How can I get a vaccine?
If you are over age 12, you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and can schedule an appointment online to receive it at a Henry Ford location.
If you are a Henry Ford patient and do not have an existing MyChart account, we encourage you to sign up for an account to streamline the scheduling and notification process.
How can I get a Henry Ford MyChart account?
If you are a Henry Ford patient and do not have a Henry Ford MyChart account, we encourage you to sign up for an account.
A Henry Ford MyChart account makes it easier for us to contact you and for you to schedule an appointment when it is your time to get the vaccine.
Register for Henry Ford MyChart today.
What do I need to know before my vaccine appointment? Do I need to prepare?
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you get your vaccine:
- The vaccine is given with a needle in the upper arm, so wear clothing that allows your upper arm to be easily exposed, like a short-sleeve or sleeveless shirt.
- Eat your normal meal or a snack (depending on the time of day) and drink plenty of liquids before arriving at your appointment.
- For maximum immunity, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require two doses. At your appointment for the first dose, you will need to make the appointment to receive your second dose at the same location in 3 weeks if you receive Pfizer or 4 weeks if you receive Moderna. You may want to bring your calendar with you or check your availability beforehand, so you are able to find a convenient time within the recommended time frame. Keeping this follow-up appointment is very important. (If you receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, just one dose is required.)
- Allergic reactions are possible with any vaccine, though they are rare. For your safety, you will be asked to remain in a designated waiting area for about 15 minutes for monitoring. If you’ve had a prior allergic reaction to an injectable medicine or vaccine, or any of the ingredients in the vaccine you’re getting, you may be asked to wait 30 minutes. The waiting area will be socially distanced.
- Mask wearing is required, and strict safety protocols are in place at all facilities that provide the vaccine.
- You may experience side effects after getting the vaccine, but don’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or other pain relievers before your appointment. It may lessen the effect of vaccine.
How will my vaccination be documented?
Your electronic medical record will be updated each time you receive a vaccine dose, including which vaccine you received and when.
You will also be given a vaccination card at the time of your first dose. Please keep this card with you when you return for your second dose. You should also keep it for your own records.
Can I get more than one kind of vaccine, or choose which one I get?
Henry Ford vaccination centers typically have Moderna or Pfizer vaccines available. If a site is offering Johnson & Johnson, another option (Pfizer or Moderna) will also be available for those who prefer it. Only Pfizer is given to patients 12-17 years of age.
There is no need to be vaccinated with a different type of vaccine if you have already received one. You will be told which vaccine you are receiving at your vaccination site. Mixing vaccines is not recommended.
If your first dose was the Pfizer vaccine, your second dose should also be the Pfizer vaccine. If your first dose was the Moderna vaccine, your second dose should be the same. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.)
If you receive a vaccine, the type of vaccine is documented and your second dose, if needed, will be that same vaccine.
The best vaccine is the one you can get the soonest. It’s just important that you get vaccinated.
What’s happening with COVID-19 vaccines right now?
Three companies, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have received emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccines from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Distribution of these approved vaccines is underway.
On April 13, the FDA and CDC called for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, but following a thorough safety review, this recommended pause was lifted on Friday, April 23. Henry Ford physicians and leaders also reviewed the recommendation and will begin offering Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Henry Ford vaccination sites and mobile clinics when we receive ample supply from the State of Michigan.
When the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is offered, it will be offered as an option with Moderna or Pfizer. People will be able to choose the vaccine they prefer. Individuals who would like to be vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson will receive education materials about the one-shot vaccine. Due to limited supply, some sites will only be able to offer Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
What are the COVID-19 vaccines, and how will they be given?
Pfizer and Moderna are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, which cause the body to make a viral “spike protein” that activates the immune system to fight off the coronavirus by mimicking the infection. Recipients need to receive two shots spaced several weeks apart for full protection.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, which is given as a one-time shot. It uses a harmless version of a virus to deliver important instructions to our cells. For this vaccine, a virus – not the COVID-19 virus, but a different virus – enters a cell in the body and then activates the “spike protein.” This tells our immune system to begin making antibodies and activates other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection.
