COVID-19 Vaccine Information & FAQs

Find information, receive updates, and see where you can get vaccinated.

AFM is no longer offering the COVID-19 vaccine to continue our focus on caring for our patients. We continue to be a resource for your COVID-19 questions or concerns. Call your office for more information.

Interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

Here’s what to do:

  1. Sign up for appointments through Larimer County Public Health or Weld County Public Health
  2. Visit your local Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Safeway, Costco, orKing Soopers pharmacies that are administering COVID-19 vaccines in Colorado through the U.S. Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
  3. Sign up for an appointment at a Mobile Vaccination Clinic
  4. Check where you can get vaccinated across the state

Additional COVID-19 doses

Who needs an additional dose? 

People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness. They may not build the same level of immunity to 2-dose vaccine series compared to people who are not immunocompromised. Because of this, the CDC recommends people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna. This includes people who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

If you are unsure, schedule an appointment to talk to your primary care provider about your medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate.

Comparing the different COVID-19 vaccine options

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for three COVID-19 vaccines: the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, and the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen viral vector COVID-19 vaccine. See how the three vaccines compare to one another below, and stay up-to-date on other vaccine clinical trials and options.

 Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 VaccineModerna COVID-19 VaccineJohnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine
Type of VaccinemRNAmRNAViral Vector
Administration2 doses, 21 days apart2 doses, 28 days apart1 dose
Efficacy52% effective after the first dose80% effective after the first dose66% effective 28 days after the first dose
 95% effective after both doses94.5% effective after both dosesNo second dose
Side Effects
  • Pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site
  • Chills, tiredness, headache, fever, body aches
  • Pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site
  • Chills, tiredness, headache, fever, body aches
  • Pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site
  • Headache, tiredness, fever
Approved For Ages12 years old +18 years old +18 years old +

Watch our Q&A video with AFM Clinical Pharmacist Taylor Sandvick about the COVID-19 vaccine >>

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

When can I get the vaccine?

Colorado is vaccinating everyone 12 years of age and older.

Updated: May 14, 2021

Which vaccine should I get?

You should get the first vaccine offered to you to better protect yourself and those close to you. The efficacy of the vaccines does slightly differ but it is hard to compare this because the trials conducted for each vaccine have different designs and tested for slightly different outcomes. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are all highly effective at preventing critical illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19.

Where will I get my vaccine from?

Several community stakeholders, including UCHealth, and our local public health agencies, are vaccinating the Northern Colorado population. AFM is working with local public health agencies and the state to distribute COVID-19 vaccines according to CDPHE guidelines. If/when this happens, AFM will be subject to all of the state’s phased prioritization guidelines.

For additional questions about where you can receive the vaccine or who to contact in your community, call COHELP (1-877-462-2911).

What is the cost of the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is being provided to the public at no cost. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurances are required to cover the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine.

How are the COVID-19 vaccines different?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine given as a single dose.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are an mRNA vaccine with two doses.

They all are extremely adequate at preventing hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19, an important step in ending the pandemic.

What are the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines?

All of the Emergency Use Authorized and Approved vaccines have been deemed safe by the FDA and do not contain any metals or preservatives.

Pfizer: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose

Moderna: Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose

Johnson & Johnson: Replication-incompetent adenovirus vector expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and a variety of salts, buffers, and sugars that help stabilize it (citric acid monohydrate, trisodium citrate dehydrate, ethanol, 2-hydroxypropyl-beta-cyclodextrin, polysorbate 80, sodium chloride, sodium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid).

When will I be protected after receiving a vaccine?

Even though you may be fully vaccinated, you could still carry and spread the COVID-19 virus. It is important to continue distancing and mask-wearing until more is known about the spread of COVID-19 with a vaccine.

Pfizer: has reported that their vaccine is 95% efficacy 14 days after the second dose (35 days after receiving the first dose)

Moderna has reported that their vaccine is 94.5% effective 14 days after the second dose (42 days after receiving the first dose)

Johnson & Johnson: has reported that their vaccine is approximately 66% effective (up to 72% effective in the United States) 28 days after the first dose.

Can I get COVID-19 from a COVID-19 vaccine?

