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Frequently Asked Questions

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General Information

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine can be given to people 16 years old and older and the Moderna vaccine can be given to people 18 years old and older. Currently, there is no COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in children less than 16 years old.

Who is BCH vaccinating right now?

Colorado’s plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccine is based on federal guidelines designed to dispense the limited 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. We started by providing first doses to the groups initially prioritized by the state plan -- health care workers and first responders. (It’s important to remember that both COVID vaccines require two doses for maximum effectiveness.) When Gov. Jared Polis approved vaccination of Colorado residents age 70 and older, we started vaccinating people in that age group. We are also currently giving second doses to eligible individuals.

We are being as aggressive as possible with vaccination scheduling, but due to ongoing concerns about vaccine supplies, we can only schedule a limited number of residents each week. As we receive more vaccine, we will notify more residents.

When will other groups get vaccinated?

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

When can I get the vaccine if I’m between 65-69 years old?

On January 29, Gov. Jarod Polis expanded the groups eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine to include Coloradans ages 65-69. The State’s plan says people in this group are eligible to get vaccinated starting February 8.

How do teachers and school staff get vaccinated?

On January 29, Gov. Jarod Polis expanded the groups eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine to include school educators and staff in pre-kindergarten through high school. The State’s plan says people in this group are eligible to get vaccinated starting February 8. BCH is partnering with the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) to provide vaccine to its employees. Scheduling of BVSD employees will be handled by the district; questions should be directed to BVSD. Other vaccine providers will be handling employees of independent schools and the St. Vrain Valley School District.

How do staff at licensed childcare centers get vaccinated?

On January 29, Gov. Jarod Polis expanded the groups eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine to include workers in licensed childcare programs. The State’s plan says people in this group are eligible to get vaccinated starting February 8. Boulder County Public Health will be coordinating vaccinations for workers in licensed childcare programs.

How do people age 70 and older get vaccinated?

Please click here to view special FAQs related to vaccination for individuals age 70 and older.

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.

How long will I have to wait to get vaccinated?

It’s important to recognize that there are about 30,000 Boulder County residents age 70 and older, so it may take a few months to vaccinate all residents age 70 and older. Scheduling of vaccinations depends on the supply of vaccine. As we receive more vaccine, we will notify more residents.

Can I choose which vaccine I receive?

BCH has both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines, both of which require two doses. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer a choice of which vaccine you will receive.

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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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 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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Scheduling a Vaccination

Can I get vaccinated at BCH without an appointment?

No walk-ins can be vaccinated at BCH. Our goal is to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible. Our aggressive scheduling means every dose of vaccine has already been assigned to someone with an appointment. That means there are no “extra” doses available for walk-ins.

How do I sign up for a vaccination from BCH?

BCH does not have a waiting list for vaccination appointments. 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?

Check your account to make sure your personal information is up to date. Keep in mind that individuals cannot request the vaccine. We will notify appropriate individuals through MyBCH when they are eligible to receive vaccine.

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.

I received a notification to schedule my vaccine but there are no appointments available. What do I do?

The vaccine supply locally continues to be limited. As we receive more vaccine, we are able to open more appointments. If you receive a notification but do not find an available appointment in MyBCH, please continue to check back.

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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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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COVID-19 Vaccine Plan

Boulder Community Health offers the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. People age 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated as of 5 p.m. on Friday, April 2. You can self-schedule appointments using the free MyBCH patient portal. Learn more about our vaccination process on our general vaccine information page.

For updates related to COVID-19, please see our COVID-19 page.