COVID-19 and Vaccines: Frequently Asked Questions – OHSU

OHSU declares crisis standards of care in some areas
Jump to sections on this page:
Jump to other pages:
Private insurance must now cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests.
Learn more about insurance coverage for tests.
The CDC recommends that you get tested if you:
If you use an at-home rapid antigen test and get a negative result, the FDA recommends that:
Data show that repeating tests after a negative result increases the chance of an accurate result. That can help keep people from spreading the virus without realizing it.
Learn more:
There are two types of tests: viral tests and antibody tests.
To find out if you are infected, you need a viral test. Viral tests detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
There are two types of viral tests:
Learn more:
Only rapid antigen tests can be used at home.
Here are some tips to help you choose a test:
Learn more:
Yes. Children who are at least 6 months old can get vaccinated for COVID-19.
The FDA and CDC have granted emergency authorization to:
Yes. We strongly recommend that you vaccinate your child.
Pfizer: Children ages 6 months through 4 years get three doses. Each dose is one-tenth of an adult dose. Children start with two doses three weeks apart. They get a third dose at least 8 weeks after the second one.
Moderna: Children ages 6 months through 5 years get two doses. Children who are moderately or severely immunocompromised get 3 doses. Each dose is one-quarter of an adult dose. They are each given four weeks apart.
Yes. The FDA and CDC authorized these vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years after rigorous study. They agree that for young children, the benefits of both COVID-19 vaccines outweigh the possible risks.
Moderna’s clinical trials include children 6 months to under 6 years. Their data show:
Pfizer’s clinical trials include children 6 months to under 5 years. Their data show:
We recommend you get your child the first vaccine available to you. Both vaccines will lower your child’s risk of infection, severe symptoms and hospitalization.
Here is information to consider:
Learn more:
The CDC recommends that children get the vaccine dose for their age group, even if the dose size changes.
For the Pfizer vaccine: Your child can get the dose for ages 6 months through 4 years, and the dose ages 5-11 for the second dose after they turn 5.
For the Moderna vaccine: Your child can get the same dose both times. The Moderna vaccine is approved for ages 6 months through 5 years, and 5-year-olds were included in the vaccine studies.
The CDC, after reviewing the vaccine trials, found that both Pfizer and Moderna are effective in preventing COVID-19 infections with symptoms.
OHSU is offering Moderna at vaccine events for two reasons:
We recommend you get your child the first vaccine available to you. Find all COVID-19 vaccination options near you at
Yes. When a vaccine is approved for a new age group, that means studies show it is safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines are being used under extensive safety monitoring. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines also do not affect fertility or DNA.
Here are options:
It is true that most cases of COVID-19 in children are mild. But some children do get very sick from the virus. According to the CDC:
Vaccination can also:
Learn more:
COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens, CDC
Yes. Children with weakened immunity (immunocompromisedare at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. A vaccine is the best way to protect them.
COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. are not live vaccines. This means they are safe for people with weakened immunity. We encourage you to get your child vaccinated as soon as a vaccine is available for their age group.
Yes. Vaccine research included children with previous COVID-19 infections. The studies show that the COVID-19 vaccine protects kids from infection, even if they already had COVID-19.
We do know that COVID-19 infection within 3 months of a previous infection is uncommon. You may choose to wait 3 months after an infection before getting your child vaccinated. If your child has a medical condition or is at high risk, we don’t recommend waiting.
See: How long after having COVID-19 can I get a vaccine?
Children should not get a booster dose while they have COVID-19. If they had their second dose of COVID vaccine or a booster at least two months ago, they can get a booster after they finish their 10-day isolation and have no more symptoms.
A COVID infection provides immunity that lasts for several months and makes it unlikely to get COVID again. Waiting until that immunity starts to wear off will make the booster more useful.
Infection alone does not protect children from a new infection as well as the vaccine does. Children who have had COVID should get a booster for extra protection.
Bivalent (two-part) boosters that protect against the original coronavirus and its omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants are available:
Find a vaccine or booster for ages 5-11.
No. The CDC recommends that children get vaccinated, even if they have severe allergies to food, pets, venom, pollen, latex or oral medication. If your child has a history of severe allergic reactions, let medical staff know at their vaccine appointment.
