COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs - Members
Molina Healthcare of Washington
(Medicaid, Marketplace, Medicare)

Updated 5/24/2021




1. When will a COVID-19 vaccine become available?


COVID-19 vaccines are currently available in Washington State for everyone age 12 years and older.          


2. Why is the COVID-19 vaccine going through research and testing so much faster than other vaccines?

Scientists are using a decade of vaccine research to help develop the vaccine for COVID-19. Since we’re in a pandemic, developing a new vaccine can go faster than normal. No steps are skipped, but some steps happen at the same time such as applications, trials, and manufacturing. 


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved COVID-19 vaccines developed by three manufacturers (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). An EUA allows the FDA to make a product available during a declared state of emergency before it has a full license.


3. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes, the vaccine is safe. The FDA has a process for ensuring that all vaccines are safe before they can be used in the United States. This process includes clinical trials and approval for both safety and effectiveness. All vaccines made available have undergone clinical trials and approval for both safety and effectiveness.


4. I heard the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused. Is it available again and is it safe?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA have approved use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine to continue as of April 23, 2021. However, women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the low risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination, and that that other COVID-19 vaccines are available where the risk has not been seen.


If you would like to learn more, visit:


5. What is the minimum age to get the vaccine?

The CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older should get the COVID-19 vaccination as widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic.


The Pfizer vaccine is now authorized for children 12 years of age and older.


6. Is parent or guardian consent needed for minors to get vaccinated?

Yes. People 12 -17 years of age may need consent from a parent or guardian to get the vaccine, unless they are legally emancipated.


You will need to check with the vaccine clinic about their requirements for showing proof of consent from a parent/guardian or legal emancipation.                 


7. Why can't younger children get the vaccine?

There are no COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for children under the age of 12. COVID-19 vaccination of young children is not currently recommended because of limited data on vaccine safety and efficacy, although studies are ongoing. Children should still make sure they are up- to-date on their other important life-saving immunizations.


8. Can I get my routine vaccinations when getting my COVID-19 vaccine?


There is limited data on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine when given with other vaccines, so getting the COVID-19 vaccine alone is recommended. It is advised to wait a minimum of 14 days before and after the administration of other vaccines before getting the first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.


9. Where can I get a vaccine?


The following websites have helpful information and tools to help you find out where to get a vaccine:




You can also learn more from health care providers, state and local health agencies, pharmacies, and through public announcements, and traditional and social media sources.


10. How can someone get a COVID-19 vaccine if they are homebound?


The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) can connect you to available mobile vaccine teams. Fill out a secure online form or call the state’s COVID-19 hotline for assistance 1-833-VAX-HELP (833-829-4357). Language assistance is available.


11. If I am pregnant, can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?


Yes. If you are pregnant, you can safely get the shot. Due to the way COVID-19 shots work, experts don’t think there is a risk for pregnant people. There aren’t a lot of studies conducted with pregnant people. To date, they have not found any safety concerns for pregnant people. Clinical studies looking at the safety and how well the shot works in pregnant people are being done now and more are planned.

You should speak to your health care provider if you have questions about getting vaccinated.


12. If I am nursing my baby, can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Nursing mothers were not involved in the studies, but experts think that a COVID-19 vaccine should be given to nursing moms who are able to take the vaccine. The benefits of getting the vaccine are thought to outweigh the risks of not getting the vaccine. You do not need to stop nursing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You can keep breastfeeding after you get the COVID-19 vaccine.


13. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I've had an allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past?

The vaccine should not be given to people with a known history of severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis to any ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine.


There have been reports of anaphylactic reactions in persons receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. These reports are being further investigated, but in the meantime the CDC recommends that people who have had a history of severe allergic reaction to any other vaccine or injectable therapy (e.g. intramuscular, intravenous, or subcutaneous), or allergy to any ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine, should complete a risk assessment with a health care provider to determine if the vaccine is right for them.


14. How much will the vaccine cost?


There is no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine.


15. Will the COVID-19 vaccine be mandatory?


No. It will be your choice whether to get the vaccine. Washington State is not currently considering any mandates for the vaccine, but employers could require it. Please talk to your doctor or clinic if you have questions or concerns.


16. Who is in charge of distributing the vaccine?


The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and local public health agencies are responsible for the vaccine distribution process. The specific details for how and when people can get the vaccine may be different in each county. Check your local health district website for details.


17. How many doses are needed to be effective? 


It is recommended to confirm with the vaccine administrator which manufacturer vaccine was administered and how many doses will be necessary.


The Pfizer vaccine is a two-dose vaccine, given 21 days apart.

The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose vaccine, given one month apart.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-dose vaccine.


Upon receipt of the initial dose, it is also recommended to request a completed COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card for your personal records. Vaccination providers must complete these cards with accurate vaccine information (i.e. vaccine manufacturer, lot number, date of first dose administration and second dose due date, if applicable) and give them to each vaccinated patient to ensure a basic vaccination record is provided.



