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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Vaccines

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Vaccines

Posted on December 10, 2020

Page Updated: June 7, 2021, 4:20 p.m. | Leer esta información en español

Union County Public Health encourages every eligible individual to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic. 

Union County Public Health cannot make recommendations on whether an individual should receive the COVID-19 vaccines based on medical condition(s). Please consult with your primary care doctor on whether you should receive the COVID-19 vaccines. Each section of this webpage will be updated as more information becomes available.

On This Page

Who Can Get the Vaccine | Where to Get | Why to Get | What to Know | FAQs | Resources

Who Can Get the Vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are available in North Carolina to everyone age 12 and older. Individuals 18 and older may receive any of the three approved vaccines. Those age 12-17 may only receive the Pfizer vaccine.

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Where to Get the Vaccine

You have a spot, take your shot. Tested, safe and effective vaccines are available to all eligible individuals. COVID-19 vaccinations are free regardless of the provider.

There are several locations in Union County offering the COVID-19 vaccine including Atrium Health, Union County Public Health and select pharmacies. Appointment availability often varies; we encourage you to check periodically for updates. 

Click here to find the provider and location convenient to you


Do you need transportation? Union County Transportation can help you get to your COVID-19 vaccination appointment, even on the weekend. Visit our Transportation page for all the details to register and schedule.

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Why Get the Vaccine

ncdhhs-vaccines-flyer.jpgTested, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will help us get back in control of our lives and back to the people and places we love. We understand some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated. While these vaccines have been developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. Safety is a top priority and there are many reasons to get vaccinated. Below is a summary of the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination based on data currently available to the CDC.

  • Studies show that all COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are highly effective at preventing you from getting COVID-19.
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. Even if you have contracted COVID-19, experts don’t know how long the natural immunity lasts.
  • COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to help stop the pandemic.
  • Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

To read more benefits of being vaccinated, visit the CDC website.

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What to Know

  • Choosing Safer Activities (400px)Everyone in North Carolina age 12 and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The vaccine is free everywhere in North Carolina.
  • Everyone age 18 and older may receive any of the three approved vaccines.
  • Individuals age 12-17 may only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Use the State’s My Spot website to find locations that carry the Pfizer vaccine.
  • No government-issued ID or insurance is needed.
  • Everyone can be vaccinated, regardless of their immigration status. Getting vaccinated will not affect your immigration status.
  • If you have questions or concerns after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, contact your doctor.
  • The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority while federal partners work to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines. Click here to read more about the process and the organizations involved in ensuring a vaccine is safe.
  • COVID-19 vaccine(s) may initially be used under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Click here to learn more about Emergency Use Authorization.
  • There will not be a cost to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, a provider may charge administration fees to insurance companies for giving or administering the shot. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions and responses will be updated as information becomes available to the CDC, NCDHHS and Union County Public Health.

Union County Local Information

What are my options if I want a COVID-19 vaccine?

There are several options for eligible Union County residents to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations. Click here to find a provider.

Do I need to sign up to get vaccinated?

Yes, appointments are available. See the “Where to Get the Vaccine” section of this web page for the latest information.

How many vaccines is Union County Public Health currently receiving?

Union County Public Health is notified by the State each week of how many vaccines it will be receiving for first and second doses. Appointments are being scheduled based on vaccine availability.

About the Vaccines

How do the vaccines work?

You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines. All of the currently authorized vaccines give your body temporary instructions to make a protein. The two-dose vaccines use mRNA technology, while the one-dose vaccine uses DNA technology to provide these instructions. The protein safely teaches your body to make germ-fighting antibodies to fight the COVID-19 virus if you are exposed. None of the vaccines can change your DNA.

What are the differences between the two-dose vaccines?

The two-dose vaccines, made by Moderna or Pfizer, work the same way to prevent people from getting COVID-19. Both vaccines require two doses and both are very effective in preventing someone from getting sick with COVID-19. The clinical trial showed no serious safety concerns. The vaccines are stored differently. The Moderna vaccine does not need to be stored as cold as the Pfizer vaccine. While both vaccines require two doses, the time between doses is different. The Moderna vaccine doses are given four weeks apart. The Pfizer vaccine doses are given three weeks apart. The Moderna vaccine is authorized for adults ages 18 and older; while the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for individuals age 12 and older. Neither vaccine can give you COVID-19.

What are the differences between the one-dose and two-dose vaccines?