Your child should not get the COVID-19 vaccine if they are allergic to any of its ingredients, such as PEG (polyethylene glycol).  
Learn more:
COVID-19 Vaccines for People with Allergies, CDC
Please vaccinate your child now. The COVID-19 virus is still circulating, and your child needs protection as soon as it is available.  Also, the vaccine was tested in kids ages 5-11 and results show that the lower dose provided just as much immune response as the higher dose did in people ages 16-25, but with less side effects.
If your child turns 12 between doses, they will get the second dose appropriate for their age (the higher dose).   
No. But once your child recovers, they should get vaccinated.
See: How long after having COVID-19 can I get a vaccine?
Yes. This winter, OHSU experts expect:
OHSU experts encourage everyone who is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster and a flu vaccine. It is safe to get both at the same time, one in each arm.
Children can get:
Find a vaccine or booster for ages 5-11.
Yes. The FDA and CDC authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 6 months to 15 years after rigorous study. The FDA has given the vaccine full approval for ages 16 and older. It is safe and effective.
Learn more:
Pfizer tested two 10-microgram doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5-11. (People 12 and older get two 30-microgram doses.) More than 4,600 children took part, and 3,100 got the vaccine. The results show:
Children have similar side effects to the vaccine as adults. Just like in adults, mild side effects are normal signs that your child’s body is building protection against the infection the vaccine is targeting.
Some children have no side effects. For those who do, they should go away within a few days. The most common side effects are:
Your child may have side effects for a day or two. In the clinical trial that tested the Pfizer vaccine in children ages 5-11, the most common side effects were a sore arm, tiredness and headache.
Many children can go to school right away, even with minimal side effects (such as a sore arm). If you are concerned about child care or missed school, schedule your child’s vaccine on a Friday or Saturday.
When it comes to wearing masks at school, each family should decide what works best for them. Here are some things to consider:
Talk with your children about the fact that some kids will wear masks and some kids won’t. Help them practice an answer for when other kids ask why they’re choosing to wear a mask or choosing not to.
To continue to keep schools safe:
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 usually have mild symptoms. Common symptoms in children include:
Some children have more severe symptoms, including trouble breathing, confusion and chest pain. If your child has any symptoms, talk to their health care provider.
Call your child’s health care provider if your child has a fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea or just doesn’t feel well. Tell the provider if your child has been near someone with COVID-19. They can help you decide if your child should get tested for the coronavirus and how best to treat your child.
Go to an emergency room if your child has:
If exposed to COVID-19, children have a similar risk of infection as adults. Infected children are less likely than adults to be severely ill, and more likely to have mild symptoms or no symptoms.
Children who have medical conditions such as chronic lung disease or heart disease, or who have impaired immunity (immunocompromised), are at risk of severe sickness if infected with COVID-19.
Yes. Children are more likely than adults to have mild coldlike symptoms or no symptoms when infected with the coronavirus. But studies have shown they can still spread the virus to others.
Yes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping and not delaying well-child visits for all ages (infants, children and teens). Vaccinations are essential to protecting children against dangerous, preventable diseases such as:
The AAP recommends:
The AAP says some well-child visits can start through a virtual visit (by video or phone) but that parts of these visits must be done in person. At Doernbecher clinics, we do well-child visits in person.
Learn how OHSU keeps patients, visitors and staff safe.  
Public transportation: The CDC recommends wearing masks on public transportation and at transportation hubs.  
Schools: The Oregon Health Authority notes that school settings bring together people who are vaccinated, unvaccinated and at high risk of severe illness. See OHSU guidance on deciding for your child.
Health care: Oregon still requires masks in health care settings, such as hospitals and doctor’s offices. See a full list. OHSU also requires masks in health care settings for everyone ages 2 and older. See our visitor policy.  
CDC recommendations: The CDC has switched to a new system in which most Americans no longer have to wear masks or stay 6 feet from others. The system ranks each U.S. county at low, medium or high risk of COVID-19 spread. People in areas with low or medium risk no longer need to wear a mask; people in medium-risk areas who have weakened immunity should talk with a provider. See the risk in your area.
If you are not fully vaccinated: The CDC lists ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. They include wearing a mask in public places and staying 6 feet from others.
The CDC has updated mask recommendations. The agency advises:
When you need more protection:
See the CDC’s Types of Masks and Respirators page for details.