A COVID-19 vaccine will give you protection against the disease without having to get sick with the actual virus. It is not possible to get COVID-19 from a vaccine, but it is possible to get symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19. The vaccine candidates use an inactivated virus, parts of the virus (e.g., the spike protein), or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19. The goal of the vaccine is to provide your body with the tools it needs to fight the COVID-19 virus if you were to get infected.

Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Based on current knowledge, experts believe that mRNA vaccines (like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) are unlikely to pose a risk for pregnant or breastfeeding people or their babies. However, pregnant and breastfeeding people were not included in any of the clinical trials for currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines, therefore, no data is currently available on the safety of the vaccines in pregnant or breastfeeding people.

The COVID-19 vaccine should not be given simultaneously with any other vaccines during pregnancy. Wait a minimum of 14 days before and after the administration of other vaccines before getting the first and second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy, see CDPHE’s Pregnancy and breastfeeding FAQ.

Can I still get the vaccine if I have a weakened immune system (due to illness or medication) or an autoimmune condition?

Yes, you are at higher risk of severe COVID-19. Information about safety in this specific group is not yet available, so please be aware of potential for reduced immune response to the vaccine.

Can I get the vaccine if I have a history of allergic reactions?

Yes. If you have a history of allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications (such as foods, pets, bee stings, environmental, latex, etc.) you should get vaccinated. If you have a history of allergic reactions to any ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccines or a history of severe allergic reactions to other vaccines, you should talk with your provider prior to getting vaccinated.

Should I get the vaccine if I have had COVID-19 and recovered?

Yes. Re-infection with COVID-19 is possible and has been seen. However, current evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection and thus people with documented acute infection in the preceding 90 days may defer vaccination until the end of this period, if desired.

What are the side effects of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines?

Most people who received the mRNA vaccines in clinical trials experienced mild to moderate side effects that typically went away on their own after a few days. The most commonly reported side effects for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site; pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection; and fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, nausea/vomiting, and fever for a few days after receiving the vaccine, with more pronounced discomfort after the second dose. The frequency and severity of side effects may vary between the two vaccines. Different people may experience different side effects, even if they receive the same vaccine.

The process of building immunity can cause symptoms. These symptoms are normal and show that your body’s immune system is responding to a vaccine. Other routine vaccines, like the flu vaccine, have similar side effects.

If you experience discomfort after the first dose of the vaccine, it is very important that you still receive the second dose a few weeks later for full protection.

For in-depth information about the side effects of the vaccines, see the CDC’s report on the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.

When will I be protected after getting the vaccine?

You will not be immediately protected from COVID-19 after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Studies show that it takes about one to two weeks after your last dose for your body to be able to protect itself against illness.

Current information suggests it is possible that someone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 may still have a mild or asymptomatic infection or spread the virus to others. So it is important to continue taking precautions. Continue wearing masks and practicing physical distancing until it is clear that it is safe to stop.

Pfizer and Moderna have reported that their vaccines are about 95% effective. Johnson & Johnson has reported that their vaccine is about 77% effective

 

Do I still have to wear a mask and social distance after receiving the vaccine?

It will take time after the vaccination for your body to respond and make enough antibodies to protect you. This could take up to one to two weeks after your last dose.

Vaccinated individuals are able to resume life as it was without masks and social distancing but are still required to abide by businesses and other organizations that require masking for all.

How do mRNA vaccines work?

mRNA vaccines help our bodies build an immune response to the COVID-19 virus. The mRNA vaccine teaches our cells how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. After our cells make copies of the protein, our immune system recognizes that the protein should not be in our body and builds antibodies to remember how to fight the virus if we are infected in the future.

An antibody is a protein produced by your immune system that can recognize a specific type of virus in your body. When you get infected, your body’s antibodies are able to recognize proteins on the surface of the COVID-19 virus to attack and stop it from replicating in your body.

For a visual explanation of how mRNA vaccines work, watch Stat’s video “What are mRNA vaccines?”

To learn more, visit the CDC’s Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work.

Will an mRNA vaccine alter my DNA?

No. mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is kept. The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is that those vaccinated gain this protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.

To learn more, visit the CDC’s Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work.

What is a viral vector vaccine?

