About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Last updated on November 18, 2021

About the Vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency use authorization to two COVID-19 vaccines, made by pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Janssen (which is owned by Johnson & Johnson), for use in those age 18 and older. The FDA gave full approval of the Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine for use in those age 16 and older and emergency use authorization for use in those ages 5-15.

These vaccines work by giving the immune system a “sneak peek” of what the coronavirus looks like without causing COVID-19. Your immune system will then remember the virus for a period of time and be able to specifically target the full, live virus if you are exposed to it.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, three to four weeks apart. The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one dose. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single dose of the Janssen/J&J vaccine.

The vaccines do not contain the actual virus, and they will not cause you to get COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain thimerosal, mercury, antibiotics or preservatives. There are no plans to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, and individuals must give informed consent to receive it.

The most commonly reported side effects of the vaccine included pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, nausea, chills, joint pain and fever.

If you have any questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, schedule a separate appointment with your primary care provider to discuss them before receiving your vaccine. This will prevent delays.

Why Get the Vaccine

There are many reasons to get a COVID-19 vaccine, including:

  • COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect your body.
  • COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness. It lowers your chance of getting COVID-19 and its associated health risks.
  • The vaccine is our best tool to end the pandemic.

Vaccine Distribution

COVID-19 vaccines are widely available throughout Hood River County. Visit our Get a Vaccine and Events pages for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

The federal government covers the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine. Healthcare providers may charge your insurance company or your employer a fee to administer the vaccine. You will not be charged anything to get the vaccine.

The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one dose. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses 21 days apart. The Moderna vaccine requires two doses 28 days apart. The different vaccine products are not interchangeable, and the series of two doses must be completed with the same vaccine product.

The most important part is to get your second dose of the same type of vaccine (i.e., Moderna or Pfizer) that your first was. If a second dose of the same brand is available from a different location/provider where you received your first dose, it is fine to get it there.

Studies show that the COVID-19 vaccine will prevent illness by building immunity. It is too early to know how the vaccine will prevent transmission of the virus. The currently available COVID-19 vaccines attack the virus’s ability to invade your body’s cells. One study showed that those who have been vaccinated are less likely to harbor the virus. 

No, you do not need to isolate from others after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.


If it has been at least 14 days since you were fully vaccinated (i.e., you received your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or you received the single-dose Janssen vaccine), you do not need to quarantine if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19. If you do develop COVID-19 symptoms, you should isolate and get tested.

The COVID-19 vaccines given emergency use authorization and approval in the U.S. are safe and effective. The vaccines were tested in large-scale research, which included individuals from all backgrounds.

The most commonly reported side effects of the vaccine included pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, nausea, chills, joint pain and fever. For more information about side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines, you should talk with your healthcare provider about whether a COVID-19 vaccine will be safe for you. However, those who have a history of allergies to food, pets, venom, environmental factors, latex or oral medications may still get vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects data through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to continue to confirm that authorized or approved vaccines are both safe and effective.

VAERS is way for healthcare providers, vaccine manufacturers and the general public to submit information about any health problem that occurs after vaccination — even if the problem can’t be definitively linked to the vaccination itself.

Healthcare providers and vaccine manufacturers are mandatory reporters to VAERS; members of the public are encouraged to report any adverse health event after vaccination. Learn more or report an event here.

It is too early to know how long immunity will last for the current COVID-19 vaccines.

Please discuss your unique healthcare concerns and the COVID-19 vaccine with your healthcare provider.

The COVID-19 vaccine does not affect or alter your body’s genetic code, or DNA. Messenger RNA vaccines work by teaching cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. They do not interact with your DNA in any way. You can learn more about this type of vaccine here.

Currently, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use in those ages 5-11 and approved for use in those age 16 and older. (The Moderna and Janssen/J&J vaccines are authorized for use in those 18 and older.)

The Hood River County Health Department, following guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and Oregon Health Authority, has lifted the pause for the use of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, with a warning about the potential for rare blood clots for women under age 50.

The pause occurred out of extreme caution following six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). All six cases occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48. Symptoms began 6 to 13 days after vaccination. As of April 12, 2021, more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered across the United States.

No causal link between the J&J vaccine and these reports has been confirmed. The frequency of the reports is also extremely low — so far only fewer than 1 in a million.

Symptoms of CVST include: severe or unusual headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath, and red or purple marks in the arms and shins within three weeks of vaccination. Those who develop any of these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider or seek emergency care. If you previously received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine and have questions, please contact your healthcare provider.

Some employers in Oregon have announced that they plan to require that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. Employers may also require workers to document their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Read more on vaccination in the workplace from the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries. 

A breakthrough case happens when a person tests positive for COVID-19 at least 14 days after getting their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Oregon Health Authority reports breakthrough cases monthly on its COVID-19 webpage. Scroll down to the section that says “Breakthrough Cases Report.” 

Read about third doses and boosters here.