Masks are available at pharmacies in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which includes chains such as CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid. Find free masks near you.
Viruses change (mutate) over time. A new form is called a variant.
The World Health Organization has identified thousands of coronavirus variants. Only a tiny portion have changes (mutations) that affect how the virus behaves. The WHO names some variants after Greek letters, in addition to their scientific names, to make them easier to talk about. Variants that have caused waves of infections in the U.S. include alpha, delta and omicron.
The WHO and the CDC created categories to track variants, from least concerning to most:
Learn more:
The World Health Organization named omicron, a coronavirus variant, on Nov. 26, 2021, after it emerged suddenly. It was first identified in South Africa.
The WHO classified omicron as a “variant of concern.” That means omicron, also known as B.1.1.529, shows signs of changes that could make it more contagious or severe. The WHO names some variants after Greek letters to make them easier to discuss.
Learn more:
YesThe CDC released a study in November showing that bivalent boosters increase people’s protection against infection. The bivalent boosters, from Pfizer and Moderna, target omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 variants, which were dominant in the U.S. earlier this year.
BA.4 and BA.5 are subvariants of the omicron variant. They were first found in South Africa in early 2022 and were the dominant variants in the U.S. this summer.
BA.4 and BA.5 share changes (mutations) in their spike protein that make them more contagious. They do not appear to cause more severe disease than other omicron variants.
The COVID-19 boosters released in fall 2022 have a bivalent (two-part formula) that targets BA.4 and BA.5.
The CDC recommends:
Learn more:
Additional primary dose: Primary doses are the first doses a person needs to become fully vaccinated. The Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax vaccines each require two primary doses, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has one primary dose. People who have a weakened immune system (are immunocompromisedmay not have a full immune response to their first doses. They are advised to get an additional dose of vaccine, called an additional primary dose.
Booster dose:  A booster is an additional dose of vaccine that is given after the protection from the primary doses starts to wear off. The booster re-energizes the immune response. New COVID-19 boosters with a bivalent (two-part) formula targeting both the original coronavirus and its BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants are now available. 
Pfizer and Moderna have released bivalent (two-part) boosters that protect against both the earlier form of the coronavirus and its BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants. 
You qualify for a bivalent booster if you:
Find a booster.
If you were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma:
Wait 90 days before you get a  booster.
If you had COVID-19 symptoms:
You can get a booster after all of the following:
If you tested positive for COVID-19 but did not have symptoms:
The FDA has authorized an additional primary dose of vaccine for some people ages 5 and older with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised). Doses are available to people who have had an organ transplant or who have similarly impaired immunity. This could include people in cancer treatment or taking medications to suppress immunity. 
Data shows that vaccines have been less effective in people with weakened immune systems. This has made them more likely to have a breakthrough infection (getting COVID-19 after vaccination).
The FDA is allowing additional primary doses of Pfizer (for ages 5 and older) and Moderna (ages 18 and older). The doses are considered safe.
Thousands of OHSU patients with impaired immunity qualify for an additional primary dose of vaccine. OHSU is contacting patients we think would benefit. OHSU pharmacies and community pharmacies may be able to provide a dose if you qualify as immunocompromised. You do not need a prescription or note from a doctor.
The CDC considers you immunocompromised if you:
See the CDC’s recommendations for first and second boosters, including for those who are 12 or older and moderately to severely immunocompromised. If you aren’t sure if you are considered immunocompromised for getting a booster, talk with your doctor.
Wait to get an additional primary dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine until it’s been at least 28 days since your second dose.
Booster doses: 
The FDA and CDC have authorized mixing and matching of boosters for ages 18 and older. (Only Pfizer is authorized for ages 5-17.) However, the FDA as of May 5, 2022, is limiting use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to those who can’t or won’t get Pfizer or Moderna.
The original Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are now being given only as primary doses. New bivalent (two-part) boosters are now available for ages 12 and older. You’re eligible for the new booster if it’s been at least two months since you completed vaccination or had a booster.
Additional primary doses:
Health experts recommend that you get a dose of the same vaccine you had before. So if you had two doses of the Moderna vaccine, you would get a third dose of Moderna. If the same vaccine isn’t available, though, it’s OK to get a third dose of another mRNA vaccine. For example, you could follow two doses of Moderna with a dose of Pfizer. 
