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
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). 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.
How to get the vaccine
How do I get the vaccine with Hennepin County?
Register for a vaccine with Hennepin County
- This process registers you in our system. It does not make you a vaccine appointment.
- If you meet the current criteria for vaccination based on current guidelines, you will be contacted if an appointment becomes available.
- You are still eligible to sign-up and receive the vaccine through other systems.
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?
You can use Minnesota’s COVID-19 Vaccine Connector tool to find out when, where, and how to get your COVID-19 vaccine.
You can also get the vaccine by contacting your primary care provider.
Eligibility and special considerations
Who is eligible to get the vaccine?
Currently all Minnesotans 16 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).
- We do not know if being previously infected will make the next infection better or worse.
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, breastfeeding, and/or immunocompromised?
It is important to know that for some populations -- like people who are pregnant, breastfeeding and/or immunocompromised — we don’t have much information about safety or how well the vaccine works, or it hasn’t been studied yet. In these circumstances, people may be vaccinated but should speak with their health care provider so they understand what is known about their situation and vaccination.
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 all manufacturers believe that their vaccines are effective against the new variants of COVID-19.
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 Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were made using mRNA technology. mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person's genetic makeup (DNA). Learn more about mRNA vaccines at CDC: Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines.
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:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 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
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.
After employees have been vaccinated, can they stop practicing other prevention measures such as social distancing and wearing a mask?
No. The CDC recommends that people continue to follow the prevention measures – wearing a mask, physically distancing (6 feet or 2 meters apart), washing hands, cleaning surfaces, and staying home when sick – even after they have been vaccinated.
It takes time for a person to build up immunity after any vaccination and it takes up to two weeks after the second shot to have full protection.
These prevention measure will be necessary until most people in the community have had the opportunity to get the vaccine. Following the prevention measures also helps protect your customers.
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.
Where can I learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines?
COVID-19 vaccine FAQs in other languages: