Frequently asked questions
Updated: September 15, 2021
Table of contents
- Available vaccines
- How to get the vaccine
- Eligibility and special considerations
- Vaccine safety
- Vaccine misconceptions
- After getting the vaccine
- Talking to your employee about the vaccine
- More information
- Information in other languages
What vaccines are approved?
Three COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson). The Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval for people 16 and older.
Other COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are in earlier stages of development and testing. Learn more about the approved vaccines on the Minnesota Department of Health vaccine FAQ.
The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 12 and older. The Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are approved for people 18 and older.
How to get the vaccine
How do I get the vaccine with Hennepin County?
Hennepin County is currently offering vaccine appointments for people 12 and older. Pre-registration preferred. Walk-ins are available as supply allows.
Register for a vaccine with Hennepin County.
If you have questions about the vaccine or need help registering for a vaccine appointment, call 612-348-8900. Help is available in English, Spanish, Somali, and Hmong.
Where else can I get the vaccine?
Hennepin County Public Health Clinic
The Hennepin County Public Health Clinic is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to people 12+ during normal clinic hours. The clinic has the Moderna, Pfizer, and the Johnson and Johnson vaccines. Call 612-543-5555 to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are accepted as supply allows.
Clinic address: 525 Portland Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415
- Monday to Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Thursday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Friday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You can also use Minnesota’s COVID-19 Vaccine Connector tool to find out when, where, and how to get your COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, you can get the vaccine by contacting your primary care provider.
Eligibility and special considerations
Who is eligible to get the vaccine?
Currently all Minnesotans 12 and older are eligible to get the vaccine. Learn more about who is currently getting vaccinated on the state’s COVID-19 website.
I have recovered from a lab confirmed case of COVID-19. Should I still get vaccinated?
Yes, people who had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated. This is because COVID-19 is a new disease, so:
- We do not know if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again (how long they are immune).
- Evidence is emerging that people get better protection by being fully vaccinated compared with having had COVID-19.
Are people who have recovered from a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 required to wait to be vaccinated?
If you have had COVID-19, you should get vaccinated even if you have had COVID-19 disease. We are not sure how long a person is protected after they have had COVID-19 disease. Some people have reported a second infection after 90 days. If your illness was confirmed by a PCR test in the past 90 days, it is okay to wait to get vaccinated. In order to conserve doses when they are limited, you may be asked to wait for the 90-day period.
Can I get vaccinated if I’m pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding?
The CDC strongly encourages vaccination for people who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine be required?
No one will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, vaccination is highly encouraged because we know that these vaccines are very effective in preventing severe COVID-19 disease. Getting the vaccine will protect your health and help reduce the strain on the health care system.
Cost, insurance, and immigration
How much does a COVID-19 vaccine cost?
The COVID-19 vaccine itself is free. (The federal government has pre-paid for doses for all Americans.) When it’s their turn, most people will get the vaccine through their primary health care provider. By law, healthcare systems and clinics are allowed to charge vaccine administration fees and/or clinic visit fees. These fees will likely be covered by your insurance. If you do not have insurance or cannot afford these fees, other opportunities for fully free COVID-19 vaccination (e.g., community vaccination events) are now available. Register for an appointment at hennepin.us/vaccineregistration
I want to get vaccinated but I’m undocumented. Could my immigration status become public?
Your status will never be made public. You are not required to provide immigration documentation to receive the vaccine and you will not be asked for them.
How will we know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective?
COVID-19 vaccine development requirements are the same as for all other vaccines. Experts from federal agencies, including the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), review the information collected during the vaccine manufacturers’ testing process to determine whether a vaccine is safe and effective. Experts continue tracking vaccine safety information once vaccines are given in real-life conditions to make sure they are working as expected.
Will I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No, there are no live viruses in the COVID-19 vaccines. Therefore, it is impossible to get COVID-19 from the vaccines. However, by getting vaccinated, you can protect yourself from getting a severe case of COVID-19.
