infection. The virus used in a vector vaccine has been modified so it can’t replicate itself or cause infection. Due to the ongoing risk of rare but serious blood clots, in May 2022, the FDA limited the use of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to certain individuals.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine (ages 18+) is a protein adjuvant that contains recombinant SARS-COV-2 spike protein (formulated as a nanoparticle that cannot cause disease) and Matrix-M adjuvant (used to strengthen the immune response). When the vaccine is injected, it elicits an immune response, protecting the body from getting sick from COVID-19 in the future. The Novavax vaccine is unique among the available COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. in that its technology has been used before to prevent other diseases (e.g., hepatitis B, shingles and HPV, among others).

Is the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are authorized after meeting rigorous scientific standards for safety. The vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The first approved COVID-19 vaccine, an mRNA vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, was studied in more than 40,000 people, to ensure they meet safety standards.

The third authorized (by EUA) vaccine, an adenovirus vector vaccine by Janssen (J&J), is held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines in the U.S. Due to the ongoing risk of rare but serious blood clots, in May 2022, the FDA limited the use of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to adults age 18+ for whom the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are not accessible or clinical appropriate, or for adults age 18+ who elect to receive the J&J vaccine because they would otherwise remain unvaccinated.

The fourth authorized (by EUA) vaccine, the Novavax vaccine, has also undergone the FDA’s comprehensive scientific and regulatory review and meets the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality. In clinical trials, the Novavax vaccine had a 90% efficacy and was shown to reduce the risk of COVID-19, including the most severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death.

To date, more than 223 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. The evidence is clear and straight-forward. The best way to protect yourself from possible severe illness, long-term health consequences of infection, hospitalization or death is to get vaccinated.

Read more on the CDC site.

Does the vaccine require more than one dose?

The Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine (ages 18 and up) is administered as a single dose. Due to the ongoing risk of rare but serious blood clots, in May 2022, the FDA limited the use of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to certain individuals.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech (ages 6 months+) and Moderna (ages 6 months+) vaccines require two doses (three doses for some immunocompromised individuals and for ages 6 months-4 years who receive Pfizer). Note: Children under receive a smaller, pediatric dose of the vaccine based on age on the day of vaccination, not on size or weight.

The interval between the two doses for the Pfizer vaccine is 21 days and for the Moderna vaccine, it's 28 days. Certain moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals are eligible for a third dose of Pfizer (ages 5+) or Moderna (ages 18+) as part of their initial vaccination series), 28 days after their second shot. 

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine (ages 18+) requires two doses in the primary series, given 3-8 weeks apart. People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should also receive two doses — a third primary dose is not currently authorized for this vaccine.

Booster dose

The CDC recommends a booster dose for ages 5 and older. Read the CDC’s booster shot recommendations.

Updated COVID-19 boosters, also known as “bivalent” boosters, protect against the most recent omicron subvariants as well as the original strain.

The CDC recommends that ages 12 and older receive the updated (bivalent) mRNA booster dose (Pfizer or Moderna for ages 18+, and Pfizer for ages 12-17).

Children ages 5-11 years may receive the original (monovalent) mRNA booster dose, if eligible.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not yet authorized as a booster.

What’s the difference between the vaccines?

Currently, four vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen (J&J) and Novavax are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines. At this point, one mRNA vaccine is not recommended over the other as both show similar efficacy. One difference is in how the vaccines are stored. While both vaccines need to be kept cold, the Moderna vaccine must be stored at a temperature of a regular refrigerator freezer and can be used within 30 days after thawing, while the Pfizer vaccine requires special ultra-cold freezers and must be used with five days after thawing.

Children ages 6 months-17 years are eligible for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Children under age 12 receive a smaller, pediatric dose of the vaccine based on age on the day of vaccination, not on size or weight.

The CDC recommends a booster dose for ages 5 and older. Read the CDC’s booster shot recommendationsUpdated COVID-19 boosters, also known as “bivalent” boosters, protect against the most recent omicron subvariants as well as the original strain. The CDC recommends that ages 12 and older receive the updated (bivalent) mRNA booster dose (Pfizer or Moderna for ages 18+, and Pfizer for ages 12-17). Children ages 5-11 years may receive the original (monovalent) mRNA booster dose, if eligible.