The two-dose vaccines use mRNA to give your body temporary instructions to make a protein that teaches your body to make germ-fighting antibodies against the COVID-19 virus. Instead of mRNA, the one-dose vaccine (made by Johnson & Johnson) uses DNA to give your body the same type of temporary instructions. The DNA is carried into the body on a harmless virus called adenovirus. The one-dose vaccine can also be stored in a regular refrigerator. Your body naturally breaks down everything in the vaccine. All of the vaccines are very effective in preventing COVID-19. All of the clinical trials showed no serious safety concerns. There is no COVID-19 virus in the vaccines and none of the vaccines can change your DNA. People who receive the one-dose vaccine do not need to return for a second vaccination. Temporary reactions are similar among all vaccines. Temporary reactions may include a sore arm, headache, fever and feeling tired or achy for a day or two after receiving the vaccine.

What has been done to plan for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines?

The federal government will oversee a centralized system to order, distribute, and track COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccines will be ordered through CDC. Vaccine providers will receive vaccines from CDC’s centralized distributor or directly from a vaccine manufacturer.

A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a critical component of the U.S. strategy to reduce COVID-19-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths and to help society function as it did before COVID-19. The goal of the U.S. government is to have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for all people in the United States who choose to be vaccinated.

Are vaccines safe and effective in preventing COVID-19?

Yes. Millions of people in the U.S. have safely received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. Click here for more details on vaccine safety from the CDC.

Who verifies that the vaccines are safe and can prevent COVID-19?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for making sure the vaccines are safe and effective. While the COVID-19 vaccines must go through and pass clinical trials like other drugs and vaccines, the FDA can get them to the public faster through an Emergency Use Authorization, as long as the vaccines are found to be safe and effective— and then verified by an independent committee.

How much vaccine will North Carolina receive?

The federal government decides how many COVID-19 vaccines each state gets based on the state’s population of people aged 18 and up.

How are vaccines stored?

NCDHHS has a plan to store the vaccines safely, so they can be effective. North Carolina is prepared to receive vaccines that require ultra-cold storage or frozen storage as soon as they become available from the federal government. Eleven hospital sites across the state have been identified that have the greatest capacity for ultra-cold storage for the anticipated Pfizer vaccine. Vaccines that require ultra-cold storage will come with packaging and cooling material to meet the storage requirements for sites that do not have permanent ultra-cold storage. The Moderna vaccine does not require ultra-cold storage. The state and CDC will deliver training on COVID-19 vaccine storage, handling and administration based on federal recommendations and product information from vaccine manufacturers.

Getting Vaccinated

How will I know when it’s my turn to get the vaccine?

Everyone in North Carolina age 12 and older is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Find participating vaccine providers online to schedule your vaccination appointment at no cost to you.

What would prevent you from getting the vaccine?

You may not make a vaccination appointment if:

  • You have taken passive antibody therapy in the past 90 days
  • Have had ANY other vaccine in the past 14 days
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 30 days
  • You are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms including but not limited to (fever, loss of taste, loss of smell, body aches, etc.)
  • You are quarantining due to contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19

Will the COVID-19 vaccine give me the COVID-19 virus?

There is no COVID-19 virus in the vaccine. The vaccine imitates the infection so that our bodies think a germ like the virus is attacking. This creates the antibody defenses we need to fight off COVID-19 if and when the real germ attacks.

Will I be able to choose which vaccine I get?

We strongly recommend people take the first vaccine offered to them. However, allows individuals seeking a vaccination to filter their search by vaccine brand.

Will I experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

There are no major side effects to the COVID-19 vaccines. Some people may have temporary reactions after being vaccinated, such as a sore arm, headache, fever and feeling tired or achy for a day or two after receiving the vaccine.

Will I need to sign a consent form to get vaccinated?

You can provide verbal consent. Written consent is not generally required, but some providers may require or request written consent.

Do I need to wear a mask while getting vaccinated?

Yes. The CDC recommends that during the pandemic people wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth when in contact with others who do not live in your household, when in healthcare facilities and when receiving any vaccine. Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove a mask without assistance should not wear a mask.

Will I have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine will be available to everyone for free, whether or not you have health insurance. The federal government will be purchasing the vaccines. However, providers may charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

How do the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work?

There is no COVID-19 in the vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines give your body instructions to make a kind of protein. This protein safely tricks your body into thinking the virus is attacking. Your body then strengthens itself to fight off the real COVID-19 if it ever tries to attack you. Your body gets rid of the small protein naturally and quickly.

Click here for more information about how the vaccines work.

Why are two vaccine shots necessary?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots a set number of days apart. You need two doses to build up strong immunity against COVID. The second shot will come about 3-4 weeks after the first. It is important to get two doses of the same vaccine.