Will the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations protect me from the new strain of COVID-19?
Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson continue to run tests but research shows all vaccines are effective against the new variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant.
I’ve heard that there is pork and gelatin in the COVID-19 vaccines. Is this true?
No. There is no pork, gelatin, or other animal products in the COVID-19 vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and can prevent you from getting a severe case of COVID-19.
I've heard that there are tracking devices in the COVID-19 vaccines. Is this true?
No. There are no tracking devices in the COVID-19 vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and can prevent you from getting a severe case of COVID-19.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine affect your DNA?
The vaccines don't change your DNA. The Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines deliver instructions (material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus. The material never enters the nucleus of the cell where our DNA is kept.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine affect your fertility?
A disinformation campaign has been circulating online, claiming that antibodies to the spike protein of COVID-19 produced from the COVID-19 vaccines will bind to placental proteins and prevent pregnancy.
While there are no formal studies, the best evidence comes from women who got sick with COVID-19 while pregnant. While data clearly indicate pregnant women are at higher risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, there is no evidence of increased miscarriage rates.
During natural infection, the immune system generates the same antibodies to the spike protein that COVID-19 vaccines would. Thus, if COVID-19 affected fertility, there already would be an increase in miscarriage rates in women infected with COVID-19. This has not happened.
Learn more: COVID-19 vaccine myths debunked – Mayo Clinic Health System
After getting the vaccine
Are there any side effects from getting the vaccine?
The most common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines are fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. These side effects are most likely to occur one or two days after getting the vaccine. Although most people will not have significant side effects, some people may wish to schedule their vaccination to allow for a day or two of rest afterward. Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine are a sign that your immune system is working well.
Do I have to get two doses of vaccine?
Two doses are needed for the two COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The time between the doses depends on the vaccine you are getting. The Pfizer vaccine (ultra-cold vaccine) should be given 21 days (3 weeks) apart and the Moderna vaccine (frozen vaccine) should be given 28 days apart (1 month/4 weeks).
It is okay if you get the vaccine within four days of the 21 or 28 day mark (depending on which vaccine you get). If you are unable to get your second dose within the appropriate interval, get the second dose as soon as you can.
It is very important that someone gets both vaccine doses, and the same product for each dose. The vaccine is only fully effective with both doses of vaccine. If someone only gets one dose, they may not be protected (immune) against COVID-19.
Will I still have to wear a mask and physically distance from others once I’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine?
If you are fully vaccinated, follow CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people.
In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:
- Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
Will I still need to get my flu shot if I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes! The viruses that cause COVID-19 and flu are different. Benefits of flu vaccine include:
- Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year
- Flu vaccine prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year
- Getting a flu vaccine may also protect people around you who are at higher risk for serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain health conditions
Do I need a booster dose or additional dose of vaccine once I’m fully vaccinated?
- Medical researchers continue to gather data on how long protection from the vaccine lasts
- There are currently no recommendations for people who have already been fully vaccinated to receive a booster dose of any brand of vaccine
- However, there is a recommendation for moderately to severely immunocompromised people to get a third dose (not a booster dose) of the vaccine. Learn more: COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People | CDC
Talking to your employees about the vaccine
Are the COVID-19 vaccines mandated?
No, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not mandate vaccination. Additionally, vaccination is not required or mandated in Minnesota.
Can I require my employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Neither the State of Minnesota nor Hennepin County can provide legal advice to either employers or employees. In December 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released guidance that generally speaks to whether employers can require an employee be vaccinated. Please visit the EEOC website at www.eeoc.gov for additional information and details.
How can I encourage my employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Consider allowing employees to take paid leave to attend a vaccine appointment or clinic.
- Share information promoting the vaccines with employees at meetings, postings in the breakroom or in other ways you typically communicate with employees (e.g., email, newsletters).
- Make sure your employees know when, where, and how to get vaccinated.