The Janssen (J&J) vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine, and can be stored in a refrigerator, instead of a freezer, for up to three months. While direct comparisons can’t be made since the vaccine trials were conducted differently, all three COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. Due to the ongoing risk of rare but serious blood clots, in May 2022, the FDA limited the use of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to certain individuals.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine (ages 18+) is a protein adjuvant. It can be stored in a refrigerator, making it easier to distribute. The vaccine requires two doses in the primary series, given 3-8 weeks apart. The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not yet authorized for use as a third dose for immunocompromised or as a booster dose.

Unlike the other COVID-19 vaccines, which introduce the genetic recipe for the spike protein into our cells to which our immune system responds, with the Novavax vaccine, the spike protein is made outside of the body and, once injected, induces an immune response.

Will the vaccine cause side effects?

As with other vaccines, it is normal to experience some pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, or low-grade fever following the vaccination, which should go away on their own in a day or two. This does not mean that the vaccine has given you COVID-19. These symptoms are typical reactions to most vaccines and are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do — building up protection to the disease. Read our COVID-19 vaccine aftercare flyer.

Will the vaccine give me the virus?

No. The mRNA vaccines contain a portion of mRNA, but not live virus. After the spike protein is produced, the mRNA is degraded. The adenovirus vector vaccine cannot cause infection with COVID-19 or with the adenovirus used as the vaccine vector, which has been genetically modified to be harmless so it can’t replicate itself or cause illness. A normal immune response to the vaccine can lead to low grade fever or achiness, but this is not harmful. The full benefit of immunity won’t occur until 2 weeks after your second dose (booster dose) of the mRNA vaccines and 14 days after the single-dose vector vaccine. The risk of getting infected from someone who is infectious won’t diminish right away after vaccination.

Like the other COVID-19 vaccines, the Novavax vaccine cannot cause COVID-19 infection. The vaccine doesn't contain either live or inactivated virus. It contains a synthetic SARS-CoV-2 spike protein plus an adjuvant, an ingredient added to boost immune response. When your immune system encounters the spike protein, it produces antibodies against it, which gives you protection against future COVID-19 infection.

Are there any contraindications to the vaccine?

According to the CDC, while rare, anaphylactic reactions have been reported following vaccination with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Individuals with a history of an immediate allergic reaction (of any severity) to an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components might be at greater risk for anaphylaxis upon re-exposure to either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is an ingredient in the mRNA vaccine (Pifzer and Moderna). If you allergic to PEG, you should not get an mRNA vaccine.

These individuals should be evaluated by an allergist-immunologist to determine if they can safely receive the vaccine. Individuals with a history of an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a vaccine or injectable therapy, and individuals with a history of anaphylaxis due to any cause, should be observed for 30 minutes following vaccination with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. All other individuals should be observed for 15 minutes. Allergic reactions not related to vaccines, such as food or environmental allergies, are not a contraindication or precaution to vaccination with either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Any individuals with a known history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction (even if it was not severe) to any component of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine (such as polysorbate) should not get the Janssen (J&J) vaccine. Due to the ongoing risk of rare but serious blood clots, in May 2022, the FDA limited the use of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to certain individuals.

Polysorbate is an ingredient in the Novavax and J&J vaccines. If you are allergic to polysorbate, ask your doctor if you should get an mRNA vaccine instead.

If you are not able to get one type of COVID-19 vaccine due to an allergy to an ingredient in that vaccine, ask your doctor if you should get a different type of COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I recently had another vaccination — flu, shingles, etc.?

The CDC previously recommended that COVID-19 vaccines be administered with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccines. Now, the CDC states that COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may be administered without regard to timing.

If I've had COVID-19, should I get the vaccine and, if so, when?

Talk to your doctor first if you have any questions about whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC recommends:

  • People should get vaccinated regardless of whether they already had COVID-19, as it is still unknown how long natural immunity lasts and getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.
  • If you currently have COVID-19, you should wait until you have recovered and met the criteria for discontinuing isolation before getting vaccinated. This also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine.
  • If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Should pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine?

This is a personal choice that you should make after talking with your doctor. The initial clinical trials for all three COVID-19 vaccines did not include pregnant people, so there's no firm evidence yet on how the vaccine will perform in this group. We do know though that pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and pregnant people with severe COVID-19 may be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth and pregnancy loss.

