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Frequently Asked Questions

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Vaccine Call Center: 303-415-7777 Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Vaccine Clinic at BCH is open Monday--Wednesday--Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Della Cava Medical Pavilion (4801 Riverbend Road in Boulder).

General Information

Who is BCH vaccinating right now?

Colorado’s plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccine is based on federal guidelines designed to dispense the supply of vaccines in an ethical and transparent way. BCH, like all health systems, uses our available supply of vaccine to support the state’s plan within our community.

All eligible individuals in the Phase 2 group and all earlier phases can now register for vaccination at BCH.

As of May 11, BCH is also vaccinating children age 12-15.

When will other groups get vaccinated?

You can get additional information on the State’s vaccination plans at CDPHE vaccine website.

How many doses are required for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require 2 doses. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is administered about 21 days after your first dose and the second dose of the Moderna vaccine is administered around 28 days after the first dose.

Can I choose which vaccine I receive?

BCH has the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna require two doses). Individuals 18+ can choose to receive the J&J vaccine or one of the available mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). We cannot offer a choice between Pfizer or Moderna. Availability is based on inventory supply.

All individuals younger than 50 years old should be aware of a rare but significant side effect associated with the J&J vaccine. If you are in this age group, we recommend that you consider using the available mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) instead of the J&J option.

By reviewing and acknowledging the risk associated with this potential side effect, you may still choose to receive the J&J vaccine if you prefer:

The rare side effect is called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. This is a serious blood clot that can occur in the blood vessels in your brain and lead to neurologic disability. This occurs at a rate of 1 in 140,000 doses in women and 1 in 500,000 doses overall (as of April 2021).

This side effect typically occurs about eight days after receiving the vaccine. The reported range is 6 to 15 days.

After you receive the vaccine, you should notify your doctor or seek medical care if you develop:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Persistent abdominal pain • Neurological symptoms (including severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision)
  • Red-purple discoloration on your body at locations other than the vaccination site.
How much does the vaccine cost?

There is no charge for the vaccine. BCH will bill health insurance companies for administering the vaccine, but none of that fee will be passed on to individuals.

I had a natural infection from COVID 19 -- do I need the COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccination is recommended even in individuals who have had natural infection with COVID-19. Lab data from both vaccine trials suggest that the mRNA vaccine will provide more robust immunity than immunity from natural infection. Guidance from CDC allows waiting 90 days from natural infection to start the vaccine series. Vaccination will act to boost your existing immunity to COVID-19 and may be associated with more prominent, but transient side effects.

Do I need to still wear a mask after getting the vaccine?

BCH infectious disease specialists recommend that individuals continue to wear masks and to social distance even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as these are still best tools to help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Until the entire country has been vaccinated, getting the vaccine and following CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others, including wearing a mask, social distancing and frequent hand washing, will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

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Scheduling a Vaccination

How do I sign up for a vaccination from BCH?

The quickest and most efficient way to schedule a vaccination from BCH is through the MyBCH patient portal, which provides Boulder County residents with unrestricted access to vaccination scheduling – you do not need to be a BCH patient to set up a free MyBCH account. If you don’t have a MyBCH account, we recommend you set one up.

You will receive an email from MyBCH when you are eligible to receive vaccine.

I already have a MyBCH account. What should I do next?

To schedule a vaccine appointment, follow these steps:

From your PC or laptop:

  • Login to your MyBCH account at http://my.bch.org.
  • Click “Menu” (located in the top left corner of the portal homepage).
  • Click “Schedule an Appointment.”
  • Scroll down the list of options and click on the “COVID Vaccine Dose 1” tab.
  • Answer the required questions as prompted.
  • Select an appointment from the available options.
  • Verify your personal information.
  • Click the green “Click to Schedule” box to confirm.

From your smartphone or tablet:

  • Login to your account in the MyBCH app.
  • Click the “Menu” icon.
  • Click “Schedule an Appointment.”
  • Scroll down the list of options and click on the “COVID Vaccine Dose 1” tab.
  • Answer the required questions as prompted.
  • Select an appointment from the available options.
  • Click the green “Click to Schedule” box to confirm.

Make sure you complete all steps when scheduling your appointment. You will receive a confirmation email from donotreply@bch.org with additional instructions about your visit.

You will be able to schedule your second dose of vaccine (if required) after you receive your first dose. This can be done at the vaccine clinic prior to your departure.

I don’t have a MyBCH account. How do I get one?

You can sign up for a MyBCH account through the BCH website. Go to bch.org/vaccine and complete the application. You do not need to be a BCH patient to set up a MyBCH account.

What if I have trouble accessing or signing up for the MyBCH account?

If you have any issues trying to sign up or sign in to the MyBCH portal, please email the BCH Health Information Management team at MyBCH@bch.org. Please note that with so many local residents signing up for MyBCH, HIM has received a large volume of emails requesting support and it may take time to respond to individual requests.