You cannot get sick with COVID-19 from any of the vaccines. mRNA and viral vector vaccines do not contain live virus and cannot cause COVID-19. Side effects of the vaccines are a natural part of the process and show that the vaccine is working. At the end of the vaccination process, our bodies are trained to protect us against the virus that causes COVID-19.
Two weeks after you receive your second shot or your single Johnson & Johnson shot, you are considered fully vaccinated.
How did the vaccines get approved so quickly?
Production of the COVID-19 vaccines began sooner than is typical. Normally, production starts after a pharmaceutical company completes the development stage for a vaccine, which includes rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness. Every vaccine goes through a series of reviews and approvals by the FDA and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), among others. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, the federal government invested taxpayer dollars to encourage pharmaceutical companies to start production before the development stage completed.
The vaccines are still going through the same rigorous testing, review and approval process to establish safety and effectiveness.
Can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing after I’ve been vaccinated?
People who are fully vaccinated (meaning it has been two weeks since your second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two weeks since your single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine) do not need to wear a mask or physically distance, except where it is required by laws, rules, and regulations. You should wear a mask and social distance on public transportation and if requested by workplaces, stores, schools, places of worship, for example.
We will also continue to require all Henry Ford visitors to wear a face mask, as we have many patients with comorbidities who are vulnerable and may not be vaccinated yet. Visit the CDC website for details about what has changed for fully vaccinated people.
Is one type of vaccine better than the other?
Be assured that all of the approved vaccines are safe and highly effective. The best vaccine is the vaccine you can get as soon as possible. It is difficult to compare the vaccines, because the clinical trials used different measurements and different data collection methods. With V-safe, an app that those who are vaccinated can use to report symptoms, researchers will be able to look at all of the data and compare the results accurately in the coming months.
Pfizer and Moderna have 95% and 94.1% effective rates, respectively, and Johnson & Johnson is 72% effective at preventing moderate to severe illness and 86% effective at preventing severe illness.
Do not hesitate to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because clinical trials have shown it is not as effective in preventing infection as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective and will protect you from severe illness and death. It is a very important tool to help end the pandemic.
Pfizer and Moderna require two shots, spaced a few weeks apart. Johnson & Johnson is a single-shot vaccine. All may produce some side effects, like arm soreness, fatigue or headache, but are usually mild to moderate and last about 24-48 hours.
I heard that the vaccines were made with tissue from aborted fetuses and as a person of Catholic faith, I should not take them. Is this true?
There are no fetal cells or tissues in any COVID-19 vaccine. Concern comes from the use of fetal cell lines in development of the vaccines. The lines involved in the COVID-19 vaccines started with two aborted fetuses from 1973 and 1985. Since then, these cells have been multiplied millions of times, which is where we get the term “fetal cell lines.”
In December 2020, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated: “…it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”
Pfizer and Moderna used fetal cell lines to test that the vaccines worked in the laboratory.
Johnson & Johnson confirmed that it used the 1985 cell line in the production process of their single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. The scientists used the fetal cell lines to grow the adenovirus needed to make this vaccine, but by the time the vaccine goes into the vial, the cells from the fetal cell lines have been filtered out.
The Vatican also stated: "The moral duty to avoid such passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is a grave danger, such as the otherwise uncontainable spread of a serious pathological agent.” The Catholic Health Association echoes this position, including specifically supporting the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Because vaccination will protect you and others from the danger of sickness or death from COVID-19, it is important to take the vaccine that is available to you. Because vaccine supply is limited, at most vaccination sites, and at Henry Ford at this time, it is not possible to choose the vaccine you receive.
Can I travel within the U.S. after I’m fully vaccinated?
Yes. Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. People who are fully vaccinated (meaning it has been two weeks since their last dose of vaccine) can travel safely within the United States. Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it. Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to self-quarantine.
Fully vaccinated travelers should follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely including:
wearing a mask over your nose and mouth, staying 6 feet from others and avoiding crowds, and washing your hands often or using hand sanitizer.
If you are not fully vaccinated, you should delay travel until you are fully vaccinated.
Can I travel internationally after I’m fully vaccinated?
Yes, but international travel comes with additional risks. Even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and spreading new COVID-19 variants.