For most people, vaccines are doing what they were designed to do: keeping people from getting severely sick or dying.
Johnson & Johnson: 
What’s the difference between emergency authorization and full approval? 
The FDA granted emergency authorization to three vaccines after reviewing data from large clinical trials. The trials, with tens of thousands of participants, showed the vaccines are safe and highly effective.
Full approval involves reviewing much more data from over a longer time — hundreds of thousands of pages instead of tens of thousands. The FDA also inspects facilities where vaccines are made.
The CDC has relaxed mask guidelines, advising them only in areas with high risk. But it recommends that people with weakened immunity (immunocompromisedwho live in a medium-risk area talk with a provider.
OHSU strongly encourages you to get vaccinated
No. The CDC considers you fully vaccinated once you receive the recommended first dose or doses. 
However, the CDC considers you “up to date” once you have all recommended first doses, plus all boosters recommended for you. 
Most people are fully vaccinated after having: 
If you were vaccinated outside the U.S.: You are considered fully vaccinated if you had all the recommended doses of one of the following vaccines, listed by the World Health Organization for emergency use:
If you received another vaccine or did not receive all the recommended doses of one of the vaccines listed above, you may be offered a vaccine available in the U.S.
If you are sick, stay home except to get medical care. Most people have mild or moderate symptoms and can recover at home.
Please do not come to the hospital unless you have an emergency warning sign. See question below: “When should I seek medical help for COVID-19?”
If your symptoms are mild or moderate but getting worse, call your primary care provider for advice.
If you have an emergency warning sign, call 911 or your emergency department. Signs of emergency are:
Simply, the coronavirus is the virus, and COVID-19 is the illness it can cause.
The virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Coronaviruses are part of a large group of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause mild illness, such as the common cold. Others can cause serious illness.
Symptoms can appear 2-14 days after exposure:
If you see emergency signs, call 911 or your emergency department. They are:
Studies show that people are contagious starting 2-3 days before they have symptoms of COVID-19. On average, people are no longer contagious about a week after symptoms start. People with weakened immunity may be contagious for longer.
The CDC has guidelines for isolation:
Positive test, no symptoms: Isolate (stay away from others) for at least five days after your first positive test. Wear a mask around others for five more days. If you develop symptoms, isolate five days after symptoms start and wear a mask around others for five more days.
Mild symptoms: Isolate for at least five days after symptoms appear. You must be fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) before ending isolation. Wear a mask around others for five more days.
Moderate symptoms (respiratory symptoms): Isolate for 10 days after you first have symptoms. You must be fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) before ending isolation.
Severe symptoms (requiring hospital care): Isolate for at least 10 days and up to 20.
The incubation period is the time between infection and the start of symptoms. It is important to know that you may be contagious at any time during the incubation period.
Data suggests the incubation period for the omicron variants is 2-4 days, shorter than prior variants.
You have long COVID-19 if you still have symptoms at least a month after testing positive for COVID-19. Long COVID-19 is also called post-COVID-19 or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC).
Studies show that long COVID-19 affects about 25% of people who get COVID-19. It is important to know that we can’t predict who will have long COVID-19 or how long it will last. Everyone who gets COVID-19 is at risk, including children and people who had mild cases or no symptoms when they tested positive.
We are still learning more, but so far these groups seem to be more at risk: 
Long COVID-19 that greatly limits a person’s daily life can be considered a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
We  offer a program and team of specialists to help you manage this condition.
Symptoms of long COVID-19 vary widely and can affect almost every organ system. They are unlikely to be dangerous or require hospitalization, but long COVID-19 can be very draining and make normal daily activities impossible.
The most common symptom of long COVID-19 is post-exertional malaise (PEM). PEM is extreme tiredness about 12 to 48 hours after physical or mental effort. For someone with long COVID-19, this exhaustion can last for days and may happen after a normal day of activity. During PEM, other symptoms are often worse, like shortness of breath or irregular heartbeat. 
Brain fog is also very common for people with long COVID-19. Brain fog is cognitive difficulty or weakness. This can mean you have trouble with memory, concentration, thinking or finding the right words. 