Can I schedule both vaccine doses at the same time?

No, scheduling of the second dose is done at the BCH Vaccination Clinic after you have gotten your initial dose.

I have a vaccination scheduled at BCH but was able to get the vaccine someplace else. How do I cancel my appointment at BCH?

If you need to cancel your existing BCH vaccine appointment, please log into your MyBCH account, open your appointment and click "Cancel Appointment." We also recommend that you contact us by emailing MyBCH@bch.org to let us know that you canceled so that we may remove the appointment notice from your portal. In your email, please include your name and date of birth.

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Safety

The Pfizer vaccine reported “efficacy” of 95% and Moderna had efficacy of 94% -- what does that mean?

When scientists are trying to determine the likely impact of a potential new vaccine, they test the new drug in clinical trials where some participants get the drug while other participants get a placebo. (A placebo is an “inactive drug” that is known to be ineffective against the disease. Saline solution – salt water – is a commonly used placebo.) Researchers can calculate how effective the potential vaccine will be by looking at the difference in new cases of the disease between the group receiving a placebo and the group receiving the experimental vaccine. 95% efficacy means there was a 95% greater reduction in new cases of the disease in the group that got the vaccine compared with the group that got the placebo.

Clinical trials for new drugs follow a rigorous series from initial, small-scale Phase 1 studies to late-stage, large-scale Phase 3 studies. If a treatment is safe and effective in one phase, it moves on to the next phase. Successfully completing a Phase 3 trial is the “gold standard” for any vaccine and both Moderna and Pfizer completed Phase 3 studies of their vaccines.

Is the J&J COVID-19 vaccine safe for all age groups?

In keeping with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Boulder Community Health (BCH) has resumed administering the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.

All individuals younger than 50 years old should be aware of a rare but significant side effect associated with the J&J vaccine. If you are in this age group, we recommend that you consider using either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead of the J&J option. (Please note: We cannot offer a choice Pfizer or Moderna. Availability is based on inventory supply.)

By reviewing and acknowledging the risk associated with this potential side effect, you may still choose to receive the J&J vaccine if you prefer:

  • The rare side effect is called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. This is a serious blood clot that can occur in the blood vessels in your brain and lead to neurologic disability. This occurs at a rate of 1 in 140,000 doses in women and 1 in 500,000 doses overall (as of April 2021).
  • This side effect typically occurs about eight days after receiving the vaccine. The reported range is 6 to 15 days.
  • After you receive the vaccine, you should notify your doctor or seek medical care if you develop:
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • Leg swelling
    • Persistent abdominal pain • Neurological symptoms (including severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision)
    • Red-purple discoloration on your body at locations other than the vaccination site
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe or is it recommended to wait until there is more research?

BCH infectious disease specialists recommend that everyone get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to the community. According to the FDA, “Clinical trials are evaluating COVID-19 vaccines in tens of thousands of study participants to generate the scientific data and other information needed by FDA to determine safety and effectiveness. These clinical trials are being conducted according to the rigorous standards set forth by the FDA.”

If I have a history of anaphylaxis to a medication, food or another vaccine in the past, can I get the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine?

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction to a medication or other substance. The overall background rate of anaphylaxis to vaccines in general is 1.3 for every million doses given and there are no associated deaths. There have been a few reported cases of anaphylaxis to COVID-19 vaccines, all which have occurred within 30 minutes of receiving the vaccine and responded to therapy. The CDC considers a history of severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or any injectable therapy a precaution, but not a contraindication to vaccination. If you have a known allergy to polyethylene glycol or polysorbate, this does exclude you from receipt of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

Boulder Community Health will be able to deliver medication to you if you have a severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or any injectable therapy. We are following CDC recommendations for administering vaccine to individuals with a history of anaphylaxis which includes monitoring for 30 minutes after vaccination and having staff available that can recognize and treat the early signs of anaphylaxis.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe if I am currently on medications or have an existing medical condition?

BCH infectious disease specialists recommend individuals with underlying medical conditions get the vaccine. However, if you have concerns, we recommend that you speak with your physician before getting the vaccine.

I am in the process of getting another vaccine series. Can I get the COVID vaccine?

COVID vaccine needs to be separated from other vaccines by 14 days. If someone has recently received a vaccine, their COVID vaccine should be delayed until that 14-day time frame has expired. If your next dose of an ongoing vaccine series is due around the same time as your scheduled COVID vaccine, talk to your health care provider about which vaccine should be prioritized.

If I am having surgery, when should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

This is something you should discuss with your doctor or surgeon. As a general rule, you should complete the COVID-19 vaccine two-2-dose series prior to surgery and wait 1-2 weeks to undergo surgery. If you have already undergone surgery, the best time to start your COVID vaccine series would be after you are feeling well and 1-2 weeks has passed.

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Risks/Side-Effects

How much will a COVID-19 vaccine reduce the risks or complications of COVID-19?

