Know the facts

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 vaccine

Everyone 6 months of age and older is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You can schedule your first COVID-19 vaccine appointment online or if you are a UW Health patient you can schedule through your MyChart account

People who are fully immunized for COVID-19 can now receive a booster dose from the same or different manufacturer as their previous series depending on their age. Learn more and schedule an appointment

Talk to your health care provider about ingredients in the vaccine and your personal situation.

There is not enough information to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again, and some people have been infected more than once, especially if their initial infection was mild. Therefore, we do advise vaccination even if you have previously been diagnosed with COVID-19.

If you are currently infected with COVID-19 it is recommended that you wait until you have recovered (no symptoms) from your illness and are no longer required to isolate (10 days since symptom began). After that time period, you may receive your vaccination.

Mild or moderate side effects include tiredness, nausea, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and headache. Adverse events are more common after the second dose. These side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do: Building up protection to the disease.

After a vaccination, the body doesn’t build an immune response instantly – it takes weeks. With COVID-19 vaccines, studies show that all three vaccines (Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) only achieve full immunity four to six weeks after starting. It is strongly recommended that you complete both doses if you receive Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna. A booster dose is also recommended.

The CDC recommends that anyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated.

Multiple national pregnancy experts, including UW Health specialists, strongly recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding people get a COVID-19 vaccine. People thinking about or trying to get pregnant should also get a COVID-19 vaccine, and do not need to delay pregnancy after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Studies show that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for people who are pregnant and breastfeeding.

Further reading:

More information on pregnant women, newborns and breastfeeding

COVID-19 testing

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is performed to detect genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus if you are infected at the time of the test. The test could also detect fragments of virus even after you are no longer infected.

COVID-19 vaccines and kids

UW Health uses the Pfizer vaccine. Pfizer is an mRNA vaccine and for infants 6 months to 4 years old requires a three-dose series. For children 5 years of age and older, a two-dose series is required. The doses need to be given several weeks apart. 

Kids 5 to 11 years old will receive 10 micrograms of vaccine per dose, or one-third the amount of the 12-year-old and up Pfizer vaccine that is given to those age 12 and older. A smaller dose works just as well in this age group because their immune systems are stronger.  

Research has also shown the Pfizer vaccine decreased the risk of moderate to severe COVID-19 disease by 95 percent and reduced the risk of hospitalization by 100 percent.

Eligibility for booster doses depends on an individual’s age. Children age 5 to 17 years of age can receive a Pfizer-BioNTech booster at least 5 months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series.

Boosters are authorized for children and teens age 5 or older to address waning immunity. Over time, it is common for all vaccine recipients’ immune response to lose some strength. Boosters are given later to “remind” the immune system to fight the illness.

The appropriate dosage is best determined by a child’s age, not their size. Be sure to schedule your child’s vaccine based on their age.

If your child has a birthday after their first dose but before their second, they will receive the vaccines appropriate for their age on the day of vaccination.

No, but a parent or legal guardian will need to give consent. For vaccines administered with UW Health, we can be given consent over the phone and the consent covers both doses.

Mild or moderate side effects for both adults and kids include tiredness, nausea, muscle pain, chills, fever, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and headache. Adverse events are more common after the second dose.

For children 3 years old and younger, side effects might also include irritability or crying, sleepiness and loss of appetite.

These side effects are a sign that the immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do: Building up protection to the disease.

Side effects can be treated with over-the-counter pain medicine. Either ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be given, as long as the child hasn’t had previous adverse reactions to these medications.

If they are feeling well, there is no need to limit activities including school or sports. If they have a fever, they should stay home.