Long COVID-19 takes a toll on your emotional well-being. The most common mental health symptoms are depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Low energy, appetite changes and suicidal thoughts are also symptoms of mental health issues. Emotional challenges may come from how the coronavirus affects your brain, the emotional toll of long-term sickness, or both.
The other most common symptoms include:
We know that most patients recover over time, but speed of recovery varies widely. We see patients whose symptoms fade within months and we now see patients who have had symptoms for more than a year.
It is impossible to know how quickly you will recover. Understanding your condition, getting support, resting, and avoiding activities that trigger symptoms can help you recover sooner.  
Both vaccination and infection can build immunity against the coronavirus. But studies suggest vaccines give stronger, longer-lasting protection.
Download our flyer on what to expect after a vaccination.
If you lost your vaccine card, you can use your vaccine record as proof. OHSU cannot provide replacement CDC vaccine cards.
Here’s how to find and print your vaccine record.
If you got your vaccine at an OHSU site (except for the Oregon Convention Center):
If you got your vaccine at the Oregon Convention Center:
OHSU students and employees:
More information: 
OHSU students and employees:
Yes. The CDC recommends that you get vaccinated:
Learn more:
All vaccines used in the U.S. spur the body to make antibodies that specifically fight the coronavirus. Antibodies are made by white blood cells and are part of the immune system — the body’s system to fight infection.
Pfizer and Moderna:
These vaccines send a snippet of genetic material from the coronavirus — instructions called messenger RNA or mRNA — into cells. The instructions tell the cells to make a harmless spike protein like the one on the coronavirus.
The body’s immune system recognizes that this protein doesn’t belong. It activates white blood cells to form infection-fighting antibodies. The immune system also remembers the spike protein, so it’s ready to fight the real coronavirus should it enter the body.
Once the proteins are made, the body destroys the mRNA.
Johnson & Johnson: 
This is a viral vector vaccine. Specifically, it’s a type called an adenovirus vector vaccine or an adenovector vaccine.
Like the mRNA vaccines, the vaccine uses a snippet of genetic material from the coronavirus to tell cells to make spike proteins. The spike proteins activate the immune system.
In this case, instructions are in DNA delivered in a virus called an adenovirus. Normally, this virus causes the common cold. It is not the coronavirus.
The adenovirus is genetically altered. The virus cannot make copies of itself, and it cannot cause illness. The virus is just a carrier (vector). The DNA cannot change your DNA.
This is a protein-based vaccine. It teaches the body’s immune system to recognize the spike-shaped protein on the coronavirus. The immune system activates white blood cells that make antibodies against the spike protein. 
 Novavax contains a spike protein made from moth cells. This version of the spike protein cannot cause disease. It does not include any genetic material. 
 Novavax also contains an adjuvant made from tree bark. An adjuvant helps increase the body’s immune response. This means the vaccine can be given in a smaller dose. 
After vaccination with any of these vaccines:
Learn more:
COVID-19 vaccines do not contain fetal tissue or fetal cells.
Vaccine makers do use fetal cell lines to make vaccines. These cell lines come from lab-grown cells that trace back to cells from a fetus aborted in the 1970s or ‘80s. The cells used today are thousands of generations removed from the original cells.
Pfizer and Moderna did use fetal cell lines in early testing of their vaccines. Johnson & Johnson makes its vaccine using a fetal cell line. Novavax says it uses no fetal cell lines, cells or tissue in developing or making its vaccine.
Learn how vaccine makers use fetal cell lines.
Religious leaders agree that getting a vaccine does not mean you are OK with abortion.
Pope Francis, for example, said people have a moral duty to get vaccinated. A Vatican statement said all vaccines are morally acceptable.
You might find these resources useful:
Novavax has received emergency authorization as:
Novavax is a protein-based vaccine. It is made like vaccines that have been used for decades to prevent diseases like hepatitis B and whooping cough.
We use a sterile, disposable needle and syringe for each dose. The needle size is based on arm size. We thoroughly clean our hands before preparing and giving a vaccine.
We prepare vaccines in a clean, designated area away from where we give doses. This prevents contamination as we transfer the vaccine from vials into syringes.
Like most vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine is given into a muscle. Muscles have many blood vessels that can quickly carry the vaccine into the bloodstream.
To start your protection as soon as possible, you should be vaccinated as soon as possible. 
For most people, that means getting the Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax vaccine. Because of a risk of rare but serious blood clots, the FDA on May 5, 2022, restricted use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to those who can’t or won’t get Pfizer or Moderna. 
All four vaccines have been found to be highly effective. The FDA also continues monitoring vaccines for safety and effectiveness; that’s why the agency limited use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
If you were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma:
Wait 90 days before you get a COVID-19 vaccine.
If you had COVID-19 symptoms:
You can be vaccinated after all of the following:
If you tested positive for COVID-19 but did not have symptoms:
Yes. If you got a first dose of the Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax vaccine, it’s important to get your second dose. This makes sure that your vaccination is as effective as possible. Schedule your second dose as soon as you can. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is just one dose.)
It’s also important to know:
Learn more:
You will NOT be charged anything for a vaccine, and you do not need health insurance to get a vaccine.
If you do have health insurance, though, providers are allowed to charge your insurance company an administration fee. This fee may temporarily appear in your MyChart account as it is processed. You will NOT be billed.
Yes. The FDA approved the vaccines only after rigorous clinical trials (tests on people). Tens of millions of Americans have been vaccinated, and only a tiny fraction have had a serious complication. Health experts say the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Health officials are also monitoring vaccine safety. As of May 5, 2022, the FDA had limited use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to those who can’t or won’t get Pfizer or Moderna. The FDA concluded that the risk of rare but potentially severe blood clots makes it less preferable. The decision offers reassurance that federal officials are ready to act if a problem is spotted. The agency said only the following people should get Johnson & Johnson:
The Pfizer vaccine has full FDA approval. Even to get emergency-use authorization, though, vaccines went through three phases of clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants — far more than is typicalThis gave researchers a lot of data quickly on safety and effectiveness. Clinical trials also must follow rigorous rules for safety and oversight. 
In addition, the Moderna, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were developed with help from Operation Warp Speed. The program used federal taxpayer dollars to pay for research, development and millions of early doses. It’s one reason vaccines were ready to ship the instant they were approved.
The FDA, CDC and other government agencies have many systems to monitor the vaccines for any safety issues that didn’t turn up in clinical trials. Tools include v-safe, which lets people use a smartphone to report any side effects to the CDC.
It’s true that the vaccines were developed in months instead of years. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, is among health officials who say speed did not sacrifice safety. “The speed was the reflection of extraordinary advances in the science of vaccine platform technology,” Dr. Fauci told ABC.
Learn more:
No. The Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson vaccines do not contain live virus. That makes it impossible to get COVID-19 from a vaccine.
No. DNA is in the nucleus of cells, protected by the nuclear membrane. The mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines does not enter the nucleus, and it does not affect or interact with DNA. In addition, mRNA from a vaccine cannot be made into DNA that could change a person’s DNA.  
The genetic material (DNA) in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does enter the cell’s nucleus. But the cell only reads the instructions. The DNA cannot interact, alter or combine with your DNA.
The Novavax vaccine has no genetic material.
The COVID-19 vaccines have as few ingredients as possible, and each ingredient has a purpose. All COVID-19 vaccine ingredients are safe. Most of the ingredients are also found in many foods.
The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) also contain a harmless piece of messenger RNA. This teaches your body how to create an immune response to the virus that causes COVID-19.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccines also contain a vector virus. The vector virus cannot reproduce itself and cannot cause COVID-19. It teaches your body to create an immune response to the virus that causes COVID-19.
The Novavax vaccine contains proteins made by moth cells. It also contains an adjuvant, which helps increase the body’s immune response. The adjuvant in Novavax is made from tree bark.
See the full list of vaccine ingredients:
The CDC investigated whether rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle and surrounding tissue) are related to COVID-19 vaccines.
A small number of people nationwide have developed these conditions after getting an mRNA vaccine (the type made by Pfizer and Moderna) or Novavax.
It’s important to know:
Anyone with these symptoms should get medical care right away, regardless of whether they got a vaccine:
If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine or potential side effects, including myocarditis or pericarditis, talk to your primary care provider or another trusted health care professional.
Blood clots:
Federal health officials have limited use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of the risk of rare but serious blood clots.
The FDA on May 5, 2022, said the vaccine can be used only by:
The FDA confirmed 60 cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, including nine deaths, among 18 million doses given.