When should I schedule my screening mammogram and COVID-19 vaccine?

A possible side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine is temporarily swollen lymph nodes on the side where the shot is given, which may show up on a mammogram and result in unnecessary diagnostic follow-up.

If you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, it is recommended that you schedule your screening mammogram before getting your first COVID-19 vaccine dose, or four weeks following your second vaccine dose. This does not apply to mammograms for symptomatic patients or to diagnostic mammograms, which should not be delayed. As always, talk with your healthcare provider about what is best for you. If you’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine and are already scheduled for a screening mammogram, let your technologist know that you were vaccinated and in which arm you got your shot.

Are the current COVID-19 vaccines effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants?

Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating globally. So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the delta variant and other variants with widespread circulation in the U.S. Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the omicron variant. Scientists continue to monitor vaccine effectiveness. Learn more.

Updated COVID-19 boosters can help to restore protection that has decreased since previous vaccination, and provide broader protection against newer variants. The updated “bivalent” boosters protect against the most recent omicron subvariants as well as the original strain. The CDC recommends ages 12 and older should receive the updated (bivalent) mRNA booster dose. Read the CDC’s booster shot recommendations.

How long will it take after I get the vaccine to be protected from COVID-19?

Those who receive the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine will develop maximum immunity several weeks after the second dose. It normally takes about 2 weeks for cellular immunity to develop and several weeks for full antibody development. For the one-dose Janssen (J&J) vaccine, full protection occurs 14 days after vaccination. Review of studies and real world data suggest vaccination also prevents carrying the virus (reduced spreading). Due to the ongoing risk of rare but serious blood clots, in May 2022, the FDA limited the use of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to certain individuals.

The CDC authorized "booster" shots of Pfizer or Moderna. The booster is intended to “boost” immunity, as research suggests that the level of virus-fighting antibodies starts to wane several months after getting the vaccine. Some research also suggests that with each new dose, the body makes higher quality antibodies that are better at blocking new variants. Even without the boost, all the COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against hospitalization and death.

What's the difference between a third vaccine dose and a booster dose?

A third vaccine dose is for certain moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals who didn't get enough protection to begin with to mount an adequate immune response. The third vaccine dose is being considered as part of their initial vaccination series.

There are now booster recommendations for the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. The booster is intended to “boost” immunity, as research suggests that the level of virus-fighting antibodies starts to wane several months after getting the vaccine. 

The CDC recommends a booster dose for ages 5 and older. Read the CDC’s booster shot recommendations.

Updated COVID-19 boosters, also known as “bivalent” boosters, protect against the most recent omicron subvariants as well as the original strain.The CDC recommends that ages 12 and older receive the updated (bivalent) mRNA booster dose (Pfizer or Moderna for ages 18+, and Pfizer for ages 12-17). Children ages 5-11 years may receive the original (monovalent) mRNA booster dose, if eligible.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not yet authorized as a booster.   

Is it true there are actually scams related to the COVID-19 vaccine?

Unfortunately, yes. And we have seen evidence of this type of thing in our area. Be aware of any requests asking you to pay in advance or pay out-of-pocket for a vaccine. Edward-Elmhurst Health will not ask for any advance payment. You can go here for more information about vaccine fraud.

Once I’ve had a vaccine, can I stop wearing masks?

Until you have full immunity, two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose series, or two weeks after one dose of a one-dose series, you are still susceptible, so you should continue to wear a mask. CDC guidance allows for some lifting of restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals, including resuming some activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required. It will take some time before the overall risk of exposure is low because so many others have been immunized. Until most of the population is vaccinated, wearing masks in public places, social distancing and handwashing are the only tools we have to stop the spread of COVID-19. Read the latest mask guidelines from the CDC.

How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19 until I get the vaccine?

The best defense against COVID-19 is to continue following safety precautions. Cover your mouth and nose with a face mask when around others, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay at least 6 feet away from people outside of your household, avoid crowds and wash your hands often and thoroughly. Get more information about steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 here

What resources are available?

Illinois Department of Public Health website:

County Health Department websites:

View Fact Sheets for the COVID-19 vaccines: