COVID-19 Vaccine: Frequently Asked Questions
Why are the vaccines so important?
COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 7,600 Louisianans died from COVID in 2020 — that’s more than the number of deaths caused by accidents, stroke and diabetes combined in Louisiana in 2017. The vaccines are critical to ending the pandemic and getting our lives back to normal.
Who is eligible for the vaccines?
Everyone in Louisiana ages 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Having a large portion of the population vaccinated is our best shot at a return to some form of normalcy. Based on conversations with our federal partners, we are encouraged that Louisiana will receive enough doses to vaccinate everyone who wants a shot.
Where can I get a vaccine?
All nine public health regions and 64 parishes of the state have at least one vaccine location. To find one near you, visit covidvaccine.la.gov and click/tap on the Vaccine Locations button. Vaccines are available at select:
- Chain pharmacies
- Grocery stores
- Retail stores
- Independent pharmacies
- Public health providers
- Urgent cares
- Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs)
- Community events
- Medical practices
- Rural health clinics (RHCs)
- Other healthcare providers
In addition to these providers, community vaccination events are taking place across the state and are listed at covidvaccine.la.gov.
I have heard that i might need to get more than one shot to be vaccinated. Is this true?
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are in two doses, administered 3 or 4 weeks apart. You will get the necessary information about the second dose when you get your initial vaccine. The second dose is very important. One dose will not provide long-term protection. People vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine will receive the second dose 21 days after the first dose. Those getting the Moderna vaccine will receive the second dose 28 days after the first dose.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is given in one dose. We know many people actually prefer a one-and-done vaccine, like young people, people who are afraid of needles, and people who work multiple jobs or have difficulty taking time off work. This single dose also may offer more protection faster than the other two vaccines.
Will I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing?
The face covering/mask mandate in Louisiana was lifted April 28, 2021 following months of sustained improvement in COVID hospitalizations and an increase in the supply and availability of COVID-19 vaccines.
Also, CDC has relaxed the rules on mask wearing outdoors: Americans who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus no longer need to wear a mask for most outdoor activities. Masks are still recommended in crowded outdoor venues like sports stadiums.
Masks or face coverings should be worn in indoor public spaces and anytime in public when you are near others who are not in your immediate household.
When in doubt about whether to wear a mask at a certain activity where people outside of your everyday household will be present, you can stay safe by:
- Making sure everyone around you is vaccinated, or
- Maintaining the 2 out of 3 Rule: To lower risk for COVID-19, make sure the activity meets two out of the following three conditions: Outdoors, Distanced and Masked.
- Outdoors + Distanced = No Mask Recommended
- Outdoors + Not Distanced = Mask Recommended
- Indoor + Distanced = Mask Recommended
Will I still need to quarantine if I am exposed to someone who is infected with COVID-19?
People who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus (two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of J&J) do not have to quarantine if they are exposed to someone infected with the virus. However, they should still take precautions such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. For people who live in congregate settings such as nursing homes, the Department of Health still recommends quarantine for anyone who has been exposed.
How much will it cost to get vaccinated?
The federal government is making vaccines available at no cost to the individual.
You do NOT need insurance to get the vaccine. If you do have insurance it may be billed but the vaccine will be no cost to YOU.
Can the vaccines affect my fertility?
There is zero evidence that COVID vaccines affect fertility. The vaccines tell the body how to fight the protein that is on the outside of the coronavirus, but this protein is completely different from the protein that allows for successful reproduction. The antibodies your body produces to fight the coronavirus will not attack reproductive proteins.
How do the vaccines work?
Unlike many vaccines, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines do not contain a dead or a weakened virus that triggers an immune response. Instead, these vaccines contain a genetic instruction manual that tells your immune system how to respond and protect you from exposure to the actual virus.
The technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is not new. It is called mRNA, or messenger RNA, and it has been around for decades. This is the first time mRNA has been used in a vaccine, but the effect is the same as other vaccines: Your body gets protection without the serious consequences of a severe illness due to COVID-19 exposure.
The J&J vaccine works like many vaccines you are already familiar with. It uses an adenovirus vector, (in this case, a harmless cold virus) that carries the blueprint for the spike proteins on the virus’s surface. This virus works like a Trojan horse, infecting cells and replicating the coronavirus spikes. If you later become infected with the coronavirus, these replicated spikes are how your immune system recognizes and knows how to fight the real thing.
Are the vaccines effective?
Based on evidence from clinical trials, all three vaccines are 100% effective at preventing serious hospitalizations and deaths. That’s our most urgent, important goal. A recent CDC study of essential workers in real-world conditions found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines reduced the risk of infection by 80% after 1 dose and 90% after 2 doses. The CDC will continue to provide updates as it learns more about how the vaccines work in real-world conditions.
Are the vaccines safe? What does FDA authorization mean?
Vaccines are authorized for use by the FDA, meaning clinical trials have proven the vaccines as a safe and effective defense against COVID-19. The FDA and ACIP will continue to monitor safety and effectiveness data.
No steps were skipped during the clinical trials and data review process for COVID-19 vaccines. Safety is a top priority. The COVID vaccines are being held to the same standards as other vaccines to make sure they are safe.
Are the vaccines OK if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
The CDC advises all pregnant people be given access to the vaccines. In Louisiana, anyone currently pregnant is currently eligible to be vaccinated.
While specific studies are ongoing, there has been no indication that there are negative effects for this population. Pregnant and breastfeeding people should discuss whether they should receive their vaccine with their providers.