Before you get your COVID-19 vaccine (which is also called an immunization, or shot), you may have questions about which vaccines are available or you may wonder what happens before, during, and after a typical vaccine appointment. The resources below can help you prepare for your vaccination appointment and know what to expect after you get vaccinated.
Before your vaccine appointment
There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States and others are in development. You need two doses for Pfizer and Moderna and one dose of Johnson & Johnson (also called Janssen). All the available vaccines are safe and provide protection against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The vaccine is free for everyone, whether you have insurance or not. Some vaccinators may ask for insurance information, but you cannot be charged for the appointment or the vaccine itself.
If you are charged, please first contact the vaccinator and ask that the charge be removed. Second, report this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are multiple places to get your COVID-19 vaccination. Keep in mind, you may need to wait for an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccine, even if you are eligible. Vaccinators may prioritize certain previously eligible groups before others. We ask that you please be patient, as everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one, it just may take awhile. Please don't give up and know that getting vaccinated is important to protect you, your loved ones, and your community.
Once you have an appointment scheduled, be sure to follow any directions given to you by your vaccinator such as, where to go for your appointment, and documents you may need to check-in. While some vaccinators may ask for a government ID or insurance information, it is not required, and you cannot be turned away if you do not have them.
Vaccines are just one tool we have to stop the spread of COVID-19 and it will take many months to vaccinate all Wisconsinites. Once you are vaccinated, continue to take steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
During your vaccine appointment
- You will get the COVID-19 vaccine through a vaccine, or shot, that goes into your arm. Some people may feel anxious about getting a vaccine. You can help yourself relax by sucking on a piece of candy, practicing deep breathing, or humming softly while the nurse gives you your vaccine.
- You can ask the vaccinator any questions you may have.
- You will get a vaccination card that tells you when you got your vaccine, which COVID-19 vaccine you got, where you got it, and when to return for your second dose if you need one. Hold on to this card, as you will need to bring it back to your second vaccine appointment, if you get a two-dose vaccine.
- After you get your vaccine, you will be asked to sit and wait for 15-30 minutes for an observation period. During this period, your vaccinator will make sure you are healthy and safe to return home.
After you get your COVID-19 vaccine
- After you get the vaccine, you may experience common side effects. This is a normal part of getting vaccinated.
- Hold on to your COVID-19 vaccination card and keep it in a safe place. You can also access an electronic version of your vaccination card through the Wisconsin Immunization Registry. Do not post photos or selfies of your vaccination card – it contains your personal health information.
- Make a plan to get your second vaccine dose if you need one. You will need to return for your second dose if you got a two-dose vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna. Be sure to write in your calendar when you should come back.
- You can sign up for v-safe after you get your COVID-19 vaccine. V-safe is a free smartphone-based tool that provides you with personalized health check-ins. Use v-safe to report any side effects you experience and get reminders for your second dose (if you need one).
- Continue to follow public health best practices in public spaces. This includes wearing a mask and physically distancing. You are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if it has been two or more weeks since you got your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. Once you are fully vaccinated, you may be able to follow specific quarantine and activity guidelines that differ from those who are not fully vaccinated.
Frequently asked questions
Will people who have already had COVID-19 be able to get the vaccine?
Yes. As long as they have recovered from the acute illness and are no longer in isolation, they can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
What can I do while I wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing you from getting sick with COVID-19, and medical experts are still learning about if whether vaccinated people can spread COVID-19. In order for vaccines to be able to protect us, we need to make it easier for the vaccine to do its job in the future by giving the virus less opportunity to mutate.
Vaccines are just one tool we have to stop the spread of COVID-19. Stopping the spread also requires that we continue staying home, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and frequently washing your hands. Together, vaccination and good public health behaviors will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
I am undocumented. Can I get the vaccine?
Yes, even if you cannot provide proof of residency or state identification. No one who lives, works, or studies in Wisconsin will be turned away from a vaccination site.
President Biden has stated that all people in the U.S. – regardless of their immigration status – will be able to get vaccinated at no cost. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also supports this and is committed to ensuring that every individual who needs a vaccine can get one regardless of their immigration status.
Do I need to be a permanent resident of Wisconsin to get the vaccine in Wisconsin?
The Department of Health Services’ agreement with CDC requires us to “distribute or administer vaccine without discriminating on non-public-health grounds within a prioritized group.” DHS has determined that in order to protect the public health of the residents of Wisconsin, vaccine allocated to the state should be administered to those who live, work, or study in Wisconsin. Vaccinators may target their vaccination effort to residents of their particular jurisdiction or constituency, however, may not turn someone away who lives, works, or studies in Wisconsin.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine be required by the state? Will employers require it?
The state will not mandate the vaccine. Private employers may determine whether they will require their employees get vaccinated.
When can my child get vaccinated?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorizations for both the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for use in adults and older teens. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine are authorized for people ages 18 years and older, and the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for use in people ages 16 years and older.
Pfizer and Moderna started clinical trials in late 2020 to see how safe and effective their vaccines are for children ages 12 years and older.