Frequently Asked Question - COVID-19 Vaccine Basics

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine at Henry Ford?

If you are a current Henry Ford patient, you can schedule an appointment to receive the Pfizer vaccine or a Pfizer booster, when you are eligible, at a Henry Ford primary care site using MyChart or by calling your doctor’s office. If you do not have MyChart, register for MyChart today.

Please note that you can also receive a flu shot at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccine. Simply note in the “Comments” box when making your appointment in MyChart that you would also like a flu shot.

Does Henry Ford still have large vaccination centers?

Henry Ford has closed its large vaccination centers. We offer Pfizer vaccine at our Primary Care sites for established patients.

Can we “mix and match” vaccines?

We offer only the Pfizer vaccine. Henry Ford Health encourages people who would like Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or Novavax brand vaccines or who are not Henry Ford Health patients to visit for more options.

How can I get a Henry Ford MyChart account?

If you are a Henry Ford patient, we encourage you to sign up for an account. You can schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, see test results, communicate with your provider and more using MyChart. Register for Henry Ford MyChart today.

I’m not a Henry Ford patient. Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine at Henry Ford?

At this time, Henry Ford is offering COVID-19 vaccination only for established patients at our primary care sites. If you are not a Henry Ford patient, we support and encourage you to get vaccinated at one of the many other sources offering COVID-19 vaccines. Visit for more options near you.

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:

  • At this time, Henry Ford Health offers only the Pfizer 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 vaccine, which is offered at Henry Ford primary care sites, requires two doses for patients ages 5 and older. Children ages 6 months through 4 years need three doses. At your appointment for the first dose, you will need to make an appointment to receive your second dose at the same location in three weeks. Children ages 6 months through 4 years will receive a third dose 8 weeks after dose 2. 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 all follow-up appointments is very important.
  • 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 Henry Ford facilities that provide the vaccine.
  • You may experience side effects after getting the vaccine, but don’t take any pain relievers before your appointment. It may lessen the effect of vaccine. If you develop side effects after your vaccination, you can take Tylenol (acetaminophen).

Do I need to receive the same vaccine for my first and second (or in some cases, third) doses?

Yes, you should receive the same vaccine for the primary series, which may be two doses or three, depending on your age and if you are immunocompromised.

If I’ve had COVID-19, do I need to get vaccinated?

Yes, the data is clear: Natural immunity is not better. The COVID-19 vaccines create more effective and longer-lasting immunity than natural immunity from infection.

  • More than a third of COVID-19 infections result in zero protective antibodies.
  • Natural immunity fades faster than vaccine immunity.
  • Natural immunity alone is less than half as effective than natural immunity plus vaccination.

Learn more: Which Is Better: COVID-19 Protection After Vaccination Or Infection?

If you had COVID-19 recently, wait until you are feeling better and you no longer need to isolate to before getting vaccinated.

Can I get the COVID vaccine or a booster while I am having monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID?

Yes, you do not need to wait until you have completed treatment to get the vaccine or a booster. This has changed from early in the pandemic.

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. You should keep it in a safe place and take a photo of it for your own records. Please bring it with you when you return for additional doses or boosters. Do not laminate your card so additional doses and boosters can be added

How can I get a replacement CDC vaccination card?

If your vaccination card becomes lost or damaged, you can get a replacement.

  • Visit the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MICR) web site and complete the form to request a replacement card.
  • Call your county health department and ask for a copy of your vaccination record:
    • Macomb County: (586) 469-5235
    • Oakland County: (248) 858-1280
    • Wayne County: (734) 727-7000
  • If you’re a Henry Ford patient, you can login to your Henry Ford MyChart account, and access and print your vaccination record. Go to Health, then Health Summary, and then choose Immunizations. (Or go to Health Summary and then Immunizations through the app.) Note: This is a digital vaccination record and not a CDC card. You can also call your primary care provider for assistance.

Helpful hints: Take a photo of your vaccination card or record and keep it on your phone. Do not laminate your card so additional doses and boosters can be added.

Are walk-in COVID-19 and flu vaccinations available?

No, vaccinations are available only by appointment. Please schedule a visit using MyChart or by calling your doctor’s office. If you do not have MyChart, register for MyChart today.

If I get vaccinated somewhere other than Henry Ford, will my vaccination be part of my Henry Ford medical record?

Yes. If you are vaccinated at another location, the record of your vaccine will be included in the Michigan Care Improvement Record (MCIR). You will see it in your MyChart account and it will become part of your medical record at Henry Ford.

How are the vaccines different?

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.

The technology used to make the Novavax vaccine was used to make vaccines for shingles, human papillomavirus, and DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis). Novavax directly injects a version of the spike protein, along with another ingredient that also stimulates the immune system, into the body. This leads to the production of antibodies and T-cells, which are used by the body to fight off an infection. The version of the spike protein has been formulated in a laboratory and does not have genetic material inside and cannot cause disease.

You cannot get sick with COVID-19 from any of the vaccines. None of the COVID-19 vaccines 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.

Do I have to take both doses (or in some cases, a third dose) of the Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax vaccine?

Yes. If you are vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax, it is very important to complete the primary series (two or three doses, depending on your age, the vaccine, and if you are immunocompromised) in order to achieve full protection. At Henry Ford Health and most vaccination centers, an appointment will be scheduled for your second dose at the time of your first injection. If needed, your third dose will be scheduled after your second dose. Please also remember that side effects may be more intense after your first dose. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not require a second dose. However, anyone vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson should receive a booster of Moderna or Pfizer two months or longer after the first shot. 

Can people get COVID-19 after being vaccinated? If so, why should I get the shot?

Yes. While COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control, no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing illness. However, there is significant evidence that being fully vaccinated makes illness from COVID-19 less severe. The risk of infection, hospitalization, and death are all much lower in vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated people. If you are vaccinated and develop COVID-19 symptoms, contact your doctor for guidance and ask if you should be tested. If you are vaccinated and get COVID-19, you can still spread the virus to others.

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, Moderna and Novavax are two shots, so full protection is reached two weeks after the second shot.

If I am coming in for an appointment with my doctor, do I need to schedule a separate appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine/flu shot?

No, if you have a scheduled appointment with your primary care physician, ask at your appointment if you can receive a flu shot and/or a COVID-19 vaccine or booster. You do not need to make a separate appointment. When you make an appointment, you can note in the comments section on MyChart that you would like one or both vaccines at your visit, but you can also just tell your health care team on the day of your visit.

Why does Henry Ford Health only offer the Pfizer vaccine?

While all the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, Henry Ford Health made the decision to limit our vaccination supply to only the Pfizer vaccine. First, the COVID-19 vaccines have different storage and dosing requirements. Having the same brand of COVID-19 vaccine at our many Primary Care centers, which also offer all the other routine vaccines, is more efficient and safer at every step – from ordering to storage, transport and delivery to our patients. In addition, the Pfizer vaccine was first to be authorized  for the greatest range of ages, including our pediatric patients. We know some of our patients may prefer Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or Novavax, and for those who do, we hope you will get vaccinated and boosted at one of the many resources offering those brands.

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