18. If two doses are required, does the 2nd dose need to be the same supply manufacturer?

Yes. BOTH vaccine doses you receive need to be from the SAME supply manufacturer. So, you will either receive 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine or 2 doses of the Moderna vaccine. It is recommended that patients request a completed COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card for your personal records when you get your first dose. The card should include information such as: the vaccine manufacturer, lot number, date of first dose, and the due date of the second dose.


19. How will I know when to receive a second dose?


Please make the appointment for the second dose at the time of the first dose. Although you should get a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, it is best to also mark the date on your personal calendar and set a reminder on your phone.


20. How will my health care provider know which vaccine manufacturer to use for my 2nd dose?


Your provider can look up the information in the CDC’s Immunization Information Systems (IIS) website. The CDC requires that vaccination providers enrolled in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program report vaccine data to the CDC within 24 hours of administering a dose. This information includes the vaccine manufacturer. The IIS is a lifetime registry that keeps track of immunization records for people of all ages.


21. I've heard the vaccine only works for 90 days. Is that true? When will the vaccination immunity end? Will I need a booster shot?


It is too early to know how long the immunity from the vaccine will last but studies are ongoing, and we will learn more as these studies are completed and published.


At this time, the need for a COVID-19 booster dose has not been established. No additional doses are recommended at this time.


22. What are possible side effects of receiving the vaccine?


During the FDA’s review and approval process, safety and effectiveness are evaluated. After getting vaccinated, you may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. The most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. In addition, you may have fever, chills, tiredness, and/or headache. Most side effects are generally mild and lasts a few days.   


23. How do I report if I have a problem or bad reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible side effects to a national data collection site called, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event. Also, health care providers will be required to report certain adverse events to VAERS as well.


Additionally, the CDC is implementing a new smartphone-based tool called v-safe to check in on people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine. When you receive your vaccine, you should also receive a v-safe information sheet telling you how to enroll in v-safe. Enrollment is optional and you can opt out at any time.


V-safe uses text messaging and web surveys to check-in with vaccine recipients after the vaccination. It enables participants to report side effects and health impact events after COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe will also remind you to get your second COVID-19 dose.


Your participation in v-safe makes a difference - it helps keep COVID-19 vaccines safe.


24. How will the COVID-19 vaccine work in my body?

The COVID-19 vaccine teaches your immune system to recognize the coronavirus. When you get the vaccine, your immune system makes antibodies (“fighter cells”) that stay in your blood and protect you in case you are infected with the virus. So, you get protection against the disease without having to get sick.


Resource: Washington State Department of Health video on how vaccines work in your body.


25. Can I get the COVID-19 infection directly as a result of receiving the vaccine?


No. The live COVID-19 virus is not present in any vaccine currently available and there is no risk from becoming infected as a direct result of receiving the vaccine. After getting vaccinated, you may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. The most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. In addition, you may have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. Most side effects are generally mild and last a few days.


26. Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?


There is no current evidence to support that the vaccine causes infertility.

27. Should I get the vaccine if I have tested positive for COVID-19?


Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, the CDC recommends the vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection varies from person to person.

Since reinfection isn't likely to happen in the 90 days after you're sick with COVID-19, you can delay getting a shot until 90 days after your infection. You should not get the shot while sick or during the isolation/quarantine period to avoid exposing others.

Please contact your provider if you have questions regarding when you should receive the vaccine.

See CDC’s Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States for more information. 


28. Should I get the vaccine if I have been recently exposed to COVID-19? 


If you have been recently exposed to COVID-19, you should wait to get the vaccine until after your quarantine period has ended. However, if there is a high risk you could infect others, you may want to be vaccinated during your quarantine period to prevent spreading the disease. Check first with your provider.


29. I already had COVID-19 and recovered. Do I still need to get a vaccine? 

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the possibility of reinfection, you should be vaccinated even if you have had COVID-19. This is because experts don't yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.

If you have COVID-19, you should wait to get vaccinated until you are no longer sick and are not in isolation. Talk to your doctor if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.                  


30. If I've been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and am exposed to COVID-19, do I need to quarantine?


Per the CDC, 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 (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
  • Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

Persons who do not meet all 3 of the above criteria should continue to follow current CDC quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, including staying home and away from others for 14 days. 

31. After I get the vaccine, will I still need to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash my hands, and limit my exposure to others?


The CDC has issued guidance on what you can do once you become fully vaccinated. For the most updated information, visit the CDC website at


The CDC also generally recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. They include:


  • Wash your hands often with plain soap and water. The CDC recommends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Learn more about safely using hand sanitizer.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering or non-surgical mask when around others. Find more information about how to select, wear, and clean your mask.


32. Where can I find support for the high stress and/or depression I am experiencing during the pandemic?


Many people are experiencing higher stress levels, anxiousness, sadness and anger during the pandemic. You are not alone. Help is available, please visit: Washington State Coronavirus Response


33. Who do I contact if my question was not answered here?