- Use these talking points, and other toolkit resources, to address concerns they might have around vaccination.
What if an employee has already had COVID-19? Should they still get vaccinated?
Yes. Both the virus that causes COVID-19 and the vaccine are new. We don’t yet know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to workers regardless of whether they already had COVID-19. Workers should not be required to have an antibody test before or after they are vaccinated.
What should I do if people call in sick with side effects after getting vaccinated?
Discomfort after vaccination from fever or pain at the injection site is normal and usually only lasts a day or two. You should encourage your employees to stay home and contact their healthcare provider if:
- The redness or soreness at the injection site increases after 24 hours, or
- Their side effects are worrying them or do not seem to be going away after a few days.
Should I stagger vaccination schedules for employees to avoid worker shortages due to vaccine side effects?
Data from vaccine trials show tell us that most side effects are mild and occur within three days after the vaccinations. Side effects generally resolve within a day or two. For the two-dose vaccinations — Pfizer and Moderna — side effects seem to be more common and pronounced following the second dose. Most employees who experience side effects will not feel ill enough to miss work.
Depending on the size of your workforce you may consider staggering schedules for employees who receive vaccination so that not everyone gets vaccinated on the same day. Staggered schedules might be especially important for the second dose when side-effect symptoms are more pronounced.
- There has been a rise of all variants in Minnesota
- The predominant strain in Minnesota is the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant
- Minnesota is seeing a higher rate of severe disease (hospitalization) with the Delta (B1.617.2) variant
- More than 99.9% of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, regardless of strain, are in unvaccinated Minnesotans
- There is emerging evidence that all available COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against COVID-19 variants, including the Delta variant
- If you’re eligible, get vaccinated as soon as you can
Where can I learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines?
Information in other languages (Hennepin County)
What you should know about COVID-19 vaccines (Minnesota Department of Health)
Each week, the Minnesota Department of Health determines the allocations of vaccine dosages for local public health agencies, including Hennepin County Public Health.
For more information on Minnesota’s phased vaccination plan, please visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.
Sign up on the Hennepin County vaccine registration site
Register to receive a vaccine.
- You can also register through the State of Minnesota’s vaccine connector tool: vaccinconnector.mn.gov
- Registering in the Hennepin County vaccine registration system does not make you ineligible for the state’s vaccine connector tool
COVID-19 vaccination navigation line
If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine or need help registering for a vaccine appointment, call 612-348-8900. Help is available in English, Spanish, Somali, and Hmong.
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Hennepin County vaccination statistics
Check out the Hennepin County COVID-19 public dashboard (slide 2) for vaccination data, including:
- Cumulative vaccinations administered
- Vaccines administered by week
- Total people vaccinated by Hennepin County
To date, we have offered vaccine appointments to people 12 and older who reside inside and outside of Hennepin County. We have prioritized people who live in high social vulnerability index zip codes and communities who are disproportionality impacted by COVID-19.
State of Minnesota vaccination updates
For statewide vaccine data visit the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard.
Hennepin County Public Health’s role
Hennepin County Public Health has been directed to prioritize vaccinating people and groups not covered by other vaccine providers (i.e., healthcare system or pharmacies). Our health department’s responsibilities and approach to vaccination are outlined below.
- Working with system partners — like Hennepin Healthcare, the Minnesota Department of Health, and other local health departments — to support their ability to vaccinate.
- Providing vaccine to Hennepin County residents and visitors who do not have access to the vaccine elsewhere.
- Keeping Hennepin County residents, workers, and stakeholders informed of the vaccine distribution plan.
- Lead with a race equity lens
- Utilize data to assist in decision making
- Communicate the importance of seeking vaccine through one’s healthcare provider
- Improve access to vaccination and vaccine information
- Deploy several vaccination events per week, increasing to meet demand as needed
- Distribute the vaccine safely and quickly, ensuring that all doses are used