If you are fully vaccinated, you should continue to follow the CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely and get tested three to five days after travel. You do not need to get tested before leaving United States, but most countries require negative COVID-19 test results for entry. Many also require you to take another test after you’ve been in their country for a few days.
You do need to have a negative COVID-19 test no more than three days before the flight home (or documentation of recovery from COVID-19). If you test positive, you will not be able to return to the U.S. until you have recovered from COVID-19. You do not need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
If you are planning to travel to a foreign country, be sure to check that nation’s requirements.
Can we be sure the vaccines are safe? Will one be safe for me?
We understand that there may be concern over the safety and effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine. We have closely examined the FDA’s process for overseeing the many different vaccine trials. The FDA is required to make decisions that are guided by science and data regarding authorization or approval of COVID-19 vaccines. We have confidence in the FDA’s approval process and are committed to safety, quality and high reliability.
You cannot develop COVID-19 from any of the vaccines available.
Do the vaccines cause severe allergic reactions?
Though allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines are rare, any vaccine or medication has the potential to cause a severe allergic reaction.
The FDA currently recommends that you avoid getting vaccinated if you have had prior severe allergic reactions to other vaccines, and avoid getting the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine if you have had a previous allergic reaction to the ingredients of that particular vaccine.
If you have had a severe allergic reaction to medication or therapies given as injections into muscle or a vein, you may be at an increased risk of having a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine. You may receive the vaccine, but you need to stay in the location where you receive the vaccine for 30 minutes after vaccination for observation and for medical treatment, if a reaction occurs.
The Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices believes it is safe to receive the vaccine if you have severe reactions to food, pets, environmental allergies or medications taken by mouth.
If I’ve had COVID-19, do I need to get vaccinated?
Yes. If you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past, you should be vaccinated. Research suggests if you had the virus, you have some natural protection from your own antibodies. However, we don’t know how effective that protection is or how long it will last. A benefit of getting vaccinated is that you will have a higher, more predictable level of protection against the virus. In addition, there is now data that protection from vaccination lasts longer than protection after infection with the virus. Vaccine research will tell us more in the future about how long we are protected after vaccination.
If you had COVID-19 recently, wait until you are feeling better and you no longer need to isolate to before getting vaccinated. After having COVID-19, please wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and avoid gatherings, and continue these precautions after you’ve been vaccinated.
Can I get a vaccine if I’ve had convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19?
If you have had COVID-19 and received either convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibodies, you should not receive the vaccine for 90 days as these drugs may interfere with its effectiveness.
If my child has had MIS-C or I have had MIS-A due to COVID-19, is it safe to get the vaccine?
If someone has had a diagnosis of MIS-C or MIS-A (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or in Adults), it is recommended to wait 90 days from the end of the treatment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note: vaccines are currently approved for children 12 and older.
If I have an underlying health condition, can I get a vaccine?
There is currently no data that suggests having an underlying health condition is a reason to avoid getting vaccinated.
In fact, those with an underlying illness or health condition are at an increased risk of developing severe side effects or hospitalization due to COVID-19.
If you have any condition that weakens your immune system, you may not have protection against COVID-19 infection.
However, it is safe to receive the vaccine if you are immunocompromised. For instance, if you are infected with HIV, you're on immunosuppressive medication, or you're a transplant recipient, there are no safety concerns but you may not get as strong a protective response.
You should address your individual concerns with your primary medical provider.
I just had a flu shot or another type of vaccination. Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine right away too?
The CDC recently stated that COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time as other vaccines. There is no longer a requirement to wait 14 days between COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines. The American Academy of Pediatrics also supports giving childhood vaccines together with coronavirus vaccines. Youth and adults who are behind on vaccinations do not need to delay regular vaccinations in order to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine safe for women?
The CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) approve vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine among people 18 years and older. However, women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare but increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).
TTS is a serious condition that involves blood clots with low platelets. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not associated with this risk. You may feel more comfortable choosing one of these vaccines if you are a woman under 50.
Do the vaccines have any side effects?
The COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects that are similar to symptoms associated with other vaccines, such as injection site pain in the arm, fever, muscle pain, chills and headache. The frequency of these side effects may be greater than with other vaccines. While the symptoms may be uncomfortable, and at times intense, they should go away within 24-48 hours. Most people are able to perform their normal daily activities.