Guillain-Barré syndrome:
In July 2021, the FDA added a warning of a higher risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome. This rare condition can damage nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.
There were reports of 100 cases in the U.S. among nearly 13 million people who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at that point. In most cases, symptoms began within six weeks of getting the vaccine.
Most people who develop the syndrome each year in the U.S. fully recover, though some have permanent nerve damage.
What should you do if you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
You can expect mainly mild to moderate side effects such as:
In clinical trials, side effects tended to be higher after the second dose, and less for those older than 65.
Side effects can be managed with:
Call your health care provider if you have side effects that bother you or that don’t go away.
Learn more:
Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine, CDC
Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital if you have a severe allergic reaction such as:
Call your health care provider if you have side effects that bother you or that don’t go away.
Learn more:
What to Do If You Have an Allergic Reaction After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine, CDC
Health officials are tracking side effects as part of widespread efforts to monitor vaccine safety. You can report side effects to:
The CDC strongly recommends that you get vaccinated to prevent serious illness and pregnancy complications. The agency says the benefits to you and your fetus of being vaccinated far outweigh any risks. 
The CDC said pregnant people who get COVID are at much higher risk of severe illness or death. They also face a higher risk of having a premature birth or a stillbirth, or of their newborn needing ICU care for COVID.
In addition:
Learn more:
COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding, CDC
The CDC recommends that people who are breastfeeding get vaccinated. 
Breastfeeding people were not part of clinical trials, but experts believe COVID-19 vaccines are safe and recommend them for people who are breastfeeding. COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause COVID-19 in anyone, including people who are breastfeeding or their babies. People who are breastfeeding may pass antibodies to their infants in their breast milk.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommend that people who are breastfeeding get vaccinated and continue breastfeeding.  
Learn more:
COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding, CDC
Yes. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any fertility issues (problems trying to get pregnant) for women or men. Many people have become pregnant after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
A recent study compared women who got a COVID-19 vaccine, had a COVID-19 infection, or had neither. The study found no differences in their pregnancy success rates.
Planning for pregnancy, CDC
For some people, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is followed by swelling in lymph nodes under the arm where they got the vaccine.
The swelling is a normal sign that your body is building protection against COVID-19. It could cause a false result on a mammogram, though. If you are due for a mammogram, we recommend that you:
recent study found that people who menstruate may experience a small but temporary change in the length of their menstrual cycle after getting vaccinated.
The average change in length is less than one day during the menstrual cycle when the vaccine was given. People who receive two doses of a vaccine during one menstrual cycle may have a two-day change.
The changes appear to resolve quickly, as soon as the next menstrual cycle. Researchers did not identify any long-term health or reproductive issues linked to the changes.
Read about OHSU’s expertise in the study.
You can plan to have a baby after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated if you plan to become pregnant. That’s because pregnancy increases your risk of severe symptoms of COVID-19.
A COVID-19 vaccine will also protect your baby from complications while you are pregnant.
There is no evidence that a COVID-19 vaccine will affect your fertility. Many people have become pregnant after getting vaccinated.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and planning for pregnancy, CDC
Some fertility rumors trace back to a letter sent to a European medical agency. The letter claimed — wrongly — that vaccines affect a protein needed for pregnancy.

If you get a COVID-19 vaccine while you are pregnant, your body makes protective antibodies that you pass along to your baby. That protection remains after your baby is born. You may also pass along antibodies to your baby if you are vaccinated and choose to breastfeed.
Right away. You do not need to delay pregnancy or fertility treatments after getting a vaccine.
Learn how to be part of our pregnancy and COVID-19 research.
OHSU Hospital has four intensive care units with 80 beds. One 16-bed unit is mainly used for COVID-19 patients.
OHSU Health Hillsboro Medical Center has 10 ICU beds, and Adventist Health Portland has 12 ICU beds.
OHSU offers leading care for COVID-19, including:
The FDA has granted emergency-use authorization to the first pill to treat COVID-19. The medication, Paxlovid, is made by Pfizer.
Paxlovid treats mild to moderate COVID-19 by stopping the virus from making copies of itself.  Treatment is most effective early, and must start within five days of symptoms beginning.
Patients take three tablets twice a day for five days — 30 pills in all. In clinical trials, Paxlovid greatly reduced the risk of serious illness or death for people at high risk.