A viral vector vaccine uses a modified version of a different virus as a vector (a way to enter the cell). The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a harmless adenovirus as the viral vector. The adenovirus has been made so it is unable to replicate – typically the adenovirus is in a class of “common cold” viruses. It DOES NOT cause infection of either the adenovirus or COVID-19, meaning you CANNOT get COVID-19 from the vaccine. It also does not integrate into a person’s DNA.

Will the vaccine protect me from the new variants of the virus?

Early studies from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are promising, however more studies are needed to know for sure how well they work against the new strains.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines?

Yes. After enough research, the CDC has changed its recommendation to allow co-administration of the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines. If more than one vaccine is administered at a time, it should be in a different location.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am on antibiotics?

Yes, the vaccine should not be withheld if you are on antibiotics.

Do I have to quarantine if I have been exposed to COVID-19 after vaccination?

Vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated (has received both doses and it’s been 2 weeks following administration of the second dose in a 2-dose series)
  • Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

If you have been given a quarantine order in Larimer County and you are fully vaccinated, please complete this form so they can follow-up.

How long does immunity from the COVID-19 vaccine last?

Studies are ongoing. Early evidence shows that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine should still provide protection, although may be slightly less effective against the new variants. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has shown protection against the South Africa and UK variants at this time.

Are extra doses of the COVID-19 vaccine needed for those previously vaccinated?

On August 12, the FDA modified the EUA for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to allow for a 3rd dose of mRNA COVID-19 for those who are fully vaccinated that are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

What age do you have to be to get the additional COVID-19 dose if you are immunocompromised?

The amendment applies to the age ranges for which both vaccines are approved for:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine: Ages > 12 years old
  • Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine: Ages > 18 years old

How do I know if I fall into the moderately to severely immunocompromised category?

Those with medical conditions or people receiving treatments that are associated with moderate to severe immune compromise, including:

  • Active or recent treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ or recent hematopoietic stem cell transplants
  • Severe primary immunodeficiency
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with:
    • High-dose corticosteroids
    • Alkylating agents
    • Antimetabolites
    • Tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers
    • Other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory
  • Chronic medical conditions such as asplenia and chronic renal disease may be associated with varying degrees of immune deficit

Do I have to get the same vaccine I got for my initial vaccine series?

You should try to get the same vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) that you got from your primary series. If for some reason that is not feasible, a dose of the other mRNA vaccine is permitted.

 

What should immunocompromised people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine do?

The FDA’s recent EUA amendment only applies to the mRNA vaccines, as does the CDC’s recommendations at this time. If you are moderately to severely immunocompromised you should continue to wear a mask when you leave your home and distance yourself from others as much as possible.

What are the benefits of the additional COVID-19 vaccine dose for immunocompromised people?

There is emerging data showing immunocompromised people who have low or no protections following two doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may have improved response after an additional dose of the same vaccine.

 

How long after I get my initial COVID-19 vaccines should I get my third dose?

Guidance suggests at least 28 days (4 weeks) after you receive the second dose of the original vaccine series.

What side effects can be expected after the third dose?

So far reactions reported after the third mRNA dose were similar to that of the two-dose series including the two most common: pain at the injection site and fatigue. Most symptoms were mild to moderate.

Does the third dose cover the same strains as the original vaccine series?

Yes, this vaccine is the same and covers the same strains as the first two doses in the series.    

 

Do you have to pay for the additional dose?

Not at this time. Vaccines under the Emergency Use Authorization are paid for by the government. 

Why is the additional dose recommended for immunocompromised only at this point?

Immunocompromised are more likely to get breakthrough infections than people with healthy immune systems due to not mounting an adequate immune response to the initial two doses. The additional dose has been shown to improve the immune response in this population.

Where can I get an additional mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose if I fall into the recommended category? Will I require a doctor’s note?

At this time, you do not require a doctor’s note. Check the Colorado COVID-19 vaccine site to find where you can get your vaccine

 

When will the general population require an additional or booster dose?

On August 18, the U.S. government released a plan to begin administering booster doses on September 20, 2021, for individuals who have been fully vaccinated for 8 or more months. This recommendation has to be approved by the FDA before the general population can begin getting additional doses of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

What is the difference between FDA Approval and Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)?

EUA is a process that allows use of a product (immunization, medication, medical device) in an emergency. It is similar to FDA approval in that it requires evidence to show that benefits outweigh potential risks. At any point, an EUA can be revised or revoked by the FDA as more data becomes available. FDA approval requires a greater amount of evidence to show that the product (in this case the immunization) is safe and effective for its intended use and that the product can be made according to federal quality standards.

