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May 17, 2021

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Answers to some questions about the COVID-19 vaccine


John Locher / AP

In this Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, photo, a person walks into the Southern Nevada Health District office in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas residents might have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, which will be administered to more people in the upcoming days as the rollout is ramped up.

The Southern Nevada Health District has provided the answers to some frequently asked questions.

When will the general public be able to get vaccinated? How will I know when it’s my turn?

Due to the limited supply, DHHS has prioritized how the vaccine will be distributed. Supply of the vaccine will increase substantially over the next few months. Those eligible to receive the vaccine will progress as supply increases. If you would like to be notified when you are eligible for the vaccine, please complete this survey, which will be shared with the jurisdiction where you live. A variety of methods will be used to ensure that all Nevadans who are interested in vaccination have access when it is their turn.

Why do we need a vaccine if physical distancing and wearing masks can help prevent coronavirus spread?

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask and physical distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

How many shots of COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?

The approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine in the United States both require two shots to be fully effective.

How will I know when to return for my second dose?

The VaxText text messaging resource is a free service. By texting ENROLL to 1-833-829-8398, vaccine recipients can opt in to receive a weekly text reminder for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine or a reminder for when they are overdue for their second dose, in English or Spanish.

In addition to VaxText, the State of Nevada plans to use multiple ways to notify you of your second dose. COVID-19 vaccination record cards (reminder cards) will be provided when you receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The card provides room for a written reminder for a second-dose appointment. If you have a smartphone, consider taking a photo of your vaccination record and entering the date the next vaccine dose is due in your calendar.

To ensure the best protection from COVID-19, it is very important to not skip the second dose. The second dose must be from the same vaccine manufacturer, so it will be important to ensure that where you receive your second dose has the right vaccine.

If I’ve recovered from COVID-19, do I still need to get a vaccine?

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before. Individuals are advised to talk to their health care provider about whether or not they should get vaccinated for COVID-19 if they have already had the virus. 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, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long. We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.

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

Among the 36,000+ people who have received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine through phase 3 clinical trials (Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech trials), no serious safety concerns have been reported. Some participants reported transient side effects including sore arm, fever, muscle pain and fatigue that resolved in 24 hours. Older adults reported fewer and milder side effects. In a small percentage of cases these side effects were severe — defined as preventing daily activities.