To qualify for Paxlovid treatment, you must:
Paxlovid is not recommended for those with severe kidney or liver disease or for people with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised).
Paxlovid can cause complications for people who take heart-related medications, including some statins (drugs that lower cholesterol) and blood thinners. It’s best to talk with your doctor about possible interactions between Paxlovid and heart-related medications. You can stop using some drugs safely during the five-day Paxlovid treatment.
The FDA has granted emergency-use authorization to Lagevrio (molnupiravir), made by Merck, to treat COVID-19.
Lagevrio is an antiviral medication that treats mild to moderate COVID-19. Treatment must start within five days after symptoms begin. It is most effective early.
Patients take four capsules every 12 hours for five days — a total of 40 pills. In clinical trials, Lagevrio reduced the risk of serious illness or death for people at high risk.
You qualify for treatment with Lagevrio if you:
No. Paxlovid and Lagevrio are not substitutes for vaccination. They can be used only for certain people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and only after they have tested positive.
The federal government’s Test to Treat program offers free testing and prescriptions in one location. Those who test positive and who qualify for treatment can receive a filled prescription for Paxlovid or Lagevrio.
Getting tested early is important. Both medications are given only within five days of the start of symptoms.
Look for a Test to Treat location near you.
As of July 6, 2022, state-licensed pharmacists may prescribe Paxlovid. 
Monoclonal antibody therapy is a treatment that uses lab-made antibodies to fight disease. The antibodies circulate in your blood, like antibodies made by your body’s immune system. The antibodies target the coronavirus spike protein, blocking the virus from entering cells and spreading in your body.
The FDA has authorized medications to:
Monoclonal antibody therapy is not a replacement for being vaccinated. 
Learn more about FDA-authorized treatments for COVID-19.
No. Monoclonal antibody therapy is not a substitute for being vaccinated. The FDA allows treatment only for people who have tested positive and are at high risk of severe illness; or who have weakened immunity or who should not be vaccinated because of a history of bad reactions. 
OHSU strongly encourages you to get a vaccine. It’s the single best thing you can do to protect yourself and those around you.
Evusheld is a treatment to prevent COVID-19 for people at high risk of severe illness. It is monoclonal antibody therapy that is given in two doses.
Evusheld has FDA emergency authorization for use in people who:
On Oct. 3, 2022, the FDA said Evusheld does not provide protection against some variants of the coronavirus. People taking Evusheld should get tested if they have signs or symptoms of COVID-19. If they test positive, they should start treatment for COVID-19. 
OHSU has a clinic to give Evusheld to the OHSU patients who need it most. Because OHSU has a limited supply, Evusheld is being offered first to those with a medical need and who lack equal access to health care.
OHSU has a list, and will call the patients. Patients will meet with an OHSU provider to talk about the treatment before it’s scheduled. If extra Evusheld and appointments are available after this process, providers can also refer patients they consider highest risk.
OHSU has been giving Evusheld to patients in the hospital who have weakened immunity (immunocompromised). These patients are less likely to be protected by COVID-19 vaccines.
OHSU offers monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19. To be eligible, you must:
For questions about qualifying or making an appointment: Call our hotline at 833-647-8222.
Headache is one of the symptoms of COVID-19. Most people who have this symptom have other symptoms such as fatigue, muscle or body aches, cough or fever.
There are two common types of headaches: migraines and tension headaches.
Migraine headaches are usually:
Tension headaches are usually:
You can treat a tension headache with over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
For a migraine headache, also try:
If you have frequent headaches (two or more each week) talk to your primary care provider about other treatment options, including medications that help prevent headaches.
OHSU does not recommend ivermectin to treat COVID-19.
Ivermectin is approved for use in people and some animals to treat some parasites. Humans should never take medications meant for animals. Taking ivermectin in any unapproved way could also cause serious harm. 
Learn more:
See videos about COVID-19 vaccines and why OHSU experts want to make sure you get your dose.
Learn how information from OHSU’s Dr. Donn Spight helped a Portland woman decide to get vaccinated.
Oregon Health & Science University is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life for all Oregonians through excellence, innovation and leadership in health care, education and research.
© 2001-2022 Oregon Health & Science University. OHSU is an equal opportunity affirmative action institution.
Notice of Privacy Practices