Current results from clinical trials have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines have up to a 94 to 95 percent efficacy rate in preventing illness from COVID-19. The studies suggest that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may prevent hospitalization, even if you do get COVID-19. Experts are predicting that getting vaccinated may also protect the people around you, especially those at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

What are the side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Side-effects from both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may include localized pain at the injection site, fever, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches and joint pain after you receive the COVID vaccine. These side effects should resolve in 24 to 48 hours. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be taken if this is safe based on your medical history.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause me to get the virus?

No. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not contain the live virus. Getting the vaccine will also not cause you to test positive for COVID-19.

I heard taking Tylenol before getting vaccinated will minimize side effects. Should I do that?

According to BCH Infectious Diseases specialists, pre-treatment with ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) before COVID vaccination is not believed to be helpful in preventing side effects and is not recommended.

If you develop symptoms after vaccination, such as fever, headache or muscle pain, ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be taken if this is safe based on your medical history.

Can I get COVID-19 even after getting the vaccine?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require 2 doses spaced 21 (Pfizer) to 28 (Moderna) days apart. And because it often takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after getting the vaccine, a person could still be infected with COVID-19 just before or just after getting the vaccine. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. Individuals should continue to practice social distancing and wearing a mask even after receiving the vaccine.

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Vaccination and Other Medical Conditions

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for those with immunocompromising conditions?

Those with HIV infection, other immunocompromising conditions or who take immunosuppressive medications can take the vaccine. Although there is less data regarding safety and efficacy in these groups, it is unlikely to be different than those without these conditions. There is a potential for reduced immune response and lower protection. BCH recommends that you talk to your physician if you have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I get the vaccine if I have an autoimmune disease?

No data is currently available on the safety and efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in persons with autoimmune conditions, though these persons were eligible for enrollment in clinical trials. No imbalances were observed in the occurrence of symptoms consistent with autoimmune conditions or inflammatory disorders in clinical trial participants who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine compared to placebo. Persons with autoimmune conditions may receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

I have a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), is it safe for me to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

There have been no reported cases of GBS in clinical trials of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.. Historically, GBS has been more commonly associated with viral infections than with vaccinations which aim to prevent viral illness. The following recommendations for persons with a prior history of GBS:

  • Immunizations are not recommended during the acute phase of GBS and are not suggested for a period of one year after the onset of GBS.
  • After one year, immunizations need not be withheld, but the need for the immunization should be reviewed on an individual basis with your doctor.
  • If GBS occurs within six weeks of receipt of a specific vaccine, it is recommended to avoid that specific vaccine in the future (but not all vaccines).
I am worried about the cases of Bell’s palsy.

A person with a history of Bell’s palsy may receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Bell’s palsy is when the facial nerve becomes weak on one side of the face most commonly due to reactivation of the herpes simplex virus. Any vaccine administration could induce an immune response that could trigger reactivation of dormant herpes viruses.

Cases of Bell’s palsy occurred in both vaccine studies only in the vaccine arm at a rate that was within the typical rate of Bell’s palsy in the general population (13 and 34 cases per 100,000). Current data cannot determine if cases of Bell’s palsy were related to vaccine administration. If you have a history of Bell’s palsy, talk to your doctor prior to receiving the vaccine.

I have used dermal fillers -- is it safe for me to get the vaccine?

Having used dermal fillers is not a contraindication to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The observation of swelling at the site of dermal fillers with a viral infection and after receipt of vaccines has been reported previously. There are a small number of reported cases of swelling at sites of dermal fillers following administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is considered a rare side effect and can be easily treated. You should call your doctor if swelling occurs.

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COVID-19 Vaccine and Pregnancy

I am pregnant. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is currently limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, including mRNA vaccines, in pregnant people. Based on current knowledge, experts believe that mRNA vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to the pregnant person or the fetus because mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and the mRNA in the vaccine is degraded quickly by normal cellular processes.

If a pregnant person is part of a group that is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., health care personnel), they may choose to be vaccinated. When making a decision, pregnant people and their health care providers should consider the level of COVID-19 community transmission, the patient’s personal risk of contracting COVID-19, the risks of COVID-19 to the patient and potential risks to the fetus, the efficacy of the vaccine, the side effects of the vaccine, and the lack of data about the vaccine during pregnancy.

I am trying to get pregnant. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is no recommendation for routine pregnancy testing before receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.

I am breastfeeding. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating people or the effects of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines on the breastfed infant or milk production/excretion. mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. A lactating person who is part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., health care personnel) may choose to be vaccinated.

It is strongly encouraged to sign up for V-safe and report any adverse events to VAERS.

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Important Information

Boulder Community Health is following current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that call for patients and visitors to continue wearing masks at Foothills Hospital and all BCH patient-care facilities.

People 12 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. For updated Vaccine Clinic hours and general vaccine info, please visit our vaccine page.