Common side effects include sore arm, headache, fatigue, lymph node swelling, nausea and/or fever, which may be worsen after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. This is an indication that the vaccine is working. (That said, if you don’t experience side effects, you should not be concerned. The same level of protection is expected.)
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be taken after vaccination to help with any symptoms you have. (It is not recommended that you take it before getting the shot, however, as it may somewhat lessen the effects of the vaccine.) If symptoms persist, please consult your primary care provider.
If I have side effects after receiving a vaccine, am I contagious to those around me?
If you have side effects after vaccination, this does not mean you are in any way contagious to your family or community. You cannot develop COVID-19 from these vaccines.
We don’t know yet whether you can still be a carrier of COVID-19 and transmit it to someone else, unknowingly, after being vaccinated.
Efforts like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and practicing hand hygiene remain essential to reduce the spread, even after you have been vaccinated.
Are side effects from the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine worse than the first?
Yes, in the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, side effects tend to be more significant after the second dose. However, only 2% percent of people feel ill enough to limit their usual activities. Symptoms usually last 24-48 hours.
Acetaminophen (rather than NSAIDs) is recommended to help ease symptoms after vaccination. Do not take acetaminophen before vaccination to prevent side effects – it may lessen the immune response.
Can a COVID-19 vaccine cause a false positive on a mammogram?
Yes, when the body is building an immune response to the vaccine, in a very small percentage of people, it can cause the lymph nodes to swell temporarily. If the lymph nodes under the arm are swollen, it could cause a false positive on a mammogram. Because of this, it is recommended you schedule a routine mammogram either before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, or four weeks after receiving a second dose. If you are already scheduled for a mammogram or are concerned about delaying one, contact your doctor or the breast imaging clinic.
How long does protection against COVID-19 last after I've been fully vaccinated?
In clinical trials, antibody activity remained high six months after the second dose. This does not mean that protection only lasts six months. It is likely the vaccines will provide a high level of protection against COVID-19 much longer than six months. At this time, six months is the longest the research teams have data from the vaccine clinical trials. Research is continuing and will provide more information about this in the future.
Do I have to take both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine?
Yes. If you received the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, it is very important that you return for your second dose of the vaccine in order to receive full protection from the vaccine. An appointment will be scheduled for you for this second dose at the time of your first injection. Please also remember that side effects may be more severe with your second dose. If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a second dose is not needed.
Can people get COVID-19 after being vaccinated? If so, why should I get the shot?
The vaccines are highly effective at preventing COVID-19 infections: 72% for Johnson & Johnson, 94% for Moderna and 95% for Pfizer. Because they are not 100% effective, though, it is expected that a small percentage of people will not develop the antibodies and T-cells they need to fight off an infection even after vaccination.
As of early April, 246 out of 1.8 million people who were fully vaccinated (meaning it’s been two weeks or more since their last dose of vaccine) tested positive for COVID-19 in Michigan. This breaks down to .0001% of those vaccinated. Most had a mild case or no symptoms at all. Eleven were hospitalized, and three have died (4/8/2021, MDHHS data).
There is no way to know for sure, but chances are very good that you will have a strong immune response and be protected from COVID-19 after getting vaccinated. If you do get COVID-19, being vaccinated is expected to lessen the severity of symptoms and decrease the risk for hospitalization or death.
Combining vaccination with social distancing, hand washing, wearing a mask and avoiding large gatherings is the best way to protect yourself from the virus and help decrease the spread, keeping more people safe and healthy.
How long does it take for full protection?
It takes two weeks after your last dose of vaccine to achieve full protection.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single shot. Pfizer and Moderna are two shots, so full protection is reached two weeks after the second shot.
What are the safety guidelines I should follow after I’ve been vaccinated?
If you have been fully vaccinated, you can start to do some things you stopped doing because of the pandemic. Fully vaccinated means at least two weeks have passed since your second shot, or two weeks after one shot if you received Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Visit the CDC web site for complete details about what has changed and what has not for fully vaccinated people. According to the CDC, you can:
- Continue activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by laws, rules, and regulations, including business and workplaces.