Do I need to show identification to be vaccinated?

North Carolina does not require a government-issued identification card, like a driver’s license, to be vaccinated. Vaccine providers should not ask for photo identification. Instead, vaccine providers are encouraged to use other ways to confirm that they are vaccinating the correct person. Vaccine providers may ask people to pre-register, to fill out a form with their name, address and date of birth, or ask for a document with your name and address on it.

Can individuals who are not a U.S. citizen get the vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone for free, whether or not they have health insurance and regardless of their immigrations status. Information is kept confidential and won’t be shared with immigration enforcement agencies or officials.

If two shots are necessary, how will people know when to get their second shot?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, given a set number of days apart. It is important to know when a person received the first dose of vaccine, and which vaccine, to ensure they receive the second dose of the same vaccine at the right time. When a person gets a first dose, they will be given information on when to come back for a second dose and asked to make a second appointment with the same provider. They will also be given a card with information about which vaccine they got for their first dose and the date of that dose.

Will the vaccines work against new variants of the COVID-19 virus?

All viruses change over time and the changes (or variants) are expected. Scientists are currently working to learn more about new COVID-19 variants and their effects on vaccines. More information can be found on the CDC website.

If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The vaccine works to protect you against a future infection.

Why should I be vaccinated if I take other protective measures, like wearing a mask and physical distancing, to prevent contracting COVID-19 and keep it from spreading?

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 staying at least 6 feet away from others, 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.

Will I still need to wear a mask and physical distance from others after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Should pregnant women be vaccinated?

Pregnant and breastfeeding women may choose to receive the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. Pregnant women can talk with their doctors before making the choice. You do not need to take a pregnancy test before you get your vaccine. Women who are breastfeeding may also choose to get vaccinated. The vaccine is not thought to be a risk to a baby who is breastfeeding. Read additional information about the vaccines.

What is the risk of an allergic reaction from the vaccine?

People who have had severe allergic reactions, also called anaphylaxis, to any ingredient in the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines should not receive that vaccine. People who have had this type of severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or treatment that is injected should talk with their health care provider about the risks and benefits of vaccination. People with allergies to foods, animals, environmental triggers (such as pollen), latex or medications taken by mouth or who have family members with past severe allergic reactions, can be vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Severe allergic reactions to the vaccines have been very rare and mostly occurred in people who have had previous severe allergic reactions.

Vaccine providers will watch patients for 15-30 minutes after vaccination to ensure the patient’s safety. Additional information can be found here for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

How will the state know who has been vaccinated?

North Carolina will use the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS), a free, secure, web-based system provided to all who give COVID-19 vaccinations. It helps vaccine providers know who has been vaccinated with which vaccine to make sure people get the second dose of the same vaccine at the right time. It also helps people register for vaccination at the appropriate time and allows the state to manage vaccine supply. Pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens doing vaccinations in long-term care facilities, will not use CVMS to give and manage vaccines. These pharmacies will use their own systems. Your information on vaccination is confidential health information that is carefully managed to protect your privacy. Information will not be shared except in accordance with state and federal law. Any personal information will be taken out prior to sending public health information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

After Getting Vaccinated

When am I considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

You are considered fully vaccinated if it has been at least two weeks after a single dose vaccine or at least two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine.

What can I start doing differently after being fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

How do I obtain proof of my vaccination if I lost my vaccination card?

Your vaccine record is now available on the North Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Portal website. To view your vaccine record, log in to the portal, go to My Dashboard, and click Vaccine Record.

You may also call the NC COVID-19 vaccine help center at (888) 675-4567.

Will people who have been vaccinated still need to quarantine?

People who are vaccinated do not have to quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19 if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated (at least two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after a one-dose vaccine)
  • Have had no symptoms after being exposed to someone with COVID-19

For how long will the vaccine protect me from COVID-19?

Researchers are still examining how long the vaccine will protect against COVID-19. Since the clinical trials ended, we know the vaccines can protect people from COVID-19 illness for at least two months. We will know more about how long immunity from the vaccines lasts as people have been vaccinated for a longer period of time. With additional data, we will know if COVID-19 vaccines will need to be given yearly, like the flu shot.

What percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to have herd immunity?

Herd immunity means that enough people in a community are protected from getting a disease because they have already had the disease or they have been vaccinated. Herd immunity makes it hard for the disease to spread from person to person. The CDC and other experts are currently studying herd immunity for COVID-19.

See additional FAQs on the CDC website and additional FAQs on the NCDHHS website.

See additional FAQs on the CDC website and additional FAQs on the NCDHHS website.

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