What is Comirnaty?

On August 23, 2021, the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee,).  Comirnaty is approved for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.  The ingredients/formulation has not changed, and the vaccine will still be administered as a 2 dose series, 3 weeks apart.    

 

  The vaccine continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for ages 12-15 and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals. 

Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine booster at this time (September 20, 2021)?

The FDA supports booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 (Comirnaty) vaccine for those that are 65 years and older, those at high risk of severe COVID infection, and those at risk of high occupational exposure. The CDC committee will be meeting to further define groups that qualify as high risk. There are no recommendations from the FDA or CDC at this time for the general public to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Is the booster dose the same as the initial vaccine series?

Yes, the dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) is the same as the initial vaccine series.

Is the Pfizer vaccine now approved for ages 5 through 12 year olds?

Not yet. Pfizer has released a statement that they will be submitting promising data to the FDA to be reviewed. These results have shown favorable safety and antibody responses in children ages 5 through 11 years old that received two doses of the vaccine 21 days apart. The dosage size was smaller than the dose approved for ages 12 years and older. Results in children under the age of 5 years old are expected later this year.

How long after the initial vaccine series is it recommended to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) booster dose?

If you qualify for a booster dose and received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for your initial vaccine series, you can receive your booster at least 6 months following the initial vaccine series.

Do I need a booster dose if I received the Moderna or J&J vaccine?

Data for the Moderna and J&J booster doses are expected to be available in the coming weeks.

What are the side effects following the booster dose?

Side effects are similar to those seen with initial vaccine series. The most common side effects are injection site soreness, fatigue, headaches, and muscle pain.

Who is approved to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

A single booster dose has been approved via an amendment to the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after completion of the primary series for the following:

  •         Individuals 65 years and older
  •         Individuals 18 through 64 years old at high risk of severe COVID-19
  •         Individuals 18 through 64 years old who are at increased risk of COVID-19 due to occupational exposure

Is the Pfizer vaccine now approved for ages 5 through 12 years old?

Not yet. Pfizer has released a statement that they will be submitting promising data to the FDA to be reviewed. These results have shown favorable safety and antibody responses in children ages 5 through 11 years old that received two doses of the vaccine 21 days apart. The dosage size was smaller than the dose approved for ages 12 years and older. Results in children under the age of 5 years old are expected later this year. We should know more in November.

What conditions put you at high risk of severe COVID-19?

The following conditions put you at higher risk of severe COVID-19. If you are unsure if you are eligible for a booster, please talk with your doctor.

  •         Cancer
  •         Chronic kidney disease
  •         Chronic lung disease (COPD, moderate to severe asthma, interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension)
  •         Dementia or other neurological conditions
  •         Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
  •         Down syndrome
  •         Heart conditions (heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, hypertension)
  •         HIV infection
  •         Immunocompromised state (due to disease state or medication)
  •         Liver disease
  •         Obesity
  •         Pregnancy
  •         Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  •         Smoking tobacco use, current or former
  •         Solid-organ or blood stem cell transplant
  •         Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
  •         Substance use disorder

 

Which occupational risks qualify for the Pfizer booster?

The following may consider receiving a booster based on their occupational exposure. This list is not exhaustive, and each individual should consider the risks and benefits of receiving a booster based on their individual exposure risk. 

  •         Healthcare workers
  •         Long-term care facility employees
  •         Teachers
  •         Daycare staff
  •         Grocery workers
  •         Homeless shelter employee
  •         Prison staff

 

Should I get a booster if I received the initial vaccine series of Moderna or Johnson & Johnson?

At this time, it is not recommended to get a booster if you received the Moderna or J&J vaccine. There is ongoing research that is being reviewed and recommendations may be changed as more information becomes available. It is not recommended to mix-and-match vaccines due to lack of evidence of safety and efficacy at this time.

If I do not receive the booster, am I considered fully vaccinated?

If you just recently received the two first doses in the vaccine series or received the J&J vaccine, you are considered fully vaccinated. These recommendations may change as more data becomes available.

Have more questions?

Visit covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine-faq for more information from the CDPHE.