- Travel in the United States without getting tested before or after traveling, and travel without self-quarantining after travel.
- Continue activities if you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19. You do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. However, if you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
Some things stay the same even if you are fully vaccinated:
- You still need to follow mask and social distancing rules as required by your workplace and local businesses.
- You still need to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation, and in transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
- You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay away from others.
If you have a condition or are taking medication that weaken the immune system, you should talk to your doctor to discuss what you can do. You may need to keep taking all social distancing and mask-wearing precautions to prevent COVID-19.
We are still learning how effective the COVID-19 vaccines are against the COVID-19 variants, along with how well the vaccines protect people with weakened immune systems, and how long protection against the COVID-19 vaccines lasts. These guidelines will continue to change over the coming months as we learn more.
Are the vaccines effective against the new variants?
COVID-19 variants are emerging across the U.S. and in Michigan. The currently approved vaccines appear to be effective against the highly contagious strains from the U.K. and South Africa but the level of protection may not be as high as it is for the original strain of the virus. These findings are preliminary. The vaccine manufacturers are conducting ongoing research, which includes testing if an additional shot will “boost” effectiveness against these variants.
Scientists are continuing to monitor the evolution of these strains, along with newer variants emerging in New York and California. More data on how effective the vaccines are in preventing them is expected in the coming weeks. While research continues, it remains even more important to wear masks, socially distance, wash hands frequently and avoid gatherings.
What if I get COVID-19 between my first and second vaccination shots?
This unique situation means you may need to postpone your second shot. But don’t worry – it’s okay to space it out a little longer. Currently a second dose of Pfizer is recommended 21 days later, and a second dose of Moderna is recommended 28 days later. There is no need to repeat the first shot. Below are a few scenarios and guidelines for timing the second shot:
If you have COVID-19 with symptoms:
- Wait until 10 days have passed since your symptoms started, AND
- Wait until you haven’t had a fever for at least 24 hours and your other symptoms have improved.
- If you have severe symptoms, wait until you are feeling better and talk to your doctor about timing for the second shot.
If you have COVID-19 without symptoms (you had a positive COVID-19 test, but you don’t feel sick):
- You can stop isolation 10 days after your first positive COVID-19 test, and schedule an appointment after this 10-day time is over.
If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 (you had close contact with someone who got COVID-19):
- Quarantine for 14 days and monitor your symptoms.
- If you have a negative COVID-19 test, you can end quarantine and get your second shot if the test was five days after you were exposed.
If you have questions about getting your second shot after getting COVID-19 or being exposed, please call your doctor, who can advise you based on your personal health and situation.
If I’m pregnant or of child-bearing age, is it safe for me to get a vaccine?
Pregnant and breastfeeding women have been excluded from the leading vaccine clinical trials so far, including those from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Novavax.
This is not unusual as vaccine clinical trials typically don’t enroll participants who are pregnant or lactating until the vaccine has been shown to be safely tolerated in people who are not pregnant.
There are current studies on the COVID-19 vaccine in which pregnant women are part of the study pool. We should have that data in the coming year.
Many experts believe that being infected with the COVID-19 virus itself poses greater risks both to the pregnant woman and to the fetus, including miscarriage or pre-term birth. Pregnant women should talk with their doctor to weigh the risk and benefit of the vaccine versus COVID-19 infection.
Do the vaccines have any effect on fertility?
There is an internet rumor that the COVID-19 vaccines could affect fertility. There is no evidence or scientific concern that the vaccines could impact fertility. However, women who contract COVID-19 while pregnant are at a greater risk of pre-term birth and pregnancy complications. Contracting the virus carries a much greater risk than getting vaccinated.
If I’m breastfeeding, can I still get a vaccine?
On March 18, the CDC released a statement regarding the safety of vaccines and breastfeeding: "Because non-replicating vaccines pose no risk for lactating people or their infants, COVID-19 vaccines are thought to not be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. Therefore, lactating people may choose to be vaccinated."
We expect more information about the COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant/breastfeeding women in the future. In the meantime, it may be helpful to discuss options with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
It is also important to remember that live viral vaccines — measles, mumps and rubella vaccine — are routinely given to lactating women. But keep in mind that the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any live virus.